Starting The Second Half Strong

The Milwaukee Brewers missed a chance at a sweep Sunday with a loss in Boston but still started the second half and closed out the month of July in impressive fashion, winning seven of nine games to extend their lead over the rest of the NL Central Division to four games.

They did so with a suddenly resurgent offense which produced 57 runs during those nine games including six games of six runs or more.

“We’re swinging the bat well, seeing the ball all right,” said outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who has been among Milwaukee’s hottest hitters since the break. “If we can stop hitting the ball right at people – aka, me – I think we’ll be a lot better off. But yeah, we’re doing well.”

Offense had been a problem at times for much of the first half but a hitters’ meeting coming back from the break helped set the tone for the second half.

The message was simple: just keep it simple; don’t try to do too much.

“It wasn’t, ‘Change our approach,’” Counsell said. “It was just, ‘Let’s be a little bit better.’ We’re not asking for big, drastic things from anybody in our approach, we’re just trying to do everything in every moment just a little bit better.”

The results speak for themselves.

“We understand our ball club,” Andrew McCutchen said. “Believe me, I’ve been a part of teams that get down early and the game is over already. This team isn’t like that. We’re down, whatever. We have a ball club that can put up three, four or five runs in an inning. We’re capable of doing that. We just have to stay within ourselves and understand that if you’re leading off an inning, you can’t hit a five-run homer. Just chip away, get the next guy up. We’ve been able to do that.”

Who’s Hot

OF Hunter Renfroe

Renfroe’s two-run homer Sunday at Boston was his sixth since the break. He’s slashing .235/.297/.677 during that stretch with 12 RBIs and a .974 OPS.

2B Kolten Wong

Wong was scuffling heading into the break and slashed just .227/.313/.382 with a .695 OPS in the first half but is 12-for-28 since the break with four doubles, a home run and a 1.163 OPS.

LHP Josh Hader

Hader was lights-out for most of the first half but seemed to run out of gas in his final five outings, allowing 11 runs including four home runs for a whopping 29.70 ERA. The break, though, seemed to be just what he needed: he’s covered two save opportunities and picked up a victory against Minnesota while allowing just a run over four appearances.

Who’s Not

RHP Trevor Gott

We’re nitpicking here since he does have two scoreless outings, but Gott has an 8.31 ERA through his first four outings of the second half.

What’s Next

The Brewers will spend a good chunk of August at home and well-rested thanks to a handful of off-days. They’ll open August with three games in Pittsburgh then return to Milwaukee for five against the Reds and Rays followed by a quick trip to St. Louis before coming back home to face the Dodgers. They’ll hit the road once more to face the Cubs and Dodgers before closing out the month at home against the Cubs and Pirates.