6:17 AM UTC
MILWAUKEE — In the 11 years since the Brewers made him a second-round Draft pick, Tyrone Taylor has gone from top prospect to hearing whispers about being a bust to a big league role player to a must-start in the postseason.
When he smashed a two-run home run in the second inning of Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series, it was a joyous moment made even better by the fact his family was in the stands at American Family Field for the first time this season.
Unfortunately for Taylor and the Brewers, the good vibes didn’t last. He came up empty in two subsequent chances with the bases loaded and Milwaukee took a 6-3 loss to Arizona.
“The end goal here is to win,” said Taylor, 29. “I was able to enjoy the moment for a little bit.”
Taylor has had so many good moments lately — he’s hitting .313 with eight doubles, six homers, 17 RBIs and a 1.035 OPS in his past 19 games dating to Sept. 9 and including Tuesday’s Game 1 — that he has pushed past some of the Brewers’ young prospects in the outfield pecking order.
The Brewers left former first-rounder Garrett Mitchell off the Wild Card Series roster in a bit of a surprise after he successfully made it back from shoulder surgery to play himself into contention. And while they did include Joey Wiemer, it’s expected to be in a bench role as a late-inning runner or defensive replacement. Wiemer didn’t make it into Game 1.
Taylor did, hitting at the bottom of a Brewers lineup that produced 17 baserunners but only three runs — none after Taylor’s home run spotted Corbin Burnes a 3-0 lead.
“I tried to treat it like just another day of baseball, and every day of baseball is one I’m thankful for,” Taylor said. “Hopefully we get a couple ‘dubs’ and get to hang here a little longer.”
The Brewers will need to win each of the next two days against Arizona starters Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly to extend the season.
Taylor had chances for more in Game 1, but was denied. In the third inning, after Brice Turang walked to load the bases with two outs, Taylor bounced into a fielder’s choice. In the fifth, with the bases loaded again and one out, Taylor hit a line drive to the left side that was snared by diving D-backs third baseman Evan Longoria.
It was the play of the night.
“It was disbelief,” Taylor said. “He’s been doing it since I was a little kid, I’ve watched that man do that, so I shouldn’t have been in that much disbelief.”
Longoria felt the same way, saying afterward, “Actually I couldn’t believe I caught it.”
“I kind of just jumped and threw my glove up,” Longoria said. “It’s just a reaction. Sometimes, I don’t even jump for those. And for whatever reason, in that moment, obviously we’re trying to kind of just leave it all out on the field.”
Taylor and the Brewers will have to do that on Wednesday and, they hope, Thursday.
Eventually, he’ll face an uncertain offseason. Taylor is arbitration-eligible for the first time, and the Brewers are flush with outfielders from Christian Yelich to up-and-comers like Sal Frelick, Mitchell, Wiemer and top prospect Jackson Chourio, who finished this season at Triple-A and will begin next season a call away from the Majors.
First things first, however.
“I know me personally, I’m confident in our team,” Taylor said. “We’ve got two more chances to go out there and get some wins. Thank God it’s a three-game series.”
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