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Hart powers Crew past Cards; Greinke brilliant in 2012 debut

April 7, 2012 Comments off

Corey Hart's second-inning home run was estimated at 447 feet, landing at about this spot.

 

MILWAUKEE — So much for easing Corey Hart into the regular season.

After a knee injury in Spring Training required surgery, it was unclear whether Hart would be ready to go on Opening Day for the second year in a row.

Through two games, Hart appears to be in midseason form.

Following a 1-for-2 performance Friday, Hart blasted two no-doubt home runs Saturday as the Brewers picked up their first win of the season, 6-0, over the Cardinals.

“I think it was big for us to come back today and show that we’re still a good team,” Hart said. “I think we did that.”

Hart’s first homer went deep into the second deck in left, while the second was a two-run shot to center field. Between the two, Hart had an estimated 860 feet worth of home runs on the day.

Not bad for a guy with a knee that is not yet at 100 percent.

“He’s really seeing the ball well,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “Hopefully he’ll come in tomorrow feeling well and we can get him back in there.”

Rickie Weeks also homered in the game, while Aramis Ramirez had a key RBI double in the sixth inning for his first hit in a Brewers uniform. Add in a 2-for-3 day by Ryan Braun — with a pair of doubles, a walk and a run scored — and the Crew showed just how good the offense could be this year, even without Prince Fielder batting cleanup.

All they really needed Saturday was the one run, which Hart provided with his second-inning blast that nearly went over Bernie Brewer’s slide beyond the left field bleachers. That’s because Zack Greinke delivered one of his best outings since coming to Milwaukee last offseason.

Greinke had everything working in his 2012 debut, facing the minimum through 4 1/3 innings. Had it not been for three singles in the fifth and sixth innings — two of which were nearly outs — Greinke may have been on his way to a complete game. Instead, he turned in a stellar seven frames, giving up just four hits and striking out seven batters without a walk.

After starting the season without both Hart and Greinke a year ago, the Brewers already are enjoying what each of them brings to the table just two games in. Full seasons out of both All-Stars could go a long way toward making up for the lost production of Fielder.

“It makes a difference,” Roenicke said. “Last year, we didn’t have those two guys together for quite a while.”

Cards can’t rally after Garcia’s rare off night

September 9, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — As dominant as Jaime Garcia had been lately, the Cardinals’ prospects of winning the series against the Brewers certainly looked good heading into the finale.

Add his 2-1 record with a 1.08 ERA against the Brewers this season with just three earned runs allowed on 20 hits and it would seem everything was in place for St. Louis to head out of town on a winning note as they looked to stay in the National League playoff hunt.

Instead, Garcia delivered the worst starting performance of his career, as the Cardinals lost, 8-1, on Wednesday for a tough road series loss after taking the series opener on Monday.

With their lineup, the Brewers were bound to rough up Garcia eventually. But with the way the rookie left-hander had shut them down in four previous starts, it would have been hard to predict they’d hand him his worst outing of the season.

“Obviously, they have a great lineup and good team,” Garcia said. “It was just one of those days that I tried to do too much.

“It was just me not having confidence tonight and being lost out there.”

Entering the game, the Brewers had scored just seven runs — three earned — on 20 hits in 25 innings against Garcia with 22 strikeouts against 10 walks. They doubled their run total on Wednesday, putting up seven runs on seven hits in just four innings.

“Tonight might have been the result of being more aggressive,” said left fielder Ryan Braun, who drove in four of the Brewers’ eight runs. “When you’re aggressive and putting pressure on the other team, it seems to be advantageous.

“He didn’t make too many mistakes, but the ones he did make, we were able to take advantage of.”

A couple of those mistakes — two walks — played integral roles in the Brewers’ big innings.

With one out in the third inning, Garcia walked Rickie Weeks, who stole second base. One strikeout later, Garcia surrendered three straight hits, an RBI single by Ryan Braun, a Prince Fielder ground-rule double and a two-run single by Casey McGehee.

An inning later, it was much the same story.

After shortstop Alcides Escobar led off with a single, Weeks walked again, with two outs this time, to spark the Brewers. Right fielder Corey Hart followed with a single, scoring Escobar, and Braun blasted a three-run homer just over the wall in center field.

“That was completely, 100 percent my fault,” Garcia said of the home run. “[Pitching coach Dave] Duncan went out there and told me we need to do something with sinkers and I threw a changeup.

“That happens when you try to do something else.”

Garcia’s line marked a career-worst outing for the rookie. Garcia had surrendered as many as eight runs in a game on Aug. 3, but only four were earned. His previous high in earned runs allowed was five.

“I think he was just in the middle of the plate,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. “He had good stuff through a lot of it, but if you look at the pitches that they hurt him on for runs, he just got the ball in the middle.

“That’s something he hasn’t done very often. It was one of those nights.”

The disappointing outing by Garcia only added to what has been a rough start to a crucial road trip for the Cardinals.

With the Reds losing to the Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Cardinals could potentially have gained two games in the division race with wins. Instead, they remain six games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central with 25 to play.

All eight of the Brewers’ runs on Wednesday and 16 of their 18 runs in the series scored with two outs. For Garcia, shutting down opposing hitters with two outs had been a strength before Wednesday’s rough outing.

“That’s been one of his real keys, he’s been really good putting hitters away,” La Russa said. “Mistakes with men in scoring position, you’ll get burnt.”

Garcia certainly deserved some blame for Wednesday’s loss, but his counterpart kept the Cardinals’ offense quiet for the second straight night. Left-hander Chris Capuano tossed seven strong innings, giving up just one run on four hits while not allowing a walk. Capuano (3-3) also struck out two batters.

The Cardinals’ only run on the night came from Albert Pujols, who went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and a double. Colby Rasmus and rookie Matt Pagnozzi were the only other Cardinals to reach safely against Capuano, with Pagnozzi picking up his first career hit.

It was yet another poor offensive night for the Cardinals against a soft-tossing lefty, which is starting to become a troubling theme.

“I think there’s something there,” La Russa said. “We’ve got better hitters against left-handed pitching than we’ve done here in the last couple weeks. Prior to this, we were getting our wins against left-handers, but we’re getting shut down pretty regularly now, so we’ve got to do something about it.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals beat 9/8

September 8, 2010 Comments off

Pagnozzi making first career start for Cards

MILWAUKEE — After being recalled from Triple-A Memphis a week ago, catcher Matt Pagnozzi got his first Major League start behind the plate on Wednesday against the Brewers.

“Pagnozzi knows [Jaime] Garcia, so that helps,” said manager Tony La Russa.

Pagnozzi, who is a nephew of former Cardinals Gold Glover Tom Pagnozzi, has spent each of the past two seasons with the Memphis Redbirds before being called up in September. In 2009, each of the final five games of the season saw Pagnozzi enter in the late innings.

In those five games, Pagnozzi did not record a hit in three at-bats, while walking once and reaching base on an error. In the season’s final game, Pagnozzi scored a run in the Cardinals’ 9-7 loss to the Brewers at Busch Stadium.

Pagnozzi recorded his first big league hit during the fifth inning on Wednesday.

In 68 games for Memphis this season, Pagnozzi batted .242 with a .338 on-base percentage and a .309 slugging percentage with one home run and 21 RBIs.

Not known for his offense, Pagnozzi is a better defensive catcher than fellow rookie Bryan Anderson. With better offensive numbers and improved defense, Anderson overtook Pagnozzi as the Cardinals’ top backup catcher.

“[Pagnozzi] knows the idea about working a pitcher [and has] a strong throwing arm,” La Russa said. “But that’s a good testament to Andy that Andy moved ahead of him because of the kind of year he had.”

La Russa’s lineup leans right vs. Capuano

MILWAUKEE — With left-handed starter Chris Capuano on the mound on Wednesday for the Brewers, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went with a mostly right-handed lineup. The only left-handed hitters were Colby Rasmus and starting pitcher Jaime Garcia.

Included in it was Tyler Greene, who started at second base for the first time since July 3 and batted leadoff for the first time since May 4. The move was particularly interesting considering switch-hitter Felipe Lopez has a career .462 average against Capuano with one home run and two walks.

Greene, on the other hand, has never faced Capuano.

The decision came down to Lopez’s recent struggles outweighing past success against Capuano. In his past 75 at-bats, Lopez has recorded just eight hits.

On the season, Capuano has held lefties to a .220 batting average while right-handed hitters have posted a .290 mark against him. With Capuano’s splits and Lopez’s past numbers in mind, did La Russa consider starting his struggling second baseman?

“Yeah,” La Russa said. “[But] he’s just not himself at the plate.”

Anniversary of McGwire passing Maris

MILWAUKEE — It may be hard to believe, but Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire breaking Roger Maris’ home run record with homer No. 62 on Sept. 8, 1998.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, McGwire blasted the first pitch he saw from Cubs starter Steve Traschel out to left field, where it barely cleared the fence. All that mattered was that it went out, though, as the homer sparked a memorable on-field celebration.

McGwire’s blast broke Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 home runs, which had stood since the 1961 season. Over the final 18 games of the 1998 season, McGwire added eight more home runs, finishing with a then-record 70 homers.

In the 12 years since that thrilling season, McGwire has seen his record broken by Barry Bonds in 2001, admitted to steroid use during his career and assumed the role of hitting coach at the start of this season.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa of how long it had been since McGwire’s record-breaking homer. “That’s a fast 12 years.”

Worth noting

Left-handed reliever Trever Miller underwent an MRI scan in St. Louis on Wednesday, which revealed a forearm strain. He is considered day-to-day. … Third baseman David Freese underwent a procedure today in Colorado for a debridement of his left ankle. He will begin therapy this week.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Narveson’s sharpness cuts down Cardinals

September 8, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — When the night began, Tuesday’s game meant far more to the Cardinals than the Brewers. That all changed when Trevor Hoffman entered in the ninth.

With a two-run lead, the Brewers called Hoffman’s number, setting him up for career save No. 600. Hoffman delivered as he pitched a scoreless ninth in the Brewers’ 4-2 victory over the Cardinals at Miller Park.

Before Hoffman’s historic 600th save, the game was highlighted by a number of unusual happenings on the field.

Brewers manager Ken Macha was tossed by second-base umpire Tim Timmons, and Brewers center fielder Chris Dickerson, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and then a male fan sitting in the stands near home plate were all ejected by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson.

“It was an interesting evening,” Macha said. “One coach, one manager, one player and one fan. Everybody got thrown out.”

The flurry of ejections began in the bottom of the second inning, when Timmons called interference on Brewers runner Craig Counsell for leaving the baseline in an attempt to break up Chris Narveson’s double play. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who initially appeared to score on the play for a 3-0 Brewers lead, was ordered back to third base while Macha rushed out to argue.

That call was crucial until the fifth inning, when McGehee’s two-run single off St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse (2-7) snapped a tie and gave the Brewers a 4-2 lead. McGehee also hit an RBI double in Milwaukee’s two-run first inning, and he claimed the club lead with 90 RBIs.

“We scored all our runs with two outs,” Macha said. “That’s what the bugaboo’s been. The other team scoring two-out runs. Tonight, that was ours on all four runs.”

That cushion was enough for Narveson (11-7), who matched a season-high with nine strikeouts and limited St. Louis to two runs on four hits in seven sharp innings. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when the Cardinals strung together four in a row, including RBI singles by Yadier Molina and Colby Rasmus.

Narveson watched a 1-0 lead slip away from the bullpen in the seventh inning of his previous start in Cincinnati, so this time he handled the inning himself. Narveson retired nine of the final 10 men he faced, and erased the exception — Matt Holliday, who walked leading off the sixth inning — on a strikeout-throwout double play.

He set down the final five Cardinals hitters he faced in order, including three strikeouts.

“I felt like I had all my pitches working and was able to execute when I needed to,” Narveson said. “I kept them off-balance. The knocks that they had, they did some good pieces of hitting. It’s going to happen at some point during the game.”

The 33,149 fans in the stands — or at least the 33,148 who avoided Davidson’s ire — might remember the flurry of ejections as much as McGehee’s clutch hit or Narveson’s mound gem.

One inning after Macha was tossed by Timmons after the call at second base, Cardinals pitching coach Duncan was ejected in the bottom of the third inning for arguing balls and strikes for Lohse, who was charged with four runs on seven hits in five innings.

Dickerson was ejected after striking out for the third time to end the fifth inning. Dickerson, who was upset in the first inning after his apparent ball four turned into a check-swing strike, took issue with Davidson’s called strike 3 to end the fifth and slammed his helmet.

Two innings later, Davidson turned his attention to a male fan sitting in one of the front rows behind home plate. Davidson alerted security officials to the man, who was removed.

“It was kind of a crazy game,” said left fielder Ryan Braun. “A lot of action and a lot of action early. I don’t really know what was going on, but I’m happy we won and I’m thrilled for Trevor.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kid gloves come off, and Escobar, Cain excel

August 19, 2010 Comments off

ST. LOUIS — With right-hander Adam Wainwright on the mound Wednesday for the Cardinals, center fielder Lorenzo Cain didn’t expect to see his name in the Brewers’ lineup.

When the rookie saw his name in the lineup, his excitement for the series finale increased significantly.

“I saw I was in the lineup, and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m facing Wainwright,'” Cain said after Milwaukee’s 3-2 win. “I got excited for that and just tried to go up there and get the job done.

“My first ace, and I was able to put together a few good at-bats and get some hits.”

Entering the game, right-handed hitters had been hitting .202 off Wainwright, compared to a .214 mark for lefties. Cain went 2-for-3 on the day, with a leadoff double in the fifth and an RBI triple in the seventh inning.

Cain followed his double with a steal of third base, which proved crucial when he scored on a soft grounder back to the pitcher by George Kottaras. After the triple, Cain scored the eventual game-winning run on an Alcides Escobar sacrifice fly.

Even Cain’s second-inning out was hit hard, as Wainwright snagged a liner back to the mound before doubling off Prince Fielder at first to end the inning.

“He has got some talent. No doubt,” Wainwright said of Cain. “I thought I made a good pitch, and he drove it to the right-center gap. Put a good swing on it.

Along with Cain, fellow rookie Escobar was in the lineup for the Brewers on Wednesday, despite having struggled against Wainwright. Making the move more surprising was the success veteran infielder Craig Counsell had against Wainwright in his career.

Counsell entered Wednesday’s series finale at Busch Stadium with a .304 (7-for-23) batting average against the Cardinals right-hander. Escobar, on the other hand, was hitting just .167 (2-for-12) against Wainwright.

Escobar’s day didn’t go quite as well as it did for Cain, but was still successful, as the rookie shortstop finished 0-for-1 with a strikeout and the game-winning sacrifice fly. More significantly, though, Escobar left the game in the ninth with cramps in his hamstring.

After hustling to catch a throw from Corey Hart in right field, Escobar’s day was done.

“I walked to the mound, and I said, ‘Hey, [John] Axford, give me a minute, I can’t move my leg,'” Escobar said. “I’ll be OK. With the day off tomorrow, I’ll be OK on Friday.”

“I was just glad that [Escobar’s injury] wasn’t too bad,” Axford said. “When he came up to the mound then, I wasn’t too sure what was going on. I asked him if he was OK, and he said, ‘No,’ so I didn’t really know what was going on.”

According to manager Ken Macha, the idea of putting Cain and Escobar in the lineup had more to do with the future of the club and the development of the two rookies than trying to win the two-game series from the Cardinals.

Considering the two accounted for all three runs on the day against Wainwright, the initial results were promising for the Brewers.

“Sooner or later, if they’re going to be your everyday guys, they’re going to have to get in there,” Macha said. “You can’t protect them the whole time.”

Axford, Loe at it again in Crew’s tight victory

August 19, 2010 Comments off

ST. LOUIS — There was a time when bringing in Kameron Loe and John Axford out of the Brewers’ bullpen was as sure a sign of a Brewers victory as anything.

Things have gotten a bit more interesting lately, but when it comes down to it, Axford and Loe are the Brewers’ No. 1 and No. 2 options out of the ‘pen. If the game is on the line, it’s a pretty safe bet that one, or both, is going to pitch in the late innings.

Lately, even a heavy workload and minor struggles have not been enough to deter manager Ken Macha from making the call for the right-handed duo. More often than not, that strategy has worked out.

With a two-run lead through six innings Tuesday night, Axford and Loe combined for the final three frames as the Crew took the first of a two-game set from the Cardinals, winning, 3-2, at Busch Stadium.

Part of the strategy being successful, Macha conceded, is getting honest assessments from the players about how they feel. The other part is common sense.

“On Sunday, Axford said he was fine, but I wasn’t going to use him because he had been in two out of three days with a lot of pitches,” Macha said.

Pitching for the seventh time in the team’s past 11 games — over a 12-day span — Loe recalled memories of his stellar month of June in Tuesday’s seventh, retiring the Cardinals in order on three groundouts and just 15 pitches. But the eighth inning was a different story.

Just when Loe appeared to be back to his usual, dominant self, he gave up a pair of singles around a grounder to short, prompting Macha to call Axford’s number.

Axford, called upon to pitch more than one inning for the ninth time this season — six of which have been saves — allowed a run on a wild pitch before escaping with the lead intact. In the ninth, Axford shut down St. Louis in order, securing his 18th save of the season.

Axford picked up his sixth save of more than an inning in length in six chances and recorded his ninth appearance of four outs or more. In 36 games this season, Axford has yet to pitch less than a full frame.

“It’s been three in a row now,” Axford said, referring to his save Thursday of 1 2/3 innings and win Saturday, in which he went two full innings. “It’s fine with me, in all honesty. If that’s the way it’s going to be, that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Loe and Axford closed out a stellar performance by right-handed starter Dave Bush, who cruised through six innings, giving up just one run — Albert Pujols’ 31st homer — on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

Bush (6-10) left after just 91 pitches due to a blister on his pitching hand. Before that early exit, Bush kept the Cardinals’ hitters off balance all night, allowing no more than one baserunner in any inning.

“The biggest thing was keeping the ball down,” Bush said. “There wasn’t anything in particular that was working unusually well, but I was commanding my fastball down in the zone.”

Bush outdueled rookie Jaime Garcia, whose manager said he was “in some of his best form.”

Garcia (10-6) tossed his 16th quality start of the season and fifth of no earned runs at home, giving up just three unearned runs on five hits over six innings pitched. The left-hander was roughed up in two innings, though, both of which were marked by Felipe Lopez errors.

In the third inning, Lopez’s error proved costly. Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee belted a two-run homer to center field, which capped a three-run inning and proved to be the eventual game-winner.

“We lost that game because of me. That’s all,” Lopez said. “I make those plays, we win.”

After a quiet three-game series in Colorado, McGehee was swinging as hot a bat as ever.

Entering the game just 1-for-7 against Garcia with a walk and a strikeout, McGehee hit the ball hard up the middle in each of his three at-bats, including the two-run homer.

McGehee’s second-inning single was ripped hard off Garcia’s left leg, ricocheting into foul territory on the third-base side. An inning later, McGehee belted his 19th homer of the season.

McGehee has hit safely in 12 of his past 14 games, batting .411 (23-for-56) in that stretch with five home runs and 19 RBIs. In the 21 games since July 25, when he broke a homerless streak, McGehee has gone .370 (30-for-81) with six home runs and 22 RBIs.

“It’s a whole [heck] of a lot of luck,” McGehee joked. “The biggest thing was just confidence, I think. For a while there, I was making it a little too complicated.

“I just tried to get back to trying to playing my game and not be something I’m not.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The ’80s were a banner decade for Crew

June 25, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — If you were at County Stadium on that late October day in 1982, you might never guess the celebration was for the World Series runners-up.

When Robin Yount circled the warning track at County Stadium on a Harley Davison motorcycle, the crowd of more than 20,000 fans was thrilled for the return of their beloved Milwaukee Brewers.

To this day, the Brewers’ 1982 team is adored by fans for giving Milwaukee its first World Series since the Milwaukee Braves won back-to-back National League pennants in 1957-58.

After finishing the previous decade with what remains the club’s best record to date in 1979, the Brewers enjoyed their greatest success of any decade in the 1980s, finishing .500 or better five times while reaching the playoffs twice and making the franchise’s only World Series appearance in ’82.

This weekend, as a part of the 40th anniversary of the move from Seattle, the Brewers are celebrating and reflecting on the club’s second decade in Milwaukee. On Friday, the team will wear reproductions of its 1978-89 uniforms, highlighted by pinstripes with “BREWERS” block letters on the front and the ball and glove logo on the cap. The Mariners will wear light blue road uniforms worn from 1981-84.

On Sunday, all fans in attendance will get a bobblehead doll commemorating Cecil Cooper’s base hit to drive home the winning runs in Game 5 of the 1982 American League Championship Series.

Harvey’s Wallbangers
While nearly everyone’s first thought of great Brewers teams goes immediately to the 1982 squad, the 1981 team was impressive in its own right.

With a 62-47 record, the Brewers finished with the best overall mark in the AL East and earned a playoff berth for their second-half record due to the split schedule that season caused by the players’ strike from June 12 to Aug. 10.

But while the Brewers lost the division series to the Yankees, three games to two, the 1981 season is remembered fondly by the players involved.

“That was probably our best team, we just jumped out in front and never looked back,” said Rollie Fingers, who won the AL MVP and Cy Young Awards in 1981. “It was a shame we had the strike in the middle of it, but it may have helped me.

“I remember I only gave up one earned run in Milwaukee that year. It was on a triple to Freddie Patek, I remember. It was one of those years where nothing went wrong.”

Following the club’s first-ever playoff appearance in 1981, expectations were high for the Brewers in 1982. Through the season’s first two months, however, things did not go as planned.

After the Brewers struggled to a 23-24 record on June 1, manager Buck Rodgers was fired in favor of Harvey Kuenn. With that, Harvey’s Wallbangers were born.

“When I think about the 1982 season, that’s the first thing that comes to mind: Harvey’s Wallbangers,” said Robin Yount, who won the first of his two AL MVP awards in 1982. “We worked hard, but we had a lot of fun that season, too. We wanted to win it for Harvey, and we did it his way.”

Over the last four months of the season, the Brewers went 72-43 to finish first in the AL East, one game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles. After losing in the division series the year before, the Brewers returned to the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

As they squared off with the California Angels in the AL Championship Series, the Brewers immediately dropped the first two games of the series in Anaheim. But as the series returned to Milwaukee, the Brewers swept all three games at County Stadium, including a thrilling 4-3 victory to clinch the AL pennant.

Milwaukee loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, which led to the most famous single of Cooper’s career, a two-run hit that put the Brewers on top and won the series.

After winning the ALCS, the Brewers were set to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the “Suds Series,” the first World Series in club history. Though they fell short in Game 7, the 1982 season remains fresh in the memories of players and fans alike.

“My career might be over, and the games are in the past, but the memories, those last forever,” second baseman Jim Gantner said. “That group of guys we had those years, it was unique. No matter how many teams you look at, I don’t think you could find another with so many characters like we had. It was incredible.”

“Pitching was the difference”
But the Brewers would not make it back to the playoffs in the 1980s.

Despite having much the same ballclub as the previous two seasons, the Brewers dropped from first in the AL East in 1981-82 to fifth in ’83, seventh in ’84 and sixth in ’85 and ’86.

In looking back, Yount sees a distinct difference between the successful clubs of the 1981-82 seasons and those that never made it back to the playoffs in the years following that success.

“Pitching was the difference,” Yount said. “I think that’s true of any great team. Look at any team that wins a championship, they’ve probably got great pitching.”

When asked if it was disappointing not to make it back to the playoffs in his career, Yount did not hold back his feelings on the matter.

“Of course it was disappointing,” Yount said. “That’s an understatement.”

Though they still would not reach the playoffs over the decade’s final three seasons, the 1987 team would provide plenty of memories.

And all within the first two weeks.

Streaking
To open what turned out to be a wild and wacky season, the Brewers tied a Major League record, winning its first 13 games of the year. One month later, the club lost 12 in a row.

But the 13-game stretch to open the season is among many Brewers fans’ favorite memories. Along the way, two highlights stand out.

First, in the team’s ninth game of the season, lefty Juan Nieves tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history, blanking the Orioles on April 15, 1987, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

Nieves became the first Puerto Rican-born pitcher to toss a no-hitter, but he couldn’t do it without a little help from Yount, who made a tremendous no-hitter-saving catch in center field for the 27th and final out.

“There’s no way I wasn’t going to catch that ball,” Yount said. “When I saw it, I just took off running. There’s no time to think in that kind of situation. So I just reacted and luckily I got there and was able to be part of the Brewers’ only no-hitter.”

Three days later, the current Brewers hitting coach delivered the most famous home run in Brewers history, on Easter Sunday no less.

With the winning streak on the line, the Brewers headed to the ninth down, 4-1. At that point, the might have Brewers thought it was over, as did their fans. With that in mind, the crowd of 29,357 gave a standing ovation in appreciation for the 11-game win streak.

But it was far from over.

With two on and one out, slugger Rob Deer crushed a 1-0 curveball out to left, tying the game at 4-4. Rookie B.J. Surhoff followed Deer with a strikeout, but after a walk was drawn by Gantner, the switch-hitting Dale Sveum had a chance to make it 12 in a row.

He did just that.

With a full count, Sveum got a cut fastball, waist-high over the middle of the plate. Sveum jumped on it and blasted a two-run walk-off homer, sending County Stadium into a frenzy, as the Brewers had won their 12th straight to start the season.

“It was one of those games where nobody really wanted to leave,” said Brewers infielder Craig Counsell, a Wisconsin native who stood in the stands that day as a 16-year-old. “If you were there, you’d remember it.”

Later that season, Paul Molitor drew national attention when he hit in a team record 39 straight games. It remains the seventh-longest hitting streak in big league history, and fifth-longest since 1900.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.