Braun had two RBIs, helps Brewers beat Indians 6-5
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP)—Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke has a message for Brewers fans fretting over Ryan Braun’s low batting average: Relax.
Braun drove in two runs, doubling his spring training total, and the Brewers beat the Cleveland Indians 6-5 Monday.
Norichika Aoki broke a 5-all tie in the ninth with an RBI triple.
“I’m not worried about Ryan at all,” Roenicke said of the .312 career hitter, pointing out that the reigning NL MVP has had only 25 at-bats.
Braun went 1 for 4. He had an RBI single, drove in another run with a groundout, and is hitting just .120 with four RBIs after an offseason that turned tumultuous shortly after he won the NL MVP. He was suspended 50 games for a positive drug test, only to have it overturned last month.
“I like what I’ve seen,” Roenicke said. “He smoked a ball at the shortstop today. The first month last year when he got off to that hot start, he drew a lot of walks. He’s walking a lot now, which means he’s taking those close pitches. You have to throw it over the plate and he’s going to hit for a high average.”
Braun had 16 walks in his first 20 games a year ago, batting .384 with seven homers. He finished with 33 homers, 111 RBIs and a .332 average to help Milwaukee into the playoffs.
Cleveland’s Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer, his third.
Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan hammered two doubles, one off the fence in left-center, the other down the right-field line, in his first at-bats since March 15. He had been out with a sore back.
Hannahan also made a nice pickup of a slow roller by Travis Ishikawa and strong throw to first for an out.
“The training staff made sure he did all those moves out on the short field before we brought him back,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He had a good day.”
Indians starter Justin Masterson gave up five runs over six innings and said he wished the season would start. He has one more tuneup before opening April 5 at home against Toronto.
“Let’s get the party started,” Masterson said. “I felt good, then started rushing in the fifth and sixth. My sinker flattened out. Most of their hits were off flat sinkers.”
Masterson threw mostly sinking fastballs and sliders, and said he is starting to gain confidence in his changeup.
“I’ve never liked throwing one, until about a month ago,” Masterson said. “When you throw hard, hard, hard and then try something soft, you don’t trust it. I tried a new grip. I’ve gone through about 200 changeup grips and probably used this one before, too.”
Asked to describe it, Masterson said, “It’s sorta circlesque, whatever that means.”
Notes: Indians RHP Chris Perez allowed one hit over one inning in a minor league game. The All-Star closer strained his left oblique Feb. 24 and could work in his first major league game soon. … Acta said CF Michael Brantley, out with a tight right hamstring, ran the bases and is progressing. … Acta also said, “The last outing is important to all three,” in regards RHPs Jeanmar Gomez and Kevin Slowey and LHP David Huff competing for Cleveland’s fifth rotation spot. … Brewers SS Alex Gonzalez remained sidelined with a bruised right heel. … Ishikawa had two hits, including a two-run double. … Brewers C George Kottaras when 2 for 4 and is batting .324. … 1B-3B Andy LaRoche continues to make a late run for utility spot in Cleveland. He went 1 for 1 and is hitting .400.