Aguilar has been Milwaukee’s hottest hitter over the last month, batting .283 with 12 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .964 OPS. Five of those home runs along with 12 RBIs have come over his last five games and he’s driven in multiple runs in five straight starts, tying a franchise record.
“He’s certainly been one of the most pleasant surprises (this year),” Counsell said. “He was last year, as well and he’s taken it up a notch this year. You need those kind of performances you weren’t expecting. You need that kind of stuff.”
All that from a player who came to spring training not sure if he’d have a job when the regular season opened.
Acquired off waivers ahead of the 2017 season, Aguilar split time at first with Eric Thames last year, forming a potent right-left platoon combo. But after the Brewers acquired outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain over the winter, the team planned to transition outfielder Ryan Braun as an occasional right-handed option at first, which seemingly diminished Aguilar’s role.
He played his way onto the roster with another strong spring training and established himself as a dangerous pinch-hitting threat before taking over first base on a more regular basis when Thames was lost to a thumb injury on April 25.
“I’m confident in myself. When I get a chance to go, I’m going to give my 100 percent. That’s how I think.”
Thames, who’s spent the majority of his playing time in the outfield since returning June 11, is still adjusting to the position but is happy for his teammate.
“I mean, hey Adidas Johnny Gaudreau Jersey , the team is winning,” Thames said. “It was the same thing for him the first half of last year when I was going off. It’s great because we’re winning and today, he pretty much did it himself and it was awesome. I’m happy for him. He works hard. He’s such a smart hitter, smart player. He’s a great team guy so you can’t help but root for him.”
His bat — as well as his defensive ability — have been a source of comfort for Brewers pitchers this season and will be Saturday for Chase Anderson, who takes the mound for Game 2 of the Brewers’ four-game series with the Cardinals at Miller Park.
Anderson has yet to find the consistency that led to his breakout season a year ago. He’s 5-6 with a 4.54 ERA through his first 15 starts and has struggled keeping the ball inside the park.
He’s allowed 15 home runs this season — one more than he gave up in all of 2017 — with 13 of those coming at Miller Park, where he’s 3-3 with a 5.70 ERA this season.
He gave up two home runs in the opening inning his last time out, upping his first-inning ERA this season to 8.36.
“It’s just one of those deals,” Anderson said. “That’s kind of been my thing since I was a kid. Obviously, I need to correct it and work on it and get better at getting guys out quicker. Something to work on.”
The Cardinals answer with right-hander Miles Mikolas, who’s 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers, both of which came this season.
He allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings but took the victory on April 2 at Miller Park but didn’t factor in the decision after giving up another four runs, this time over 6 1/3 innings, in a 5-4 Cardinals loss on April 9 in St. Louis.
“He pounds the strike zone and uses multiple pitches,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s just not every day you come across starters who can do that … and then to have durability and consistency to stay in the game as long as he has.”
A victory Saturday would mark Milwaukee’s second series victory over the Cardinals in three tries this season.
Alex Bregman hit a game-ending two-run double with one out in the ninth inning and the Houston Astros beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 Monday night to match a franchise record with their 12th straight win.
Houston trailed 4-0 after three innings but cut the lead to one entering the ninth.
Sergio Romo (1-2) walked Marwin Gonzalez to start the ninth, then allowed a single to Max Stassi. Tony Kemp’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners up Adidas Jaromir Jagr Jersey , and Houston loaded the bases when George Springer reached on interference by catcher Wilson Ramos.
Bregman then drove a ball that bounced off the wall in left-center. He lifted both arms as he trotted into second base, and teammates mobbed him in the infield.
Collin McHugh (2-0) struck out two in a scoreless ninth for the win on a night Gerrit Cole walked a career-high five to help the Rays build the early lead.
Houston also won 12 straight in 2004 and 1999. The Astros will go for No. 13 on Tuesday with ace Justin Verlander on the mound.
NATIONALS 5, YANKEES 3, 1ST GAME
YANKEES 4, NATIONALS 2, 2ND GAME
WASHINGTON (AP) – Aaron Hicks’ go-ahead two-run homer sparked chants of ”Let’s go, Yankees!” on the road and helped New York beat Washington in the second game of an unusual semi-doubleheader, after pinch-hitter Juan Soto’s tiebreaking two-run shot for the Nationals won the opener.
These games originally were scheduled more than a month ago, and Game 1 resumed after being suspended because of rain in the middle of the sixth – so technically, Soto managed to homer in a game played before he made his major league debut.
The 19-year-old Soto was called up from the minors for the first time five days after Game 1 started on May 15; it picked back up at 3-all and the Nationals about to bat in the bottom of the sixth. After Bryce Harper – who had a full beard back on May 15, when the game began, but was clean-shaven this time – struck out, and Anthony Rendon singled, Soto drove a 97 mph fastball from Chad Green (4-1) to the back of the second deck in right field.
RANGERS 6, ROYALS 3
KANSAS CITY Adidas Justin Faulk Jersey , Mo. (AP) – Bartolo Colon earned his 244th win, passing Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most by a pitcher born in the Dominican Republic, and Texas beat skidding Kansas City.
Adrian Beltre hit a three-run homer for the Rangers, who won their third straight game. The 45-year-old Colon (4-4) allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings to break a tie with Marichal on the career wins chart.
Only right-hander Dennis Martinez has more victories among pitchers from Latin America. Martinez, a native of Nicaragua, won 245 games in the majors.
Ian Kennedy (1-7) is 1-13 in his last 28 home starts. The Royals have lost seven straight and 13 of 14. They’ve dropped 27 of 37 games at Kauffman Stadium, the worst home record in the majors. Kansas City is 2-14 in June, having been outscored 95-35.
INDIANS 6, WHITE SOX 2
CLEVELAND (AP) – Trevor Bauer shut out Chicago for seven innings before a rain delay ended his night, and Jason Kipnis homered to lead Cleveland over the sliding and sloppy White Sox.
Bauer (6-5) allowed just three hits, struck out eight and was in line to potentially pitch his first shutout. However, the game was halted by rain in the seventh inning for 35 minutes, and manager Terry Francona pulled the right-hander following the delay and 100 pitches.
Roberto Perez drove in two runs off Dylan Covey (3-2) as Cleveland improved to 15-4 in its last 19 home games against Chicago.
The White Sox committed three errors – one by Covey – in the first three innings, lost their fifth straight and dropped a season-high 23 games under .500.
METS 12, ROCKIES 2
DENVER (AP) – Brandon Nimmo homered twice during a huge night at the plate Adidas Jeff Skinner Jersey , including an inside-the-park shot to begin the game, and New York finally gave Jacob deGrom some run support in a victory over.
Wilmer Flores and Devin Mesoraco also went deep for New York, which won its their third straight. Nimmo had four hits and set a career high with four RBIs – one night after his go-ahead, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning staved off defeat for the Mets and rallied them to a win at Arizona.
After pitching in terrible luck for weeks as New York’s hitters slumped, deGrom (5-2) got some help at last. He allowed two runs – one earned – in eight innings to snap a two-game skid and win for the first time in six starts since May 18 against the Diamondbacks.
PHILLIES 6, CARDINALS 5
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Left fielder Marcell Ozuna dived for and missed Aaron Altherr’s two-run double with two outs in the 10th inning, allowing Philadelphia to rally past St. Louis.
Tommy Pham hit a solo homer in the top of the 10th, one inning after a wild pitch on a strikeout kept the game going. But the Phillies rallied.
Rhys Hoskins hit a bloop single to start the bottom of the 10th off Matt Bowman (0-2). Odubel Herrera dived headfirst into first to seemingly beat out an infield single, but the play was overturned by a video review. After Carlos Santana was intentionally walked, Bowman struck out Jesmuel Valentin.
Altherr then hit a sinking liner that appeared to skip off Ozuna’s glove before bouncing to the wall.
PIRATES 1, BREWERS 0
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Trevor Williams pitched one-hit ball over seven innings and two Pittsburgh relievers closed out a two-hitter against Milwaukee.
Williams (6-4) struck out seven and walked two for his first victory in a month. Jordy Mercer drove in the lone run with a seventh-inning double, and the Pirates won for the fourth time in five games.