The top 10 Brewers moments of 2019
CINCINNATI -- Lorenzo Cain timed his leap perfectly and came down with a win. It was quite a way to start another memorable Brewers season.
Cain’s game-ending homer-saving catch on Opening Day against the Cardinals stood up as the Brewers’ defensive play of the year, but wasn’t the only big moment in a season that saw Christian Yelich continue to play at an MVP level before getting hurt, Josh Hader pile up more strikeouts, Ryan Braun turn back the clock to deliver clutch hits in a pennant race and Keston Hiura get his first taste of the Majors.
It all started with Cain’s catch to rob the Cards’ Jose Martinez.
“That’s a great way to start the year,” Yelich said. “That game had a little bit of everything in it. I don’t know if there’s been an ending like that on Opening Day. That gave our team a jolt a little bit.”
There were more jolts to come.
In chronological order, here are 10 of the best moments of the Brewers’ regular season:
March 28 -- Cain’s catch saves Opening Day win
Cain’s catch sealed a six-up, six-down season debut for Hader on a day in which Yelich and Mike Moustakas homered in one of the most entertaining of the Brewers’ 50 Opening Day games since the franchise moved to Milwaukee. As he trotted off the field, Cain called out his catch phrase: “Not today!”
March 30 -- Hader’s immaculate inning
Three strikeouts on nine pitches. Not that there was much doubting whether Hader was ready for the start of the season, but this proved it, and it came at a critical time with the other two members of the three-man bullpen band manager Craig Counsell dubbed “The Electric Dudes” down with injuries. Corey Knebel lost the entire season due to Tommy John surgery and Jeremy Jeffress wasn’t the same after missing the start of the year because of right shoulder weakness. But Hader remained electric on the way to breaking Dan Plesac’s franchise record for saves by a lefty pitcher.
April 20 -- Yelich continues homer spree
Yelich homered in each of the Brewers’ first four games of the season and was just getting started. A pair of home runs in Milwaukee’s 5-0 win over Cody Bellinger and the Dodgers on April 20 gave Yelich eight long balls in a six-game stretch that began with a three-homer night against the Cardinals on April 15. Yelich finished the first month with 14 home runs (including four in four bonus games in March that count toward his total) to set a club record for any month, topping Prince Fielder’s 13 homers in May 2007. And Yelich’s 34 RBIs in March/April tied his own output from last September/October for the third best “month” in franchise history, behind Cecil Cooper’s 39 RBIs in July 1983 and Greg Vaughn’s 35 RBIs in June ‘96.
May 4 -- 18 innings
In what was the second-longest game by innings in MLB in 2019, Pete Alonso homered in the ninth inning to push the Mets and Brewers deep into a Saturday night at Miller Park. The Mets took a lead in the top of the 18th, but Milwaukee worked three walks in the bottom of the frame and won on Braun’s single -- his sixth hit of the night.
May 19 -- Hiura’s first career homer
Hiura hit his first Major League home run at Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, neatly sandwiched between solo shots for Yelich and Ben Gamel in a 10-inning, 3-2 win over the Braves. The Brewers sent Hiura down in June to give Travis Shaw one more shot, but Hiura returned at the end of that month and never left, easily making him Milwaukee's Rookie of the Year.
July 27 -- Walk-off win vs. Cubs
The Theo Epstein game. Television cameras caught Epstein’s reaction when the Brewers twice rallied from a late deficit for a 5-3 win at Miller Park. Hiura’s RBI double in the eighth inning tied the game. After the Cubs went ahead with a run in the 10th, Yelich and Hiura homered off Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of that inning for a wild win at a critical time, with the July 31 Trade Deadline looming and Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns looking for direction from the field as to whether his club was a contender.
Aug. 18 -- Crazy game in nation's capital
It was like a prize fight at Nationals Park that spanned five hours and 40 minutes. The Brewers lost leads of 5-0 in the third inning and 8-5 in the sixth. They scored four runs in the ninth inning for a 12-11 lead and went ahead, 13-12, in the 13th only to see the Nats tie it both times. The Brew Crew scored twice in the 14th, holding off another comeback to finish a marathon that could end up having real implications, since it gave Milwaukee the regular-season series win between the teams.
Sept. 9 -- Yelich hits walk-off double vs. Cubs
The Cubs didn’t give Yelich anything to hit for eight innings, so he walked three times, stole three bases and became Major League Baseball’s first 40/30 player since Braun in 2012. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Yelich finally got something he could put his bat on, and he poked a walk-off double to left field. The Brewers were just getting going; this was the second of seven straight victories as they climbed back within striking distance of the postseason despite losing Yelich on Sept. 10, when he fractured his right kneecap on a foul ball.
Sept. 15 -- Braun’s go-ahead grand slam
The man has a flair for the dramatic. Braun hit a go-ahead home run in the 2008 regular-season finale against the Cubs to help clinch an NL Wild Card spot, a go-ahead home run in the Sept. '11 win over the Marlins that clinched the NL Central and delivered a pair of multihomer games during the eight-game winning streak to finish the ‘18 regular season as the Brewers won the division again. Now add this two-out, full-count grand slam to the list of Braun’s clutch home runs down the stretch.
Sept. 25 -- Clinch in Cincy
Braun did it again. His first-inning grand slam keyed a six-run rally and the Brewers improved to 10-1 in Trade Deadline pickup Jordan Lyles’ starts to clinch a spot in the postseason for the second straight year, the third time this decade, the fourth time since Mark Attanasio bought the team and the sixth time in the 50 years since the franchise moved to Milwaukee. And for the second straight season, beloved radio broadcaster Bob Uecker celebrated by dancing under a beer shower.