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The Top 10 Brewers Moments of 2018

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun's huge ninth-inning home run in the Brewers' opening series in San Diego didn't make this list. Nor did Lorenzo Cain playing the role of traffic cop in a brilliant bit of baserunning against the Cubs, Eric Thames' dramatic walk-off home run against the Rockies or Orlando Arcia's surprise two-RBI bunt double against the Reds.

Those moments and more all deserved mention, but the rules say a Top 10 list can only have 10 entries, so here are our picks, in chronological order, for the best of the best of the Brewers' season:

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun's huge ninth-inning home run in the Brewers' opening series in San Diego didn't make this list. Nor did Lorenzo Cain playing the role of traffic cop in a brilliant bit of baserunning against the Cubs, Eric Thames' dramatic walk-off home run against the Rockies or Orlando Arcia's surprise two-RBI bunt double against the Reds.

Those moments and more all deserved mention, but the rules say a Top 10 list can only have 10 entries, so here are our picks, in chronological order, for the best of the best of the Brewers' season:

April 3: Back-to-back for the win
In the first contest in Major League history that started and ended with back-to-back home runs, Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham went deep for the Cardinals within the game's first three pitches, only to be answered by Christian Yelich and Braun with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Yelich, down to his final strike, tied it with his first Brewers home run before Braun smashed the next pitch into the home bullpen for a stunning 5-4 win.

Video: Must C Clutch: Yelich, Braun go back-to-back for win

April 21: Aguilar's lucky 13
Jesus Aguilar's epic at-bat leading off the bottom of the ninth inning was so long, Brewers manager Craig Counsell almost forgot it began with two strikes. And it was so good, with Aguilar flicking seven two-strike fouls before crushing the 13th pitch from Marlins reliever Junichi Tazawa for a walk-off home run and a 6-5 Brewers win at Miller Park, that Aguilar could proudly say he'd never had a better at-bat, "Not even in Nintendo." It was one of the moments that won Aguilar regular duty at first base by the middle of May, and eventually a spot on the National League All-Star team via fan balloting.

Video: Must C Conclusion: Aguilar hammers walk-off HR in 9th

April 30: Hader strikes out eight
"I've never seen a performance like that," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell after Josh Hader became the first pitcher in history to record all eight outs via strikeout in an electric 2 2/3-inning performance to close out a 6-5 win over the Reds. It was the signature performance of Hader's fascinating season, in which the Brewers often used him for multi-inning stints with multiple days off in-between, and Hader set a franchise record for strikeouts by a reliever.

Video: Must C Classic: Hader K's 8 in 2 2/3 IP for 4th save

May 13: Peralta pitches for mom
It was a magical Mother's Day in Denver. Brewers pitching prospect Freddy Peralta was supposed to start the day before at Triple-A Colorado Springs, in front of a mother and father who had never seen him pitch as a pro. Instead, the Brewers needed an arm after Chase Anderson fell ill, so the entire Peralta family traveled up Interstate 25 to see him flirt with a no-hitter while striking out 13 Rockies over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, setting a franchise record for whiffs in a Major League debut. Peralta went on help hold together the starting rotation by making 14 Brewers starts, holding opponents to a .176 average. Among starting pitchers who worked at least 70 innings, only Boston's Chris Sale was tougher to hit.

Video: MIL@COL: Peralta strikes out 13 over 5 2/3 in debut

July 31: Lo Cain goes high
The Brewers tried to add a starting pitcher before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they couldn't find a deal to their liking. Wade Miley helped ease the disappointment with seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win at Dodger Stadium fueled by Cain, who drove in the game's only run with a double in the third inning before saving a run in the seventh with the best of a series of superlative defensive plays. He leaped at the center-field wall to pull back Cody Bellinger's high fly, preserving what became a two-hit shutout for Miley and relievers Joakim Soria and Jeremy Jeffress. "I said, 'Damn,'" Bellinger said. "That's all you can say."

Video: Must C Catch: Cain robs HR to protect 1-0 lead in 7th

Aug 24: Brewers go past midnight to beat Bucs
The craziest home game of the season was a five-hour, 36-minute marathon against the Pirates that saw the Brewers come back from a two-run deficit in the 15th inning for an improbable 7-6 win. Erik Kratz hit a game-tying two-run single for the Brewers' first runs since the first inning, and Arcia followed-up with a walk-off knock to cap a three-run rally highlighted by reliever Jordan Lyles taking a critical two-out walk. It was Lyles who came around to score the decisive run. According to Elias, the last time the Brewers won after trailing by multiple runs in extra innings was Aug. 14, 1992, against the Red Sox.

Video: Must C Conclusion: Crew rally in 15th to top Pirates

Aug 29: Yelich's six-hit cycle
In what was arguably the most entertaining game of the season, Yelich tied a franchise record with six hits and became the ninth player in club history (and the first since George Kottaras in 2011) to hit for the cycle in a 13-12, 10-inning win over the Reds. That was only one storyline in a wild win that also featured Yelich throwing one Reds runner out at the plate, a disputed three-run home run by Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen, and the Reds tying the game in the eighth thanks to an overturned call.

Video: Must C Cycle: Yelich becomes 8th Brewer to notch feat

Sept. 9: Schoop's slam
It started with a stare and ended with a slam. Actually, it ended with a sweep. The Brewers turned a one-run deficit into a three-run lead against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in a tense sixth inning, punctuated by midseason pickup Jonathan Schoop's two-out grand slam that sent Milwaukee to a 6-3 win and a three-game sweep at Miller Park ahead of a huge series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It pushed the Brewers 20 games over .500 for the first time since the end of 2011, and was particularly satisfying considering it came immediately after Counsell and two Brewers players had just been ejected in the wake of Bumgarner plunking Braun with a curiously misplaced pitch.

"It's a great moment for Schoop," said Counsell. "He hasn't probably got off to the start he wanted to get off to here, but with one swing of the bat, it becomes a huge moment in the season."

Video: Must C Clips: Schoop's grand slam after Braun HBP

Sept. 17: Bi-cycle
According to Elias, only four players in Major League Baseball's long history had hit for the cycle more than once in a single season. No one had ever done it twice against the same team in a single season. That changed Sept. 17, when Yelich logged his second cycle against the Reds in less than three weeks. Ever humble, he credited the runner in front of him, Curtis Granderson, for scoring on the play and ensuring that Yelich would get credit for the triple he needed to complete the feat. It was another huge night for Yelich in a sensational second half that thrust the 26-year-old into the conversation for the National League MVP Award.

Video: Must C Cycle: Yelich makes history with his 2nd cycle

Sept 26: The clincher
Perhaps the Brewers got a little help from the baseball gods on the way to punching their ticket to the postseason. Protecting a one-run lead in the eighth inning, it looked as if the Cardinals were on their way to tying the game on a Mike Moustakas throwing error. But the runner, Adolis Garcia, slipped on his way to the plate and was out thanks to a perfect throw by Hernan Perez and quick recovery after a brief moment of "extreme panic" for catcher Erik Kratz, who initially tagged the air. There was no such drama in the ninth inning for Jeremy Jeffress, and the Brewers were off to celebrate their first playoff berth since 2011.

"We believe," said Jeffress. "Dude, I don't know. If he would have kept running, he would have had it. I have no idea what happened. Fortunately, it played out for us. ... Now there's work to do."

Video: MIL@STL: Perez throws out Garcia at home to end 8th

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers