Scooter keeps rolling in triumphant return
Second baseman proving himself in big way by contributing to two Brewers victories in a row
MILWAUKEE -- This is the Scooter the Brewers always thought they had.
As comebacks go, Scooter Gennett's return to the big leagues did not build slowly. It started in high gear on his first night back and stayed there on the second.
Gennett, sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 18, returned to the Brewers Thursday. He delivered a game-winning single in a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals.
That was just his opening act. Friday night, Gennett made a sensational defensive play at second base that proved pivotal. What was a close game at the time became an 8-4 Brewers victory.
With the Brewers leading, 3-2, in the fourth inning, the Nats had one run in and a runner on first with one out. Catcher Wilson Ramos hit a shot up the middle that initially appeared to be a certain single. But Gennett made a diving stop, then, lying prone on the ground, managed to flip the ball to shortstop Jean Segura, who made a barehanded grab for the force at second.
Starter Mike Fiers got out of the inning without further damage, the Milwaukee offense put up four runs in the bottom of the inning and the Brewers were on their way to their sixth victory in the past eight games.
"I never give up on balls, that's one thing, I'm always diving around," Gennett said. "Whenever you get a chance to make a play like that, or save a run, I'm always going to try to make something happen. Fortunately enough, it went in my glove."
"That's a big play," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It got Mike out of a jam, gave him a breather. It was a heck of a play. It was a nice play by Jean, too."
Gennett also went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
"I think moving forward, I'm going with that same approach," Gennett said. "Just see the ball, hit the ball, keep it simple."
Gennett came into 2015 with a .300 average over 1.5 seasons with the Brewers. Last year, he had worked his way into the predominant part of a platoon at second base with Rickie Weeks. By the end of the 2014 season, he was projected as the Brewers starting second baseman for 2015. But at the time of his demotion, he was only hitting .154. He had been on the disabled list for a left hand laceration suffered in a fluke shower accident, but even apart from that, he had not resembled the hitter he had been the previous two seasons.
But Gennett did what he had to do at Triple-A, hitting .307 and preparing himself for a successful return to the Majors.
He has typically been a confident individual. His early-season struggles at the plate did not erode that confidence.
"I just looked at it like the results weren't there," Gennett said. "There hasn't really been a time where I thought I couldn't hit. You know, when you're 0-for-20, you're 0-for-20. It's a game that will humble you up.
"Like you said, I am a confident person, but I know this is a game of failure, and you're not always going to get hits."
Now, there can be a brand new dose of confidence.
"He's got some confidence," Counsell said. "When you make a play like that, and you square up two balls your first two at-bats, you get confidence.
"You try to find ways to give guys confidence. But the best way is for them to have success."
So Gennett has made immediate, vital contributions to two Brewers victories in his first two games back from the Minors. He has a workmanlike view of this latest development
"It's my job," he said. "That's why they called me up, to come and contribute and help the team win. I've been doing a decent job. I could do better."
To others, it looks a little less matter-of-fact. To Fiers, who worked seven innings to earn the victory, the ball off Ramos' bat looked at first like a sure hit to center. But then he saw Gennett turn it into an out.
"He made a great play," Fiers said. "That's what we need every night: guys who play hard and play with their hearts."
That is the Scooter Gennett the Brewers thought could be their second baseman for years to come. That is the Scooter Gennett who was on the field at Miller Park the last two victorious nights.