It ended sooner than many had hoped or expected, but the 2022 MLB season still left behind plenty of memories—good, bad and weird—that will live on in the annals of Brewers franchise history. In the second part of our recap of the 2022 season, we look at the moments I’ve added to the “Today in Wisconsin baseball history” calendar since mid-July. Part 1 of the series, covering events in the season’s first half, ran last Thursday.
July 15 – Meltdown by the Bay
It was late on a Friday night on the West Coast, so most of Wisconsin was already in bed for one of the Brewers’ ugliest losses of the season. They had scored five runs in the fifth inning and took a 5-2 lead to the bottom of the ninth in San Francisco, an all-but-automatic save for Josh Hader under normal conditions.
Hader, however, was not up to the task on this night. He faced seven Giants batters and allowed six of them to reach and score, giving up three home runs, two singles, and a hit batsman. San Francisco won the game 8-5 and Hader’s ERA, which had been spotless through June 5, went from 2.73 to 4.50 in a single outing.
July 19 – A quiet All Star Game
Three Brewers were selected to participate in the Midsummer Classic in Los Angeles but two, Josh Hader and Corbin Burnes, excused themselves from the proceedings. As such, Devin Williams was the only player to represent Milwaukee in the game, the Brewers’ smallest contingent since Corey Knebel represented the Brewers and didn’t play at all in 2017. Williams worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless seventh inning in the NL’s 3-2 loss.
July 22 – Staying Up Late at AmFam
Long extra inning games are a frequent entry on the “Today in Wisconsin baseball history” calendar, as the Brewers have played some extended marathons over the years. Since the 2020 implementation of the “zombie runner” rule, this 13-inning game was the longest. On a Friday night in Milwaukee, the Rockies scored a single run in the sixth to tie the game at three, and then the offenses went quiet for a bit: Neither team scored in the seventh, eighth or ninth, sending the contest to extras. Then both teams got two in the tenth, with Hunter Renfroe hitting a two-run homer to re-tie the game and continue into the night. Despite starting innings with a runner on second, neither team scored in the eleventh or twelfth, and Brent Suter kept Colorado off the board again in the 13th. The Brewers finally broke through in the bottom of that frame on Luis Urías’ walkoff single for a 6-5 victory. The game lasted four hours and 44 minutes, the Brewers’ longest contest of the season.
July 29 – Hader Closes It Out
The Brewers got hot after that long win over the Rockies, winning seven of eight to re-open a four game lead in the NL Central. The win on this night in Boston was the sixth of those seven, but became historically significant for reasons no one knew at the time: Josh Hader struck out the side in the ninth inning in what would turn out to be his final Brewers appearance. Hader, who was eight saves away from tying Dan Plesac for the Brewers’ all-time lead, was instead traded to San Diego for four players. Despite never starting a game in Milwaukee, Hader is 15th on the franchise’s all-time list in strikeouts with 541, was a four-time All-Star, and a three-time winner of the NL’s Reliever of the Year Award.
August 1 & 2 – Trade Winds Blow Up A Storm
As has been the case more often than not during the David Stearns era, the Brewers were very busy at the trade deadline. The moves they made this year, however, will largely be remembered in a negative light. In addition to Hader, the Brewers traded top pitching prospect Antoine Kelly and minor league outfielder Tristan Peters in exchange for the following:
• Former Padres closer Taylor Rogers, who posted a 5.48 ERA across 24 appearances in Milwaukee and will be a free agent this winter.
• Former Rangers reliever Matt Bush, who pitched in 25 games for the Brewers with a 4.30 ERA and will turn 37 before next season.
• Pitcher Dinelson Lamet, who the Brewers immediately designated for assignment.
• Reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2020 and did not make it onto the Brewers’ roster this season.
• Outfielder Esteury Ruiz and left-handed pitcher Robert Gasser, who MLB Pipeline rank as the #8 and #12 prospects in the organization, respectively.
August 3 – Devin Williams’ Growing Pains
With Hader no longer in the picture, Devin Williams took over top billing in the Brewers bullpen. However, the timing on his first rough outing in a long time was not great. He hadn’t allowed a run since May 10, a span covering 28 2/3 innings, when the Brewers called upon him to preserve a 7-7 tie in the ninth inning in Pittsburgh. Williams gave up a home run to the first batter he faced and the Pirates walked off with an 8-7 victory.
August 6 – The Last Day in First
Despite some extended struggles and a series of trade deadline moves that seemed to knock the clubhouse off-kilter, the Brewers went to Cincinnati for a weekend series still nine games above .500 and tied for first in the NL Central. The Brewers’ efforts at a late comeback came up short in the second game of that set, however, and their 7-5 loss knocked them a game off the pace. They had spent 95 days in first place this season, the fifth-most of any team in franchise history, but the Cardinals would hold it the rest of the way.
August 13 – Overcoming Wainwright
Across five decades of franchise history there have only been six starting pitchers to face the Brewers at least 40 times: Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, and Jim Palmer, along with Roger Clemens, Frank Tanana, and longtime Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. On this night, Wainwright faced the Brewers for the 46th time and he nearly threw a no-hitter. Wainwright pitched nine innings in this game and did not allow a hit until the seventh inning, when Andrew McCutchen finally broke through with a single. The only run Wainwright allowed was Luis Urías’ solo homer in the eighth, but that was enough to tie the game and send it to extras. Hunter Renfroe and Kolten Wong eventually hit an RBI triple and a sac fly in the top of the tenth to give the Crew a 3-1 lead, and they held on for a 3-2 victory. That day, FanGraphs’ projection of the Brewers’ playoff odds went up almost 10 points, from 57.2% to 66.9.
August 15 – The Four-K Inning
While there are only three outs in a baseball inning, across the history of the sport, a few teams have still found a way to fit four strikeouts in there. On this night against the Dodgers, the Brewers joined the many co-holders of this MLB record. The Brewers were trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Andrew McCutchen led off against Dodgers reliever Chris Martin and struck out swinging, but reached base safely on a passed ball. Kolten Wong and Hunter Renfroe both struck out swinging behind him, and Rowdy Tellez struck out looking to retire the side. According to Wikipedia it was the 100th time in known MLB history one pitcher has struck out four batters in an inning. The Brewers were also the opposing team in the 99th, when Cubs pitcher Michael Rucker did it in April.
August 20 – Three Blown Leads
From the Hader trade through the end of the season, the Brewers accumulated 16 blown saves, accounting for more than half of their season total. On this day, they accumulated two of them and blew three late inning leads in the same contest. On a Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the Brewers scored twice in the top of the eighth to take a 3-2 lead against the Cubs and turned the ball over to Devin Williams to finish off the contest. Unfortunately, he allowed a run on a hit and three walks as the Cubs came back to tie the game. The Brewers scored a single run in the top of the tenth, but this time, Taylor Rogers (who had replaced Williams in the ninth) couldn’t hold it, as the Cubs scored again to force an eleventh inning. The Brewers once again managed a single run in the top of the eleventh and this time turned to Peter Strzelecki, but he became the third Brewer to blow a lead in as many innings as he allowed a leadoff RBI double to Patrick Wisdom and a walkoff RBI single to Willson Contreras as the Cubs picked up a 6-5 win.
August 23 – Bright Lights and Big Crowds
The Brewers’ lone trip to Dodger Stadium this year came from a Monday through Wednesday, but it still attracted one of the biggest crowds ever to watch them play. Their Tuesday night game, a 10-1 Dodgers win, drew a paid crowd of 53,222. That was the third largest crowd to watch a Brewers game in the last 15 years:
• Brewers @ Mets, April 12, 2008: 54,701
• Brewers @ Dodgers, April 13, 2019: 53,922
• Brewers @ Dodgers, August 23, 2022: 53,222
September 6 – Yelich Goes Way Deep
Christian Yelich had another frustrating season in 2022, as he continues to struggle to replicate the performances that nearly made him the back-to-back National League MVP in 2018 and 2019. Leading off the game on this night against Chad Kuhl and the Rockies, though, Yelich took out a lot of frustration on one baseball.
On the fourth pitch of the game, Yelich hit a home run that traveled an estimated 499 feet to right center at Coors Field, which at the time was the longest home run hit by any player in the majors this season (it finished second, behind a 504-foot C.J. Cron blast four days later). According to Baseball Savant, it was the longest homer by a Brewer in MLB’s Statcast Era (2015-present) by a wide margin: Only a handful of other Brewers have broken 470 over that span, headlined by Travis Shaw’s 478 in 2017. This ball traveled 46 feet further than any other homer hit by a Brewer in 2022.
September 7 – Bottoming Out
Despite Yelich’s early heroics, the Brewers lost the middle game of that series with the Rockies and they fell again the next night, losing 8-4 to drop the series. With the loss, the Brewers fell to 71-65 and all the way to 9 ½ games back of the surging Cardinals, the furthest behind they would be all season. After leading the division by four games on July 30, the Brewers went 14-21 and lost 13 ½ games in the standings in a span of 40 days.
September 8 – A Quick Series Sweep
When MLB rebuilt the 2022 schedule following the lockout, they had to squeeze some games into tight spots to make it work. As such, a day after that loss in Colorado, the Brewers flew home to play a one-day, two-game series against the Giants at American Family Field. The result was one of the best days of the season, as they won 2-1 and 4-2 to complete a sweep over a team that won over 100 games in 2021. According to the playoff odds, this was one of the biggest days of their season: They entered the day with a 20.2% shot at making the postseason according to FanGraphs, but left having rebounded to 31.4%.
September 11 – Two Million Once Again
Diminished attendance was a big story across baseball this season as about 6% fewer fans attended games in 2022 than in 2019, the last year before COVID became a factor in the numbers. The Brewers outpaced that trend, attracting approximately 500,000 fewer fans to American Family Field this season for a decrease of about 17%. There were lots of theories about it. Even with a significant decline, however, there were some significant milestones this season. In August, the Brewers welcomed the 100 millionth fan to American Family Field (including its years as Miller Park). Then, on this night, they passed 2 million in attendance for the 17th consecutive non-COVID year. The Brewers’ average of just under 30,000 fans per game still ranked in the bottom half of the National League, but even in a year where attendance decline was a major story, the organization still moved more than 2.4 million fans through the turnstiles.
September 16 and 17 – Adames Counts to Thirty
Robin Yount holds many Brewers records that will never be eclipsed, but a record he’d held for 40 years came off the board this year. He hit 29 home runs during his 1982 American League MVP season, the most ever by a Brewers shortstop. That total survived challenges from Jose Valentin, Jose Hernandez, J.J. Hardy, and Bill Hall to stand unbroken for four decades until Willy Adames came along.
In back-to-back games against the Yankees, Adames hit the 29th and 30th home runs of his season, tying and then passing Yount in a span of just over 24 hours. Furthermore, both home runs were big moments in their respective games: His three-run shot in the second inning of the first game started a Brewers comeback from a 5-0 early deficit, and the third inning three-run shot in the second game drove home what turned out to be the game-winning run. Adames ended up hitting 31 home runs as a shortstop, the 13th most by any player at that position in the last 20 years.
September 22 – The Wong Trifecta
There’s a realistic chance that the final weeks of this season were Kolten Wong’s last in a Brewer uniform: He turns 32 this week and the Brewers may opt not to exercise his $10 million contract option for 2023 after a season where his offense stagnated a bit and his once-elite defense deteriorated. In his 123rd game of the season, however, Wong had a single night that raised his on-base plus slugging by 29 points. Wong homered in the second, sixth, and eighth innings of a Brewers win over the Reds, driving in all of the scoring in a 5-1 victory. He provided more than enough support to give Brandon Woodruff, who struck out eleven and allowed one run in six innings, an opportunity to take over. The win was the 80th of the season, and the performance made Wong just the 16th Brewer ever to homer three times in a game.
September 27 – So Long, Central
Part of the story of this season has to be the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 41 out of 60 games to go from 51-47 on July 26 to a 93-game winning NL Central champion. Their final bit of business on their road to the postseason, however, came in Milwaukee. The Cardinals’ magic number to clinch the NL Central was down to one when they opened a two-game set at American Family Field, meaning a victory in either of the two contests would end the division race. They wasted no time getting that win out of the way, beating the Brewers 6-2 in the series opener to punch their ticket to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
September 28 – Woodruff’s 10K Streak
Earlier in the year (and as noted in Part 1) Corbin Burnes carved out yet another place in Brewers history by becoming the second Milwaukee pitcher ever to record 10 strikeouts in three consecutive appearances. His stay atop that particular list turned out to be brief. Brandon Woodruff had a September run for the ages, pitching 39 innings across his final six starts with a 1.62 ERA and 54 strikeouts. On this day, he shut out the Cardinals for six innings with a walk and 10 strikeouts, his fourth consecutive game with double-digit Ks. This moved him past Burnes and Yovani Gallardo, and established a new longest streak in Brewers franchise history.
September 29 – A Wild Opportunity Slips Away
Down the stretch, it seemed possible that no one would take control of the race for the National League’s final Wild Card spot. The Phillies led the Brewers by 2 ½ games after the action on September 23, but proceeded to lose five in a row and open the door for Milwaukee to claw back into postseason position.
This was the day when the Phillies lost the fifth game in that streak, and it could have been costly: With a win the Brewers could have taken a half-game advantage in the Wild Card race with just six games to play. Through seven innings they appeared poised to take advantage of the opportunity, as they led the Marlins 2-0. In the end, however, former Brewer Avisail Garcia’s eighth inning grand slam proved to be the difference as the Marlins rallied to win 4-2 and the Brewers missed their last chance to control their own destiny.
October 3 – When a Walkoff Isn’t Enough
The Brewers’ postseason hopes eventually survived to the season’s final series, but their only chance required them to sweep the Diamondbacks and have the Astros sweep the Phillies in the last three games of the year. Facing elimination, the Brewers were backed into a corner: They trailed 4-1 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning, leaving them three outs away from eliminating themselves from the playoff chase with a loss.
What followed was one of the season’s most dramatic turnarounds. The Brewers sent seven men to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and scored three runs against Arizona All Star reliever Joe Mantiply, with the last two scoring on a fielding error from Diamondbacks first baseman and potential Gold Glove-winner Christian Walker. Then, after Brad Boxberger held Arizona to one run in the top of the tenth, the Brewers responded with two in the bottom half on RBI singles from Willy Adames and Hunter Renfroe to walk off with a 6-5 win and extend their season, albeit briefly. The celebration was short lived, unfortunately. Ten minutes after the winning run scored in Milwaukee, the Phillies wrapped up a 3-0 shutout win over the Astros and clinched a postseason appearance, their first since 2011. The Brewers, meanwhile, would not advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
October 5 – Burnes Clinches History
While the Brewers didn’t have anything to play for as a team on the season’s final day, Corbin Burnes still had one last point to prove. A year after his Cy Young candidacy was limited by criticisms over his workload, he was one of just two National League pitchers to make 33 starts in 2022 and pitched on both the season’s first and final days. Burnes entered the season’s final contest with 238 strikeouts on the season, just one ahead of Carlos Rodon of the Giants. While Rodon missed his start on the season’s final day, Burnes pitched three innings and logged five more strikeouts to finish the year with 243. He’s the only pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball in Milwaukee (both Brewers and Braves) to lead his respective league in strikeouts and was the first Brewer in a decade to log 200 innings.