I know I’ve said this a few times about some other topics, but we finally made it (again), Milwaukee Brewers fans. It is April 14th, also known as 414 Day around these parts, the day of the Crew’s new home opener for the 2022 season.
This occasion should’ve already taken place a couple weeks ago with a season-opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. But as we all know, the MLB lockout that took place this offseason put a wrench in those plans.
Brewers home openers never seem to be short of drama. You’ve had game-saving catches, extra inning affairs, and other moments that have had fans standing on the edge of their seats. In other words, exactly what a baseball fan dreams of seeing on their team’s first home game of the season.
So on this special day, let’s take a look back at the last three home openers for the Milwaukee Brewers.
March 28th, 2019 vs. the St. Louis Cardinals
Brewers fans had plenty of excitement drummed up for the 2019 season. Having fallen a game short of making the franchise’s second ever World Series the previous year, Milwaukee attempted to set themselves up for another run by re-signing free agent Mike Moustakas and bringing in another big free agent in Yasmani Grandal.
The Cardinals struck first when Kolten Wong (now, of course, a Brewer himself) and teammate Harrison Bader went back-to-back off of Milwaukee starter Jhoulys Chacin in the top of the second inning to take a 3-0 lead.
The Brewers would power their way to a lead after that, though. A solo homer by Moustakas in the second inning, a three-run shot by Christian Yelich in the third, and a surprising solo homer by the starter Chacin in the fifth would allow the Crew to build up a 5-3 lead.
A second homer by Wong drew the Cardinals one run closer in the seventh before new full-time Brewers closer Josh Hader would attempt the save in the ninth. After recording the first two outs, pinch hitter Jose Martinez took the fireballer deep to center field. But Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain saved the day.
That play would be the first of many eye-opening plays that Cain would make that year. And deservingly, it would be part of what right one of baseball’s longstanding wrongs in allowing Cain to finally win his first career Gold Glove award.
August 3rd, 2020 vs. the Chicago White Sox
2020’s home opener was truly like no other in history. With world in the middle of a global pandemic, the sports world was naturally put on hold for months. After weeks of negotiations, a 60-game season was finally instituted that would begin at the end of July.
The Brewers would spend their first six of sixty games on the road before finally playing their home opener on 8/3 against the White Sox. Like everywhere else, it would be a game played in an eerily empty stadium with fans only able to watch on television or other streaming services.
The game itself was a good one. Down two after the first half inning, the Brewers would cut the deficit in half on an RBI double by Avisail Garcia in the bottom half of the frame and then take a 3-2 lead on a two-run single by Garcia in the fifth. Milwaukee would tack on another run on Ben Gamel’s RBI single in the sixth.
Chicago would tie the game on a two-run shot by that season’s eventual AL MVP, Jose Abreu, in the seventh before taking the lead back in the eighth on a run-scoring wild pitch by David Phelps. One more solo homer by the Sox in the ninth would lead to the final 6-4 score and a Brewers loss.
For some Brewers fans, the contest was notably quirky in that infielder Ryon Healy was surprisingly batting leadoff to start the game. It was also the start of a three-game run of relief for Corbin Burnes, the last such stretch before he would only start games moving forward, ultimately pitching his way to an NL Cy Young award the next season.
April 1st, 2021 vs the Minnesota Twins
Opening Day 2021 was a bit of a return to normalcy for Brewers fans. Though American Family Field wasn’t allowed to return to full capacity yet due to social distancing guidelines, at least some fans were back in the stands and a full 162- game season was back as well.
Brandon Woodruff was on the mound for the second straight Opening Day start of his career. It was a short one – 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K – a trend that would not continue over his next several starts.
The Twins would gather two of those earned runs in the top of the third inning to take the first lead of the game. Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw would draw a bases loaded walk in the bottom half of the third to put the Crew on the board, but Minnesota would score another run in the fourth to push their lead back to two.
The Brewers would chip away once more in the fifth on an Omar Narvaez RBI single, bringing the score to 3-2. Things started to look a bit grim in the seventh, however, when Twins outfielder Byron Buxton pushed their lead to 5-2 on the back of a two-run homer.
That brings us to the bottom of the ninth. With Wong, now a Brewer, and Keston Hiura on base with one out, a Yelich single would cut the lead to 5-3 and a two-out, two-run double by Shaw two batters later would tie the game and ultimately send it to extra innings.
As a result of a rule instituted the previous year, both teams would start the tenth inning with a runner on second. That didn’t matter much for the Twins as Hader would enter the game and strike out all three batters he faced.
In the Brewers’ half of the tenth, with Cain on second base, Narvaez would kick things off with a soft single that moved the runner to third but wasn’t quite strong enough to score him. That was okay, though, because former Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia would come in to finish the job.
Sadly, Arcia wouldn’t be with the team much longer as he was shockingly traded to the Atlanta Braves just a few days later. The Brewers would go on to win the NL Central and reach a franchise record fourth straight postseason appearance, a streak they’ll hope to extend this season.
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Now that we’ve looked back on some recent home openers, it’s time to enjoy our current one. Whether you’re at the game or watching it elsewhere, enjoy your 414 Day and Go Brewers!