My 200th home run turned out to be a memorable one. It was fun to hit it in an important situation. It was a three-run homer that tied the game, and the team definitely needed a jolt at that point. I consider that part of my job description, so it just felt good to come through when we really needed it.
While the milestone home run was obviously something I?ll never forget, the run-scoring single I hit down the left-field line in the bottom of the seventh inning of Sunday?s game was probably even more crucial because it put us ahead and left the game to our bullpen, and I love our bullpen in a situation like that.
It was big because we had just lost a few tough games on the road trip to some pretty tough teams — the Mets and Phillies -? and then the first two at home against the Twins. So the timing was right. I think the home run helped wake everybody up.
That last road trip was difficult, though. We went up against some very good pitchers who threw the ball well against us. We got ?walked off? a couple times in Philly in games that could have easily turned the other way. But that?s baseball. You have to give them credit. Cole Hamels in particular pitched an unbelievable game against us, so it looks like he?s the real deal.
Over the course of the season, we?re going to lose some tough games. The important thing is having the confidence and the ability to bounce back and keep going. But it looks like we?re beginning to come around again in recent days.
Hopefully, we?ve gotten past a difficult stretch. We had another big offensive game on Monday night against the Dodgers before last night?s game, which was more of a pitcher?s duel.
Before I forget, I want to give a special thanks to all of the Milwaukee fans out who treated me so well over the weekend when I hit my 200th home run. The fans? reaction will never be forgotten. Brewers fans have been great with me for 10 years now. They?re pretty special and it meant a lot to me.
Hitting the home run in front of the home crowd made it so much better. The club posted a big congratulatory sign on the scoreboard and the fans gave me a nice ovation. Having it come at home as part of an exciting win was very gratifying, to say the least.
It?s also one of those things that allows you to take stock in your career a little, too. It made me recall my first home run. It was in ?98 against Orel Hershiser in San Francisco, my third at-bat of the game. I just remember wanting to get back to the dugout so fast that I sprinted around the bases.
The win, together with the milestone home run, made for a pleasant trip out here to the West Coast. The trainers and staff gave me a couple of bottles of champagne that I shared with the team on our bus ride to the hotel on the way in. It?s nice to be recognized by the people you work with every day. It kind of validates all of the hard work and effort you put in on the field. It was real nice that they?d do something like that for me.
But the celebrating ended on Sunday night because we have another tough road trip out here, facing the first- and second-place teams in the NL West. In the first game against LA, our bats were working again, which is a good sign. Rickie Weeks had four hits and Prince Fielder had a couple home runs. It was like the offense we had in the first 40 games. Everybody contributed with a walk or a hit. That was more representative of the team we?ve been like this year.
Last night?s game was more of a pitcher?s duel and we wound up on the wrong side of it. But you can?t really expect sweeps on the road, especially when you?re playing the good clubs we?ve played recently. If we can win two out of three in a series like this, that?s fine. Then we can take care of business at home.
Coming to the West Coast is always like a homecoming for me, too. I grew up in Sacramento, but I went to USC so I get to see a ton of people I know at the games. That?s always a pretty cool for me when I come out here. You don?t get to see all of these people very often, so it?s extra special when you do have the chance to visit with them a little.
One of the great parts about a career in baseball is the big circle of friends that the game gives you. You establish long-lasting friendships with former teammates and coaches and other folks from every stop along the way. It?s a pretty cool thing.
Surprisingly, on this trip I?ll be visiting with a lot more people when I get to San Diego than here in Los Angeles. Maybe a lot of folks have moved down there? Regardless, everyone seems to come around when I get out West. I have family and friends coming in from Sacramento, too.
You try not to let any of that off-the-field stuff affect how you go about your business, though. As baseball players we have a lot of different things to deal with off the field -? media, family obligations, whether you?re playing well or struggling ?- but you learn to compartmentalize a little bit.
You want to visit with everyone, but at some point, you need to put it aside. It?s hard, but you learn over the years that you have to say "No" once in a while and keep your priorities in order. And the priority now is winning games.
Finally, I thought it would be fun to ask Brewers fans to help me give a name to my new blog. I?m OK with "Jenks? Joint," but I?d like to hear from some of the creative people who might have a good idea, so post away and let?s see what you come up with. I?ll review them and see if I find one I like.
Until next time,