Road fans might do well to leave Ryan Braun alone from now on. Amid constant heckling from a partisan crowd in Philadelphia, the Milwaukee Brewers star hammered three home runs in a 10-4 win over the Phillies on Tuesday afternoon.
It's the second time the 2011 National League MVP has hit three dingers in one game, per SportsCenter:
This marks 2nd time in Braun's career that he has homered 3 times in a game. April 30, 2012 at Padres was other. pic.twitter.com/GGjNVtDFvI— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 8, 2014
His seven runs batted in also tie a team record, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The seven RBI by Ryan Braun also ties a #Brewers record. Braun had no RBI for season entering game.— Tom (@Haudricourt) April 8, 2014
Braun talked about why he had such a big performance after the game, via the Associated Press: "It's a good ballpark to hit in," Braun said. "And, I enjoy competing against Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard."
Braun's first homer came in the top of the third to make it 4-1. It was the first of two three-run blasts he would hit.
He hit his second long ball in the top of the fourth, a solo shot to put Milwaukee ahead 6-1.
Braun finished off the Phillies with a three-run jack in the top of the eighth, giving the Brewers a 10-4 lead. As soon as Braun crossed home plate, one fan yelled "Cheater!" at the 30-year-old, per Kevin Gehl of CBS affiliate WLNS in Lansing, Mich.:
Braun was suspended for 65 games in July last year and missed the rest of the season, so the specter of performance-enhancing-drug use is likely to stick with him his entire career, no matter how far removed he is from the issue and how many clean tests he passes.
Clearly, the constant verbal jabs didn't hurt the star at all on Tuesday. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick thinks Philly fans should try a little reverse psychology on Wednesday:
#Phillies fans should try cheering Braun Wednesday. Today's approach didn't work so hot.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) April 8, 2014
This was a big game for Braun, as he entered the day hitting .150 for the season and hadn't driven in a single run. His season may have been kick-started as a result of those three home runs.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale also thinks that a healthy Braun will take the Brewers to the postseason:
If Braun stays healthy there's no reason why #Brewers can't make playoffs. 3 homers today— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 8, 2014
Just in case, maybe Milwaukee should plant some hecklers in every stadium from here on out.
The Brewers are off to a good start in 2014, sitting at 5-2 and first place in the National League Central. After missing his production last season, the team is hoping Braun can get back to his "Hebrew Hammer" ways and replicate his past success at the dish.
In a talented division that includes the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee is relying on more offensive success from Braun like he had on Tuesday to spark the rest of the lineup.