The right-hander and former first-round Cubs draft pick, back in Double-A since the beginning of May, pitched three innings for an extra innings win.
That was just a sidenote.
The real twist came in the 11th inning, when the 25-year-old launched his first career home run over the wall in left off Justin Simmons to cap off the scoring in a 7-3 Diamond Jaxx win at Jacksonville in Southern League play.
Brownlie (3-12) picked up his first win since June 3, allowing no hits and two walks to 12 batters faced. The Jaxx trailed 3-1 entering the ninth, but got a home run from Brandon Sing to send the game into the bottom of the inning and ultimately extra innings.
In the 11th, Gary Cates’ three-run, inside the park home run past former Cub prospect Adam Greenberg in right-center broke the tie and put the Jaxx in the lead for good at 6-3.
Then came Brownlie’s blast, and according to eyewitness reports (namely Brownlie and teammate Chris Walker), the home run left no doubt.
“I’m telling you right now,” said Walker, launching into one of his familiarly detailed, yet always entertaining accounts, “there wasn’t any doubt. Me and the guys on the bench just erupted when we saw it. He smoked it.”
All Brownlie knew was that he didn’t know – he didn’t know what he was trying to do with the pitch when he hit it.
He just knew that, in lieu of all the struggles he’s gone through from start to finish this season (such as his 5.87 ERA with the club in 24 appearances), he needed a night like this one.
“I was pretty pumped, but I really had no pressure on me once Cates hit that inside the park home run,” Brownlie said after the game. “I don’t know what I was trying to do with it. I was just trying not to strike out.”
Instead, Brownlie became the first Jaxx pitcher to homer since Carlos Marmol left the club once and for all to join the Baby Bears. Not bad for someone who earlier this year was driving back to the Florida State League, where his pro career began three years ago, only to turn right back around.
“I haven’t had too many nights like this, not this year,” Brownlie said of his performance, mainly referring to his three shutout innings. “It was a positive. I needed a night like this. I haven’t had a night like this in a long time. It’s a little boost.”
The win snapped a season-long six-game Jaxx losing streak, which included a five-game sweep at Carolina. Starter Sean Gallagher struck out eight and scattered one run and three hits over six innings. He walked five and has gone 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA since joining the team from Class-A Daytona.
The Jaxx improved to 22-24 in the second half of league play, five games behind first-place Tennessee in the Northern Division.