If Brewers fans have learned anything over the years, it’s that Ryan Braun has a flair for the dramatic in September. The same has rung true so far in 2020.
Before they came back to win big in last night’s series opener against the Royals, the Brewers found themselves in an early 3-0 hole. With one out in the bottom of the first and Christian Yelich already aboard with a single, Ryan Braun stepped to the plate and delivered a familiar clutch hit to help attempt an quick comeback.
The Brewers wouldn’t score that inning, but Braun would come through with another single in the fourth, this time continuing what would be a six-run inning that led to the eventual win. Unfortunately, Braun would leave the game immediately after that single due to back tightness.
But before his departure, Braun was doing what he has done so many times over his long Milwaukee career: get clutch hits in September.
Braun was one of many Brewers hitters who got off to a slow start in 2020. Back and neck injuries threatened to delay the start of his season and a finger injury eventually led to an IL stint in early August.
The constant nagging injuries made it hard for Braun to really get going, and he ended August slashing just .182/.239/.348 with two home runs and four walks to 14 strikeouts in 19 games. But then the calendar flipped to September….
Ryan Braun has shown year after year that he has the ability to come up big when it matters for the Brewers in September.
Apparently the change in month was exactly what Braun needed to start looking like himself again. Since the start of September, Braun is slashing a scorching .406/.444/.906 in 11 games with four homers and 13 RBIs. That’s equates to a whopping 1.351 OPS!
Oddly enough, though it seems like Braun always dominates the month of September, his numbers in the month don’t differ all that much from the rest of the year. In fact, his career .297/.366/.527 slash line in September/October nearly matches the overall .297/.359/.533 slash line for his career.
But it’s not about the numbers so much as it is about the moments. When the Brewers have needed someone to come through in the clutch late in the season, Braun has always been there.
He nearly added another big September hit to his resume last week. In Saturday’s game against the Cubs, Braun hit a two-run homer to in the fourth to break open a scoreless game. It would have held as the game-winning hit and secured a huge series win had Josh Hader not ended up blowing the save later that game.
But had the Brewers held on for the win, the homer would have been another in a series of huge hits in the month for Braun. Fans surely remember his historic homers against the Cubs and Marlins during the 2008 and 2011 September playoff runs. More recently, there was last year’s grand slam versus the Cardinals that kept the Brewers’ postseason hopes alive.
Currently, Milwaukee finds themselves in the midst of another late playoff fight, and though they wouldn’t be in if the playoffs began today, a spot is right within their grasp. Going into the games on September 19th, the Brewers are just a game back of both the 2nd NL Central playoff bid and the 2nd Wild Card spot.
That is why Braun’s presence over the final week will be vital for the Brewers. Hopefully the injury he suffered last night will be minor because to grab one of those playoff berths, it will require an entire group effort, and that includes Braun’s history of clutch production in the season’s final weeks.
It’s going to be a wild ride for the Brewers and their fans to finish this crazy 2020 season. Hopefully it includes a couple more big moments for Braun to add to his September highlight reel.