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May 1, 2012

What You Need to Know

Tuesday, May 1

by Daniel Rathman

The Monday Takeaway
Hitting three home runs in a game played at Petco Park is like acing three final exams after a night of heavy drinking. It can’t be done—unless you are Ryan Braun, that is.

The Brewers left fielder began his Monday evening with an inauspicious fly out to center in the first inning before going to work in the top of the fourth. First came this solo shot to the sandbox in right-center field, a place very few hitters are strong enough to reach at Petco.  An inning later, Braun checked the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse off his list of targets with a two-run blast. And in the seventh, Ernesto Frieri made the mistake of hanging a curveball to Braun, who deposited it just over the fence in left to complete the trifecta.

In doing so, Braun became the first player ever to go deep thrice at Petco, but he was not done yet. Facing Joe Thatcher in the ninth and staring at an 0-2 count, Braun tacked on a two-run triple, making a bit more history: No player had hit three home runs and a triple in the same game since Fred Lynn in 1975.

Braun entered Monday’s game batting a solid but unspectacular (by his standards) .263/.322/.500. After spearheading the Brewers’ offense in the team’s 8-3 victory over the Padres, he’s up to .294 with a 994 OPS. He’ll have a chance to pad those numbers tonight with Edinson Volquez on the hill for San Diego—Braun is 7-for-19 with a homer and five walks in his career against the erratic righty, and that dinger was a doozy, too.

What to Watch for on Tuesday

  • Could you set the over/under on runs scored in tonight’s Orioles-Yankees matchup in the Bronx (7:05 p.m. ET) high enough? (It’s 10 1/2 if you’re wondering.) Brian Matusz, who is still looking to snap a string of 12 consecutive losing decisions, will start for Baltimore, while Phil Hughes—owner of a 7.87 ERA—will oppose him for New York. Load your fantasy lineups with Birds and Bombers tonight.
  • They call him E5, but can Edwin Encarnacion drill home runs in five consecutive games? The Blue Jays’ designated hitter will have a chance to do just that tonight (7:07 p.m. ET) after becoming the first major-league player to take Yu Darvish deep in Monday’s loss to the Rangers. He has never faced tonight’s Texas starter, Neftali Feliz.
  • Jesus Montero continued his surge last night with his fourth homer of the year, and with Miguel Olivo heading to the disabled list with a groin strain, Montero may see increased playing time behind the dish. The problem is that although his bat has come around after a slow start, Montero is still not walking. He has drawn just two bases on balls against 18 strikeouts in 85 plate appearances, an Olivo-ian ratio; in fact, Olivo has precisely that many walks and strikeouts, respectively, in 80 trips, and he’s hardly the offensive model fans in Seattle want Montero to follow. With fellow phenom Matt Moore, who has issued 14 free passes in 25 innings, pitching for the Rays tonight (7:10 p.m. ET), Montero may have a chance to improve his total.
  • Shutting down the Giants offense doesn’t usually require a Herculean effort, but what the Marlins’ Tuesday starter Ricky Nolasco has done in his career at AT&T Park is impressive nonetheless. The righty hurled 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball in San Francisco last May 24, 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball on July 26, 2010, and a two-hit shutout on Aug. 19, 2008. Add that all up and Nolasco is 3-0 with a 0.76 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 23 2/3 frames at the Giants’ home park, where he’ll get the ball this evening (10:15 p.m. ET).

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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