Season-best 4 HRs lift Crew to NL-high 26 wins

Shaw, Santana, Yelich, Saladino go deep as Brewers' bats stay hot on road trip

May 16th, 2018

PHOENIX -- The Brewers went on the road searching for offense, and humidors be darned, they hit their way to the top win total in the National League.

Topping the magical four-run mark for the fifth time in the first seven games of this long trip, the Brewers smacked a season-high four home runs before making their 10th out of an 8-2 win Wednesday against the D-backs at Chase Field.

"We hit four home runs, and I thought we had some near misses, too," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "We swung the bats well as far as getting a pitch to really hit, and getting a pitch to drive. We've swung the bats well on the road trip."

The new humidor here, much like the one at Coors Field on the Brewers' previous stop, is supposed to help suppress offense. But even with a shutout loss at Colorado mixed in, Milwaukee hitters averaged 5.6 runs per game on 10.3 hits while taking both series -- 3-1 over the Rockies and 2-1 over the NL West-leading D-backs.

At 26-18, the Brewers became the first NL team to reach 26 victories. The Braves (26-16) joined them with a 4-1 win over the Cubs on Wednesday night.

"If we're hitting multiple home runs, we're going to score some runs," said Travis Shaw, who delivered the first of the Brewers' big flies to continue his hot streak.

All of the homers -- Shaw's two-run blast off the foul pole and Domingo Santana's shot on the next pitch in the first inning, Christian Yelich's two-run homer in the second inning and Tyler Saladino's solo homer to straightaway center field leading off the fourth -- came off rookie D-backs right-hander Matt Koch, who was coming off a 2.79 ERA in his last three starts while matched up against Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

On Wednesday, Koch's opposite was another rookie, Milwaukee's Brandon Woodruff, who also surrendered a home run to Daniel Descalso in the bottom of the first inning, but yielded no other hits while pitching through the end of the fifth. Woodruff walked four batters but struck out six.

"Obviously, the run support helped," said Counsell. "He went out there and didn't have many 'pressure' pitches. Getting through five was a job well done."

Woodruff took the mound with a 3-0 lead thanks to Shaw and Santana. Shaw's home run was his 10th, and started a 2-for-4 afternoon that boosted Shaw to 10-for-27 (.370) with a trio of home runs in the first seven games of this road trip, after a 5-for-50 funk through the end of the last homestand.

"Like I told you guys a few days ago, it's a work in progress," said Shaw. "There are still some things I want to clean up, but this road trip has been a step in the right direction, especially after that stretch I was on. Each day, trying to get consistent at the plate. I'm still feeling some things out, but I can't complain right now."

Yelich continued the power display with a two-run shot in the second inning, his fourth of the season, as the Brewers matched their season high for home runs in a game before they made their sixth out. And Saladino made it a four-homer afternoon by hitting his second of the series -- but the first that cleared the fence -- off Koch in the fourth.

Before Wednesday's barrage, the Brewers had topped out at three home runs in a game five times, most recently on May 1 in Cincinnati.

"As an offense, this is probably the best we've been going all year," said Yelich. "Hopefully it keeps going on this trip and we ride it out for as long as we can."


Back-to-back: Santana, still searching for his power stroke after hitting 30 home runs last year, followed Shaw in the first inning by hitting the next pitch, a high fastball, for his second homer this season. It gave the Brewers their fifth set of back-to-back home runs this season.

Four score: Yelich's line-drive blast left the bat at 112.4 mph, according to Statcast™, which tied for his highest exit velocity on a homer since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. It was also the second-hardest-hit home run for a Brewer this season behind Shaw's 113.5-mph laser on April 6. More importantly, Yelich's homer pushed the Brewers past the four-run barrier -- they are 20-4 when exceeding three runs -- and provided a prompt answer to Decalso's momentum-stealing homer for the D-backs.

"It puts us back on top, and for me it's like, 'OK, let's lock it in,'" Woodruff said. "Let's have some quick innings."


"I mentioned that to DJ [pitching coach Derek Johnson] today in an attempt to reverse it, and it worked." -- Counsell, referring to the Brewers' three-run first inning. That was their magic inning last year, but entering Wednesday they had scored only 14 first-inning runs, fewest of any inning but the eighth (13).


As the Brewers packed up Wednesday, club officials were mulling a stint on the 10-day disabled list for Ryan Braun, who missed all three games against the D-backs with a stiff back. Braun characterised it as "far more likely than not" that he hits the DL. More >


After an off-day, the Brewers finish their long trip with three games against an old friend and an old American League rival, Paul Molitor's Minnesota Twins. Left-hander Brent Suter draws the starting assignment for the opener for Milwaukee and will finally be working on a regular schedule. He last two outings were an emergency relief stint against the Indians on May 8, then a start on short rest at the Rockies on Saturday after Chase Anderson fell ill. Right-hander Kyle Gibson starts for the Twins.