MILWAUKEE — Two weeks before the All-Star break, the Brewers and the Blue Jays got the chance to showcase their own rendition of the home run derby at Miller Park this week.
Ball after ball sailed into the bleachers in right field, left field, and center, as the three-game series ended with 16 total home runs between both teams.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he can’t remember a series where there was so much power coming from both sides of a matchup.
“That was pretty impressive on both sides,” Roenicke said, with a smile. “We did a nice job.”
The Brewers have always been more successful when hitting home runs this season by a wide margin, winning just three games in which they fail to hit a long ball. With their performance on Wednesday, Milwaukee now leads the National League in home runs.
And it wasn’t just the sheer amount of jacks that left Miller Park in the three-game series. It was how they left the park. There two sets of back-to-back jacks, both from Toronto in game two. One set even happened in the ninth inning, handing closer John Axford another blown save and wasting what would have been a huge sweep for the Brewers. And, lest us not forget, there were also back-to-back-to-back jacks from the Blue Jays in that game.
But on Wednesday, the power came mostly from the home team, as Milwaukee slammed big-time home runs, including another from catcher Martin Maldonado, who is gaining a reputation for clutch power. It was in the seventh inning though that perhaps the biggest home run of the series sailed into the Miller Park bleachers.
Left fielder Ryan Braun gave the Brewers the insurance runs they needed to confidently put away Toronto, while giving himself the outright National League lead in long balls with 20.
At this point last season, Braun had just 14 home runs with 49 RBI. So Wednesday’s home run put Milwaukee’s star left fielder six homers and two RBI ahead of his pace in 2011—a season that yielded an NL MVP award.
Braun said after Wednesday’s game that the conditions and the offense was perfect for a bevy of home runs this week.
“The ball was carrying about as well as I can remember,” Braun said. “Between the warm weather, it seemed like there was a breeze blowing out, and both offenses were really swinging the bat well.”
And Braun is fully aware of how much the Brewers have needed their NL-leading home run total.
“We don’t want to rely on homers, but certainly the more we hit home runs the more successful we’ve tended to be as a team,” Braun said. “There’s a lot of depth to our lineup as far as homers go too, a lot of guys contributing.”
Against the Blue Jays, seemingly every contributed with a home run of their own, and going forward, the Brewers might have found the big-time offense that they’ve been missing in part all season long.