MILWAUKEE — Today was Helmet Day at Milwaukee County Stadium, and the White Sox could have used those spare helmets to protect their heads from flying baseballs.
The White Sox took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning, but it could have been worse. Through those two innings, they had left three runners on base. Two runs is not enough to hold back the high-scoring Brewers.
“Sure it runs across your mind that today may not be your day,” Ben Oglivie told the Milwaukee Sentinel, “but we were only down two runs. The score doesn’t matter to this team. It doesn’t mean anything.”
In the bottom of the second, the Crew pounced on rookie Rich Barnes, who was making his major league debut. Just not fair, really. The first five batters he faced that inning reached base, and with two down in the inning the Brewers held a 6-2 lead. Barnes’ day was already over, and the White Sox had a big hole to climb out of.
While the Brewers hit .336 with 12 homers, 26 doubles and two triples on the home stand, the story of this five-game sweep was the bottom of the order. Don Money, Charlie Moore and Jim Gantner combined to go 8-for-12 with four RBI and three runs scored today, and of the Brewers’ 56 hits in the series 26 came from the bottom of the order.
Jim Gantner is a big part of that. The White Sox killer went 11-for-15 in the series and has gone 21-for-38 against Chicago this season.
“I betcha Jim Gantner couldn’t tell ya how to get Gantner out,” White Sox starting pitcher Britt Burns moaned.
A three-game sweep isn’t an easy thing to do. A four-game sweep is almost unheard of. And a five-game sweep? Thanks to a make-up game of a contest previously rained out in Chicago, the Brewers pulled off that unthinkable task.
“It’s just one of those streaks,” Gantner said of the eight straight games and overall success against the White Sox. “Chicago’s unfortunate enough to play us right now. They had the lead in four of the five games but we just kept coming back.”
The biggest surprise is that the Brewers kept scoring runs without the home run ball. Coming into the series at a pace to challenge the 1961 New York Yankees for the team record of most home runs in a season, the Brewers’ only homer was by Don Money on July 16.
“We finessed them,” manager Harvey Kuenn laughed. “Seriously, we not only hit for power, we can hit for average too.”
They can. And they can pitch. The bullpen now has a 2.15 ERA under Kuenn. The team is 30-11 under his leadership and now has the second best record in all of baseball, one win behind the Atlanta Braves who are 54-35.
The Boston Red Sox, by the way, lost to the Royals 9-0 today and fell 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers for the AL East lead.
Game Notes: Brewers starter Randy Lerch lasted 6 2/3 innings before handing the ball to Dwight Bernard for his fourth save. The White Sox managed only an Aurelio Rodriguez solo home run off of Lerch after the second inning.