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Brewers offense in full gear

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Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Saturday, May 13, 2017

If the Milwaukee Brewers’ rebuilding process indeed is pushing forward a bit ahead of schedule, you can thank the offense for providing the nudge.

The Brewers have relied heavily on home runs this season – nothing wrong with that as long as they keep coming – but they also showed they can keep the line moving during an eight-run outburst in the fifth inning Saturday night at Miller Park.

The result was an 11-4 victory over the New York Mets, the Brewers’ fourth in five games on this home stand. For the first time since the next-to-last day of the 2014 season, Milwaukee stands three games above .500 (20-17).

By scoring 11 runs for the second time in five days, the Brewers boosted their season total to 192, an average of 5.2 per game. Only the Washington Nationals have scored more runs (213) among the 30 major-league clubs.

Travis Shaw, who has been everything the Brewers hoped for in a cleanup hitter (eight homers, 30 RBI), started the big fifth inning with a single and capped it with a three-run homer. In between, eight hitters combined for three singles, a double, two walks and a couple of outs.

Six hitters came to the plate before reliever Hansel Robles recorded the first out. Keon Broxton singled in a run, Orlando Arcia sent home two with a liner off the wall in left and pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar doubled in two more before Shaw broke the game wide open with his blast to right.

Brewers starter Zach Davies has been searching all year for the consistent, pinpoint command he displayed over long stretches in 2016. That search continued against the Mets with mixed success.

New York pushed across three runs in the second inning after one-out singles by T.J. Rivera and Curtis Granderson and a walk to Lucas Duda. Davies got ahead of No. 8 hitter Kevin Plawecki, 0-2, but threw three straight balls and had to come in with a fastball, which the .083 hitter whacked to left for a two-run double.

Behind the box score

Reliever Corey Knebel was given a second night off after throwing 41 pitches Thursday against Boston, including 33 in the eighth inning. It was a career high and in a tense situation with the score, 1-1, and the Red Sox putting runners on second and third with no outs. Knebel eventually escaped by striking out two hitters.

“It did feel different (afterward),” Knebel said. “The last time I did that was three years ago in Double-A (in Detroit’s system). “I was a long reliever back then and I was used to it. This time, I was able to dig deep and find something.”

Knebel shrugged off the 41 pitches, saying, “When you think about it, it’s just 11 more than 30, which we’re used to throwing.” Hard to argue with that math.

Stat sheet

Reliever Jacob Barnes pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts and he needed it. After allowing no earned runs in his first 12 appearances, Barnes had a 13.50 ERA over his next seven outings, including two more runs Friday when he couldn’t get out of the ninth inning despite inheriting a 7-2 lead.

“These guys are going to go through little phases,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He went through something like this in spring training and got back to a good place.”

*Davies picked off Michael Conforto at second base for the first out of the game. It was the ninth pickoff for the Brewers this season, including seven at second base. Catchers have nabbed three at second.

Takeaway

To have a successful offense, many hitters must contribute. That was the case in the big fifth inning and it has been the reason why the Brewers’ offense has been one of the most productive in the majors. And they’ve done it with Ryan Braun missing most of the last two weeks.


Last updated: 11:46 pm Saturday, May 13, 2017


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