The strength of a contending club often isn’t determined by who plays every day Andrew Luck Jersey , but who plays only every few days. Or every few weeks. Or even every few months.
The Milwaukee Brewers were concerned when they began their Friday night game in Cincinnati with two injured starting outfielders, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, then lost the other starter, Ryan Braun, to lower back tightness in the seventh inning.
But manager Craig Counsell plugged in exactly the right pieces, and a spare outfield group that probably should be called “The Replacements” keyed an 8-2 victory over the Reds.
How’s this for a couple of fills-in, who did nothing except fill up the box score: Keon Broxton was 3-for-4 with two homers, four RBIs, a run stolen by some alert baserunning and an exceptional sliding catch.
And Hernan Perez, who came in after Braun was hurt, contributed a two-run double to start a five-run ninth inning.
“They (the Brewers outfield) have been the workhorse of this team, so I’ve got to come in and fill their spot while they’re down. It was a good night,” said Broxton, who played in only his third game this season.
Because their bench came through yet again — on Thursday night, part-time starter Eric Thames hit his third consecutive game-winning homer against the Reds — the Brewers can assure them of winning the four-game series by taking Saturday’s game at Great American Ball Park.
“It speaks to our depth again … we’ve had a couple of games like that where (bench players) make meaningful contributions,” Counsell said. “With Yelich down, we’re counting on Keon, so it’s got to be a good feeling for him.”
The last-place Reds had won nine of 10 coming in to the series, but still can’t seem to solve the Brewers, who have won seven of eight games against Cincinnati. Milwaukee owns the National League’s best record at 48-33.
“These guys have been battling all year and they’re in a good spot right now, so I’m trying to do my best to keep them right there,” Broxton said.
Milwaukee will send out right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (6-3), who has lost his last two decisions Youth Justin Reid Jersey , on Saturday to face Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (6-6), who has won his last three decisions during a span of six starts.
“We’ve got to play better. … Their pitching kind of stifled us the last two nights,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’ve got to turn it back on … crank it up again with our bats.”
Yelich sat out with a lower back issue. He’s listed as day to day — and so Broxton made his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday.
Broxton had an RBI single in the second against Sal Romano (4-8), then hit the first of his two homers to make the score 2-0 in the fourth. Then, with Milwaukee up 2-1 in the eighth after reliever Michael Lorenzen’s homer for the Reds, Broxton appeared to be caught off third by Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.
But he eluded a tag by falling down, then scored as Orlando Arcia distracted the Reds by allowing himself to be tagged off second.
Broxton finished quite an evening’s work with a two-run homer in the ninth and a stretched-out catch of Scooter Gennett’s drive into the right-center field gap with two runners on base.
“He’s been up and down (from the minors) a little bit, but he’s very talented,” Riggleman said of Broxton, who hit only .220 while spending most of last season with Milwaukee. “He can do a lot of things — he can hit with power, he can run and he plays great defense.”
The Reds didn’t do much against Brewers starter Chase Anderson, who limited them to one other hit besides Lorenzen’s homer in six innings, and relievers Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Jennings.
Now, the Brewers would like to get Chacin straightened out. His ERA jumped from 3.18 to 3.82 as he gave up eight runs, nine hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings during an 8-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Chacin is 2-3 in nine career games against the Reds. He didn’t get the decision during a 6-5 Brewers win on April 30.
In Mahle’s only previous start against the Brewers, Thames beat him with a two-run homer in a 2-0 Milwaukee win on April 18.
Tom Brady wore a black wool stocking cap and a big smile. Bill Belichick sported a full suit.
The guy in the shark costume, well, he was just trying to not wear out his welcome.
The New England Patriots were the first team on stage Monday at Super Bowl opening night, the kickoff to the week of buildup to the big game. They gathered at Xcel Energy Center, the hockey rink and home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, for their first on-site media obligation after landing in Minneapolis in the afternoon.
The Philadelphia Eagles, whose charter flight arrived Sunday T.J. Green Jersey , had the second half of the NFL’s annual assembly of hundreds of reporters, camera operators and just-for-fun ”journalists” surrounding players and coaches with a ticketed crowd looking on from the seats.
Brady led his team out of the tunnel in the set made to resemble a giant glacier in honor of the host state’s wintry climate. Swarmed by a 12-deep pack of media at his podium in advance of his eighth career Super Bowl, Brady was asked often about his family ties to the area and his desire to keep his children from criticism and scrutiny. He fielded a query about his most attractive teammate, nodding to Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.
And, of course, he fielded a few football questions.
As the Patriots filed out, Belichick met his Eagles counterpart, Doug Pederson, for a handshake and a photo op that produced a jarring juxtaposition of their wardrobe selections. Pederson had on a white polo shirt with jeans and a cap.
Belichick even flashed some smiles during his interview session, including questions from former figure skating star and lifelong Patriots fan Nancy Kerrigan. Working the room as a special correspondent for ”Inside Edition,” Kerrigan later asked Amendola about his favorite Super Bowl party food.
”Nachos,” Amendola quickly responded.
Eagles center Jason Kelce sported an Elmer Fudd-style wool cap with earflaps that the entire team was given as host-community gifts upon landing. He looked ready for an ice fishing expedition.
”If you’re in Minnesota, you might as well do as the Minnesotans do,” Kelce said.
Every player and coach on the team is required to be present, so they don’t get fined, as Marshawn Lynch reminded the football world during his appearance with the Seattle Seahawks three years ago . That includes the injured players not in concussion protocol, so ACL reconstruction patients Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and left tackle Jason Peters were part of the crowd, too, even though their knees won’t let them play in the big game.
”We’re all in the building every day. Carson, I think he shows up at 5:30 or 6, something like that,” Peters said. ”We’re just all embracing it and trying to help our position out.”
The aforementioned guy in the shark costume Ryan Miller Jersey , wearing a credential for ”TYT Sports,” was attempting to dive into Patriots center David Andrews’ deepest fears. Andrews readily called himself a ”scaredy cat” and acknowledged a fear of clowns.
”Clowns are out,” he said. ”Birthday parties. Circuses. Clowns are a no go.”
In the thick of the throngs of media on the floor was 39-year-old Patriots linebacker James Harrison, the oldest active defensive player in the league who’s at his third Super Bowl after reaching two with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He wasn’t interested in reflecting on that or much of anything else.
”I’m just blocking this out,” Harrison said, after declaring the questions from reporters the most annoying part of his Super Bowl week. ”Football is always the focus in my head. I’m running through defenses right now. I’m not really listening to what you’re saying.”
Wait, why such malignant thoughts about media night?
”Because it’s unnecessary. It’s useless,” Harrison said. ”You ask me questions that don’t matter, that don’t have any consequence or nothing about the game.”
Patriots guard Shaquille Mason was more of a willing participant in the silly side of the event. Asked what precious metal Harrison reminds him of, Mason replied, ”some kind of iron.”
Up in the seats was Patriots bushy-bearded defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, in blue jeans, a leather jacket and a pencil stuck behind his ear. Leaning back in a seat as if he were a hockey fan watching a game, Patricia complimented a reporter for his focus in asking a repeat query about his impending hire as Detroit’s head coach. Patricia predictably declined to entertain any questions about the Lions.
”I am very concerned right now about making sure our players have the best possible experience,” Patricia said.
He meant the Super Bowl itself. Media night, well, for most of the coaches, players and even some of the media itself, that’s one to get over and get through.
”Can we go home now, coach?” one player playfully yelled to Belichick as he walked by his podium.
To which Belichick replied, ”I don’t know. We haven’t heard the whistle yet.”
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