Thames' HR narrowly saves Crew first basemen

June 1st, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- When Eric Thames lined a home run to PNC Park’s right-field seats amid Milwaukee’s four-run ninth inning in Thursday’s win over the Pirates, it represented the first homer by a Brewers first baseman in May.

That’s right -- Brewers first basemen were 10 innings away from going an entire calendar month without hitting a single home run. How rare is that? It’s only happened twice since the team started playing home games at homer-happy Miller Park in 2001.

The first was in August 2005, when Lyle Overbay endured a .542 OPS for the month. A rookie named Prince Fielder hit one at the end of that month, but it came as a pinch-hitter. The other drought was in June 2014, when Overbay and Mark Reynolds shared the position. Each player homered that month, but Overbay’s came as a pinch-hitter, and Reynolds’ as the third baseman.

Jesus Aguilar tacked on another first-baseman homer on a Chris Archer fastball in the third inning of Friday's 9-4 loss to the Pirates.

“It’s odd, because it’s two of the guys you most expect to be hitting home runs,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s just how it’s gone.”

First base is not the only infield corner at which production has lacked. Travis Shaw slumped all season before suffering a wrist injury that prompted a stint on the 10-day injured list. He is expected back with the team at the start of next week.

Aguilar, Thames and Shaw each have 30-homer seasons under their belts in the past two years -- Shaw in each of the past two seasons.

“If anything, that leaves me really hopeful as we move forward,” Counsell said. “It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a place we can expect some more offense. You know that those guys are too good of hitters, and it’s going to come.”

A Grandal gesture

The Miami Springs High School baseball team fell in the semifinals of the Florida High School state championships on Friday afternoon, but their surprise run to the school’s first ever state tournament inspired an act of kindness from the Golden Hawks’ most notable alumnus, Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Grandal quietly paid the way for the team’s trip to Fort Myers, Fla. for the tournament, including transportation, lodging and food.

“I called my financial guy and said, ‘Make sure the kids are taken care of,’” said Grandal. “Even if they don’t win it all, I wanted them to have a great experience.”

Grandal has made a habit of including a clause in his contract that directs some money to Miami Springs High School for baseball equipment and other necessities. Such a clause was included in his $18.25 million, one-year deal with Milwaukee, Grandal said.

Grandal’s family emigrated from Cuba to America when Grandal was 10, and by the time he was high school age there was interest from private schools. But Grandal’s mother, whom he calls his biggest influence, decided he would attend public school.

“The mentality was, ‘If you’re going to be good, you’re going to be good anywhere you go to school,’” Grandal said.

Pina to return

The Brewers’ backup catcher, Manny Pina, was scheduled to play one more game for Class A Wisconsin on Friday before rejoining the Brewers on Saturday, Counsell said. Pina has been on the 10-day injured list for a right hamstring strain.

“I’m looking forward to Manny wearing those uniforms the Timber Rattlers are wearing,” Counsell said.

The Class A Timber Rattlers were hosting “Bratoberfest” on Friday, with lederhosen-inspired uniforms.