* The winner for the batter who had the best afternoon on Thursday has to be Ryan Braun. The Milwaukee Brewers OF went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI while hitting his third HR of the season.
All four of Braun's hits came on fastballs, three of them in the zone. Don't pitchers know better by now?
Braun's 6th-inning single came on the first pitch he saw from Sean Marshall. Apparently Marshall missed the scouting report that says "don't throw him a first-pitch fastball". Since the start of the '09 season, he's hitting .424 against those, and .583 when it's right in the middle of the plate, as Thursday's offering was. (As a point of context, during the 2009 season the MLB average for at bats ending with fastballs over the middle of the plate was .404.)
Marshall apparently didn't pass this knowledge on to Jeff Samardzija. He missed with the first pitch to Mr. Braun and then tried to even things up by throwing another fastball right down the middle. Braun took it out of the park. Over the past two-plus seasons, Braun hits a whopping .460 when he's AHEAD and gets a fastball. That's sixth in the majors over that span. When that fastball is right over the heart of the plate, Braun jumps up to .571, with an OPS of 1.643.
With three ribbies today, Braun has 11 RBI through 9 games. That puts him in some truly elite company in Brewers history...
Most RBI Through First 9 Team Games
Brewers Last 30 Seasons
1998 Jeromy Burnitz, 17 <<
1982 Ben Oglivie, 13
2010 Ryan Braun, 11
1987 Rob Deer, 11
>> franchise record
* From the Elias Sports Bureau: In the Nationals-Phillies game today, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Zimmerman each homered.
It was the first game in MLB history in which players with the last names starting in U, V and Z all homered.
* This afternoon's Texas/Cleveland tilt was the shortest game (by time) so far this season. The overwhelming crowd of 10,198 barely got their money's worth. Clocking in at two hours and three minutes, the Rangers/Indians game bested Wednesday's Pirates/Giants game which took only 2:08.