Braun goes deep early as Brewers return to action
Slugger drills two-run homer in first at-bat in Crew's explosive spring debut
PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun hit the second pitch he saw for a two-run homer in his first at-bat for the Brewers since completing a 65-game drug suspension, and teammate Juan Francisco homered twice in a 11-3 victory over the host A's on Thursday.
Christening their Cactus League season at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the Brewers got right to work against A's starter Tommy Milone, who was rattled for four hits, including two home runs, in just two innings in his first spring appearance. The lefty, trying to regain a rotation spot, walked two and struck out one.
Milone walked leadoff man Jean Segura, setting up Braun's anticipated at-bat one out later. Braun, who was greeted by a hearty round of cheers from Brewers fans behind the visiting dugout, swung through the first pitch he saw but didn't miss on the next one, lining a fastball over the left-field wall for an early two-run lead.
"It's still the first day of Spring Training," said Braun, who grounded out in his only other at-bat in three innings of work. "I'd rather hit the ball hard than strike out. I've always had a natural progression to prepare myself for the season."
The A's quickly posted two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first inning against right-hander Marco Estrada, courtesy of a two-run double off the bat of shortstop Jed Lowrie.
But the first of two homers from Francisco, in competition with Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds for the first-base job, put the Brewers back on top. In between, left fielder Khris Davis contributed with an RBI single.
Following Milone's departure, the A's got their first in-game look at non-roster invitee Philip Humber, who gave up one unearned run in one inning of work. Closer Jim Johnson pitched the fourth inning in his A's spring debut, allowing three hits, including Francisco's second homer -- a two-run shot.
Josh Reddick didn't make any more Spiderman catches in right field, a day after he robbed the Giants' Michael Morse of two home runs, but the A's outfielder did collect a pair of hits, including a fourth-inning double.
Up next for the Brewers: A day after turning 28, Yovani Gallardo will take the mound against the Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz., to begin what he hopes is a more normal Spring Training. Last year, he rushed to get ready to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic and believes he paid a price, with diminished velocity and poor results in April and May before a midseason turnaround. This is the final guaranteed season of Gallardo's contract. Two others will also make their 2014 debuts on Friday: Bob Uecker and Joe Block will call the game on the Brewers Radio Network.