The Sunday Cycle: A collection of four of my thoughts from the prior week of Brewers baseball

Current Record- 34-23, First Place- NL Central

Single- So much for a repeat of last year’s season-ending May. Winners of five of their last seven, the Brewers will enter play tomorrow with a four game lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals. They began play on May 1st with a five game lead and healthy lineup from top to bottom. During a month that at times seemed to expose some weaknesses of a team that was unbeatable in April, the Brewers were able to limit their losing streaks and win some key series against top tier opponents in the Yankees and  Orioles, all without one of their most consistent hitters in Aramis Ramirez. The Brewers have now been in first place for 53 consecutive days- should this continue through the all-star break, they are going to find themselves in unfamiliar territory entering August with the division being theirs for the taking.

Double- Have to mention this, because it was one of the cooler moments I’ve witnessed while attending a Brewers game. Just how insane was Yovanni Gallardo’s walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th last Tuesday? Well, to put it into perspective, it was just the 19th time in the history of the major leagues that a pitcher has had a walk-off hit, and the first time the feat has happened since Glendon Rusch did it in 2003 (coincidentally, also in a Brewers uniform). I think everyone in the stadium was shocked except for Yovanni, who I was surprised to find has a lifetime batting average of .206 and a silver slugger award to his name. Also, while we’re on the subject of pitchers raking hits, hats off to Kyle Lohse for supporting his own cause with two RBI hits this afternoon en route to a 9-0 dismantling of the Cubs.

Triple- The pitching for the Brewers evened out a bit in May after a historically dominant April. The staff as a whole is hovering around the league average for team ERA (.345) as the starting rotation has seen some rough outings over the past couple of weeks. The bullpen has continued to be one of the best in the majors, ranking 10th overall in ERA and 8th in opponent OBP, with both of those stats skewed negatively by Wei-Chung Wang’s six-run jamborees. Throughout all of this, Kyle Lohse is emerging as the team ace, and has moved into 3rd in the NL for wins after today’s 3-hit complete-game shutout. A couple more wins from Lohse in June could put him in the running for the starting pitching gig at Target Field for the All-Star Game. While May featured some ups and downs from the pitching staff that was all but perfect in April, I still feel confident with this rotation from top to bottom, as well as the laundry list of potential starters waiting to step up in the event of injury. Every one of these guys seems capable of putting the team in a position to win on any given day.

HR- Not many people will the credit Ron Roenike for shaking up the Brewers lineup, but it’s hard to deny the skipper credit given the instant results the entire lineup has seen over the past week and a half. Prior to yesterday’s loss, the Brewers had accumulated 10+ hits in each of their prior nine games. Over the past six games, no NL team has had more runs, hits, doubles, total bases, RBIs, or a higher batting average than the Milwaukee Brewers, and absolutely everyone is contributing. Khris Davis seems to have figured it out at the plate, hitting in nine straight games before today. Carlos Gomez put together a nice 10-game hitting streak. Segura, Braun, Weeks, Gennett, and Davis all had 3-hit games; the list of hitting stats could go on and on. The Brewers have proven that the bats are capable of destroying even the best starting pitching, when hot. As we’ve seen though, they can go quiet in a hurry. It all comes down to which team shows up on which day. Regardless, the Brewers are 34-23, the best 57-game mark in franchise history: turnin’ up the heat.