10/07/11 11:26 PM ET
In NLDS win, Braun shows MVP-level talent
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Braun went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored in the clinching 3-2 victory over the D-backs on Friday to continue his impressive run this postseason. The left fielder batted .500 (9-for-18) with four doubles, a home run, three walks, four RBIs and five runs to pace the Brewers' offense.
But even with his success, Braun said he wasn't fully satisfied after the Game 5 victory, and there are more important goals the he wants to accomplish this postseason.
"I'm excited to get started," Braun said with a smile. "We have more work to do. This is the first step. It's exciting, but the goal is to get the World Series and win it."
Braun came through for the Brewers all year, hitting .332 with 33 homers, 33 stolen bases, 111 RBIs and a .994 OPS during the regular season. But Braun elevated his game this postseason against the D-backs, and continues to amaze his teammates.
"Braun is one of the best players in the league," right fielder Corey Hart said. "I think he is the MVP. I really think him and Prince [Fielder] should both be MVPs. They never quit. You have to pitch to one of them, and Braun made them pay and he's a big reason why we're here today."
In the deciding Game 5, Braun singled in his first at-bat and walked in his second plate appearance before doubling in the sixth inning and coming around to score the go-ahead run on a two-out single from Yuniesky Betancourt.
He grounded out in his final at-bat and appeared likely to get the chance to be the hero in the 10th inning after the D-backs tied it up in the ninth, but Nyjer Morgan provided the game-winning RBI single to score Carlos Gomez for the walk-off win.
But Braun was perfectly fine with missing out on that last opportunity, as he was simply happy to see Morgan deliver the clutch hit.
"I know if I don't get an at-bat in that situation, we win the game, Braun said. "So it was awesome. ... Nyjer got the biggest hit of his life. One of the biggest hits in Brewers history. We're all proud, man. This is pretty cool. This is a special day for all of us, no doubt."
Braun said the key to his success in the elimination game was staying loose, noting that it had always been a dream of his to play in a clinching game with a chance to advance in the postseason.
"I never view it as pressure," Braun said. "I view it as opportunity. If you would've told us before the year, we'd win the division, have an opportunity to play for the Championship Series in a one-game playoff at home, I think we all would've taken it. So you try to cherish the moment and embrace the opportunity."
Braun certainly did his part to help the Brewers reach the NLCS for the first time in 29 years, and was glad the season didn't end prematurely with a Game 5 loss.
"If we hadn't won today, I think everything we accomplished all year would be forgotten," Braun said. "The goal was to get to the postseason and have success here. So to get ahead 2-0 in the series, if we would've lost today, everything would've been meaningless to most of us. So this is special."