CHICAGO -- "It's as good as I've ever seen anybody be at baseball for a two-week period," said Ryan Braun, but he was not reminiscing about hitting alongside an in-his-prime Prince Fielder. Braun was talking about the Brewers' new slugging first baseman, Eric Thames.
Thames and Braun continued to power Milwaukee's offense on Monday, when Thames homered for the fifth straight game to tie a franchise record, and Braun added two more extra-base hits to pass a Hall of Famer on the team's all-time leaderboard. A 6-3 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field was the Brewers' sixth victory in the first seven games of their opening road trip, prompting Braun to search his memory for anything even resembling the hot streak Thames has been riding in his return to Major League Baseball.
"Look at his numbers. How many guys have ever had a 1.400 OPS after two weeks of baseball?" Braun said. "I mean, it's been a lot of fun to watch."
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The only other Brewers player to hit a homer in five straight games was Jeromy Burnitz, who did it in August 1997.
It was Thames' second club record of the night. When he doubled in the first inning, it gave Thames a hit in each of his first 11 Brewers starts, matching a mark set by Dickie Thon in 1993.
"I can't even describe it," said Thames, who is back in the big leagues for the first time since 2012, and coming off three huge seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization. "I was just excited to be back here. I just wanted to see pitching and see how I would adapt to it."
So far, so good. Thames leads the Majors with seven home runs, more than all of the Red Sox combined (they have six) and two shy of the Cubs (they are last in the National League with nine). Thames finished a triple shy of the cycle on Monday and pushed his OPS to 1.479, also tops in MLB.
"It bodes well for the rest of the year, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Guys just don't do this. They just don't show up and do this without being able to do a lot more and be consistent and have very productive seasons, and he's on his way to that."
Braun's own solid start -- he has five home runs and a 1.074 OPS -- might be garnering more headlines if not for his scorching-hot teammate. Braun hit a two-run home run in the first and an RBI double in the eighth, giving him 652 extra-base hits. He moved past Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for sole possession of second place on the Brewers' all-time list.
Hall of Famer Robin Yount holds the club record with 960 extra-base hits.
"Usually, teams game plan for a hitter. For the first time in a while, it feels like we have two of those guys," Braun said.
During his three-year run in South Korea, Thames learned to enjoy the wave while it lasts.
"I'm sure the pitchers will make adjustments to me as I will to them," he said. "That's just how it is. I'm going well right now, but we'll see how it is next game, next week. You never know -- baseball's full of ups and downs."