The Brewers Swept the Reds?

The Brewers swept the Reds.

The Brewers swept the Reds.

The Brewers swept the Reds.

I like the way that sounds. I like the way that looked. In three games, The Milwaukee Brewers took one of the hottest teams in baseball and made them look like, well, The Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s fun being a spoiler sometimes.

It’s not just that it was the Brew Crew trying to piss in someone else’s Cheerios. It’s that the Brewers actually played like they had a shot at this division. It might be August and the Crew might be out by a shade over a baker’s dozen, but let’s do ourselves a favor and not tell them that, OK?

Here’s a look at our favorite moments in what can now easily be described as the most fun series of the 2012 season.

Jim Henderson

There's something about Canadian closers that just work for the Crew. (Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE)

Call him the Brewers closer – for now, anyway. Henderson is a perfect 2-2 in save opportunities this season, both coming against the Reds in this series. After ten years of Minor League work, Henderson comes out and dominates one of the best offenses in Major League Baseball. In all, he tallied three strikeouts, one hit and one walk. Pretty impressive stuff for a rookie, but for this Brewers bullpen it’s downright mythic.

I don’t know if he will keep it up through the year, or how long Roenicke will be content to make him ‘the guy’ for save opportunities but for now it’s a great story backed up by some great talent.

John Axford

Speaking of feel-good stories, it’s nice to see our site-favorite John Axford have a good week for a change. On Monday, Ax went in to a very tight situation after Frankie couldn’t find the strike zone in the eighth inning, and he came out with a five-out save with only one hit and a strikeout. Yes, Aoki’s amazing catch in the eighth did save what could have potentially been a bases-clearing disaster, but a save’s a save, a win’s a win, and trusting your defense to be able to make those kinds of plays is part of the gig.

Not only did the Ax nab his 18th save of the season in the Cincy series, he also picked up the win tonight. One strikeout and no hits gave him a perfect eighth inning and a chance for Milwaukee to take the lead – which they did, which gave Ax the win. In his two appearances against the Reds, he looked more relaxed and more comfortable on the mound than any other time this series. He would step off the mound to collect himself, reset and looked more focused. This is what good players do when they’re struggling – they bear down and try to pull themselves up. Here’s hoping that trend continues.

Runners on, over, and in

In the Cincinnati series, Milwaukee hit .284 with Runners In Scoring Position. This doesn’t sound impressive, or even look very impressive. Except that Milwaukee has only a paltry .247 on the year in those situations.

That’s all I have for this one, but it’s nice to know that driving runners in isn’t a lost art in Milwaukee.

Big-Time Rookies

Norichika Aoki, Mike Fiers, and Martin Maldonado. Remember those names, because these guys are

Aoki is stepping into the spotlight as a serious offensive threat. (Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE)

going to be making a difference on this club for (hopefully) a long time.

We’ve gushed over Fiers a lot, so I will simply say that he’s a great pitcher who threw a great performance on Tuesday.

Aoki earned his game checks all week at Miller Park at every aspect of the game. On Monday’s game, I sat int he right field bleachers and watched as he pounded down hard fly ball after hard fly ball in some pretty tough situations. He performed nearly flawlessly. Oh, he also went 5-12 in the series with a run scored and a stolen base – which he turned into another base on a throwing error. He bumped his average up to .287 on the year – .333 in his last ten games, and extended his hitting streak to 14. Quite the happy surprise for a fan base that hadn’t heard of him at all before 2012.

Martin Maldonado – the Machete – only played two games against the Reds. One of them he went 0-for. The other one, he drove in three runs, hit a homer and a double. That means, even with a hitless night, he hit .428. I’ll take it, and I’m sure Martin will, too. He’s a back-up on Milwaukee that looks more like an everyday guy with every game. I’m not saying that he should be taking over for Lucroy, but as Lucroy gets back into the swing of things Maldonado’s continued production is a god-send.

The Attitude

This doesn't look like a team out of the race. And that's kind of the point. (Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE)

The Brewers played like they wanted to win, not just like they had to. They blasted big hits, ran the bases with abandon, and hustled down plays. The pitchers fought and attacked Reds batters like they didn’t know – or care – what their average was. It was downright palatable, which is high praise of this season.

It’s far too late in the season for any team to have a turn-around, especially for Milwaukee’s case. We’ve said after every series Milwaukee won that this was it – this is where the ship rights and barrels forward to the promised land. This series probably isn’t it either. But that doesn’t mean that the team isn’t putting things together necessarily.

It just means that now this team is playing the way they want to play. They are working together, hustling, and any other goofy sportswriting cliche you’d care to throw out. They just ‘got it’ in this series, and hopefully this carries forward into the remainder of the season.

It might not get us anywhere, but it’s damn fun to watch.

Topics: Cincinnati Reds, Jim Henderson, John Axford, Martin Maldonado, Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers, Norichika Aoki, Ron Roenicke

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