The Milwaukee Brewers are absolutely mashing the ball. No team has hit more home runs in the month of June than the Brewers who have also posted the third best ERA in the National League over the same time span. The Brewers are 11-5 this month while picking up two and half games on the second place St Louis Cardinals and a game on the Chicago Cubs who lead the NL Central. They may be 6 games out now but they're quietly making themselves a run.
Calling up Russell Branyan from the minors has given them a huge boost. His power has never been questioned as his career home run rate is one dinger every 14.7 at bats. It's just that he doesn't do much else. He was called up on May 25 and already he has more home runs than Matt Holliday, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Ken Griffey Jr. Unbelievably, 10 of his 19 hits this year are home runs. Moreover, in the last 6 games he's hit a home run, the dinger was his only hit. This guy just loves hitting home runs. Who needs Bill Hall?
Hitting in the clean up spot, Prince Fielder has had some serious dependency issues. Of Fielder's last 8 home runs, 6 of them have come in games that Ryan Braun or Russell Branyan have also homered. It could be that they're all hot at the same time. It also could be that he's lonely.
The Brewers couldn't have a picked a better time to get rolling. The Cubs are without Alfonso Soriano and could be losing ace Carlos Zambrano to arm trouble. Zambrano came out of his last start complaining of shoulder soreness and got an MRI today. No word yet on his status but the Cubs figure to be cautious with their ace. It's only a matter of time before Kerry Wood visits Dr. James Andrews.
Just two games ahead of the Brewers, the Cardinals are suffering too. Albert Pujols and Anthony Reyes sit on the disabled list while starter Todd Wellemeyer is taking the week off with elbow trouble. Not only that, starting catcher Yadier Molina has been kept out of the lineup because of a concussion he suffered on Monday that booked him an overnight stay at the hospital. Also, 2006 Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter hit a bump in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and won't be ready to return until at least September.
With the Cubs and Cardinals hampered with injuries, the Brewers may very well find themselves near the top of the division soon.