TORONTO — The Brewers have scuffled of late, winning only six of their last 15 games coming into today. They needed an old fashioned “Harvey’s Wallbangers” revival. They got it.
“I finally hit a ball hard,” Cooper, who had the top part of his right shoe cut off to relieve pressure on his ailing big right toe, said after the game. Coop isn’t the only one who has struggled with the bat of late.
This is a team, not too long ago, that was ahead of the record-setting pace of the 1961 New York Yankees for most home runs in a season. Entering today’s game, though, the Brewers had smacked only two long balls during the previous seven games. That changed today.
Following a 61-minute rain delay in the bottom of the first inning, Pete Vuckovich kept the Blue Jays scoreless for the first three innings. In the bottom of the third, catcher Ted Simmons launched his 16th home run of the season to make it 4-0 Brewers. Then Jim Gantner and Paul Molitor hit back to back RBI singles in the fourth to knock Jim Clancy from the game and make it a 6-0 Brewers lead.
Things got a little sticky for Vuke in the bottom of the fourth when the Blue Jays reached on five consecutive singles to make it a 6-3 game. Vuke survived, though, and was solid the rest of the way.
Paul Molitor capped the Brewers’ scoring in the top of the 7th with a solo home run to make it 7-3, and Blue Jay Ernie Whitt added one more Toronto run with a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the inning.
If it seems like Whitt has given Vuckovich trouble this season, you’re right. In 138 1/3 innings this season, Vuke has allowed only four home runs, but two of them were to Whitt. “He’s like Babe Ruth against me,” Vuckovich laughed.
Vuke was able to laugh because the Brewers held on for a full-team win. Closer Rollie Fingers took the mound in the 7th and pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only a bunt single, to collect his 24th save of the season, requiring only 29 pitches to do it.
Now that the Brewers are once again combining home run power with solid pitching, are Harvey’s Wallbangers back? “I hope it stays this way for the next month,” Kuenn said. “It kind of reminded me of June and July [when everything went right].”
The Red Sox split a double header with the Orioles, giving the Brewers a one game lead in the AL East.
Game Notes: Vuckovich had to be removed after the sixth inning because he was fatigued due to an 11-inning start against the Indians last time out.