Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Brewers' bats stay hot in Target Field opener

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Brewers' badly-needed offensive surge wasn't limited to hitters' havens in Colorado and Arizona.

Continuing a high-scoring road trip in a ballpark not always conducive to putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard, Ji-Man Choi homered in his return to the big leagues and Jesus Aguilar went deep twice to back Brent Suter's finest start of the season in an 8-3 win over the Twins on a summery Friday at Target Field.

View Full Game Coverage

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Brewers' badly-needed offensive surge wasn't limited to hitters' havens in Colorado and Arizona.

Continuing a high-scoring road trip in a ballpark not always conducive to putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard, Ji-Man Choi homered in his return to the big leagues and Jesus Aguilar went deep twice to back Brent Suter's finest start of the season in an 8-3 win over the Twins on a summery Friday at Target Field.

View Full Game Coverage

The Brewers guaranteed a winning road trip with their sixth victory in eight games while reclaiming the top spot in the National League Central from the Pirates. They are the first team in the NL to 27 wins.

"Every night it's somebody different. Tonight it was me. Tomorrow it can be somebody else," Aguilar said. "We're hitting good, we're playing like a unit, like a great team. The offense is good."

Video: MIL@MIN: Choi clobbers a solo homer in the 2nd

Trouble was, the offense hadn't shown it before this 10-game trip. The Brewers hit the road ranked 28th in the Majors at 3.7 runs per game, but have averaged 5.9 runs on 10.9 hits in eight games since. In their six victories over the Rockies, D-backs and Twins, the Brewers have averaged 7.7 runs on 12.8 hits. 

On Friday, manager Craig Counsell almost -- not quite, but almost -- let the word "comfortable" slip past his lips when describing what that kind of production can do for a team.

"You get some leads like that and it's an easier game in the late innings, for sure," Counsell said.

Aguilar helped by launching a 415-foot, two-run home run off Twins starter Kyle Gibson in a three-run third inning, then connected against side-arming reliever Trevor Hildenberger in the seventh for a hooking line drive that struck the left-field foul pole for the third multi-homer game of Aguilar's career.

He is vital to the Brewers' offense at the moment because the top two first basemen on the Opening Day depth chart -- Eric Thames (thumb) and Ryan Braun (back) -- are on the 10-day disabled list.

Video: MIL@MIN: Braun hits 10-day DL with back tightness

"It's the power, for sure. But it's kind of 'hitability,'" Counsell said. "There's adjustments made, you know? The last homer is on a pretty good slider down, a two-strike slider down, and he still puts a really good swing on it and puts a ball in play and it ends up going out of the park. He's that strong.

"He's doing a heck of a job, man. He's hitting in the middle of the lineup and he's producing and driving in runs when we need him to. He's been huge for us."

On Friday, Brewers hitters spotted Suter a 5-0 lead by the middle of the third inning, and Suter responded with his best 2018 start. His six strikeouts and 5 2/3 innings pitched were both season-highs for the left-hander, who scattered five hits plus one walk and didn't surrender a run until his final batter, Max Kepler, lifted a sacrifice fly for the second out of the sixth.

"Runs help," Suter said. "It kind of eases the tension of the game."

Said Counsell: "You feel like it's different guys, and that's what's good. You feel like you have a lot of guys feeling good, and you don't have to count on one guy every day."

Video: MIL@MIN: Suter saves run from scoring on comebacker

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Choi goes deep: Talk about making the most of limited opportunities. Choi delivered a pinch-hit double and scored the winning run in the 10th inning of the Brewers' Opening Day win in San Diego, only to be optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs the next day. He returned Friday to replace Braun and hit the third pitch he saw into the bullpen for a 1-0 Brewers lead in the second inning. It was Choi's first big league homer since he connected against current teammate Junior Guerra last July 7 for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

"It's really important -- especially because it was the first run of the game as well," Choi said. "I'm all about the victory." More >

Video: MIL@MIN: Choi on his return to the Majors

Kepler comes close: Kepler homered off Boone Logan and drove in all three runs for the Twins, but a few feet here and there, and it could have been a special night for Kepler, and an especially tough one for Suter. In the second inning with a man on base, Kepler hit a long double that hit the top of the right-field wall and caromed back into play to put runners at second and third with no outs. Suter escaped without allowing either man to score. Then, in the sixth with two aboard, Kepler hit another deep drive to right field that struck the high outfield wall only a few feet foul. Two pitches later, Kepler hit a routine sacrifice fly to make it a 5-1 game.

"If he does some damage there, it's a different ballgame," Suter said. "Kepler had a couple that just missed home runs. He's been a tough out for me since 2014, playing him in Double-A. He's just a really good hitter, so you have to tip your cap sometimes; we've had some good battles. Other than that, I felt like I was in control pretty well."

Video: MIL@MIN: Kepler clobbers a homer to right in the 8th

UP NEXT
What does 21-year-old Freddy Peralta have in store for career start No. 2? Tune in Saturday to find out, when the Brewers' No. 9 prospect takes the mound for the follow-up to his 13-strikeout debut against the Rockies on Mother's Day. Peralta set a Brewers rookie record for strikeouts and became the fourth pitcher since 1893 to whiff at least a baker's dozen in his big league debut. Right-hander Fernando Romero starts for Minnesota at 6:10 p.m. CT.

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

Milwaukee Brewers