Ryan Braun Continues to Kill the Phillies
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun entered yesterday’s game with absurd career numbers against the Phillies. His 1.120 OPS against them in in 186 plate appearances was his highest against any team against which he has accrued at least 30 PA. The whole line: .386/.430/.690, 66 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 30 RBI, 6 SB, 14 BB, 30 K.
Against yesterday’s starter, Kyle Kendrick, Braun entered with a career .944 OPS in 18 trips to the plate. I wonder what happened.
Braun was booed lustily by Phillies fans not only because he got caught using performance-enhancing drugs, but because he lied about it and brought test collector Dino Laurenzi into the spotlight for improper handling of his urine test. Turns out Braun knew what he was putting his body all along. Throughout the broadcast, one could hear heckles of “cheater” and “steroids” as well as “urine sample”, shockingly enough. But the booing and heckling only seemed to make Braun stronger.
Kendrick surrendered a three-run blast to Braun in the third inning, a crowd-quieter to left field. Braun returned in the fourth and took Kendrick out to right field for a solo shot. And against reliever Brad Lincoln in the eighth, Braun capped off his day with another three-run home run to left-center.
The location of all three home runs:
ESPN’s Hit Tracker classified the first home run as “Just Enough/Lucky” at 378 feet. The second one traveled 380 feet and was classified as going out by “plenty”. The third, also put under the “plenty file”, traveled 408 feet. If there is a saving grace, it’s that none of the three home runs were put into celestial orbit as Evan Gattis did to Cole Hamels last year. (The Gattis home run was the longest surrendered by any pitcher during the 2013 season.)
Some trivia: Braun’s seven RBI tied a Brewers club record last set by Jonathan Lucroy in 2012. The three home runs were the most by a Brewer in a single game since, well, Braun on April 30, 2012 against the Padres. The last opposing player to hit three homers against the Phillies was Jason Giambi on May 19, 2011 with the Rockies — also a Kendrick start.
In the post-game denouement, many questions were raised, such as: “Is the good Kendrick gone forever?”, “What’s up with Ben Revere‘s bad defense?”, and “Why is the bullpen so abysmal?” All valid questions, but sometimes you have to chalk up a loss as a loss and give credit to the opposing team. Braun wasn’t the only one swinging a hot bat — five other Brewers logged two or more hits, including Lucroy with three. Lucroy and Carlos Gomez each doubled twice. Their bullpen did a solid job of stemming any ideas of a comeback.
There were some positives to take away as well. The Phillies drew five walks against starter Kyle Lohse and six in total. They now rank third in the league in total walks drawn and third in the league with a walk rate approaching ten percent. The Phillies’ plate discipline through the first seven games is a welcome surprise, even if the usual suspects — Carlos Ruiz, Domonic Brown, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard — are the ones drawing them. Last season, the Phillies tied with the Cubs for the second-lowest walk rate in the league, below seven percent.
Ben Revere continues to hit, logging two more of them to bring his average up to .303. He has three multi-hit games out of seven so far. One of his hits was a triple. Jimmy Rollins just missed a home run in the fourth, doubling off of the wall in right-center. Rollins hasn’t homered since his Opening Day grand slam, but it’s nice to see some semblance of power after posting a career-low .097 ISO last season.