These kids can hit.
Grisham’s first Miller Park home run was a go-ahead, three-run shot in the eighth inning Wednesday that sent the Brewers to a 6-5 win over the Twins and a split of the teams’ two-game Interleague Series -- not to mention some payback after Minnesota beat Milwaukee with its own three-run homer in the eighth inning Tuesday.
Grisham’s no-doubter off Twins Trade Deadline pick-up Sergio Romo was the 22-year-old’s second Major League home run -- Grisham went deep at Wrigley Field on the last road trip -- and capped an 11-hit attack that began in the first inning with Grisham’s leadoff single and Hiura’s RBI base hit. Hiura’s OPS through 212 big league at-bats is .962. Grisham’s is .893 through 35 at-bats.
“They’re getting great opportunities in fun baseball in a playoff chase. They’re making the most of it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Trent has been outstanding since he’s been here. He’s done a fabulous job. Keston has continued to put together great at-bats. We have two young players -- two rookies -- hitting leadoff or hitting No. 4 or No. 2 in your lineup. They’re making the most of it and they’ve earned it in those spots.”
Counsell added, “I think a lot of times young players can provide sparks for teams.”
Grisham provided some relief from what had been another frustrating day for Brewers hitters in scoring opportunities. Going into that inning, they were 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position in the game, 9-for-51 on the homestand and 20-for-100 in August.
“That kid gave me a good at-bat yesterday, too,” Romo said. “You have to tip your cap to the kid, because he seemed ready and prepared. Just tried to make good pitches and pitch to my strengths and I just missed. Go figure, I missed. I don’t like to make a lot of mistakes. I know that I can’t make too many mistakes, because the mistakes I make with the situation that I’m privileged to be pitching in, they’re loud. They’re loud. It hurts. I ain’t gonna lie, it hurts. I made quality pitches and just one today wasn’t.”
“We were grinding out at-bats and wearing down their pitchers,” Grisham said. “You could see the frustration in some of the at-bats on their faces. You keep looking up and it’s a two-run game, a three-run game. We were always within a swing. Just heady baseball playing, taking dirtball reads, going long at-bats, grinding [Twins pitchers] down. You just felt like something good had to happen.”
It took 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to help Grisham make that something good happen after Gio Gonzalez endured his poorest start in a Brewers uniform. The power-hitting Twins hit three homers off Gonzalez, including solo shots from Mitch Garver and Eddie Rosario in the first inning, and chased the veteran left-hander with two outs in the fourth.
Jeremy Jeffress, newcomer Ray Black, Junior Guerra, Alex Claudio and Matt Albers combined to blank the Twins the rest of the way, though things got interesting for Albers in the ninth. Counsell decided that he would stay away from slumping closer Josh Hader, who threw only six pitches in another blown save Tuesday night, so Claudio was called upon for the first out of the ninth, followed by Albers the rest of the way. Albers created trouble by walking Jorge Polanco and Sano with two outs, then pitched around Rosario and walked him, too. When Albers threw ball 1 to C.J. Cron, he had missed the strike zone with 11 consecutive pitches.
“I would have liked to get out of there without walking three guys, but watching their lineup, you can’t make a mistake over the heart of the plate in a one-run game,” Albers said.
The win boosted the Brewers as they chase the Cubs for first place in the National League Central, while also battling for an NL Wild Card spot.
That means more pressure-packed games ahead for the rookies in the top half of the Brewers’ lineup.
“I love the way they go about their business,” Gonzalez said. “They’re fun to watch. They bring an excitement, a joy, to what we’ve been experiencing with them. That’s the bonus of having young guys. These guys don’t have no chip on their shoulders. They just want to have fun.”
Said Grisham: “You’re just trying to help the team win up here all the time. That’s really the fun thing about being up here -- you can see the team consensus goal is ‘just win.' And winning is fun.”