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Shaw-slam Redemption: Slugger hits 465-ft. HR

Woodruff strikes out career-high 12 en route to tying for NL wins lead
@AdamMcCalvy
June 23, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers went six up, six down with six swinging strikeouts to begin Sunday’s series finale against Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. As Travis Shaw strode to the plate to lead off the bottom of the third inning, the math was on DeSclafani’s side to keep the streak alive.

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers went six up, six down with six swinging strikeouts to begin Sunday’s series finale against Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. As Travis Shaw strode to the plate to lead off the bottom of the third inning, the math was on DeSclafani’s side to keep the streak alive.

Among the 213 Major Leaguers who entered the day north of 200 plate appearances, only three had a higher strikeout rate than Shaw’s 33.5 percent. Brewers officials have not come out and said this is a make or break homestand for Shaw, but with top prospect Keston Hiura still mashing in the Minors -- he hit a grand slam Sunday for his 23rd home run in 71 games, including Hiura’s brief stint in the big leagues -- logic says time is running out for Shaw to start driving the baseball. He did that regularly in 2017 and ‘18, topping 30 homers each year, only to slip into a deep slump at the start of 2019 that has persisted beyond a stint with Triple-A San Antonio.

Shaw had one hit in his first 10 at-bats of this critical homestand when he dug in for the first time Sunday. He saw a first-pitch fastball in a left-handed hitter's favorite spot and didn’t miss it, sending the Brewers’ longest home run this season a Statcast-projected 465 feet to right field, sparking a five-run rally against the previously untouchable DeSclafani that led to a 7-5 win in front of 41,237 fans at Miller Park.

Box score

Days earlier, many of those same fans had booed a Shaw strikeout.

"There’s some urgency. I feel the urgency,” said Shaw, who went hitless in three other at-bats and is slashing .167/.275/.294. “I’m not taking anything for granted. Just trying to keep putting together good at-bats and whatever happens, happens. It’s been a struggle all year. Still kind of struggling. I'm trying to work through it."

Was Shaw’s homer the turning point Sunday?

“Because we hadn’t made contact yet, yeah,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell with a smile. "Look, when a guy punches out the first six hitters, [the home run] changes everything. It flips it pretty fast from, ‘Man, this is going to be a tough day,’ to, ‘There’s something there.’

“We put together a great inning after that.”

And a good game, as Brandon Woodruff set a career high with 12 strikeouts in seven quality innings to tie the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu for the National League lead with nine victories, and Brewers hitters overcame their early swings and misses. All eight starting position players had a hit, including home runs from Shaw and Orlando Arcia. Five different players drove in a run, including two apiece from Arcia and All-Star Game hopeful Mike Moustakas. It all turned in the bottom of the third inning, when four of the Brewers’ six hits against DeSclafani left the bat at better than 100 mph, according to Statcast, including Shaw’s 113-mph home run.

At 465 feet, it eclipsed Christian Yelich’s 462-footer from Thursday, which was preceded by Yelich’s 447-footer on Wednesday in San Diego, to become the Brewers’ longest home run this season. Anything that clears the fence counts the same, but for Shaw, it was exactly the sort of loud contact that he had been looking for.

“Some frustration, maybe, let out in that swing,” Shaw said.

"When it snowballs in general, it’s not good,” said DeSclafani, who was trying to go down and away with the pitch, but missed down and in. “I just wasn’t able to minimize damage and really keep the team in the game. We ended up coming back. If I don’t give up a five-spot there, it could be a different story here at the end of the day."

The Reds were on a six-game winning streak and the Brewers on a five-game losing streak before Milwaukee took the final two games of the four-game series.

That sent the Brewers into their final off-day before the All-Star break on a high.

“Yeah, we’ve struggled,” Shaw said. “Every team is going to struggle. There is no panic in this room. I’m sure there was panic outside the room, but to think we weren’t going to go through a stretch like that is kind of absurd in this long of a season. But we rebounded well these last two games. We’re going into the off-day feeling good.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.