Brewers cruise after Maldonado’s homer

> You can’t blame Martin Maldonado for only hitting .214 right now. He was thrown into a fire that he probably wasn’t ready for: being a starting catcher in the Majors. Defensively, he’s handled himself well, but is still finding his way with the bat. Maldonado was never known as an offensive catcher until last year, when he broke out for a .321 average in Triple-A. But still, he was forced into the situation thanks to- technically- Jonathan Lucroy’s wife. Anyway, just as it took Lucroy a while to get used to hitting in the Majors back after his call-up in 2010, it’s taking Maldonado a while as well.

> But Maldonado took a big step forward offensively today in the Brewers’ 9-5 win over the Padres. His home run in the fourth was the decisive blow in the slugfest, and gave the Brewers a lead they wouldn’t again relinquish. But Maldonado wasn’t the only offensive story tonight. Corey Hart had yet another multi-home run game- two solo shots, both off of Pads starter Edinson Volquez (who the Brewers have a history of hammering from his days with the Reds).

Shaun Marcum didn’t have his prettiest start of the year, but it was good enough tonight. He went 5 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on six hits. He also walked three and struck out six for his fifth win of the year.

The Brewers got on the board immediately in the first on Hart’s first home run of the game, which was a leadoff shot. But, in the third, Everth Cabrera hit an inside-the-park home run, courtesy of a misplay by center fielder Carlos Gomez. The Padres then took the lead in the fourth, thanks to a bases-loaded walk to Cabrera by Marcum.

But then came Maldonado’s big blow. In the Brewers’ fourth, Maldonado hit a go-ahead three-run shot to make the score 4-2. This was by far his biggest moment as a Major Leaguer so far.

In the fifth, the Brewers tacked on two more runs on Hart’s second homer of the game, then an Aramis Ramirez RBI groundout. The Padres then got one run back on Cameron Maybin’s solo home to make it 6-3. But, in the seventh, the Brewers extended their lead even more, first on a Rickie Weeks sacrifice fly. Then, Taylor Green hit his second career home run, a two-run blast.

The Padres got two more runs in the ninth on Logan Forsythe’s two-RBI triple, but it wasn’t near enough to start a rally.

> Here’s an interesting (and encouraging) fact. The last Brewer to hit his first two career home runs in pinch-hit appearances was Prince Fielder. We all saw what kind of career he had in Milwaukee before joining the Tigers before free agency, and it was one heck of a run. But the reason I bring this up is because Green’s first two home runs have come under the same circumstances: both were in pinch-hit appearances. Obviously, other than those two home runs, Green has shown the potential to be a utility guy who comes through every so often, at least in the Majors. But we have to remember he was an extreme power hitter in the Minors, with 36 home runs and a .336 batting average in Triple-A last year. So he could be hitting his stride after a few months in the Majors, and I’m just saying- he and Fielder had similar starts.

> The Brewers have successfully signed their top two Draft picks from a few days ago. They signed their first pick (27th overall), power-hitting catcher Clint Coulter, with a $1.675 million bonus. Power-hitting (but injury-prone) outfielder Victor Roache, their second pick (28th overall), signed with a $1.525 bonus.

Anyway, I might do a more in-depth analysis of these guys sometime next week.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the second game of this series tomorrow at 3:10 PM CT. They’ll send Michael Fiers (1-1, 3.75 ERA) to the mound for his third career start. He’s had mixed results in his first two: he dominated the Dodgers in LA last week, but lost to the Pirates after serving up back-to-back long balls in the fifth.

The Padres will counter with ex-Cub Andrew Cashner, who the Brewers have seen a bit of out of the Chicago bullpen. Cashner was used out of the bullpen by the Padres earlier this season, and put up a 3.81 ERA. This is his first start of the season.

Anyway, I’ll probably add the box score tomorrow. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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