MILWAUKEE -- Two more Jesus Aguilar home runs helped the Brewers roll the Braves on Sunday afternoon and finish off a sensational first half at Miller Park.With a 10-3 victory, the Brewers have won 28 of their past 40 home games after a 2-6 start to the season at Miller
MILWAUKEE -- Two more Jesus Aguilar home runs helped the Brewers roll the Braves on Sunday afternoon and finish off a sensational first half at Miller Park.
With a 10-3 victory, the Brewers have won 28 of their past 40 home games after a 2-6 start to the season at Miller Park.
"We played very well on this homestand," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's a 6-1 homestand in the middle of this stretch with no days off and a bunch of games. To do that, it's about contributions from a lot of guys. A lot of guys doing good things."
Milwaukee concluded its pre-All-Star break home slate with a 30-18 record behind four homers, including Aguilar's third multi-homer game of the season. It upped his season total to 22 -- all of which have come since April 21.
It was just another day at the ballpark for Aguilar, who has made crushing baseballs his thing in 2018, even though he didn't start consecutive games until May 1-2 against the Reds.
"[Aguilar's] awesome," Christian Yelich said. "He's a great teammate. He has an unbelievable story, and he's taken advantage of his opportunities. It's great to see and it's easy to root for guys like that. I think every guy in that clubhouse is really happy for him and what he's doing for us because he's a big reason we're at where we're at. His swing is so short and he's so strong that he can leave the ballpark to any part of the field on any pitch. He's been winning ballgames by himself, pretty much."
Both of Aguilar's blasts Sunday came with two strikes. The first one was in the seventh inning off Braves reliever Sam Freeman toward right field, while the second was a three-run shot in the eighth, courtesy of right-hander Evan Phillips and a 96-mph fastball that he drove down the left-field line.
While the fact that 12 of his 22 homers have come with two strikes this season seems like it warrants certain adjustments, Aguilar said he doesn't change his approach when down in the count.
"See the ball. Just hit the ball," Aguilar said. "I don't care what pitch or what you want to or like to throw. I've just got to see the ball and hit it over right field."
Aguilar helped out his pitcher, Junior Guerra, in the field, too. The first baseman started two double plays, which aided Guerra in hurling six innings of one-run ball en route to his seventh quality start of 2018.
The bullpen finished the job for the final three frames, and Counsell didn't even have to use his top relief arms -- Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel. Dan Jennings and Taylor Williams each threw a shutout inning, while Jacob Barnes surrendered two runs in the ninth.
"I've been telling [Hader] all day, 'OK, it's your turn,'" Jennings said. "But I like to joke with him. He's thrown a lot of innings this year, and we like to go back and forth a little bit. Sometimes it's fun when he throws a few innings one day, and I know he's down and out the next, and I know I can hopefully take over."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cain's double play: Guerra issued a leadoff walk to Ender Inciarte to open the third inning, and Ozzie Albies followed with a flyout to Cain in center. Cain, in his first appearance since June 23, threw out a tagging Inciarte at second base. The call was confirmed via replay after a Braves challenge.
While Cain helping out his pitcher was critical, seeing Cain -- who was activated from a stint on the disabled list with a groin strain on Sunday morning -- make the play and show that he's healthy may have been even more important. Keon Broxton replaced Cain as a defensive substitution in the ninth inning, but the healthy Cain said he wants to play a full nine innings Monday in Miami.
"I was a little rusty out there, a little out of shape," Cain said. "Overall, a good day. I got winded on a few sprints out there, but a good day overall. I just want to continue to play. As long as I feel good, I'll be out there." More >
Perez goes yard: While Aguilar's two homers take the headlines, Hernan Perez broke open the game by capping the five-run third inning with a three-run homer to straightaway center. After Jonathan Villar, Yelich and Cain started the inning with singles and Aguilar drew a walk, Travis Shaw hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Villar for the game's first run. That set the table for Perez, who hit his sixth homer of the season.
With Ryan Braun on the DL and Eric Thames a liability versus left-handed starters, Perez is the Brewers' ultimate utilityman. Perez has played every position on the diamond except for catcher this season, and his homer off starter Sean Newcomb was his second of the series.
The Braves finished four homerless games in Milwaukee. They're the first visitors in Miller Park history not to go deep over a four-game series, and it's the first time the visitors haven't homered in Milwaukee since the Tigers in 1993.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Thames didn't get the start against the left-handed Newcomb, but he did pinch-hit. Thames batted for Williams to lead off the eighth inning and deposited a 464-foot homer to right field for his first career pinch-hit homer. It was the ninth-longest home run in the Major Leagues this season, per Statcast™. More >
HE SAID IT
"It's awesome for the fans to support us as they are right now. We're winning and the fans are feeling the energy as we are. To have the series we had against this team, which is the top contender in the [National League], to take three from those guys is a huge thing, especially against their ace. We just have to keep rolling with it in Miami and Pittsburgh and go to the All-Star Game on a high note." -- Thames, on the Brewers' first half at Miller Park
The Brewers start an eight-game road trip to end the season's first half in Miami at 6:10 p.m. CT on Monday. Right-hander Chase Anderson (6-6, 3.99 ERA) gets the nod for Milwaukee after a strong start (6 1/3 innings, one run) last Wednesday against the Twins. Righty Jose Urena (2-9, 4.18 ERA) goes for the Marlins as Miami looks to avenge a four-game April sweep at the hands of the Brewers.
Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.