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Video: Ryan Braun makes franchise history with his sixth career grand slam

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Ryan Braun launched into the second half of the season with his sixth career grand slam on Friday night, setting a new franchise record in the process. It was his first slam since 2015, putting him just ahead of former Brewers Jeromy Burnitz, Cecil Cooper and John Jaha, who previously shared a four-way tie with Braun for the most grand slams in club history.

The blast capped a monster of an inning for the Brewers, who stockpiled eight runs in the second as they took the lead and then some. With the bases loaded and one out against Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta, Braun unloaded a first-pitch, 400-foot home run to dead center field to give the Brewers an 8-2 lead:

Braun entered Friday’s series opener with 10 home runs and a respectable, if underwhelming .259/.342/.545 batting line through 161 PA. The grand slam certainly helps, though he still has a ways to go to match the .305 average and 30 homers he produced for the club in 2016.

The run support proved crucial for Milwaukee starter Zach Davies, who handed Philadelphia another four runs in the fifth and sixth innings with a two-RBI single from Maikel Franco and a two-run homer from Odubel Herrera. The Brewers currently lead the Phillies, 9-6, in the bottom of the sixth.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.