Three takeaways after Brewers' homestand ends with a bang

April 7th, 2024

MILWAUKEE – belted his first two home runs of the season and just missed another in the Brewers’ 12-4 win over the Mariners on Sunday to close the opening homestand at American Family Field on a high note.

A day after being presented with his 2023 Silver Slugger Award -- the first Brewers catcher ever to win the honor -- Contreras looked the part with four hits and five RBIs. He singled and scored in a three-run first inning, hit a two-run homer to left field in a three-run second, lofted a long RBI single off the right field wall in a four-run fourth and capped the day with another two-run homer to center in the eighth -- with Mariners third baseman Josh Rojas pitching in a blowout.

“A day like today is what I work for,” Contreras said. “I’m able to [hit] to all three parts of the yard, and that’s what I’m working on. A day like today shows the kind of hitter I am.”

Said Brewers starter : “He’s the complete player.”

It wasn’t just the hitting. Manager Pat Murphy also praised Contreras’ work with Rea, who managed to work six innings of two-run ball despite an illness, giving the Brewers (6-2) the kind of lopsided game they hadn’t yet played this year. Each of their first five victories prior to Sunday were decided by three or fewer runs, including a trio of one-run wins.

But Sunday, the Brewers had a 10-2 lead by the end of the fourth inning. They finished with 14 hits, one shy of a season high, and were able to rest the bullpen thanks to covering the final three innings.

Here are three takeaways from a winning opening homestand:

looks legit
When he punched a two-out single to the opposite field in the third inning, Chourio had a hit in seven of the first eight games of his Major League career. That includes hits in four of the five games on the homestand -- and his first two Major League home runs.

Surely, there will be stretches in which he slumps. But Chourio belongs.

“I think I’m feeling better every single AB,” Chourio said. “I’m just going to go out there and keep letting the confidence grow with every at-bat that I get.”

Some hitters keep a book on every new pitcher they face. Some do it by memory. How is Chourio keeping track of these experiences?

“I think for the majority of the time, I get them filed in my head,” he said. “Mostly I stick to the scouting reports, too, that we get from the hitting coaches. I like to see video a little bit more than anything, so here, you have a lot more of it. That’s helpful.”

looks different
The sensational defense is still there -- like Turang’s over-the-shoulder snag of a Julio Rodríguez pop-up in the third inning on Sunday. Turang covered 80 feet to make the play, according to Statcast.

“Those are game-changing moments,” Rea said.

But it’s at the plate where Turang has been a different player. He bulked up over the offseason, has been choking up on a bat with a hockey puck-style knob and is displaying a much better approach than a year ago, when he had a 60 wRC+ as a rookie. His wRC+ so far this season is 133, meaning he’s been 33 percent above league average as an offensive player.

“He’s still a long way away from how good he’s going to be,” Murphy said.

It’s all a little different with Murphy at the helm
After years of Hall & Oates flowing from American Family Field’s sound system after victories, it’s Glory Days now, since Murphy is a Bruce Springsteen fan. He is not a newcomer to the organization but many of his players are, and they are making an impact.

Take Jake Bauers, who has already shown the kind of defense at first base the Brewers had been lacking, and third baseman Oliver Dunn, who spent last season at Double-A in the Phillies organization. Originally, Dunn was hitting cleanup on Sunday and Bauers sixth, but first base coach Quintin Berry suggested to Murphy that he might consider taking some pressure off scheduled leadoff man Sal Frelick by jumbling the order.

To Berry’s surprise, Murphy did it, moving Dunn to the top of the order, slotting Bauers at cleanup and dropping Frelick to sixth. And it worked.

After the Mariners scored off Rea in the first inning, Dunn hit a leadoff single and stole second before scoring on Bauers' base hit. Frelick followed two batters later with a two-run double that gave the Brewers the lead for good.

“I change my mind all the time,” Murphy said with a grin.

Said Dunn: “Just the first AB of a game, it was cool. It was last-minute too, which was a little bit of a surprise. But I was excited about it.”