Crew 'catalyst' Adames sparks much-needed win

September 21st, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- There’s no doubt where Willy Adames’ priorities are these days. He tallied four hits on Tuesday night and was despondent because the Brewers lost. Only after he hit his 31st home run of the season in the sixth and then circled the bases on Mike Brosseau’s pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 6-0 win over the Mets at American Family Field could Adames crack a postgame smile.

“I would rather go 1-for-4 with a win than go 4-for-4 and we lose,” said Adames, the Brewers’ hottest September hitter. “I just want us to win. That’s my goal.”

That sense of urgency is warranted. The Brewers needed Wednesday’s win not only to snap a three-game losing streak and avoid being swept by the postseason-bound Mets, but also to put some pressure on the Phillies as Milwaukee chases the National League’s final Wild Card berth.

It’s still a steep climb. The Brewers were two games back pending the Phillies’ game on Wednesday night and must pass Philadelphia (or San Diego, the next team up the Wild Card standings) to get into the postseason. The Brewers have 13 games to close the gap.

“It’s not the playoffs, because it’s 13 games, but look, we know we have to win,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We know we have to play well. So we know what’s in front of us, but I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s the playoffs because it’s 13 games in 14 days. That’s a different scenario and that’s still going to [require] some different decisions.

“But we know we have to put the gas pedal down, for sure. We did that this homestand and we’ll continue to.”

Said Adames: “Obviously, we have to get it right. We have to get it together and win the most games we can these next two weeks and try to buy ourselves a spot in the playoffs and battle after that.”

The Brewers took a step in the right direction as starter Adrian Houser and five relievers combined on a four-hit shutout, while Adames sparked the offense with a solo home run off Taijuan Walker in the sixth inning for the game’s first run. An inning later, Brosseau then delivered the day’s big blow.

With two outs in the seventh, a run already in and Mets lefty David Peterson in a jam, Adames was intentionally walked to load the bases for Rowdy Tellez’s spot in the order. Counsell countered with the right-handed-hitting Brosseau, and Mets manager Buck Showalter countered with right-hander Drew Smith for his first appearance in nearly two months coming off a lat injury. Smith pitched into an 0-2 count, but Brosseau fouled off two fastballs before getting a slider he could drive over the left-field wall.

Two players share the MLB lead with three pinch-hit home runs this season, and it’s quite a pair: Brosseau and surefire Hall of Famer Albert Pujols.

“I don’t think [Brosseau] had an at-bat on the homestand, so it’s just really impressive,” Counsell said. “But Mike’s always ready. That’s one thing -- he’s as prepared and as on top of game situations as anybody we have.”

“Any big-time win, especially late in September when you’re in a playoff push, is huge,” Brosseau said. “We’re going to do the best we can to carry that momentum into our next series, but we’re still going to take it day by day. We know where we are in the standings, we know we have to take care of business to get to where we want to be and this is just one stepping stone toward that.”

The Brewers have four games in Cincinnati from Thursday-Sunday before the home stretch -- literally. Their last nine regular-season games are all at home against the Cardinals, Marlins and D-backs.

Adames will try to continue leading the way. Including Wednesday, when he was 1-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored, a 103.3 mph lineout and a 107.1 mph home run, Adames is 40-for-124 (.323) with eight homers and 28 RBIs over his last 31 games.

“He’s been our catalyst for the last month or so,” Brosseau said. “What he’s been doing at the plate, it doesn’t look like he’s ever off time. He’s taking his walks, he’s taking what the pitcher gives him. I think that’s the difference that I’ve seen, visually, from Willy, and obviously, he’s always had that power. … The results speak for themselves.” 

Then there’s his energy. 

“Willy can roll out of bed and play nine innings,” Brosseau said. “His energy is a big reason why he’s such an important part of this team. Everybody feeds on him and he definitely shows up for work every day.”