NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball is big business, but baseball is still a kid’s game.
Tyrone Taylor’s home run leading off a three-run eighth inning in a game he wasn’t supposed to start was the go-ahead blow in another runaway victory that gave the Brewers another game of separation between them and the second-place Cubs. The Brewers are scoring in bunches and getting stellar relief at the most serious juncture of the season, but Adames’ pregame glee after a meeting with Derek Jeter reminded everyone that this is also meant to be fun.
“That’s a moment I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid,” Adames said. “You meet your idol, the guy that you admire since you were little, the guy you want to be like. … For me to finally have that, it’s incredible. I don’t even know how to describe it.”
- Games remaining: at NYY (1), vs. MIA (4), vs. WAS (3), at STL (4), at MIA (3), vs. STL (3), vs. CHC (3)
- Standings update: The Brewers (79-62) hold a four-game lead in the National League Central over the Cubs (76-67), who lost in extra innings to the D-backs on Saturday and have dropped three in a row. Milwaukee is the third-best division leader, meaning it would host a best-of-three NL Wild Card Series against the final Wild Card entrant starting on Oct. 3.
- Magic number: The Brewers' magic number over the Cubs is now 17 to clinch the NL Central.
It took some cajoling from Brewers manager Craig Counsell and bench coach Pat Murphy, who once visited Jeter’s home in Michigan on a recruiting trip when Murphy was head baseball coach at Notre Dame. It even took a few gestures from Jeter, who encouraged Adames to come onto the field to say hello. They shook hands, Jeter gave Adames a pat on the shoulder, and Adames wore a wide smile as he bounded down the dugout steps to get ready for the game.
What did Jeter say?
“Honestly, I don’t even remember the words,” Adames said. “I was too excited.”
As it turned out, the game was still hours away. Both starting pitchers -- Wade Miley for the Brewers and Michael King for the Yankees -- warmed up as scheduled and were walking to their respective dugouts when rain began to fall. Minutes later, it was a deluge.
For two hours and 31 minutes, both teams waited as the Yankee Stadium outfield turned into a lake. Adames played cards with Freddy Peralta and some other teammates while music filled the clubhouse. Miley sat by himself and nursed his nerves. When the heaviest rain finally relented, the teams resumed.
“I still felt fine going into Round 2,” Miley said.
Adames provided the Brewers with the lead when he followed Mark Canha’s one-out single in the fourth inning with an RBI triple to the right-field wall. Thanks to Giancarlo Stanton missing the cutoff man and first baseman DJ LeMahieu airing the relay past third base, Adames scampered home on the play for a 2-0 lead.
It didn’t last. In the bottom of that inning, a combination of two walks, an error and Anthony Volpe’s run-scoring single put Miley in a tough spot with the bases loaded and two outs in a 2-1 game. Miley fell behind the Yankees’ No. 9 hitter, Oswald Peraza, but battled back into the at-bat and induced a routine bouncer to Adames at shortstop.
Already, Adames had misfired a couple of throws to first base -- one for no harm, another for an error -- and now he lobbed a throw to Brice Turang covering second base. It was too late. The runners were safe as the tying run scored.
“It was really wet, but no excuses,” Adames said. “It’s for both sides. We made some errors mentally and physically.”
One cure for that is scoring runs. After plating six runs from the seventh inning on during Friday’s series-opening win, the Brewers broke Saturday’s tie with three runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to continue a recent run of offensive production.
The biggest hit came from Taylor, a late addition to the lineup after Christian Yelich was scratched with a stiff lower back. Taylor lined the second pitch from tough Yankees reliever Jonathan Loáisiga to the short porch in left field for his third game-tying or go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later this season. No other Brewers hitter has more than one.
“Your mind tries to rush you a little bit, but at the same time, you have to be prepared for anything,” Taylor said. “I was ready to go.”
Since scoring three total runs while getting swept in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium from Aug. 15-17, the Brewers are averaging 5.9 runs in 19 games. They have scored at least six runs in 13 of those games and tallied double-digit hits nine times.
“It’s been so much fun,” Adames said. “When you’re scoring a lot of runs, it’s great for us and for the pitchers, too, so they can rest. We’ve used them a lot this whole year. I feel like it’s really important for the whole team for the hitters to get that confidence going for this last month of the season. That’s when you need it the most.”