Last year was disappointing to say the least for the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Following the club's first playoff birth in 26 years, the Brewers finished two games under .500, good for third place in the NL Central. While 2009 was frustrating, it didn't come without it's fair share of memorable moments.
Top 10 Moments of 2009
10. Mitch Stetter's Streak
After the loss of Brian Shouse, in 2009 the Brewers were searching for a solid lefty out of the bullpen. In his brief time in Milwaukee, Mitch Stetter showed flashes of brilliance, but also was prone to walks. That all changed for a brief time this season when Stetter was able to record 15 straight outs via the strikeout. During his 15 K streak, Stetter didn't walk a batter, while surrendering just three hits and no runs. His K streak occurred in the middle of a 17 game stretch where he didn't allow a run. In that stretch, Stetter struck out 24 batters in 14.2 innings, while walking just three batters.
9. Dave Bush's near no-no
There is no player on the current Brewers roster who has come closer to pitching a no-hitter than Dave Bush. In 2008, Bush came within just six outs of accomplishing the feat, only to see former Brewer Lyle Overbay triple down the left field line. Well, on April 23, 2009, Bush came one out closer only to see a similar fate occur. After pitching 7 1/3 innings of hitless ball, Dave Bush watched former Brewer Matt Stairs hit a 86 MPH fastball off the right field foul pole. It was really tough to watch, but it couldn't overshadow Bush's great performance where he out pitched Cole Hamels enroute to a 6-1 Brewers win.
8. Prince Fielder knocks 'em down
On September 6th, Prince Fielder hit a walk off HR in the bottom of the 12th inning to defeat the San Francisco Giants 2-1. While the HR didn't mean a whole lot to the Brewers (seeing as they were already out of the playoff race), it proved to be very controversial. After hitting his HR, Prince jumped high on home plate only to see his entire team fall upon his landing. Personally, I thought the entire scene was very comical, but others thought the Brewers were, once again, disgracing the game. It's tough to see how the Brewers intended to cause any harm by the celebration. Sure the HR dealt a huge blow to the Giants, who were right in the middle of a playoff race, but it was still in fun. These guys are just playing a game out there. It was refreshing to see a team able to celebrate in the midst of a very disappointing year.
7. Cameron Robs HR, Brewers Walk Off
June 27th saw one of the best games at Miller Park this season. In the top of the 7th, Mike Cameron made one of the best catches I have ever seen to rob Nate Schierholtz off a go ahead home run and keep the game tied 4-4. The score would remain the same until the top of the ninth inning when the Giants rallied to score two runs off Trevor Hoffman and his 1.25 ERA at the time. Trailing 6-4, the Giants called on one of the best closers in the game in Brian Wilson. The Brewers responded with a three run rally capped by walk off double by Prince Fielder.
6. Casey and Mack McGehee
On July 29th, Casey McGehee's son Mack McGehee threw out the first pitch at Miller Park, but this wasn't like any ordinary pitch. Mack McGehee, 2, is suffering from cerebral palsy, a brain disorder that great affects muscle movement and coordination. Catching Mack's pitch was Casey, who was brought to tears at the sight of his son's excitement. That was not the last of the McGehee's that night. Casey, although not starting, responded by hitting a pinch hit, go ahead two run home run in the sixth inning. The Brewers would hang onto a 7-5 victory thanks to McGehee's heroics. It was truly one of the best moments in 2009.
5. Brewers Rally in Pittsburgh
There is no question over the past few seasons the Brewers have struggled to win on the road. Combine that with a late deficit, and May 4th spelled another loss for the Brewers. Trailing 3-1 in the top of the eight inning, the Brewers were in need of a rally. After loading the bases with two outs, the Brewers called on Ryan Braun, who was fresh off the plane after recovering from a stiff back, off the bench. Braun responded by delivering a two run, popup double to tie the game 3-3. However, the Pirates scored in bottom of the inning on a Jason Jaramillo double and lead the game 4-3 going to the ninth. The Brewers were not done however. After back to back singles by Jason Kendall and Craig Counsell, Corey Hart walked to load the bases with no outs. J.J. Hardy tied the game with a line drive sac fly to center, setting up Rickie Weeks with runners on the corners and just one out. Weeks continued the rally by launching a fastball into the left field seats for a three run home run, propelling the Brewers to a 7-4 come from behind victory. While Weeks' season would end shortly after that, it was nice to see the confidence on his face after that hit.
4. Ryan Braun does it again
Just about every baseball fan in Milwaukee recalls Ryan Braun's two run HR in 2008 against the Chicago Cubs on the last day of the season, sending Milwaukee to the playoffs. Well, May 8th, 2009 was more of the same from Braun. After being frustrated for seven innings by Cubs' pitching, the Brewers found themselves trailing 2-1, in the bottom of the eighth inning. After a double by Corey Hart to start the inning, Ryan Braun came up to face Aaron Heilman. Braun promptly sent Heilman's 1-0, 100 MPH fastball into the right field bleachers for a 3-2 Brewers lead. Trevor Hoffman went onto pitch a perfect top of the ninth for a 3-2 Brewers victory. Maybe it's just me, but it's nice to see Cubs fans file out of Miller Park disappointed.
3. Hell's Bells
The way the closer has taken off in baseball is incredible. It seems every time they enter a ballgame, the crowd goes insane. They are greeted with music blaring over the speakers, graphics flashing over the scoreboards and general hoopla is involved (Sorry, I really like those Coors Light Coaches ads). To me, there was really nothing that would ever compare to "Enter Sandman" in Yankee Stadium for Mariano Rivera, but then again, I had never seen "Hell's Bells." On April 27th, Hoffman returned from a stint on the DL to make his first appearance as a Brewer. Sure the Brewers were up by 5 and it wasn't a save situation, but Hoffman's intro still rang true. Hell's Bells made it's first appearance at Miller Park. Hoffman promptly dispatched of the Pirates, throwing a 1-2-3 inning and finished a 10-5 Brewers victory, but what was started was really entertaining. For the next five months, the city of Milwaukee was obsessed with Hell's Bells. It became the official party song of the summer. The electricity inside Miller Park when that song is played was incredible.
2. Comeback on Opening Day
There are few things that rival opening day in Miller Park. It has really been some sort of ritual to the city of Milwaukee. People arrive hours before the game to tailgate, and have fun. Some have said, and I agree, it is the official start to spring. This season was no different. People arrived early. People drank heavily. Some didn't make it into the game and really could've cared less, but they missed out. After being throughly dominated by Rich Harden and the Cubs' bullpen, the Brewers found themselves trailing 3-2 going to the last half of the ninth inning. Enter newly acquired Cubs' closer Kevin Gregg. After Jason Kendall grounded out to start the inning, Ken Macha called on Chris Duffy. Yes, that Chris Duffy. It proved to work out after Duffy drew a walk. Then, Rickie Weeks stepped to the plate. Weeks ripped a 2-1 fastball over the head of Alfonso Soriano to tie the game. After a wild pitch advanced Weeks to third, Corey Hart was walked, setting up runners on the corners for Ryan Braun. Braun nubbed a 1-2 fastball to short. Instead of trying to turn a double play, Ryan Theriot threw home to try and get Weeks. Weeks' headfirst slide beat the tag and sent Miller Park into a frenzy. The Brewers won 4-3 on one the best opening days in recent memory.
1. Cleveland Rocks
I may be a little bias in the matter considering I went to Cleveland this season to celebrate my birthday with my brother, who now lives there. Opening a three game series in Cleveland, the Milwaukee Brewers were apart of "Major League night." In tribute to the original "Major League" movie, every fan was given Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn bobbleheads. Bob Uecker even threw out the first pitch for his role as Harry Doyle. After grabbing an early lead, the Brewers fell behind 8-3, after just four innings. Battling back, the Brewers responded with four runs over the next two innings and pulled back to trail 8-7. The Indians, however, were not done, answering the Brewers with a four spot of their own in the bottom of the sixth for a 12-7 lead. After scoring one in the seventh, the Brewers found themselves down four going to the eighth. I remembering joking to my brother that "if we can just load the bases for Braun or Fielder." Well, little did I know that would actually happen. After J.J. Hardy flew out to start the eighth, the horrible Indians' bullpen struck again. Matt Herges and former Brewer Luis Vizciano walked the bases loaded and gave up a single to Ryan Braun. Still holding a 12-9 lead, the Indians' lefty Rafael Perez was summoned into the game to face Prince Fielder. Fielder ripped a hanging slider on the first pitch he saw into the right field bleachers. It was his first career grand slam and gave the Brewers a 13-12 lead. They went onto win 14-12 and eventually swept the Indians in a three game series.
Let me know if there are any moments you thought I missed that should've been on the list. Yes, I did remember the run-off victory and Yovani's incredible 1-0 performance against the Pirates, but I thought these were better.