MILWAUKEE — The Brewers have been hitting home runs at a record pace since Harvey Kuenn took over, but it’s games like this one that leave little doubt that they are a serious contender for the AL East title and more.
Sure, the offense was fantastic again. The Brewers scored seven runs on 19 hits. Seven of the nine Brewers hitters had multiple hits. Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Ted Simmons all hit home runs. Ho hum.
But starting pitcher Randy Lerch was the real story today. Coming in at 5-5 with a 5.38 ERA, Lerch is the clear weak link of the rotation. Yet he shut out what is probably the league’s number two offense, after the Brewers. Nine innings, nine hits, three walks, six strikeouts. No runs.
It was Lerch’s first shutout of the season and the second of his career (his first was in 1979 with the Philadelphia Phillies). Was today’s performance unexpected? You bet. He hadn’t thrown more than seven innings in a game all season, and he reached seven only twice in 15 outings.
But what makes this win most impressive isn’t the offensive explosion or Randy Lerch’s performance. It’s that it was done against the Royals, the AL West’s best team. And the offense teed off on Vida Blue (an accomplished starting pitcher who entered the game with a 3.40 ERA) for four runs on 10 hits, knocking him out before he could get an out in the fourth inning.
The Red Sox beat the Twins 5-4 today to keep the Brewers a game back. But they won’t be able to hold off this impressive Crew forever.