May is a month of change in Wisconsin…trees start getting their leaves, all of the grass has finally turned green, and any remnants of snow piles have finally melted away (at least south of U.S. 10). The Brewers are doing their part, too.
I made it to Friday night’s game against the Reds–considered a sell-out by the Brewers and a great pitchers’ duel between the Reds’ Johnny Cueto and the Brewers’ Braden Looper. Moments after telling my wife that Corey Hart was indeed struggling again this year, he proved me wrong by hitting the game-winning home run.
The win brought the Brewers’ back into a tie for first in the NL Central with the Cardinals, where they remain with one game left in May. The Brewers are 17-10 in the month of May, and, despite having dropped 5 of their last 6 heading into this series, the fans’ enthusiasm Friday night said it all: No longer are the Brewers expected to only contend for the NL Wild Card, fans expect that they will win the Division…at least that was the sense that I got.
Fielder has bounced back from his mediocre April, hitting .315 for the month with 9 HR’s versus .234 and 3, respectively, in April. Jeff Suppan lowered his ERA by a full point and then some in May (from 5.88 to 4.61), and Trevor Hoffman, finally available for the full month, notched 10 saves in May compared to only 2 in April.
Long-time fans, however, will recall that the Brewers traditionally have encountered a “June swoon,” as well as that the Crew has yet to play a series in Wrigley yet this year, as well as zero games thus far against the Dodgers, the NL foe with the best record to date. Still, with Craig Counsell and his .300+ average filling in nicely for the injured Rickie Weeks, and Prince and Ryan Braun both hitting above .300 for the last month, and the starting rotation showing flashes of excellence from time to time, fans are starting to think “pennant.”