MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun turned the National League Division Series into his personal sandlot, and it appears he plans to do the same now that the Brewers' postseason run has reached the next level.
Braun had two more hits and four more RBIs for a franchise postseason record in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Sunday, a 9-6 win. It made him the early -- very, very early -- front-runner for series MVP honors, but that was probably not the award that fans had in mind then they chanted "MVP! MVP!" during each of Braun's plate appearances.
Braun is also a front-runner for the NL MVP Award after batting .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs in the regular season.
"There's obviously much more at stake," Braun said. "We realize the significance of the games we're playing. We recognize that we are now three games away from the World Series.
Spin to Win
Play MLB.com's "Take a Spin" for a chance to win 2012 Opening Day tickets, custom jerseys and other great prizes.
"There's no doubt that it's intense, but it's fun. I think we're all truly embracing the opportunity and recognizing how fortunate we are to be where we're at."
Braun has multiple hits and has scored multiple runs in four of the Brewers' first six 2011 postseason games, including Sunday's NLCS Game 1. His two-run home run erased an early 1-0 Cardinals lead in the first inning, and his two-run ground-rule double pulled the Crew back to within a run in the decisive six-run fifth.
On the next pitch, Prince Fielder hammered a 119-mph home run -- according to ESPN's Stats & Information, the speediest homer in the Major Leagues all season.
It marked the 37th time that both Braun and Fielder have homered in the same game, most in the Majors since 2007. The Brewers have won 28 of the 37 games, including each of the last six.
"Whenever he's hitting -- and hitting the ball all over the place -- I think he wears the pitcher down," Fielder said of Braun. "So the pitcher is a little worn down, and hopefully he'll make a mistake to me, too."
Said Braun: "When both of us are going good, it obviously becomes far more difficult to pitch to both of us. But [the Cardinals], they're not going to be intimidated by anything. We've played them often enough to know that they're a great team. There's no intimidation factor."
Braun broke the club record for RBIs in a postseason game he had tied in Game 2 of the NLDS against the D-backs, when he drove in three runs. The only other Brewers with a three-RBI game in the playoffs were catcher Ted Simmons in Game 3 of the 1981 American League Division Series against the Yankees 30 years ago Sunday, on Oct. 9, 1981, and Mark Brouhard in Game 4 of the '82 ALCS against the Angels. Wouldn't you know it? That was 29 years ago Sunday, on Oct. 9, 1982.
Braun has hit safely in five of Milwaukee's six postseason games this October, batting .500 (11-for-22) with five doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and seven runs scored. Overall in his career, he has hit safely in eight of his 10 postseason games, batting .421 (16-for-38) with seven doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs and seven runs scored.
His two hits in Game 1 gave Braun 16 hits in his postseason career, passing Cecil Cooper (15) for the fourth most in Brewers history. Braun trails only Paul Molitor (22 hits), Robin Yount (22 hits) and Charlie Moore (17 hits).
With 10 RBIs in his postseason career, Braun passed both Simmons (eight) and Molitor (nine) for sole possession of the second-most RBIs in club postseason history. Braun trails only Cooper, who drove in 13 postseason runs in 1981-82.
"I try not to get overly excited; it's only been six games to this point," Braun said. "But I feel like I've had pretty good at-bats, consistent at-bats, and we're winning."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.