The Milwaukee Brewers have been one of Major League’s Baseball’s most clutch teams this season, often thriving in the late innings.
The Milwaukee Brewers did it again on Saturday night, winning yet another game in their final at-bat in a 6-5 victory over the Miami Marlins thanks to a Jesus Aguilar walk-off home run. That was the sixth time in 22 games this season where Milwaukee won in their final at-bat.
The Brewers kicked off the season with a mini-marathon victory over the San Diego Padres in 12 innings. After holding a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth, Corey Knebel blew his first save opportunity of the season and allowed the Padres to tie it 1-1. Then, in the top of the 12th, pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi doubles to right-field and puts himself in perfect position for the go-ahead run. Three pitches later, Orlando Arcia singled to drive in Choi.
The very next night provided more dramatics for the Brewers. They found themselves down three runs going into the ninth at 6-3. However, they wouldn’t go quietly and put a nice crooked number on the board capped by a Ryan Braun three-run homer to give them an 8-6 victory.
Three games later, they had their first walk-off win of the season thanks to another home run from Braun in the bottom of the ninth against the St. Louis Cardinals. It came with two outs and two strikes, but Braun never faltered.
The Brewers thought the walk-off was so nice, they had to do it twice. So, three games later they did just that against the Chicago Cubs. With the game tied 4-4 headed to the bottom of the ninth, Manny Pina drew a walk following a Domingo Santana strikeout. The Brewers then experienced some good fortune as Cubs’ third basemen Kris Bryant struggled with a Hernan Perez grounder and Pina was able to advance to third. The very next batter, Arcia, found his magic again as he singled in the winning run.
The next dramatic victory came against the Cardinals again on April 9. Milwaukee again blew a save opportunity in the ninth by giving up a run to tie the game at 4-4. However, they didn’t back down and responded with drawing four walks out of the first five batters and bringing the go-ahead run across the plate.
If it wasn’t for the Brewers’ shady late-inning play in the field, they’d have two other victories to add to their clutch resume as well.
This may not be the most consistent way to win ball games, but it’s certainly the most exciting.
When it comes to batting in pressure-packed situations, the Brewers are one of the National League’s best, posting a league-high .818 OPS in the ninth inning or later. Although their on-base percentage is only tied for fourth-best at .354, they really make their hits count, often turning them into extra bases.
Arcia has been the Brewers’ best hitter in the ninth inning or later, posting an on-base percentage of .500 and racking up five RBIs (he only has eight total). That’s a stark contrast to his .250 OBP in all innings this season.
Braun has also been a major contributor even though he’s struggled to start the year. Fortunately, he turns it on when needed and has been a stud at the end of games. Even though he only has an on-base percentage of .333 he has hit two home runs and driven in four runs in his nine at-bats.
Aguilar, Jonathan Villar and Manny Pina have also been good table-setters for those guys, often times getting on base in order to set up the go-ahead or winning runs.
It remains to be seen if winning in this fashion is sustainable, but maybe it signals something bigger for the Brewers this season. Sometimes teams are able to continue winning in this fashion and it ends up being one of those years. Let’s hope Milwaukee can carry this momentum further into the season.