Gennett returns to Brewers in style
MILWAUKEE -- If Scooter Gennett wanted to show Brewers' brass that his three-week stint in the Minor Leagues did the trick to wake a previously slumbering bat, this was his moment.
With two outs in the eighth inning of a tie game, Gennett drove a two-out single past third base for the go-ahead run in a 6-5 win over the Nationals on Thursday night at Miller Park. After going 1-for-26 in the run-up to a May 18 demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Gennett finished a loud 1-for-4 in the Brewers' fifth victory in seven games.
"It's a confidence boost as much as anything," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's the kind of the thing that, your first night back, you get the game-winning hit -- that's a big deal."
Was there extra pressure to deliver in his first Major League game following a demotion?
"No, I think that's when the least pressure is on you," Gennett said with a smile. "No one really expects anything the first game. But my standards are set high for myself -- they always are. If I'm not hitting the ball hard three times a game, I'm not happy. Tonight was OK, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
It was a different-sounding Gennett than the one who last wore a Brewers uniform. An early-season slump, compounded by a stint on the disabled list for a laceration on his left hand suffered during -- seriously -- a postgame shower, prompted the Brewers to make a roster move with a 25-year-old who entered the year a .300 hitter in 206 Major League games, and had been anointed the everyday second baseman.
After returning on Thursday afternoon, Gennett said he wasn't shocked at the time.
"When you're 'O' for your last 20 and batting .150, I wasn't surprised to get sent down," Gennett said. "It obviously isn't ever something that you want to happen or expect to happen, but it was something I took as a challenge to get down and get my game back."
Gennett batted .307 in 17 games at Colorado Springs. He had three hits and four RBIs in his final game there on Tuesday.
The Brewers need that offense, Counsell said. Milwaukee entered Thursday with a Major League-worst .466 OPS at second base. With Luis Sardinas sent back to Triple-A after batting .221 for the Brewers in 20 games, Counsell's second-base options before Gennett returned were Hector Gomez, who hit .210 in his first 44 games, and Hernan Perez, who had one hit in his first 15 Brewers at-bats after going 2-for-33 for the Tigers.
"We need production out of second base. We just do," Counsell said. "[Gennett] has done it. We're hopeful he can get it rolling like he had it last year and '13 as well."
Gennett popped out in foul ground in his first at-bat Thursday and grounded out to the pitcher his next time up. Against Washington's Tanner Roark in the sixth inning, after the Brewers had narrowed a 5-1 deficit to 5-4, Gennett flied out to deep center field. Offered another opportunity in the eighth against Aaron Barrett, with the teams tied at 5, a runner at third base and two outs, Gennett delivered.
"Now I'm making adjustments in my at-bats, which I wasn't doing before. It's nice being able to adjust pitch to pitch or even in the same at-bat," Gennett said. "I definitely feel confident now that everything's back to where it usually is, where needs to be. So I'm just excited to get things started."