PITTSBURGH -- It was a Statcast-projected 430 feet on the home run for Willy Adames, and while we don’t have any hard data, how does five feet sound for his slide down the railing into the dugout?
Adames and the Brewers are having fun these days. A 10-game winning streak and a 7 1/2-game division lead will do that.
“Oh, I practiced it today,” Adames said of his ride down the railing. “I don’t know who told me to do it, but somebody told me in BP, ‘If you hit a homer today, you have to do that.’ I love that. That’s so fun. I just did it.”
Brewers manager Craig Counsell admitted his heart skipped a beat. But even the skipper cracked a smile.
“I'm rolling with Willy, man,” Counsell said. “He seems to have the right answer for a lot of things right now.”
Adames hit his eighth Brewers home run in the top of the first inning, Jace Peterson and Jackie Bradley Jr. went deep in the second and Adrian Houser pitched 6 2/3 quality innings in a 7-2 win over the Pirates on Friday at PNC Park, Milwaukee’s 10th consecutive victory in a stretch that has seen the offense come alive. It’s the Brewers’ first double-digit winning streak during the regular season in nearly two decades, since a 2003 club that wasn’t particularly good managed to get red-hot in August.
The 2021 Brewers hope to fare much better in the standings by the time October comes around, and they are off to a good start. Thanks to victories in 29 of their last 39 games since Adames walked into the visitors’ clubhouse in Cincinnati on May 22 following a trade from Tampa Bay, the Brewers reached the 50-win plateau at the second-earliest point of their schedule in franchise history -- Friday was Game No. 83; they got there in Game No. 82 in 2014. They also opened a 7 1/2-game lead over the second-place Cubs in the National League Central.
It’s the Brewers’ biggest cushion since they led the division by eight games on Sept. 8, 2011.
“We’re just rolling,” Adames said. “We come to the field with that attitude, that feeling that we’re going to win every game. Whenever you have that feeling, you have to take advantage of it. Win every game you can win. Take advantage of every base they give you. … Stealing bases, playing defense, pitchers doing their thing, moving the runner and continuing to have fun like we’ve been doing.”
With a tip of the cap to the 2018 Brewers, who won their final eight games of the regular season and then their first four games in the postseason, here are the only other double-digit regular-season winning streaks in franchise history:
13 -- April 6-20, 1987
The moniker “Team Streak” came from the Milwaukee Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, and it stuck. The ‘87 Brewers were a six-month thrill ride, beginning with a 13-0 start that set an American League record and matched the Major League mark set by the 1982 Atlanta Braves. The winning streak included the only no-hitter in Brewers history to date -- Juan Nieves at Baltimore -- for victory No. 9, an epic Easter Sunday comeback against the Rangers for victory No. 12 and tying- and go-ahead RBIs from Paul Molitor and Robin Yount in the seventh inning at the White Sox for victory No. 13.
“Never experienced anything else like it,” said Bill Schroeder, the Brewers catcher who later became their longtime television analyst. “It seemed like everything we did was magic.”
The magic didn’t last. Not two weeks removed from their winning streak, the Brewers lost 12 in a row. They finished 91-71 but third in the AL East.
10 -- Aug. 19-29, 2003
The ‘03 club went 68-94 under new manager Ned Yost but with Geoff Jenkins and Richie Sexson in the middle of the lineup it could really hit, and it put up at least six runs in seven of the 10 victories. Two of the wins were walk-offs against the Pirates, and No. 10 went to extra innings against the Reds, when the Brewers’ winning run scored on an error.
10 -- April 30-May 9, 1988
The ‘88 Brewers were under .500 when Bill Wegman and Dan Plesac combined for a 4-1 win over the Royals to finish the month of April, and then they kept on winning. Win No. 9 came courtesy of a four-run 10th inning in Kansas City, and Rob Deer hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the eighth inning for a comeback victory in win No. 10.
10 -- July 11-22, 1979
Just a year later, the Brewers put together another 10-game winning streak that again included three extra-inning wins, including a 17-inning marathon against the Indians at County Stadium for win No. 3 in which Cleveland scored in the top of the 17th but the Brewers came back with RBIs from Don Money and Gorman Thomas to win a thriller. Not even the All-Star break could cool that club; five of the victories came before the break, and five after.
10 -- June 9-17, 1978
The Brewers began ‘78 with a new GM (Harry Dalton), a new manager (George Bamberger), a nifty new ball-in-glove logo and some new players including Larry Hisle via free agency, Ben Oglivie via trade and Paul Molitor via the Draft. But they were spinning their wheels at 26-26 before going on a 10-game winning spree in June that included three victories in extra innings. It propelled Milwaukee’s first contender to a 93-69 finish -- an improvement of 26 victories over the year before.
“What was the welcome mat was now a legitimate contender,” Sal Bando said.
10 -- June 8-18, 1973
The ‘73 Brewers went 74-88 under manager Del Crandall, but they were nearly unbeatable while winning 15 of 16 games in one stretch of June including the franchise’s first double-digit winning streak. Nine of the 10 wins came on the road and three were credited to right-handed starter Jim Colborn, who went 20-12 that season to become the Brewers’ first 20-game winner.