Magic number down to 5 after Crew sweeps
Red-hot Brewers have ‘a chance to do some real special stuff’
CLEVELAND -- The 2021 Milwaukee Brewers don’t just play baseball games anymore. They come to the ballpark, strap on some gear and then, on a near-daily basis, cement their status in the franchise record books.
A National League Central title has long been a formality, but the Brewers keep piling up the victories and adding to their argument as the best ballclub (in the regular season, at the least) in team history. With their latest win Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field -- an 11-1 throttling of the Indians that completed a weekend sweep and lowered the magic number to five -- the Brewers extended their record to a franchise-best 34 games over .500.
We don’t yet know if these Brewers can do as the 1982 club did and reach the World Series, but they are already making mincemeat of the regular-season records set by Harvey’s Wallbangers.
“We’re a dangerous team when everything’s working,” said starter Eric Lauer, who gave the Brew Crew 5 1/3 strong innings near minutes from his hometown of Grafton, Ohio. “We’ve got studs on the mound left and right, and then we’re hitting six, seven homers a game. It’s just unbelievable what we’re doing right now and the way guys are seeing the ball, the way guys are throwing the ball. Everything’s clicking, and I think it’s right at the right time.”
How good are things going? In this three-game series, the Brewers scored 24 runs while allowing only seven hits.
In the process, the Brewers added to their best road record in baseball.
What’s notable about the Brewers’ 89-55 record is that they have fared even better away from Milwaukee (49-24) than they have at American Family Field (40-31). The road win total is another club record that was officially set with the combined no-hitter by Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader on Saturday night and elongated Sunday.
“There’s no great explanation for it,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We’ve just played exceptionally well on the road. I think we’re a good baseball team. It’s just happened to line up really well on the road.”
And they still have eight more road dates to add to a tally that could be cemented as the franchise ceiling for a long while.
Speaking of a long while, the Brewers went 34 years between no-hitters. It initially appeared they might go less than 24 hours between them this time, because the lefty Lauer, who had no shortage of friends and family in attendance, held Cleveland hitless for five innings.
“Actually, honestly, after the one last night, I said something to one of my buddies,” Lauer said. “I said, ‘You think there’s ever been back-to-back no-hitters?’ Confidence going in really played a role.”
OK, so Lauer wasn’t able to make the Brewers the first team since the 1917 St. Louis Browns (who, of course, began their existence as the Milwaukee Brewers) to throw a no-hitter on back-to-back days (the Browns had two in three games, with the second day a doubleheader against the White Sox). Indians catcher Ryan Lavarnway saw to that with a leadoff single in the sixth.
But between the Brewers’ continued pitching prowess and an offense that again erupted (Kolten Wong and Avisaíl García both went deep twice, Manny Piña also went deep, and Luis Urías, Piña and Eduardo Escobar all had RBI singles in the second, as the Brewers unloaded on Aaron Civale and the Cleveland 'pen), Milwaukee’s latest win was a laugher.
These Brewers do a lot of winning and a lot of laughing.
“We have a chance to do some real special stuff,” Lauer said. “Everybody can feel it. Everybody knows the depth and the bats that we have. It’s a really cool feeling to be a part of.”