CINCINNATI -- Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy entered Saturday as the only everyday player in the National League with more extra-base hits than strikeouts, an accomplishment that has grown increasingly rare in recent seasons.
Lucroy has 40 extra-base hits versus 38 strikeouts and was one of four Major Leaguers with enough play to qualify for a batting title (3.1 plate appearances per team game) with such splits. The other three -- Jose Altuve of the Astros, Michael Brantley of the Indians and Victor Martinez of the Tigers -- are in the American League.
"I never think about not striking out," Lucroy said. "I think about swinging at good pitches and putting the ball in play. You can't put yourself in a defensive mode. You have to be offensive and swing at strikes. That's the key. Hit the ball hard somewhere."
In each of the past two full seasons, only two qualifying players finished with more extra-base hits than strikeouts (Yadier Molina and Edwin Encarnacion in 2013, and Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols in 2012). In 2011, five players did it. In 2008, there were 10. In 2003, there were 18.
Fifteen times in Brewers history, a regular player has done it. The last over a full season was second baseman Fernando Vina in 1998, when he had 53 extra-base hits and 46 strikeouts. Robin Yount had three such seasons, including two (1980 and '82) during which he led the American League in extra-base hits. On the way to winning AL MVP honors in '82, Yount set the club mark for the biggest disparity between those totals, with 24 more extra-base hits (87) than strikeouts (63).
Cecil Cooper had the most such seasons in Brewers history, with four from 1980-83.
Lucroy doubled and scored the Brewers' only run in Saturday's 1-0 win over the Reds, putting Lucroy on pace to challenge a pair of records. His 30 doubles in the Brewers' first 88 games works out to a 55-double pace, which would top Lyle Overbay's club record of 53 doubles in 2004 and set a record for a Major Leaguer who played at least half of his games at catcher. The Rangers' Ivan Rodriguez set the current standard with 47 doubles in 1996.
Braun to have back evaluated before Sunday's game
CINCINNATI -- Right fielder Ryan Braun, who has already missed a number of games this season with thumb and rib cage injuries, exited Saturday's game against the Reds with lower back spasms.
Braun struck out swinging in the first inning and played the bottom of the frame on defense, but Logan Schafer stepped into the lineup in Braun's spot in the top of the second. Schafer was stranded on deck, but took over on defense in the bottom of the inning.
"Back tightness, felt it today in [batting practice] and thought he was able to get through the game," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Obviously, he couldn't do it."
Braun will be re-evaluated on Sunday before the Brewers and Reds play the rubber match of their three-game series.
An 0-for-3 night on Friday snapped Braun's hitting streak at eight games, though Roenicke had been encouraged lately by Braun's better swings. He was hampered earlier this season by an inflamed nerve near the base of his right thumb, and was on the disabled list for two weeks in early May with a right rib cage strain.
Schafer returns to Crew with clear mind
CINCINNATI -- When Logan Schafer was optioned to Triple-A on June 13, he was angry, confused, shocked -- pick your adjective. Then he looked at the numbers.
"I didn't really pay attention to my numbers this year, because you know when you're on the bench that you can't really look at numbers because you're not getting at-bats every day," Schafer said. "I was a little confused at first, but they told me, 'Look, we just want you to get some at-bats. We know we haven't been able to get you at-bats lately. Just go down there and try to get your rhythm and your swing back.'"
Schafer says he fulfilled those goals before being promoted back to the Brewers on Friday, arriving at Great American Ball Park just in time for a spot start against the Reds. He was back on the bench Saturday, looking to build on a 1-for-7 start to the season as a pinch-hitter and a .183/.272/.280 slash line overall in occasional play.
Statistically, he fared only marginally better at Nashville, but Schafer argued the numbers don't tell the full story.
"I was hitting a lot of balls hard down there," Schafer said. "I saw a lot of pitches. I think I was close to averaging five pitches an at-bat down there. A lot of it was just trying to see pitches. I auto-took a lot of pitches down there, just to get my rhythm and timing down. So I think I accomplished what I wanted to." Now he must adjust back to inconsistent playing time. "It's the hardest thing I've ever done," Schafer said, "but it's fun because it's a challenge."
• Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was asked what he was thinking upon learning the Cubs had traded away a pair of starting pitchers with ERAs below 3.00.
"I was thinking we don't have to face [Jeff] Samardzija and [Jason] Hammel anymore," Roenicke quipped.
He should have said Hammel's name first. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in six career starts against the Brewers, including a pair of scoreless, seven-inning starts this season. Samardzija, meanwhile, is just 2-6 with a 4.55 ERA against the Brewers in 22 games, eight starts.
• Fifth-round selection Dustin DeMuth on Saturday became the first of the Brewers' 2014 First-Year Player Draft picks to earn a promotion. He was bumped to Class A Wisconsin after batting .403 (25-for-62) with a .973 OPS in 15 games with rookie-level Helena. Demuth, who played first and third base for Helena, played four years at Indiana University.
• As of Saturday, a Brewers farmhand led four different Minor Leagues in wins. Jimmy Nelson led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League at 10-2, Tyler Cravy led the Double-A Southern League at 8-1 (he was recently promoted to Nashville), Hobbs Johnson led the advanced Class A Florida State League at 9-6 and Angel Ventura was among the first five pitchers to reach two victories in the rookie-level Arizona League.