MILWAUKEE – Rowdy Tellez rounded the bases after belting a go-ahead grand slam and high-fived his way down the length of the dugout toward the team’s shiny new accessory.
Ring the bell. Ring up another Brewers victory on a record-setting night.
“They’re going to enjoy the bell,” mused Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns.
Brewers first base coach Quintin Berry installed a gold bell at the end of the dugout at American Family Field before Wednesday’s 18-4 win over the Reds and didn’t have to wait long to hear it chime. Kolten Wong rang it after culminating a 12-pitch at-bat with a leadoff home run, and Tellez went deep — way deep — twice, hitting a 453-foot, tiebreaking grand slam in the third and a 431-foot, two-run homer in the sixth.
Tellez missed a second grand slam by just a few feet in the eighth, but his two-run double off the wall gave the big first baseman eight RBIs for a new single-game franchise record.
Richie Sexson, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun and Christian Yelich were among the Brewers with seven RBIs in a game before this season. Willy Adames drove in seven runs just last week in Pittsburgh. But no Brewers player had eight RBIs prior to Tellez’s four-hit performance on Wednesday.
“You guys are in here pregame and postgame and see how much fun we have,” said Tellez, who has four home runs over the past four games. “It’s a great environment. It starts from the top down from our owner, all the way down to everybody in here. Everybody is an equal. Everybody treats each other the right way. Nobody is better than anybody else, nobody is worse than anybody else. That’s a big part of the Milwaukee family.”
Did he think that last fly ball might carry far enough to put Tellez in the exclusive groups of players who had either two grand slams or 10 RBIs in a single game?
Nope. Actually, he got jammed on that pitch, Tellez said.
Every Brewers starter reached base safely, five of them tallied multiple hits and Nos. 3-5 hitters Yelich, Andrew McCutchen and Tellez combined to go 10-for-15 with seven runs and 14 RBIs. With consecutive victories over the 3-21 Reds, the Brewers have won seven of their last eight games, 13 of 16 and 16 of 21.
Berry and third base coach Jason Lane came up with the idea last season whenever one of them noticed what Berry described simply as a “baseball play,” something instinctual, something gutsy or game-changing. Think of Wong tagging from third and scoring on a foul pop-up on the infield last year. Or, Adames a couple of weeks ago in Philadelphia, noticing that third base was unoccupied and dashing there safely. Great at-bats can qualify. Big home runs work.
Whenever Berry or Lane notice a play that fired him up, he’s been catching the other’s eye, raising a hand and ringing an imaginary bell.
“I’ve been wanting to get the bell for a while,” Berry said.
Too much bell-ringing would water-down the impact, so Berry had a heart-to-heart with the especially enthusiastic Adames on Wednesday to explain the idea in detail. Adames rang the bell so hard before batting practice that he broke it and required a repair.
“I told him, ‘We can’t be ringing it on every single,’” Berry said.
It’s meant to be an event.
Only three moments qualified in the Brewers’ romp, Berry said:
“He gets out of it, nobody scores, I went over to the pitchers and said, ‘Ring the bell for him, man!’” Berry said. “Great baseball move! I wore [Brandon] Woodruff out about it. We’ll have to make it where it’s not overplayed, get the guys to understand what we’re looking for and pay attention to and care about the little things.”
Here’s a little thing that came to mind: Where did they get a bell?
“You’d be surprised how hard it is to find a bell,” Berry said. “I looked everywhere. I went to big stories, mom and pop stores.”
Berry finally found a big bell online that says, “HAPPY HOUR” and ran it up the organizational flagpole to make sure that was acceptable. He got the go-ahead. It’s detachable, so the plan is that the bell will travel with the Brewers.
“It’s about have fun, but also make it to where you’re paying attention to the game, you’re picking each other up,” Berry said. “You’re paying attention to the details and having a great time doing it.”