Axford blows the season

September 27, 2012

POSTGAME

> Just when we thought John Axford was attempting to earn our trust back, he goes out and does this.

He turned a very pivotal game for the Brewers into a 2-1 loss to the Reds. With a 1-0 lead going into the ninth, Axford seemed to be cruising through the ninth after striking Zack Cozart and Joey Votto. But then the wheels abruptly fell off- Todd Frazier game-tying homer, Jay Bruce single, Dioner Navarro walk-off triple. Game over.

Season over.

MY TAKE

> Yes, you could argue that the Brewers should have scored more runs. But, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting more than one or two runs against Mat Latos. He’s quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half; not to mention he’s dominated the Brewers this season.

THE NEWS

> Since I missed the whole game today, I was confused while looking through the box score as to why Wily Peralta only went 5 1/3 innings, despite having just 71 pitches. Turns out he left with tight biceps, and it was Aramis Ramirez who signaled to the dugout that something was wrong.

But Peralta was twirling a gem. He’d given up just two hits up until his departure, and also had a career-high six strikeouts.

>The Cardinals have an off-day today, so it’s already official that the Brewers are four games back.

> The Astros named Bo Porter their new manager. The first team he’ll face as their manager is the Brewers.

THE NUMBERS

> Norichika Aoki has more extra base-hits (18) in September than Miguel Cabrera (15).

> Ryan Braun went 2-for-4, raising his average to .319. But it’s doubtful he’ll catch Buster Posey (.333). That batting average could be the decisive factor on who takes home the NL MVP this year, even though most of the rest of Braun’s stats are relatively better than Posey’s.

> Axford extended his Major League-leading blown save total to nine.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Astros (and the start of where the schedule flips over):

Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 3.94 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (16-8. 3.59 ERA)

Dallas Keuchel (3-7, 3.66 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (4-7, 3.87 ERA)

Jordan Lyles (4-12, 5.44 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (9-9, 3.55 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> The Marlins are giving Adam Greenberg another chance at a big league at-bat. If you don’t know Greenberg’s story, click here. Pretty cool, if you ask me.


Brewers lay down the hammer

September 27, 2012

POSTGAME

> I’ll honestly say I wasn’t expecting this. After the way the Brewers played last night, I thought they were going to get owned by Bronson Arroyo, who usually has his way with us. But it was the complete opposite: the Brewers blew out the Reds, 8-1.

After Joey Votto put the Brewers in an early hole with an RBI double, the Brewers put up a huge two-out rally against Arroyo in the third, starting with a Norichika Aoki homer. Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart also had RBI singles that inning. The Brewers scattered a few more runs through the rest of the game, including homers from Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy.

MY TAKE

> I’m starting to notice a trend here. Adam McCalvy wrote today that the Brewers’ offense has been better without Prince Fielder. Doesn’t make any sense, right?

But it’s actually become a theme now. The Brewers have played much, much better since trading away Zack Greinke. The Brewers played worse in 2008 after acquiring CC Sabathia (but you can’t argue with his numbers; obviously not his fault). As tough as it is to part with these star players, it’s hard to argue with the results following their departures.

THE NEWS

> Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta were scheduled for one and two more starts respectively, but Ron Roenicke said those plans are subject to change.

THE NUMBERS

> Shaun Marcum had his best start since coming off the disabled list, going six innings while giving up a run and striking out seven.

> Aoki has the most extra-base hits (18) in baseball so far in September.

> Aoki’s 36 doubles are the most ever by a Brewers rookie.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Wily Peralta (2-1, 3.04 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (13-4, 3.60 ERA)

> By the way, sorry for the brief articles lately. Schoolwork has really piled on much earlier than I expected, so that’s obviously my priority.


Brewers’ WC hopes take hit

September 26, 2012

POSTGAME

> With their 4-2 loss to the Reds tonight, the Brewers are now 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leading Cardinals (after they finish taking out that one minor league team). In other words, the Brewers have dug themselves into a hole that almost requires them to win out and the Cards to lose out for the rest of the season, a very unlikely finish.

Mike Fiers hasn’t been a very reliable option lately, and he got roughed up again tonight. The only two Brewers runs came on a Jean Segura RBI single in the fifth and Aramis Ramirez’s solo shot in the eighth.

MY TAKE

> Fiers is just collapsing. As I continue to preach, I hate the idea of completely shutting down a pitcher for the year, but Fiers is not doing a very good job of backing my opinion. After his incredible run to start off his big league career, he has done more than fall back to earth- he’s become an inconsistent option that isn’t giving the Brewers much of a chance to win.

He’s certainly done enough to solidify his rotation spot for next year, but, if the Brewers do just miss the postseason, one of the flaws we’ll look back on is Fiers’ meltdown.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals are currently beating the Astros, 4-0. We can safely assume they’ll lock that down, and then the Brewers will officially be 4.5 games back.

THE NUMBERS

> Since starting his career with a 1.80 ERA through 12 starts (plus one relief appearance), Fiers has a 6.70 ERA over his last nine games. His ERA has ballooned to 3.55 during that span.

And it all started at that wretched Coors Field.

> Norichika Aoki now has no hits in his last 13 at-bats.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (12-8)

THE EXTRAS

> Football season doesn’t officially start for me until after baseball season ends (and even then I’m usually paying more attention to the MLB offseason). But even I was blowing up at this awful call during the Packers-Seahawks game last night. The replacement referees are starting to make MLB umpires look good.

> After you watch that video, you’ll understand these headlines from this morning.


Zimmerman(n) kills the Brewers

September 25, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers did split this series, which is better than nothing against a team like the Nationals. But, considering the circumstances, they needed to do better; and it doesn’t help that both games they lost were complete blowouts. They were crushed today, 12-2. Marco Estrada proved he, for some reason, can’t pitch during noon games, and hammered for seven runs (six earned) in four innings against his former team.

They Nats used both of their Z’s to kill the Brewers, with Jordan Zimmermann tossing 6 2/3 strong innings and Ryan Zimmerman hitting a three-run blast off Estrada.

The Brewers only managed two runs, one coming on a Corey Hart homer.

MY TAKE

> Estrada had been able to avoid the big inning his last few starts, thus being able to go 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his six starts prior to this. But it came back to haunt him today. After getting two outs in the fourth, he allowed five consecutive baserunners, and that doomed the Brewers for the rest of the day.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals took down the Astros, 6-1. The Brewers are now 3.5 games back with nine to go. It’s going to take a miracle- and probably a Cardinals collapse- to make it at this point.

THE NUMBERS

> Aramis Ramirez hit his 50th double of the season.

> Norichika Aoki has no hits in his last nine at-bats.

> The probables for the upcoming Reds series:

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.38 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (18-9, 2.84 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (12-8, 3.63 ERA)

Wily Peralta (2-1, 3.04 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (13-4, 3.60 ERA)


Brewers take advantage of… the sun?

September 24, 2012

POSTGAME

> The score might not indicate it, but today was hard-fought win for the Brewers. They defeated the Nationals, 6-2, but a few of the Brewers’ key hits came courtesy of Nats outfielders losing fly balls in the sun.

The Brewers got on the board against Chien-Ming Wang in the fourth inning. Ryan Braun got a gift double after center fielder Bryce Harper misplayed a ball in the sun, then Jonathan Lucroy took advantage with an RBI single three batters later. Logan Schafer followed that up with an RBI double.

But the Nats tied it up in the fifth inning against Yovani Gallardo. Yo got himself into trouble quickly after walking Ian Desmond and allowing a double to Danny Espinosa. Chad Tracy put up an incredible at-bat against him, which resulted in an RBI single. Jayson Werth tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

The Brewers took the lead again in the seventh on Lucroy’s second RBI single. Carlos Gomez followed that with the second gift hit of the day- an RBI single thanks to the right fielder Werth giving up on the fly ball in the sun.

MY TAKE

> Schafer should be getting more playing time. He’s shown that he can hit when given the chance, with a clutch RBI triple against the Mets last week, and two more hits today.

But the way Schafer is playing gives the Brewers a world of options for 2013. It allows them to get rid of the left-handed hitting Nyjer Morgan- who isn’t getting playing time anyway- since Schafer is also a lefty. And, if Gomez winds up not working out as the everyday center fielder, we’ve got Schafer to fall back on.

> If Harper wins the Rookie of the Year Award, I’m going to explode.

THE NEWS

> Today was Schafer’s first big league start.

> Ken Rosenthal brought up the point that the Brewers spent about $180 million less on Aramis Ramirez than the Tigers paid Prince Fielder, but have gotten very similar production.

So where are the “Braun is going to be pitched to differently” haters now?

>The Cardinals defeated the Cubs again. They now start a three-game series against the Astros, then their easy nine-game stretch ends (not to mention the Brewers’ tough 10-game stretch will end as well).

As far as the teams behind the Brewers in the Wild Card race, the Dodgers and Pirates both won, while the Phillies lost.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun went 2-for-3 to bring his average up to .317. If he manages to get it into the mid-.320’s, I have no idea how you don’t give him the MVP- his other numbers are already so much better than the rest of the MVP candidates.

> The bullpen was lights-out. Brandon Kintzler, Francisco Rodriguez, Jim Henderson, Jose Veras, and John Axford combined for four scoreless innings with six strikeouts.

> Marco Estrada, tomorrow’s starter, is 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA over his last six starts. Prior to that stretch, he didn’t have a win all year.

> The Brewers have now won Gallardo’s last 11 starts (although Yo himself didn’t pick up the win today).

> Ramirez, who hit two doubles today, now has 49 for the season. That’s four away from breaking Lyle Overbay’s franchise record of 53.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Marco Estrada (4-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (11-8, 2.96 ERA)

The Crew will have their hands full with the Wisconsin native Zimmermann, who has already defeated them once this year. Estrada, the former National, is the midst of his hot streak, but let’s hope he’s ready for his noon start this time.

THE EXTRAS

> OK, the Cardinals can do what they want in their clubhouse, but this is going a little far.

> So apparently Eric Chavez of the Yankees doesn’t approve of celebrating after home runs.


Brewers serve up Gio’s 20th

September 23, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers have seemed invincible recently, but I suppose a good offense and a Cy Young contender can put that to a halt quickly. The Brewers lost to the Nationals today, 10-4, in a game they let get away too early.

Wily Peralta had a very short start- he went just 2 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out four. But you could just tell it was going to be a short outing from the get-go; despite not giving up a run in the first two innings, he needed 42 pitches to get through them. He left the game with 73 pitches after having recorded just two outs in the third.

Peralta gave up consecutive RBI hits to Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, and Ian Desmond in the third before being taken out in exchange for Livan Hernandez.
But Hernandez got completely murdered by his former team in the fourth, allowing three-run homers to both Ryan Zimmerman and Desmond.

All the while the Brewers’ offense was being silenced by Gio Gonzalez, who became the first 20-game winner of 2012.

THE NEWS

> Ryan Braun is reportedly dealing with some groin issues after a “rough slide” into home last night. He’s going to play through them for the stretch run, however. Braun went 1-for-3 with an RBI today.

> MLB Trade Rumors has continued to mention Alex Gonzalez’s vesting option for 2013 that would have come into play had he achieved 525 plate appearances this season. But, since he went down in May, there’s almost no chance he returns to the Brewers next year.

> The Cardinals defeated the Cubs in extra innings, so the Brewers fall to 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race for the time being. However, the Phillies, Dodgers, and Pirates all lost, so the teams close behind the Brewers will stay pat as well.

THE NUMBERS

> Yorvit Torrealba made his Brewers debut today, replacing Martin Maldonado in the fifth inning. But he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

> Taylor Green hit his third career homer in the ninth inning.

> Peralta had allowed just one extra-base hit in his first three big league starts coming into today. But, he gave up three XBH’s in a row in that rough third inning.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (2-3, 6.92 ERA)

Gallardo’s last loss was against the Nationals back in late July, and his record fell to 8-8 after that. Since then, though, Gallardo has been untouchable, going 8-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 starts following that outing.

THE EXTRAS

> I don’t think I’ve ever seen MLB refer to a home run as a “downtowner” in a highlight label.


Ninth-inning rally gives Brewers another comeback win

September 22, 2012

POSTGAME

> This team simply can’t lose. The Brewers once again pulled off the improbable, rallying in the ninth inning to defeat the Nationals- the best team in baseball- 4-2. Looking at the box score, you probably wouldn’t guess that it was that “improbable” of a comeback- the Brewers were only down by one going into the ninth. But, if you consider how foolish they looked in all aspects of the game during the first eight innings, then it was rather improbable.

Edwin Jackson, who for some reason dominates us, once again held off the Brewers for eight stellar innings. He gave up a run on six hits while walking none and striking out six. The only run Jackson gave up was as Jonathan Lucroy home run in the second inning, but that didn’t appear to phase him much.

After a bad first inning in which he gave up a two-run bomb to Adam LaRoche, Shaun Marcum probably had his best start since coming off the disabled list. He went six innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.

The Nationals brought on Tyler Clippard for the ninth inning, which I actually questioned. Clippard has been getting hammered recently, and Drew Storen got the save for the Nats last night, so why not put Storen back in his usual role? (If you didn’t know, Storen spent more than half of the season on the DL and Clippard filled in for him.)

Oh well; the Nats paid a big price for it. Norichika Aoki started the rally with a bunt single. Two batters, after Aoki had reached third base on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly, Ryan Braun tied the game up with an RBI single. After a Braun steal, Aramis Ramirez wasted no time giving the Crew the lead on an RBI double. The Brewers tacked on one more in the inning on Travis Ishikawa’s RBI infield hit.

John Axford came on for the ninth, and, unlike his counterpart, nailed down the save.

MY TAKE

> For some reason, Ishikawa got the start at first base today, despite the fact Corey Hart proved himself relatively healthy yesterday. It’s also worth noting Hart was hitting .545 in his career against Jackson. But that’s RRR logic for you (which, for some reason, I continue getting gas for on Twitter).

Ishikawa should have gone 0-f0r-4, but he got lucky on shortstop Ian Desmond’s misplay in the ninth.

> Sometimes I wonder if Ed Sedar knows what he’s doing as the third base coach. In the fourth inning, with the Nats ahead 2-1, Ramirez hit a soft liner into center field; not nearly deep enough to score Braun, who was on second base. But “the windmill” was at it again; he sent Braun home, and he was thrown out by center fielder Bryce Harper.

Sedar nearly left the time two years ago for a Minor League job for the Astros; I wish he would have taken them up on that.

> Jon Morosi brought up a great point on Twitter earlier today that I should have speculated on prior to this: had the Brewers not suffered the Lucroy injury, we could already be ahead of the Cardinals. Not saying that Martin Maldonado didn’t do a great job while Luc was on the DL, but keep in mind Lucroy was hitting .345 before he went on the DL. If that bat had stayed in the lineup all year, this race would definitely be a different story.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers acquired catcher Yorvit Torrealba from the Blue Jays. Not a major acquisition; probably just so the Brewers have some catching depth down the stretch behind Lucroy and Maldonado. Should the Brewers make the postseason, though, Torrealba would not be eligible for the roster (unless he were replacing an injured player).

> The Cubs walked off on the Cardinals earlier today in 11 innings. The Brewers are now 1.5 games back. Yes, this is really happening.

THE NUMBERS

> The 3-4-5 guys in the lineup tonight- Braun, Ramirez, and Lucroy- went a combined 7-for-12.

> Axford recorded his third consecutive save in as many games. That means he’ll probably be unavailable tomorrow.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Wily Peralta (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95 ERA)

Gonzalez is shooting to become the first 20-game winner in baseball this year, but the Brewers knocked him around back in Milwaukee earlier this year, so it won’t be easy.

THE EXTRAS

> The Brewers acquiring Torrealba gives me an excuse to re-visit this episode: Torrealba literally whacked an umpire in the face during a winter ball game.

> Sometime during the game- I can’t remember which inning- Brian Anderson gave us an update on the Reds-Dodgers game. He said the Reds were winning, 1-1.

OK, Brian.


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