[mlbvideo id="31912525" width="600" height="336" /]
The Brewers opened up a three-game set in Philadelphia on Tuesday, with the Phillies' home opener doubling as Ryan Braun's 2014 coming-out party in a 10-4 Milwaukee win.
Braun stepped to the plate amidst a chorus of boos with two men on in the third inning. He offered at a pitch down and out of the zone, and deposited it over the shrubbery into left-center field for his first home run of the season. (Be sure to catch the fan in the video above, with almost perfect timing, call Braun a "cheater" just before he connects with the pitch from Kyle Kendrick.)
What better way to answer an opposing fan calling you a cheater than by giving your team a 4-1 lead with a three-run bomb? How about by hitting your second homer of the season in your next at-bat? That's exactly what Braun did, coming to the plate in the fourth and blasting a solo homer to right-center. He wasn't done though, crushing his third homer in the eighth inning to give the Brewers a 10-4 lead.
It was quite the game for Braun after a bad opening week of the 2014 season. Yes, the hometown fans in Milwaukee welcomed him with a rousing ovation on Opening Day, but that didn't stop him from going 1-for-11 in the three-game series with the Braves. The Brewers then hit the road, traveling to Boston and giving Braun a taste of what the reaction would be like every time they visit another city. He went 0-for-5 in that first game against the Red Sox, then got a day off in the middle game of the series. Adding injury to insult, he admitted his thumb still bothered him and that it would remain at least a slight issue without surgery.
The thumb may end up being a problem all season, but on Tuesday, Braun proved it won't completely sap his power.
The Brewers are an intriguing sleeper team this year, but that is contingent on Braun being at the center of what is right now an underrated offense. He gave the team reason to believe Tuesday.