MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' biggest offseason acquisitions were made in the interest of balance. With a three-year deal for free-agent first baseman Eric Thames and a trade for third baseman Travis Shaw, GM David Stearns hoped to modestly improve an offense that tied for the fifth-fewest runs scored in the
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' biggest offseason acquisitions were made in the interest of balance. With a three-year deal for free-agent first baseman Eric Thames and a trade for third baseman Travis Shaw, GM David Stearns hoped to modestly improve an offense that tied for the fifth-fewest runs scored in the Majors last season while setting the all-time record for strikeouts.
If the team's other young players took a step forward as expected, maybe the Brewers would have something.
But this? This is all a bit more than expected.
An 11-4 win over the Mets, decided by an eight-run fifth inning that represented the Brewers' biggest outburst in more than three years, pushed Milwaukee up to second in the Major Leagues with 192 runs scored and third in OPS.
When Shaw's three-run homer punctuated the big fifth inning, the Brewers' Major League-leading home run count was up to 60, putting them on a pace for 262 home runs this season. The all-time record is 264 home runs, set by Ken Griffey Jr. and the 1997 Seattle Mariners.
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"I thought we were going to be a pretty good offense. I don't know if I thought it would be at this level," said Shaw, whose eight home runs are as many as Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. "I've never played here, so I can't speak to leading the league in homers [as a team], but this is a very good place to hit so I think that helps a little bit. But even when we go on the road, we still seem to hit."
Manager Craig Counsell likes what he's seeing.
"I think there's two things," said Counsell. "The balance is certainly something we really like that we accomplished. The other thing I think we accomplished in the offseason is that David and the guys put together a good unit of position players. We have a solid, all-around unit, and there are a bunch of guys that can help on different days. That means it doesn't have to be the same guy every day. There's enough firepower for it to be different guys.
"That's how you score runs, ultimately."
While winning five of their last six games to get to three games over .500 for the first time since the next-to-last day of the 2014 season, the Brewers have been scoring runs without Thames hitting at his torrid April pace, and without Ryan Braun, period. Braun has been limited to a game and a half over the past 10 days because of arm and leg injuries, and is currently on the 10-day disabled list with a left calf strain.
Nonetheless, over their past five games, the Brewers have hit .337 (59-for-175) with 37 runs scored, 12 doubles, two triples, six homers, 34 RBIs and 16 walks.
Shaw hit twice in the decisive fifth inning. He singled to start the Brewers rally, then homered off Hansel Robles to make it a rout. Shaw's .523 slugging percentage ranks fifth among NL third basemen.
"I think that's the first time I've ever gotten two hits in the same inning," he said. "It just says a lot about our lineup. Usually we do it in the first [inning], tonight we waited until the fifth, but we'll take it. One through nine, any guy can do it."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.