|2011 Milwaukee Brewers|
|National League Central champions|
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Doug Melvin|
Fox Sports Wisconsin
(Brian Anderson, Bill Schroeder, Craig Coshun)
|Local radio||AM 620 WTMJ|
(Bob Uecker, Cory Provus)
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The Milwaukee Brewers' 2011 season was their 42nd season for the franchise in Milwaukee, the 14th in the National League, and 43rd overall. The Brewers posted a franchise-best record of 96-66, winning their first-ever National League Central Division title. The Brewers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games in the first round of the playoffs and advanced to the National League Championship Series, where they lost in six games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Despite having arguably the best offense in the National League, the Brewers had struggled in 2010 due to lack of starting pitching as the Brewers had finished next-to-last in the league in team ERA. Vowing to the Brewer fans to get more starting pitching, GM Doug Melvin traded or released three of the team's most ineffective starters in Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, and Doug Davis. The Brewers also tabbed John Axford as the Brewers new closer with the retirement of Trevor Hoffman.
In keeping with their vow of getting better starting pitching, the Brewers made a deal just hours into the Winter Meetings with the Toronto Blue Jays in acquiring starting pitcher Shaun Marcum in exchange for top prospect Brett Lawrie. The Brewers also were in the hunt for 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals. On December 19, the Brewers reached a deal with the Royals. The Royals got Brewers' starting shortstop Alcides Escobar and prospects Lorenzo Cain, Jake Odorizzi, and Jeremy Jeffress in exchange for Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, and $2 million to cover the last year of Betancourt's contract. The arrival of Greinke created a wave of excitement in Milwaukee. In the first 72 hours after the trade had been announced, the Brewers sold 1,500 season tickets compared to only 800 sold in the previous two months, and sold almost 1.5 million individual tickets before Opening Day.
The Brewers also signed to the team veterans Takashi Saito and Mark Kotsay and made a last minute trade at the end of Spring training in sending Class-A prospect Cutter Dykstra to the Washington Nationals in exchange for outfielder Nyjer Morgan.
With the trades for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, the Brewers were tabbed by many experts as favorites to not only win the NL Central Division, but also contenders for the National League pennant. The first month was a bumpy road for the Brewers as they were without Greinke due to a basketball-related rib injury during Spring training. The team opened the season with four consecutive losses. By the end of April, the Brewers had fallen to 5th place in the NL Central, but came back to have an impressive May, by taking advantage of the struggles of division rivals Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. The Brewers had problems offensively but were carried by the efforts of All-Stars Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks. Nyjer Morgan, who was acquired via trade on March 27 from the Washington Nationals, took over center field for struggling Carlos Gomez. Morgan became a fan favorite in Milwaukee because of his alter-ego and bizarre antics.
By the All-Star break, the Brewers were tied with St. Louis for the division lead despite having the National League's worst road record (16-29). The Brewers had NL's best home record at (33-14) which gave them a respectable 49-43 record at the midpoint of the 2011 season.
To address some needed bullpen help, the Brewers made another big trade just hours after the All-Star Game, trading two Class A prospects to the New York Mets in exchange for ace reliever Francisco Rodríguez, and also made another trade before the end of the trade deadline for veteran infielder Jerry Hairston Jr., who became essential to the Brewers' success after All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks suffered a bad ankle sprain in the last week of July and Carlos Gomez was lost with a shoulder injury.
The Brewers started to overcome their road woes after the All-Star Break when they went on an 11-game road trip to Arizona, Colorado, and San Francisco. The Brewers ended up having a modest 5-6 mark on the road trip and came back to sweep the floundering Cubs and Astros and take two out of three games against the Cardinals to win eight of a nine-game homestand and take over 1st place in the NL Central. They followed the successful homestand with a sweep of the Astros in Houston; the first time they have swept the Astros away from Milwaukee, and also took 2 out of 3 games in St. Louis to extend the Brewers division lead to 7 games. The Brewers went on to have a stretch of 29 games from late July to mid August where they went 23-6 and finished the month of August with a 21-7 mark, setting a franchise record for most wins in one month.
The Brewers went through a series of scuffles in early September where their division lead, which had been up as high as 10 games in late August, went down to as few as 4.5 games as the Cardinals went on a sudden hot streak, becoming the first team to sweep the Brewers at Miller Park during the season. The Brewers, though, were able to keep their division lead steady, thanks to a mid-September sweep of the Reds.
On September 16, Ryan Braun hit his 30th home run of the season. Along with his 31 stolen bases, Braun became only the 2nd Brewer ever to have a 30-homer, 30-steal season, joining Tommy Harper, who accomplished the feat in 1970.
The Brewers came into their final 6 games with a 5-game lead over the Cardinals. On September 23, the Brewers beat the Florida Marlins 4-1, with Ryan Braun hitting a clutch 3-run homer in the 8th. In St. Louis, the Cardinals fell to the Cubs 5-1, giving the Brewers the NL Central Division title, their first division title since 1982. The Brewers also became the first franchise ever to win a division title in both the American and National leagues.
The night drew eerie echoes to the Brewers playoff year of 2008, as the Brewers that year needed to beat the Cubs and needed the Marlins to win to get into the playoffs, whereas it was vice versa in 2011, with the Brewers needing to beat the Marlins and for the Cubs to win to get into the playoffs. And like in 2008, Ryan Braun hit the clutch, game-winning home run for the Brewers.
On September 28, the final game of the season, the Brewers beat the Pirates 7-3, which was also their 96th win of the season, breaking the team record for wins in a season set in 1979 and tied in 1982. The Brewers finished the season 96-66, the second best record in the National League behind only the Philadelphia Phillies.
Along with their team accomplishments, the Brewers had many individual achievements from their players. Ryan Braun finished the season with 33 homers and 33 steals while finishing second in the National League in batting average, hitting .332 while Prince Fielder finished second in the league in both home runs and RBIs, hitting 38 home runs while driving in 120.
The Brewers starting pitching was also drastically better than 2010. Each of the Brewers 5 regular starters had 10-plus wins during the regular season. Yovani Gallardo won 17 games, the most by a Brewer since 2005, Zack Greinke won 16 games despite missing one month, both Shawn Marcum and Randy Wolf won 13 games, and number five starter Chris Narveson won 11 games. It was the first time since 1982 that the Brewers had five pitchers with 10 or more wins in a season. The Brewers also used fewer starting pitchers than any team in baseball, using only six starting pitchers, with Marco Estrada filling in for 7 games when Greinke and later Narveson were out with injuries.
The Brewers bullpen was also stellar, led by closer John Axford, who set two new club records with most consecutive converted saves (42) and most saves in a season (46).
The Brewers faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS and won the first two games at Miller Park. The Brewers however got shelled by the Diamondbacks in games 3 and 4 in Arizona, and the series and season came down to Game 5 at Miller Park. The Brewers won the game in extra innings 3-2 to give the Brewers their first postseason series win since the 1982 ALCS.
The Brewers then faced their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the NLCS, in a rematch of the 1982 World Series. The Brewers staged a come-from-behind victory, winning game one of the best-of-seven series by a score of 9-6. St. Louis however went on to pound the Brewers 13-2 in Game Two and scored 4 runs in the first inning of Game 3 to take the game, 4-3. The Brewers won Game 4 in St. Louis, however, they then lost the next two games to surrender the National League Pennant to the Cardinals.
|St. Louis Cardinals||90||72||0.556||6||45-36||45-36|
2011 National League Records
Milwaukee Brewers won the series, 3-2.
|1||October 1||Arizona Diamondbacks - 1, Milwaukee Brewers - 4||Miller Park||2:44||44,122|
|2||October 2||Arizona Diamondbacks - 4, Milwaukee Brewers - 9||Miller Park||3:29||44,066|
|3||October 4||Milwaukee Brewers - 1, Arizona Diamondbacks - 8||Chase Field||3:01||48,312|
|4||October 5||Milwaukee Brewers - 6, Arizona Diamondbacks - 10||Chase Field||3:25||38,830|
|5||October 7||Arizona Diamondbacks - 2, Milwaukee Brewers - 3 (10 innings)||Miller Park||3:41||44,028|
St. Louis won the series, 4-2.
|1||October 9||St. Louis Cardinals - 6, Milwaukee Brewers - 9||Miller Park||3:35||43,613|
|2||October 10||St. Louis Cardinals - 12, Milwaukee Brewers - 3||Miller Park||3:36||43,937|
|3||October 12||Milwaukee Brewers - 3, St. Louis Cardinals - 4||Busch Stadium||3:10||43,584|
|4||October 13||Milwaukee Brewers - 4, St. Louis Cardinals - 2||Busch Stadium||3:25||45,606|
|5||October 14||Milwaukee Brewers - 1, St. Louis Cardinals - 7||Busch Stadium||3:09||46,904|
|6||October 16||St. Louis Cardinals - 12, Milwaukee Brewers - 6||Miller Park||3:43||43,926|
(through October 4, 2011)
|Jerry Hairston, Jr.||45||124||18||34||10||0||1||7||47||11||16||1||0||.274||.348||.379||.727|
(through September 17, 2011)
|Frankie de la Cruz||10||0||0||0||0||0||0||11.2||9||3||0||3||6||4.63||0.0||1.03||2.31|
|Daniel Ray Herrera||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.2||6||4||1||1||0||0.00||0.0||4.20||21.60|
|AAA||Nashville Sounds||Pacific Coast League||Don Money|
|AA||Huntsville Stars||Southern League||Mike Guerrero|
|A||Brevard County Manatees||Florida State League||Jeff Isom|
|A||Wisconsin Timber Rattlers||Midwest League||Matt Erickson|
|Rookie||AZL Brewers||Arizona League||Tony Diggs|
|Rookie||Helena Brewers||Pioneer League||Joe Ayrault|