CINCINNATI -- Who is baseball's top September slugger? Before you say Miguel Cabrera, check out what Brewers leadoff man Norichika Aoki has been doing.Among his three hits in Wednesday's win over the Reds were Aoki's 10th home run and 36th double, giving him a Major League-best 17 extra-base hits entering Thursday. Aoki needed one more extra-base hit to tie a Brewers September record set by George Scott in 1975 and matched by Corey Hart in 2007. Cabrera, the Tigers' slugger chasing the American League Triple Crown, had 15 extra-base hits through Wednesday night. So did Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones and Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton. "I guess I'm happy about that," Aoki said, with Kosuke Inaji translating. "I'm satisfied in that I'm able to put a better swing on pitches compared with early in the season." The power qualifies as a surprise for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "I know he's been driving the ball, but, yeah [the numbers] do surprise me," Roenicke said. "Not that I didn't think he had some power, but I thought he was more of an average guy because he led the league so many times [in Japan]. I know he had some home runs there, but the ballparks are smaller and I don't know how that's going to come into play here." Aoki's power has come in some big situations. On Sept. 9 in St. Louis, his ninth-inning home run off Cardinals closer Jason Motte forced extra innings. On Sept. 20 in Pittsburgh, the Brewers were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position before Aoki drilled a double off the wall, sparking a go-ahead rally. And on Wednesday in Cincinnati, his third-inning homer got the Brewers going against Bronson Arroyo. "I think he hits to the situation," Roenicke said. "He's got enough bat control that he can do different things. He's hard to defense. I wouldn't want to defense him. He hits the ball down both lines, has power to both gaps. He's a tough one."
Biceps tightness cuts Peralta's solid outing short
CINCINNATI -- Brewers pitching prospect Wily Peralta exited Thursday's game after 5 1/3 innings with tightness in his right biceps, and the club will have to decide in the coming days whether to send him back out for one more start."We'll see how he is [Friday] and what it looks like," manager Ron Roenicke said after Milwaukee's 2-1 loss to the Reds. "It's a shame for him, because he was throwing the ball great." But Peralta was not 100 percent after the second inning, when he told veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez that his right arm was bothering him. Ramirez passed word to Roenicke, and staffers kept a close eye on Peralta over the ensuing innings. The right-hander looked just fine, surrendering only two singles and no runs through five innings, but he looked wild while striking out opposing pitcher Mat Latos to begin the sixth. When the Brewers went around the horn after the play, the infielders wouldn't return the baseball to Peralta. Head athletic trainer Dan Wright visited the mound, and Peralta immediately exited. The 23-year-old is tentatively scheduled to pitch again on Tuesday against the Padres. "I think I'm going to be OK for the next one," Peralta said. "I was getting ahead of the hitters, throwing strikes, keeping the ball down. I was pretty happy with the way I threw the ball today. [The injury] is something you don't want to happen, but I will try to get myself ready for the next one. I feel fine, and I'm going to start throwing tomorrow and let's see." Said Ramirez: "He wanted to stay out there, but it made no sense. Not for a young man like that." Roenicke said Brewers medical staffers were "not concerned" about the issue bothering Peralta in the long term.
Just in case, Brewers planning for postseason
CINCINNATI -- From the department of "just in case," Brewers director of team travel Dan Larrea has been a lot busier than expected lately.Larrea is responsible for getting the Brewers where they need to be in the event they pull off a miraculous return to the postseason. It remains a mathematical long shot, with the team 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals as of Thursday morning with seven games to play, but Larrea's job is to be ready if that gap disappears. Larrea showed a reporter a spreadsheet built at the start of September, with a myriad of scenarios for postseason travel, including the event that three teams tie for the second National League Wild Card spot. If you read the tiebreaker rules on MLB.com, you'll appreciate the complexity of the task. Here's one wild scenario: If the Brewers, Cardinals and Dodgers all own the same record after Wednesday, then the Cardinals would travel to Los Angeles for one game on Oct. 4, the winner would host the Brewers to decide the second Wild Card on Oct. 5, the winner of that game would play the Braves in Atlanta on Oct. 6, and the winner of that game would advance to the NL Division Series beginning Oct. 7.
"I have a charter standing by, because there is a chance that we could take a flight for four straight nights," Larrea said. "That's like the NBA, with a lot bigger traveling party."He also has blocks of hotel rooms reserved in all of the Brewers' potential destinations. It helps, Larrea said, that the Brewers have been through this sort of uncertainty in two of the past four years, having won the Wild Card in 2008 and the NL Central in '11. Larrea began thinking about the potential of the postseason around the end of the Brewers' 13-game run against the Cubs and Pirates in late August, during which they went 11-2 and jumped into the Wild Card discussion. On Wednesday, he had a conference call with United Airlines, the Brewers' official carrier, to discuss the various scenarios. Similar preparations are quietly underway at Miller Park, where a lottery for single-game postseason tickets opened at Brewers.com on Monday. All of this seemed impossible in the third week of August, when the Brewers fell 12 games under .500 and 12 1/2 games behind the second Wild Card at their low point. "The plans had been shelved at that point, but I had to re-open the cabinet, if you will," Larrea said. "But it's good. You want to have those challenges."