PHOENIX — Ryan Braun hit his second homer of the spring and added a single to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Wednesday.
Braun raised his batting average from .800 to .875 with the hits and now has seven hits in his first eight Cactus League at-bats. He has also walked twice, giving him a .900 on-base percentage.
”I pride myself on coming to spring training in good shape and ready to compete,” Braun said. ”But I really don’t remember spring trainings to be honest with you. I don’t remember ever coming in completely lost, but you don’t want to be too locked in too early.
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”You hope for a gradual progression and to peak right before the season starts.”
Braun said the right thumb injury, which hampered him before he missed the final 65 games due to a suspension for his role in the Biogenesis drug scandal, as not been an issue. He has discarded any idea of any padding and is going without any protection for the thumb.
”Anything that inhibits my typical swing, I strongly dislike,” Braun said. ”We tried a lot of different things last year and I never got comfortable with any of them. I decided I’m not going to do anything this year and hope for the best.”
Braun lined a single to right center in the first before taking an 0-2 change-up from Oakland starter Jarrod Parker down the left-field line. The leading candidate to start on Opening Day, Parker allowed only two hits in 3 1/3 innings – both to Braun. Both of Braun’s home runs this spring have come against the A’s.
”Yeah, I played with fire, I told him that when I saw him,” said Parker, who asked Braun what pitch he was looking for. ”Wrong location. I wanted it to be away and it ran back over the plate. If it’s away, it’s probably swung through or fouled off.
”He was looking to battle at that point and he barreled it up.”
Mitch Haniger and Martin Maldonado added two RBI each for the Brewers.
Michael Taylor had a home run and a double, scoring both runs for the A’s. He now has five hits in the last two days, snapping out of an 0-for-10 slump. He barely missed a second home run in the third, sending Braun to the wall in right.
”Taylor really looks relaxed the last couple of games and swinging much better than we’ve seen him,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ”It’s good to see. He’s putting together a lot of good at-bats.”
Oakland: Jerrod Parker righted the ship after a rough outing in his spring opener (five earned runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings against San Francisco). He sailed through 3 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits – a Braun single in the first inning and a Braun home run in the fourth.
After getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, he retired seven straight until Braun took him deep down the left-field line.
”Mechanically I was a lot smoother this time,” Parker said. ”I wanted to make an adjustment, to sit on my back side a little bit and let my arm get through the zone. That first inning the adrenaline was going and I got out of that inning and in the second, I felt like I was smooth, a lot more aggressive and got some early outs.”
Milwaukee: Yovani Gallardo had his second impressive start of the spring, following up two scoreless innings against San Francisco with four strikeouts and one run allowed in 2 2/3 innings against Oakland. The only run he allowed was the solo homer to Young.
Gallardo finished strong striking out Billy Burns swinging and Eric Sogard looking before leaving with the bases empty. He has led the Brewers in wins each of the last four years, going 12-10 in 31 starts last season.
”I felt good. Even the home run, that wasn’t really a bad pitch,” Gallardo said. ”I tried to go in and it was down, he just put a big swing on it. If I was going to change anything, I’d throw it up in the zone and see what happens.”
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?
The game got off to an interesting start when Oakland lead-off hitter Billy Burns beat out an infield hit. Milwaukee first baseman Mark Reynolds didn’t field the ball cleanly, and Burns took one step toward second before the ball came right back to Reynolds, who walked over and tagged Burns out.
The only injury update was on Hank, who apparently is already experiencing the dog days of spring training.
The now-famous stray pooch named after Hank Aaron – who has become the hit of Maryvale Ballpark – made a second trip to the vet to have a look at his puffy red eye. Likely the result of allergies, Hank was given some medication and is listed as ”day to day” by Brewers Vice President of Communications Tyler Barnes.