The 2022 season didn’t end the way anyone was hoping for the Milwaukee Brewers, but it certainly provided some moments to remember. For over a decade I’ve been maintaining a “Today in Wisconsin Baseball History” calendar, a collection of notable transactions, games and moments, which I occasionally share on Twitter. As has often been the case in recent years, the 2022 season provided lots of new entries in that space. In lieu of a season recap, what follows is a brief look at the first 23 items—the good, the bad and the weird—added to that calendar during the 2022 season. Part two of this feature, containing the notable events from mid-July through October, will run on Monday.
March 10 – There will be baseball
It feels like a long time ago now, but there was a stretch this winter and spring where it felt like 2019 might have been the last “normal” baseball season. After 2020’s COVID-abbreviated, empty ballpark fever dream and 2021’s reduced attendance aftermath, the 2022 season found itself threatened once again—this time by a work stoppage that stretched from early December into March. The agreement that finally ended the lockout didn’t resolve most of the largest issues facing the game and dragged out long enough to delay the regular season by a week, but at least baseball would finally be back.
March 16 – Catching McCutchen
The end of the lockout brought a flurry of transaction activity, but the Brewers largely stayed out of it, with a pair of relatively notable exceptions: They re-signed reliever Brad Boxberger and gave a one-year deal to former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. “We had three big names we were hoping for, and we got one in Andrew McCutchen. I mean, I was so excited I just wanted to keep talking,” Mark Attanasio told reporters.
Long flight so I figured this is how I could introduce myself. What’s up Milwaukee! pic.twitter.com/XiBHnb61hC
— Andrew McCutchen (@TheCUTCH22) March 16, 2022
McCutchen spent the 2021 season with the Phillies, where he hit 27 home runs but still had his $15 million contract option for 2022 declined. He ended up playing in more than 130 games as a Brewer and only Christian Yelich, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez batted more often this season. His .700 on-base plus slugging, however, was the lowest of his career by more than 50 points.
April 6 – Caratini and the Stick
During the final leadup to Opening Day, the Brewers got an unwelcome roster surprise. New Brewer and backup catcher Pedro Severino was suspended for the first 80 games of the season and would be ineligible to play in the postseason after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Needing a second catcher to fill out their Opening Day roster, the Brewers dealt two minor leaguers to the Padres for veteran Victor Caratini.
With the combination of Severino’s suspension, Omar Narvaez’s injuries and perhaps better-than-expected performance, Caratini ended up catching more often than not for the Brewers in 2022. His production nearly mirrored the league average for backstops, an impressive feat for someone who was available in a trade less than 48 hours before the season started.
April 7 – A Rough Start
Corbin Burnes’ attempt to defend his National League Cy Young Award didn’t begin the way he might have planned it, as he gave up a home run to Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner and was chased from the game after just five innings on Opening Day. The Brewers rallied to tie the game in the seventh inning but received rough outings in relief from Aaron Ashby and Jake Cousins and lost 5-4. All told, the Brewers lost three of their first four games for the second consecutive year.
April 14 – The AmFam Opener
MLB’s decision to postpone the first week of games due to the lockout actually pushed the Brewers’ home opener back for two weeks: With scheduled series against the Giants and Diamondbacks moved to later in the season, the Brewers didn’t get to host their first game until mid-April. 42,794 fans braved high winds and came to American Family Field that day, the largest home crowd of the season, to see Brandon Woodruff and the Brewers beat Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. It was the Brewers’ third consecutive win and moved them above .500 for the first time at 4-3.
April 19 – Just Out There for Decoration
Corbin Burnes, Devin Williams and Josh Hader all played their parts in a 5-2 win over the Pirates, combining to rack up 12 strikeouts in the victory. Not everyone was so active. The Pirates scored their runs on a pair of solo home runs, but only had two other balls (both singles) leave the infield. Brewers outfielders did not record a single out in the game, tying an MLB record.
April 26 – Adames’ Slam for Seven
On July 18, 1970, middle infielder Ted Kubiak became one of the most unlikely record holders in Brewers history. He entered the game with a .292 slugging percentage but connected for four hits, including a grand slam, to drive in seven runs in a Brewers win over the Red Sox. Those seven RBI stood unmatched as a Brewers franchise record for more than 30 years and the record remained unbroken for 20 more. On April 26 of this year, however, Willy Adames also collected four hits, including a first inning solo homer and a sixth inning grand slam, and became the tenth player to tie Kubiak’s franchise record. The Brewers’ 12-8 win moved them into sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the first time this season. It was also the first of five wins in a row, the Brewers’ longest such streak this year.
May 1 – Burnes Matches K History
Despite a short spring training and a rough first start, it didn’t take Corbin Burnes long to find a groove. After his short outing on Opening Day, he pitched into the seventh inning of four consecutive starts. On this one, he carved out yet another place in Brewers franchise history. His 10 strikeouts across seven innings made him just the second Brewer to strike out that many in three consecutive starts, matching a Yovani Gallardo streak in September of 2011.
May 4 – Tellez Takes Over
As noted above, Ted Kubiak’s Brewers record for RBI in a single game stood unsurpassed for 50 years. In a blowout win over the Reds, however, Rowdy Tellez finally took it down. He hit a grand slam in the third inning to blow the game open and tacked on a two-run shot in the sixth and a two-run double in the eighth to become the first Brewer ever to drive in eight runs in a game.
May 11 – Yelich Can Still Cycle
A week later, the Brewers were facing the Reds again when another player pulled off a rare offensive feat: The Brewers were down 7-0 in the third but closed the gap to 14-11 largely due to the efforts of Christian Yelich, who hit for the cycle. He doubled in the first inning, homered in the third, singled in the fifth and finished off the feat with a ninth inning triple.
Yelich is now one of just five players in known MLB history to hit for the cycle three times in a career, and he’s responsible for 30% of all the cycles in the Brewers’ 50+ years of franchise history. Somehow, all three of those games have come against the Reds.
May 18 – The Most Dramatic Win
On this Wednesday afternoon, the Brewers avoided getting swept by the Braves at home, and did so with some of the biggest momentum swings of the season. They trailed 4-0 early and 4-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth when the Braves called upon closer Kenley Jansen, who ranked among the sport’s all-time leaders with 359 career saves. He didn’t get one on this day, as Jace Peterson walked and scored on Kolten Wong’s two-out triple to tie the game. Both teams scored again in the tenth and the Braves scored again in the top of the eleventh, putting the Brewers’ backs against the wall once more.
Keston Hiura, however, needed just five pitches to put an end to the drama. He led off the bottom of the eleventh with a two-run home run, giving the Crew a 6-5 walkoff victory. By Win Probability Added (WPA) Hiura and Wong’s late inning hits were the second and fifth-biggest by a Brewer this season, and they came on the same day.
May 20 – Tripled Off
The Brewers beat the Nationals 7-0 on this night to improve to 25-14 on the season and increase their lead to four games in the NL Central, the largest it had been all year, but they had to overcome some rough luck to do so: They were leading 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Luis Urias hit a ground ball to third that started a 5-4-3, around-the-horn triple play.
Baseball Almanac has the play listed as the 729th triple play in known MLB history, but just the fourth against the Brewers. Before this one the last had happened in 1986, when the Mariners pulled off a 3-6-2-1-4 debacle for the first triple play in that franchise’s history.
May 21 – The Sabermetric High Water Mark
The Brewers won again the next night, scoring two in the first off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin and holding on for a 5-1 victory. Following the day’s action FanGraphs estimated Milwaukee’s odds of reaching the postseason at 95.9%, the highest they had been all season and easily the highest any Brewers team had ever been that early in the season. They lost the next day, however, and that 95.9% turned out to be the highest their odds would go all year.
Their high-water mark in the standings came a few days later on May 26 in St. Louis, where the Brewers continued a hot streak. Their eighth win in 11 games came against their top rival, bringing their advantage to 4 ½ games in the division for the first (and only) time all season.
May 30 – Taylor, Hader Power Sweep
It’s possible the Brewers’ best day since 2018 came on Memorial Day in Chicago, where they swept a split doubleheader against the Cubs with a 7-6 win in the matinee and a 3-1 win in the nightcap. Tyrone Taylor homered in both games and Josh Hader recorded two saves, becoming the first Brewer in five years to work in both games of a doubleheader. The two wins improved the Brewers to 32-18 on the season, their best 50-game start in franchise history. They were a game better than the 2018 team over that same stretch and three games better than any other.
June 2 – McCutchen Breaks Out
The most improbable win of the season came on a Thursday night against the Padres, and featured many Brewers fans’ first introduction to a pair of pitchers they’d get to know later. The Brewers trailed 4-1 heading to the bottom of the ninth when the Padres called upon then-closer Taylor Rogers. Rogers faced four batters, giving up a single to Keston Hiura, hitting Kolten Wong and Victor Caratini with pitches to load the bases, then allowing a three-run triple to Jace Peterson (the Brewers’ biggest hit of the season, by WPA). Rogers was removed from the game but tagged with the loss when Andrew McCutchen snapped an 0-for-32 streak with a walkoff single. The Brewers’ unlikely rally made a winner out of Peter Strzelecki, who had pitched the eighth and ninth innings in his MLB debut.
June 7 – Hader Is Human After All
That June 2 win would turn out to be the last bright spot for a bit. Five days later, the Brewers hadn’t won since and on a Tuesday night in Milwaukee, they saw the end of one of the best relief stretches in the history of the sport. Josh Hader, who had allowed just four hits and no runs across the first 19 appearances of his season, gave up a pair of home runs in the ninth as the Phillies rallied to beat the Brewers 3-2. Hader’s scoreless streak covered 17 2/3 innings in 2022 and 20 1/3 across his final 21 regular season outings in 2021. Over that stretch he faced 142 batters and struck out 65 of them, recording 31 saves. The loss was the Brewers’ fourth in a row.
June 11 – Back-to-back-to-back to Sunk
Without the four-run ninth on June 2, the Brewers would have lost 11 consecutive games. As it was the streak still reached eight for the first time in eight years and was capped with a meltdown for the ages. In the fifth inning, already trailing 4-1, Eric Lauer allowed three consecutive home runs to then-Nationals hitters Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Bell.
June 15 – Counsell Alone at the Top
The Brewers did eventually win again, and the two wins that followed the losing streak carried some extra historical significance. Victories on June 12 and June 15 were the 563rd and 564th of Craig Counsell’s managerial career, tying and moving him past Phil Garner for the most in Brewers history. Garner, who managed the Brewers from 1992-99, managed and won more games than each of the seven managers who followed him after his dismissal and had been the Brewers’ all-time leader in wins for nearly 25 years.
Luis Urias also pulled off a rare feat in the game on the 15th, although perhaps not one he’d like to remember: He struck out for the second out in the Brewers’ seven-run top of the fifth inning, then struck out again for the third out after eight consecutive Brewers had reached base. He was the first MLB player to record consecutive outs in an inning since Tyrone Taylor did it for the Brewers in 2021 (Thanks to Effectively Wild for the tip).
June 16 – Last One for Lo Cain
Lorenzo Cain didn’t have the final MLB season he or anyone else was hoping for. He ended May batting just .185 with a .246 on-base percentage and .244 slugging, then started just seven of the Brewers’ first 14 games in June. On this day, he started in center field and went 1-for-3 in a 5-4 loss to the Mets, but was pinch hit for in the ninth inning of what turned out to be his likely final MLB game. The Brewers kept him on the active roster for a few more days to allow him to reach 10 years of MLB service time (a milestone that maxed out his pension), but released him on the day he got there. On the day of Cain’s final game the Brewers’ FanGraphs postseason odds bottomed out at 61.9%, the lowest they had been all season. It would be nearly two months before they were that low again.
June 30 – Jackson, Sosa and…Michael Perez?
The list of players who have hit three home runs in a game against the Brewers includes some of the greatest sluggers in the history of the sport: Before this season, 12 players had done it and all but two hit at least 295 MLB home runs. Then, along came Pirates catcher Michael Perez. Perez had hit just 11 home runs across parts of five MLB seasons before taking Brent Suter, Jason Alexander, and Jandel Gustave deep in a game Pittsburgh ended up winning 8-7. In so doing, he became the only MLB catcher this season and just the 38th in the known history of the sport to homer three times in a game. The Pirates waived him less than a month later.
July 1 – Seven and Eight
The Brewers got some of their momentum back against the Pirates the next night, and it didn’t take long: They put up seven runs in the second inning to take a big lead. They were up 9-2 heading to the eighth, however, and decided to keep going. They put up eight runs in that frame and cruised to a 19-2 win. It actually wasn’t the Pirates’ worst loss of the season, as they had also dropped a 21-0 game to the Cubs in April.
July 4 – Inside-the-Park Fireworks
On Independence Day in Milwaukee the Brewers and Cubs played a matinee that took a weird turn. Starters Eric Lauer and Justin Steele both had big games in a contest that went to the ninth tied 1-1, and the Brewers sent Josh Hader to the mound to try to keep it that way. Hader struck out Ian Happ but gave up a line drive to left center that turned into a go-ahead inside-the-park home run for Seiya Suzuki.
The Brewers were not done: They got their run back on Christian Yelich’s bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth, then picked up a walkoff win in the tenth on Victor Caratini’s three-run home run against his former team.
July 6 – Burnes Counts to Ten Again
He already held a share of the Brewers’ franchise record for consecutive 10 strikeout games, but on this day Corbin Burnes would set another: He pitched seven shutout innings against the Cubs and struck out 10 for the sixth time this season, tying the Brewers’ career record with 18 such games. He went on to break the record in his next start and record two more after that, raising the bar to 21.