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.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.