The Milwaukee Brewers are both literally and figuratively firing on all cylinders.
Taking game one of the 2011 NLDS by a 4-1 mark Saturday afternoon, Ron Roenicke and his suddenly hot-hitting crew took to Miller Park on Sunday afternoon with high expectations…possibly too high. Milwaukee slugged their way towards a 9-4 victory over Kirk Gibson and company behind Zack Greinke — a man who has yet to lose at home this season.
Here’s five key observations to take away from games one and twp with the series now shifting to Arizona.
Everyone is Hitting
Seldom has Milwaukee put together such a valiant effort against top-notch pitching in consecutive games in 2011, but, then again, isn’t this the postseason? In games one and two, everyone in Ron Roenicke’s lineup seemed to be contributing toward a winning cause, leading to Milwaukee’s weekend sweep of Arizona.
On Saturday, the Brewers dismantled Cy Young-candidate Ian Kennedy to the tune of four runs on eight hits in just 6.2 innings of work. Sunday was much the same, as Milwaukee got to 24-year-old Daniel Hudson, putting up five runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings of work. I would be sweating if I was Charlie Manuel right about now.
Ron Roenicke Is a Genius (as If We Didn’t Already Know That)
Unimpressed with Casey McGehee’s performance at the end of the season, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke elected to put veteran and utility-man extraordinaire Jerry Hairston in at the hot corner to start the series.
Needless to say, the move payed off handsomely.
In game one, Hairston managed a sacrifice fly to center field that would score Ryan Braun in the fourth inning, breaking what was then a magnificent pitcher’s duel. He would also make a few key put-outs at third base during the game, as well.On Sunday afternoon, No. 15 worked his magic once more. Going 3-for-4 with a run scored, Hairston was an essential piece to Milwaukee’s puzzle in taking both games at home.
It’s as if Roenicke can see into the future…
John Axford…’Nuff Said
Trevor Hoffman, you’ve done well.
In his first go-around as Milwaukee’s full-time closer, John Axford has performed above what anyone could have expected. He hasn’t blown a save since last spring, and he’s only now getting recognition for it.
The former cellphone salesman and bartender set a franchiser record for saves in a season (46) in 2011, and quickly transitioned his regular-season success to the postseason. On Saturday, Axford worked a one-two-three ninth inning including a strikeout against Arizona. Sunday was no different, as Axford closed the door in the ninth inning with two emphatic punchouts to put the Brewers up 2-0 in this 2011 NLDS series.
Yovani Gallardo Looks Unstoppable
What Yovani Gallardo has been able to accomplish in just four complete seasons as a starter for the Brewers is nothing short of spectacular. However, it may be what he has yet to achieve that will be most impressive.
In his first truly meaningful postseason start, the 25-year-old Gallardo went the distance, administering nine strikeouts and just four hits in eight innings of work while giving up just one run. His outstanding performance would make John Axford’s job a whole lot more easy. If he can keep this pace up, the Brewers should like their chances against either Philadelphia or St. Louis in the NLCS (assuming they make it that far).
Ryan Braun is Really, Really Good (and Is clearly NL MVP)
Just kidding. We knew this after his first big-league game.
It’s hard not to be in complete awe of what Ryan Braun brings to each and every at-bat. One of the few traditional five-tool players inMLB today, Milwaukee’s left fielder is showing what he can do on the brightest of stages.
Through both games of this NLDS series, Braun has gone 6-for-8 with four runs scored, a home run and three runs batted in. Sorry, Matt Kemp. The NL MVP resides in Milwaukee.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @alecdopp.