There aren’t many signs more promising for the Milwaukee Brewers, both in the short and long term, than these developments, which led the way Wednesday night at American Family Field in a 10-2 dismantling of the Baltimore Orioles.
Burnes, who has been solid but rarely overpowering for much of the last year, unlocked the peak, unhittable version of himself on the mound, slicing bats with cutters and leaving knees buckled with curveballs in eight scoreless innings.
Box score: Brewers 10, Orioles 2
From the command to the aggression in attacking hitters to the crispness of all his pitches, there was no stone left unturned for Burnes, who called it his best outing of the year.
"When he’s got his stuff on, it’s not very fun to hit," Wiemer said.
Burnes has been at the top of the mountain in his career, winning a Cy Young Award and appearing in two All-Star Games as he established himself as arguably the top pitcher in baseball over a three-season stretch.
Wiemer, meanwhile, is still far from an elite echelon, but he has all the tools to get there.
Just ask the Orioles.
The Brewers rookie center fielder crushed Baltimore with a walk-off single Tuesday and then torched them even worse Wednesday. Wiemer went 4 for 4 with two home runs, a double and five runs batted in as part of the hottest stretch at the plate of his young career.
After hitting a two-run homer in the third, a run-scoring single in the fourth and a double in the sixth, Wiemer needed a triple to hit for the cycle when he came to bat in the seventh for his final plate appearance, but was unable to get it. He instead demolished his second homer of the game instead to put the Brewers up 10-0.
Over his last eight games, Wiemer is batting .481 with a .531 on-base percentage, 1.000 slugging percentage, three homers, four doubles and four walks.
He has hit 11 balls 100 mph or harder in that stretch and offered up one frightening thought for opposing pitchers.
“I’ve still got a long way to go," Wiemer said. "I’m not going to say it’s completely here. You’re always working. You’re always trying to figure out something new and keep going. Just going to try and keep swinging every day.”
As far as tools go, Wiemer's shed as a player has always been as full as any other prospect. Few can match his combination of raw power, eye at the plate, speed, defense and arm.
Those skills came out in flashes through Wiemer's first couple of months in the majors, but it was rare that they all came together. Consistency eluded the 24 year old, who hit too many balls on the ground and swung and missed too many times at breaking balls.
It's impossible to ignore them now, from Wiemer's rockets off the bat to a game-saving catch in the gap Tuesday and nifty sliding grab the following night.
"It’s special," Burnes said.
Perhaps the biggest sign for Wiemer moving forward is the types of pitches he is now crushing. For most of the first two months as a big-leaguer, Wiemer faced a gauntlet of breaking and off-speed pitches from right-handers, who were exploiting his proclivity to jump out at the ball.
Tuesday's walk-off came on a curveball. His first homer Wednesday was on a cutter. The second came on another curve.
"I struggled with those for a while up here," Wiemer said. "We talked about it earlier. It wasn’t a real struggle for me throughout my career, so I wasn’t super concerned about it. Smaller sample size. Trying to adjust, get better. I think it’s something that will keep coming on.”
Of all the skills Wiemer has physically, there's another one that stands out even though it may not be as outwardly glaring.
"He’s just a very pure competitor," manager Craig Counsell said. "No matter what happened in previous moments, he’s looking forward to the next moment. And that’s how it’s always been. You keep an eye on that, absolutely.
"That’s a skill, and that’s a skill he has. It’s a great way to be wired to play baseball. That’s something that’s going to help him for his entire career.
Willy Adames also homered for the Brewers, taking Orioles starter Dean Kremer deep to center field in his first plate appearance since suffering a concussion when he was struck by a foul ball in the dugout on May 26.
"Sometimes this game will hit you," Adames said. "Everybody can tell that May hit me really hard. I’m talking about seeing pitchers in the big leagues again after I got hit like that. For me, (confidence) was the main thing that homer did for me."
It was an overabundance of offense for Burnes, who allowed only two hits as he carved up a helpless Baltimore offense in 95 pitches. He struck out a season-high nine and didn't walk any for just the second time all year.
He had the type of stuff and command that could have led to a no-hitter, or even a perfect game, on another night, but was foiled by a bloop single in the second and an infield hit in the fifth. Aside from that, Burnes was untouchable, facing just two over the minimum.
After he earned the moniker of best starter in baseball thanks to a 2.27 ERA over 55 starts from the start of the 2020 season through last year's all-star break, outings like this one from Burnes have been fewer and far between.
All season, despite a much more pedestrian 3.87 ERA since last year's break entering this week, Burnes has stood by the belief that his stuff hasn't taken any steps back in spite of the execution and results not quite being where he would like them to be.
So what was different against the Orioles?
"Just getting ahead in the count and attacking with the cutter," Burnes said. "We did a good job of going in on those lefties with the cutter and they didn’t really have an answer for it most of the night. We went to the secondary stuff when we needed to, but for the most part we were pretty cutter-heavy.
"The curveball and changeup were hit and miss all night. Had those been on point, it would have been even more fun."
Fun is exactly what the Brewers are starting to have some more of once again thanks to a recent stretch of much better play than they were mired in during May. They've won six of eight for the first time since April 14-22 and are 34-28 and 1½ games up in the division.
And it's all coincided with Wiemer getting a mullet.
"He got a good haircut and now he’s the best hitter on the planet," Burnes said.
Now that the Brewers have seen how the mullet launched Wiemer, who got the cut from his friend Dondrae Bremmer while home in Cincinnati last week, into the hottest stretch of his career, the whole team has the 'do on their minds.
"We’ve talked about (getting) it," Burnes said. "Postseason, I think that will dictate whether the haircut happens. My wife said if you do that, then when the postseason done, you’re taking it all off. I can agree with that. If we get to the postseason, I think we’ll have a lot of guys who are bought into it."
Said Adames: "If Corbin does it, I feel like everybody’s going to do it. If we make him do it, I think the whole team will do it."
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Joey Wiemer's two homers, Corbin Burnes' gem lead Brewers past Orioles