The 2023 MLB season continues into October for the Milwaukee Brewers, but no matter what happens in these next few weeks, we’ve already seen a fair number of 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 2023 season provided lots of new entries in that space. In lieu of a season recap, what follows is a brief look at the first 19 items—the good, the bad and the weird—added to that calendar during the 2024 season. Part two of this feature, containing the notable events from mid-July through October, will run following the conclusion of the Brewers’ postseason appearance.
February 16 – Corbin Burnes’ Ominous Arrival
One of the Brewers’ first headlines of the spring was a financial savings with an unknown cost, as the organization took the former NL Cy Young winner to an arbitration hearing despite a difference of just $740,000 in their proposed salaries. The Brewers won the case, but Burnes was visibly and publicly unhappy about it on his first day at spring training, raising questions about his future in the organization and how these hard feelings might impact his performance for the season ahead. Those concerns carried into the regular season, as Burnes carried an ERA well over four into the month of July.
March 30 – An Infielder Arrives, an Infielder Departs
The Brewers’ season-opening loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field was a bit of a letdown, with Burnes giving up four runs across five innings in a game the Crew lost 4-0. A pair of infielders made headlines for different reasons in the game, however: First, Brice Turang made his MLB debut and singled in his first at bat, becoming just the seventh Brewer ever to play in their first career game on Opening Day.
The news became somber later in the day, however, when third baseman Luis Urías strained his hamstring trying to run out a ground ball in the top of the ninth inning. Urías would be out until June and never returned to form. His injury meant the Brewers’ Opening Day lineup (Christian Yelich, Jesse Winker, Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez, William Contreras, Urías, Garett Mitchell, Brian Anderson, and Turang) was never used again this season.
April 1 – A Long Wait Rewarded
After being held scoreless on Opening Day at Wrigley Field, the Brewers tried again on Saturday and netted the same result for much of the game. Cubs starter Justin Steele and reliever Javier Assad kept the Crew off the board for the first seven innings of this game, extending the Brewers’ season-opening scoreless streak to a new franchise record of 16 frames overall. The Brewers bounced back in the eighth, however, getting an RBI single from Jesse Winker and a two-run single from William Contreras to score their first runs of the season and take the lead in an eventual 3-1 victory. That morning was the last time all season the Brewers started a day below .500.
April 3 – Taking the (Projected) Lead
The National League Central would eventually have three postseason-contending teams, but at the start of the season, none of them were the odds-on favorite to win the division. That honor fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, who quickly and emphatically removed themselves from that conversation. The Brewers’ 10-0 win over the Mets on this day and the Cardinals’ 8-4 loss to the Braves convinced the FanGraphs postseason odds to move the Brewers to “favorite” status, and they’ve been there ever since.
April 4 – Piling on Scherzer
It’s possible Max Scherzer is the best pitcher of an entire generation. He’s won three Cy Young Awards, recorded more strikeouts than any active MLB pitcher and his offseason move to New York was a big part of the reason the Mets were expected to contend for a World Series in 2023. It didn’t work out. The Brewers gave Mets fans a preview of the disastrous season to come in the sixth inning of this game as Rowdy Tellez, Brian Anderson, and Garrett Mitchell hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off the future Hall of Famer to chase him from the game, which the Brewers went on to win 9-0. Anderson and Mitchell hit back-to-back home runs again in the seventh inning.
April 11 – Counsell Stands Alone
When the Brewers fired manager Ron Roenicke in 2015, then the fifth longest-tenured and winningest manager in franchise history, it created some serious doubt about whether any Brewers manager would ever stay in the job long enough to chase Phil Garner’s franchise marks for managerial wins (563) and games (1,180). It turned out that the very next guy to step into that office would rewrite the record books.
Counsell passed Garner atop the all-time wins list during the 2022 season, and in the early weeks of the 2023 season, he also managed game #1181, becoming the longest-serving manager in franchise history (on April 30 he also broke Garner’s and Ned Yost’s record by getting ejected from a game for the 26th time). Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before the Brewers broke out for five in that frame and got the win behind eight scoreless innings from Corbin Burnes.
April 23 – Blown Back to Second Place
The Brewers entered a Sunday matinee at American Family Field clinging to a half-game lead in the Central, and for much of the afternoon, it looked like they’d hang onto it: They trailed 3-0 early, but battled back to take a 4-3 lead in the seventh and turned the game over to the bullpen. That bullpen was still a work in progress, however.
Matt Bush allowed home runs to each of the first two batters he faced in the top of the eighth to give the Red Sox the lead and things got worse from there: Boston sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning and scored nine runs, capped by Masataka Yoshida’s grand slam off Javy Guerra. It was the final Brewers appearance for both Bush and Guerra.
May 9 – A Long Streak of Long Games
Most of the fans who attended Roy Oswalt’s 2-0 shutout of the Brewers on April 16, 2004 probably didn’t save their ticket stubs, but they did witness some history. Oswalt’s dominant performance against the Crew was over in one hour and 58 minutes, and the Brewers haven’t played a sub-two hour game since. On this night at American Family Field the Brewers and Dodgers were only about two-thirds of the way through an eventual 6-2 Dodgers win when the clock reached 8:41 Central time and guaranteed the Brewers their 3,000th consecutive game lasting two hours or more. It’s easily the longest such streak in known MLB history and it’s nearly twice as long as the second-longest active run.
May 15 – The Eighth Ends Poorly Again
The Brewers may have moved on from the two pitchers who gave up nine runs in the eighth inning a few weeks earlier, but their struggles with that inning were far from over. On this night, they were already down 8-1 to the Cardinals when rookie Gus Varland took the mound and immediately got into trouble. He faced 11 St. Louis batters in the inning and nine of them reached, including a pair of home runs and three walks. He was eventually relieved by infielder Mike Brosseau, who gave up a grand slam as the Cardinals put the exclamation point on a 10-run frame. The 18 runs the Brewers allowed in this game were a season-high. This game was Varland’s final Brewers appearance.
May 26 – Friendly Fire
May was easily the Brewers’ worst month of the season, as they went 11-16 and scored just 3.4 runs per game. On this day, however, things hit a new low as one Brewer injured another in a freak accident. In the bottom of the second inning Brian Anderson was at the plate when his foul line drive went into the Brewers dugout and hit Willy Adames in the head. Adames was hospitalized and an understandably distracted Brewers team lost 15-1 to the Giants. Despite the scary nature of the injury, Adames missed just 10 games and returned to the Brewers lineup with a home run on June 7.
May 31 – Nothing Extra
After notching just one win across the previous four years, Julio Teheran’s return to the majors reached the pinnacle in this game. Teheran had already been released twice during the season and had been a free agent just six days earlier, but on this night he pitched six innings and allowed a single unearned run in the Brewers’ 4-2 win over the Blue Jays. Teheran and the three relievers that followed did something no Brewers pitchers had done in over 30 years: They pitched nine complete innings without a single walk or strikeout. All 27 outs in the game were recorded on balls in play and Toronto’s only baserunners reached on hits. It was the first time the Brewers had pitched an entire game without a K or BB since 1992.
June 3 – The Runnin’ Reds
After a 26-29 start, the Reds were starting to show some signs of life in June. On this day, they almost pulled off a comeback for the ages. The Brewers scored five runs in the top of the third inning to stake Colin Rea to a 9-1 lead, but Cincinnati kept chipping away, scoring two in the bottom of the third, three in the sixth, and two more in the bottom of the ninth to force the Brewers to hang on for a 10-8 win. Jake Cousins allowed two runs without recording an out in the ninth in what would turn out to be his final Brewers appearance.
The Reds were able to come most of the way back at least in part due to their ability to run wild on the bases. Before this game, the Brewers’ franchise record for stolen bases allowed in a contest was seven, but the Reds attempted nine steals in this one and were safe every time. Cincinnati’s three through five hitters Jonathan India, Jake Fraley, and Spencer Steer combined to steal seven times.
June 7 – Wiemer Passes on the Cycle
Across 50+ years of franchise history, eight Brewers have hit for the cycle (including Christian Yelich three times), but on this day, rookie outfielder Joey Wiemer pulled off a feat that’s inarguably cooler. He homered in his first trip to the plate in the bottom of the third inning, hit an RBI single in the fourth, doubled in the sixth, and came to the plate again in the seventh needing a triple for the cycle. But did Wiemer triple? No. He homered again.
With that homer Wiemer became just the 11th Brewer ever to have a single, double and two home runs in the same game.
June 10 – Wiemer Can Throw, Too
A few days after Wiemer’s multi-homer game he became the first Brewer ever to record a multiple feat of a different kind. In the top of the second inning, A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano singled to center but learned not to test Wiemer’s arm, getting thrown out trying to go to second. Not all the A’s had learned their lesson, however, as Wiemer collected another outfield assist two batters later:
Wiemer’s two outfield assists in a single inning were a first in Brewers franchise history. In fact, before this night, no Brewer had ever collected two outfield assists in the same game.
June 11 – The Worst Bad Beat
Wiemer’s outfield heroics where some of the rare highlights in an otherwise rough weekend at American Family Field: The Brewers hosted the A’s, who entered the weekend 14-50 and in the conversation to be one of the worst MLB teams of all time, and lost all three games. The losses were the second, third and fourth of a season-worst six in a row for the Brewers as their game and a half lead in the NL Central turned into a one game deficit.
June 24 – Playoff Odds Bottom Out
The Brewers did eventually right the ship, but while they were figuring it out other National League contenders started to emerge. On a Saturday night in Cleveland the Brewers let the Guardians off the hook, taking a 2-1 lead to the sixth inning of a game they eventually lost 4-2. The loss dropped them to 39-37 on the season, tied for the seventh-best record in the National League, and they were a game and a half back of the NL Central-leading Reds. After that day’s action, FanGraphs lowered the Brewers’ postseason odds to 44.8%, the lowest they would drop all year.
July 1 – Perfect, Then Imperfect
Corbin Burnes flirted with history on a Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, and it looked like the Brewers had given him plenty of run support: He retired the first 15 Pirates batters in order to take a perfect game into the sixth inning with a 10-0 lead. However, Burnes struggled with his command in the sixth and was lifted after allowing two runs. And two Brewers relievers allowed six more in the eighth as the Pirates threatened to storm all the way back. Joel Payamps eventually put out the fire for the save, and the win moved the Brewers back into a first place tie.
July 3 – Jahmai Jones Joins the Jubilation
After multiple months with one of baseball’s least productive offenses, the Brewers looked for help anywhere they could find it and, at least for one day, they found a little. They signed former top 100 prospect Jahmai Jones two days after he was released by the Dodgers and put him into a key spot in his first game, despite the fact that he was a career .176 batter across his first two stints in the Majors. Jones immediately rewarded the Brewers for that confidence:
That hit was one of just two for Jones across seven games with the team, but it was one of the biggest of the season for the Brewers.
July 11 – All Quiet at the Break
Pitching carried the Brewers through much of the 2023 season, and so it’s only fitting the team’s All-Star representatives were both from that side of the ball: Devin Williams was the Crew’s original selection and Corbin Burnes was a late addition to join him. The National League picked up a 3-2 win, their first in over a decade, but they did so without any help from the Brewers, as neither Williams nor Burnes appeared in the game.
It wasn’t the first time the Midsummer Classic was played without a Brewer, but it is a relatively rare occurrence in recent years: The last time the Brewers were left out entirely was 2017, when Corey Knebel was selected but did not play, and before that a Brewer had played in every game since Greg Vaughn was left on the bench in 1996.