Jenkins carries Brew Crew over Twins
Left fielder goes 3-for-4, including career homer No. 200
MILWAUKEE -- The scoreboard on Sunday said that the Brewers were in a 4-0 hole after the top of the third inning and 5-2 after the fourth. The way they had been swinging the bats of late, they may as well have been down 40-0 or 50-2.
But this time, led by a player who has been through more Brewers losses than anyone, the team's sputtering offense rallied back. Geoff Jenkins and the Brewers scored a win that the team's longtime left fielder hoped would recharge the batteries of a club coming off one tough road trip and facing another.
Jenkins hit home run No. 200 to tie the game in the fifth inning and singled home the winning run in the seventh, driving in Milwaukee's final five runs to beat the Minnesota Twins, 6-5, in front of 39,111 fans at Miller Park who ordered a curtain call for the longest-tenured Brewer.
"We had been struggling, and it was time for somebody to get us out of it," said center fielder Bill Hall, who was at first base after an infield single when Jenkins hit No. 200, a three-run shot that knotted the score at 5.
"It was his time to do it," Hall said.
And it was a good time to do it. The Brewers had lost seven of their last nine games on the heels of a six-game winning streak, including the first two games of a brief Interleague homestand against the Twins. The Brewers entered Sunday in danger of being swept by the Twins in Milwaukee for the first time since 1978.
Beginning Monday, they face six games in seven days on the road against Los Angeles and San Diego, the two top teams in the National League West.
"It would have been hard to enjoy [the home run] if we didn't win the ballgame," Jenkins said. "It was a big hit at the time, and it's obviously nice to pitch in and help out. We needed a big jolt of energy."
Milwaukee's pitchers had not exactly been dominating during the losing stretch, but the bigger issue was a stalled offense. The Brewers had scored more than three runs just once over their previous seven games and had two hits in their last 35 at-bats with runners in scoring position before red-hot shortstop J.J. Hardy put the team on the board on Sunday with an RBI double in the third inning.
After that it was "Geoff Jenkins Day," as manager Ned Yost put it. Jenkins singled home Hardy in the third inning to make it 4-2, then hit his ninth home run of the season, a blast shot to straightaway center field off Twins starter Ramon Ortiz.
The Brewers rallied to win in the bottom of the seventh, when Prince Fielder led off with a double off veteran Twins left-hander Dennys Reyes (0-1). Jenkins, who was 3-for-23 against left-handers this season, followed two batters later with the go-ahead single.
"The hit off a lefty was probably even more important [than the home run]," Hall said. "He's been swinging the bat good all year, and it was good to see him do it today."
Brewers reliever Matt Wise (1-1) pitched a perfect seventh inning for the win, Derrick Turnbow worked around a walk and a wild pitch in the eighth and Francisco Cordero struck out all three batters he faced in a fabulous ninth inning for his 17th save this season and the 150th of his career.
"The big thing today was that we came from behind," said Cordero, who has converted 33 of 35 save opportunities since being traded from Texas last July. "Now we hit the road to L.A. and San Diego, and it's really nice. It means a lot to this team, because they were playing really hard today, doing whatever it takes to get the win."
Both Jenkins and Cordero traveled a long road to Sunday's milestones. Jenkins was Milwaukee's first-round draft pick in 1995 and made his debut in 1998, three years before the arrival of Ben Sheets, who has the second-most tenure with the team. Cordero signed with Detroit in 1995 and has been in the big leagues since 1999, with three teams.
"It means I'm getting my job done and it means a lot," Cordero said of save No. 150. "It shows you that when they give me the ball, I'm doing my job. I don't know what to say. This season, the first month and a half, has been unbelievable, and I hope to keep it this way. I don't think I've ever been as good as I am right now."
Was it the kind of win that can spark a slumping ballclub?
Jenkins thinks so, saying that the game reminded him of the one on April 23 at Chicago, when the Brewers fell into a 4-0 hole against Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano but rallied for a 5-4 win. That came in the middle of a stretch that saw Milwaukee win 15 of 18 games.
"Hopefully, we can use this as a slingshot to get everybody to relax and go out there and play the way we've played all year," Jenkins said.
"It's funny, the mentality of this game," Yost said. "You can be going so good, and then you hit a little bit of a rough streak and you feel like, 'Man, we're never going to win a game again.' It doesn't feel like anything is going your way.
"And then, all of a sudden, you start swinging the bats a little bit, hits fall, you get a big hit and then you feel invincible again. I think they feel like the stars are aligned for them again, and they're ready to go on the road."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.