"I finally feel like I'm locked in," Braun said Friday, after a three-hit night left him at 199 and on the brink of history. "I've felt great the last two weeks, the best I've felt with the bat all year. Better late than never."
Braun added a double in the third inning Saturday and has 201 hits this season, tops in the National League pending Saturday's production from Houston's Miguel Tejada (who had 197 hits entering a long, rainy day in New York) and Florida's Hanley Ramirez (who entered the day with 198 hits).
Before Braun joined the club, only three other Brewers had 200-hit seasons. Cecil Cooper had three, Paul Molitor two and Robin Yount one. Molitor was the last to do it, in 1991.
Of the seven 200th hits in Milwaukee history, three were home runs: Braun's on Saturday, plus Yount's on Sept. 28, 1982, in Boston and Cooper's off the Red Sox's Dennis Eckersley two days later. All of them were two-run shots, and Yount's, like Braun's, came in the first inning.
Braun got the baseball as a memento, but that took some work. An usher had given it to a young fan before an imposter posing as a Brewers employee bartered it away. The St. Louis police were involved in getting it back.
"It's a special day," Braun said. "It's a tremendous accomplishment, extremely difficult to do. We all strive to be as consistent as possible, and it's impossible to get to 200 hits without being pretty consistent. I'm really proud of that."
Braun's two-hit afternoon continued a hot streak. As recently as last week, it seemed as if he would fall short of 200.
"It wasn't on my radar," Braun said. "I probably have 15, 16 hits in the last week."
He was right on. Including his two hits Saturday, Braun has 16 hits during his eight-game hitting streak. In the larger picture, he has hit safely in 13 of his past 14 games, going 26-for-61 (.426) in that span.
"I don't think I've ever had this level of focus as far as trying to achieve one singular goal," Braun said. "My level of focus on every at-bat has been more intense than I've ever been able to do before. It's pretty cool.
"I want to be able to channel that feeling. I felt like I've been completely locked in on being able to center the ball up the last two weeks, and knowing that I had to do that to get to this point."
The Brewers finish their season in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon. A fan of round numbers, Braun still needs one stolen base for 20, and he'll enter the finale batting .319 with a chance to be the first Brewers player to bat at least .320 since Jeff Cirillo hit .326 in '99.