Milwaukee fans made their pro-Braun sentiments clear with a lengthy standing ovation for him on Opening Day at Miller Park, but things hadn't gone so well since then. In recent days, Braun has been bothered by an inflamed nerve in his right thumb and forefinger. The injury contributed to his lack of power last season, when he hit only nine homers and slugged a career-low .498 in 225 at-bats. This season he got off to a .150 start, with a mere three singles in 20 at-bats.
Braun has explored the option of surgery on his thumb but steadfastly resisted taking the plunge -- in large part because there's no surefire solution to what's bothering him. Now he's tinkering with different combinations of pads and glove to help ease the strain on his hand.
"I've dealt with it for a while," Braun said. "There's ebb and flow, good and bad. More bad than good. As I've said many times, I'm optimistic and hopeful that we'll eventually figure something out that makes a difference. The longer you deal with any injury, the easier it becomes to compensate."
Braun's three homers Tuesday broke a streak of 98 plate appearances without a homer and marked the first time he had gone deep since May 22, 2013, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With his 212th, 213th and 214th homers as a Brewer, Braun passed Geoff Jenkins and moved into third place on the franchise's career list behind Robin Yount (251) and Prince Fielder (230).
Regardless of how Philadelphia fans treat him, he's an admirer of Citizens Bank Park. Braun has a career .405 batting average (32-for-79) with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs at the Phillies' hitter-friendly yard.
Judging from his performance Tuesday, Phillies fans might want to consider cutting back on the hostility in the final two games of this series.
"I was with the Angels a few years back and we let Jose Guillen go, and there were some negative things to go along with that," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Every time he came back to town, the fans would boo him. And every time they booed him, he got a huge hit. I was like, 'Leave him alone.'
"Really, it makes a difference. Those guys that can turn it up, you don't want to be messing with. There's no better way to quiet people than to do what he's doing."
Braun isn't entirely sure what to expect the rest of the series. But he certainly didn't anticipate hitting three home runs when he arrived for the first game in Philly and felt "terrible" in batting practice.
"This is kind of a crazy game sometimes," he said. "I didn't think there was any chance I could have possibly had a game like this today. The game works in mysterious ways."