With the renaming of Miller Park officially happening at year’s end, here at Reviewing the Brew we’re going to remember the top Brewers moments in Miller Park’s history.
Regardless of whether the fans like it or not, Miller Park will be no more once the calendar flips into 2021. American Family Field will be the home of the Brewers moving forward but Miller Park always seemed like the perfect stadium name for not only the team, but the town.
We are remembering some of the most iconic moments in Miller Park history and there’s no chance we’d forget about the 2011 playoff heroics.
NLDS Game 5, Nyjer Morgan Comes Up Clutch (October 7th, 2011)
In order to fully understand and appreciate this moment, you have to have felt, currently feel, or try to feel the pain of the Wisconsin sports fan. As someone that was born and raised here, I was forced into it. Life was all about sports growing up and that meant getting attached to literally every team Wisconsin had to offer.
I was born early on in the drought for the Brewers (’88), so the lack of success on the diamond wasn’t strange, it was just the Brewers.
The 2011 Brewers had so much excitement around them coming into the season. They had acquired Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke during the offseason, had a rejuvenated Randy Wolf and the home grown ace in Yovani Gallardo. This was the kind of rotation the Brewers had lacked for years as they were typically set on the offensive side of things and were at or near the top in the league in home runs.
Not to be outdone by the rotation, the lineup was full of potential and youth as the oldest regular was the 30 year old, soon to be hero, Nyjer Morgan. With names like Lucroy, Fielder, Weeks, Braun, and Hart, how could a fan not be excited?
Being able to remember exactly where you were during huge events is often talked about, and it holds especially true for me when it comes to Wisconsin sports moments, and this moment in particular.
The Brewers took Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS impressively as they beat Arizona 4-1 and 9-4, respectively. Off to Arizona they went and the results turned drastically the other way. Arizona took games 3 and 4 by scores of 8-1 and 10-6, respectively. Touché Diamondbacks.
The Game 5 matchup returns to Miller Park, however. The Brewers would have Yovani Gallardo on the mound against Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks in front of 44,028 fans. It was ace against ace.
Both sides remained quiet until a Justin Upton knocked a home run with 2 outs in the third. That lead didn’t last long as a lead off double by Morgan led to a bases loaded sac fly by Hairston to knot the game back up in the bottom of the fourth.
The bats fell silent again for two innings until the bottom of the 6th as another leadoff double, this time for Braun, led to another run. Yuniesky Betancourt comes up clutch this time as Gallardo heads to the dugout with a one run lead.
After a scary top of the 8th due to two walks and a single given up by K Rod, the Brewers were going to have the perfect setup to finish this game in regulation. John Axford was coming off of a 46 save regular season and picked up the save in Game 1. Not only that, but he had to face the 8, 9 and 1 hitters for the Diamondbacks. Sounds good in theory, right?
First batter, double. Second batter, single. Third batter, RBI single. Just like that, the lead was gone and now the Brewers were in real danger of finding themselves in a hole. Arizona had a lockdown closer of their own in J.J. Putz and the Brewers had the bottom half of their order coming up. Luckily for the Brewers, Axford worked out of the jam after allowing only one run.
The Brewers go down in order in the bottom of the 9th and now the anxiety really starts to set in. Is this going to be one of those games Brewer fans remember forever or a moment they pound Old Fashioneds to forget?
Luckily for us, it didn’t take long to get our answer. Axford was sent back out to try and hold the lead and he didn’t disappoint as he sits down the D-Backs he faced in order.
The stadium at this point is just waiting to explode. This felt like one of those moments that defines a fan base. One of those moments that is used in postseason commercials for years to come. One of those moments that fans go back and watch on Youtube to get hyped for whatever the current big game may be.
The bottom of the 10th starts out with Craig Counsell getting his first at bat of the game and even though a Hollywood written story may have had him winning it with a walk off homer, it wasn’t meant to be. One down.
The electric Gomez is next up and he lines a single to right as the energy builds. Getting on base wasn’t enough for him in the regular season and that didn’t stop in the playoffs. As Morgan shows bunt, Gomez takes off. Arizona catcher Henry Blanco tries to be too quick and he doesn’t catch it cleanly as Gomez makes it to second. With a runner in scoring position and the folk hero Tony Plush at the plate, the stadium is in full frenzy.
With Gomez dancing on second and the count sitting at 2-2, Morgan did exactly what you’d expect. He came up clutch.
Hearing the crowd that euphoric was something special. To feel that sense of pride and joy was something Brewers fan haven’t historically felt about our team. To be able to see them do it on one of the biggest stages made 2011 one of the best sports years ever for me.
How perfect was Nyjer Morgan for this team? He was the kind of player you hated to play against, but loved to have on your team. The fans loved him, his teammates adored him, and he brought the energy and skill that a team needs to be taken over the top.
His presence on this team can never be overlooked as he may have been the single most important piece in terms of chemistry and passion. Morgan brought us one of the greatest moments not only in Miller Park history, but in franchise history. When fans think back to the 2011 season, Morgan and the fun his alter ego Tony Plush brought is the first thing many think of.
There is nothing quite like watching your teams, who are typically given the underdog status, rise to the occasion. To make one of those plays that are remembered forever. Even though the NLCS didn’t go as everyone hoped, this was still one of the defining moments for the franchise. It is one that will live on in the hearts and minds of fans for years to come. It is one that I will continue to watch re-runs of to get hyped for their next big game.
Stay tuned to Reviewing The Brew as we continue to look back on the top Brewers moments in Miller Park history.