All-Star Break Updates

July 20, 2013

> I think I’m just going to stop piling up the false statements, such as “I’m back for the summer! I’ll post more consistently now!” because evidently I’m unable to live up to any of them. I’m making no promises from here on out. I don’t know when the next time I’ll write an article after this: it could be tomorrow, it could be months from now. And I could go on making excuses about why I haven’t been writing recently (and there are some valid ones), but I’ll admit part of it is because this team has been horrifying to watch for the most part.

> I can’t say I’ve missed writing about this team. I’ve missed writing in general, but writing about this 2013 Brewers team throughout the first half would have certainly been frustrated rants every other day (perhaps even more often than that) and me repeatedly saying that I’ve given up hope on them. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching the Brewers- I need my fill of baseball, after all, and this is the only team I can legitimately root for. I couldn’t change loyalties if I tried. However, when I say I’ve given up on them, I mean it. And if you haven’t given up on this 38-56 crap show, I’d call you insane.

What exactly has led to this 38-56 first half? There are plenty of contributors. When Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Sean Halton- among others- are constantly in the everyday lineup, you know it’s bad. The starting rotation has been possibly the most inconsistent in the Majors. The star player is going to be suspended any minute now (though that won’t matter; not like he’s been in the lineup consistently for two months already). And, to top it all off, the manager is still a bonehead.

In the game before the All-Star break, the Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-1. How? Beats me. Logan Schafer (hitting .234), Francisco (.252), Martin Maldonado (.180), Betancourt (.198), and Jeff Bianchi (.236) were all in the starting lineup. The win was in large part because of another solid start from the resurgent Wily Peralta (who I’ll talk more about later), but the lineups our manager has been putting out there are comical.

The starting rotation doesn’t look much better. “Ace” Yovani Gallardo has a 4.85 ERA. Up until his last few starts of the first half, Peralta was awful for the most part. Marco Estrada and his 5.32 ERA currently sit on the disabled list alongside Alfredo Figaro, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation plans this year. And what happened to Mike Fiers? After posting an ERA over 7.00 as a long man/spot starter, he was optioned back to Triple-A, only to break his forearm on a line drive right back at him. Done for the season. Hiram Burgos showed flashes of being a solid starter, but an absolute bombshell of a start for him against the Reds ballooned his ERA. He’s on the DL as well. Johnny Hellweg, one of the prospects from last year’s Zack Greinke deal, came up for a time, but I really don’t want to talk about that. (Look up his strikeout to walk ratio and you’ll know why.)

It’s only a matter of time before MLB suspends Ryan Braun- and hundreds of others across professional baseball- for not cooperating with their Biogenesis case. On the bright side, it sounds like Braun’s suspension will be for only 50 games instead of the originally suspected 100, because there’s still no proof that he actually used performance-enhancing drugs (though any non-Brewers fan will likely tell you otherwise). It’s been a lost season for Braun without all that nonsense surrounding him, however. Following his long stint on the DL, he almost immediately went on the bereavement list. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins, but don’t expect him to be there for long.

Originally, I wasn’t going to blame this season on Ron Roenicke, because a lot of things haven’t gone his way. It’s hard to fight through so many injuries to both the rotation and the lineup. But when he never puts the best possible team on the field that he can, it’s hard not to blame him. I can’t remember the last time Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Norichika Aoki were in the lineup at the same time. Braun and Ramirez have had their share of injuries, but the other four have been perfectly healthy, yet Roenicke almost never plays all four on the same day (at least that’s how it feels). Yet he insists his team hasn’t given up. Maybe the team hasn’t, but he most certainly has.

> Now that I’ve gotten through most of the negatives, let’s move onto the positives, because there are some, believe it or not. Segura and Gomez are both having breakout campaigns as we speak, and both were rewarded with trips to the All-Star game in New York. Neither of them had hits- they were fortunate/unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) enough to face Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance. But Segura turned a slick double play, which even drew praise from notorious anti-Brewer commentator Tim McCarver. Gomez was put in right field, a position he’s somewhat unfamiliar with, and that was exposed when he dove and missed a ball that wound up letting Prince Fielder have a triple.

As mentioned earlier, the starting pitching has been nothing to write home about, but the recent pitching of Peralta has been encouraging. He’s managed to hold down some tough contending teams, such as the Braves, Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. In fact, he threw the first complete game for the Brewers since their first win of 2011, a three-hit shutout against the Reds. Needless to say that is my highlight of this season regardless of what happens from here on out.

Lastly, the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and I’m not even joking. After 2012′s disastrous “blowpen,” the retooled bullpen has been very solid. John Axford is regaining his form after a terrible start to his season. Francisco Rodriguez latched back onto the Brewers with a minor league deal and put his ineffective 2012 season behind him and has turned himself into nice trade bait. Jim Henderson has been shaky since returning from the DL, but his stats also make him look like a nice trade piece. Lefties Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny (who has also been used as a starter a bit) also could be moved.

> Other than the bullpen pieces just mentioned, there are a few more names who could be moved before July 31st’s trade deadline. Gallardo’s name has been tossed around simply because he has another year of team control after this, not because he’s been particularly effective on the season. The Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in him, but they weren’t interested in moving pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, who probably would have had to have been included to make a deal happen.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees and Red Sox will have scouts watching Ramirez next week when he comes off the DL. There could be some interesting prospects to acquire from either of those teams, especially the Sox.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. The Brewers are playing as I write, so maybe a recap will come later tonight.


Back for the summer- hopefully

June 2, 2013

> I probably have a lot of explaining to do, seeing as I abruptly stopped posting in regularly in January and haven’t actually written an article since February. But I’ll get to that later on; first let’s recap what became a pretty wild game for the Brewers.

> Since I wrote about the Brewers’ spring opener, more than a lot has gone wrong for the team. Since a nine-game winning streak in late April, the team has fallen apart at the seams, as shown by their May record (which I’ll also get to later). But, today, they held on to defeat the Phillies, 4-3.

Logan Schafer, who has torn it up when given the opportunity to start, continued to do that today. He got the Brewers on the board in the second inning with a two-RBI single. In the fifth, Jean Segura- who happens to be leading the National League in hitting- notched an RBI triple. The last Brewers run turned out to be an important insurance run, which was a Jonathan Lucroy solo blast in the eighth.

But there’s no doubt a lot of Phillies fans- and anyone else who strongly wants to expand instant replay- will put an asterisk next to this Brewers win because of what took place in the ninth inning. Francisco Rodriguez was on for the save and promptly gave up a solo homer to Freddy Galvis, then Jimmy Rollins reached on a single. A few plays later, K-Rod attempted to pick off Kyle Kendrick, pinch-running for Rollins, at second base. The throw beat Kendrick, but the shortstop Segura dropped the ball before applying the tag. However, second base umpire Mike Estabrook had the wrong angle and didn’t see the ball, so Segura sold it and still got the out. You can watch the play for yourself here, but the Brewers got a break any way you look at it.

> And it was a break the Brewers needed. They’re coming off what ended up tying for their worst month in season history: a 6-22 record in May. But it’s not the offense’s fault, or even the bullpen’s: it’s been the starting pitching. Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta have struggled to make it beyond five innings before being yanked because of pitch count in recent days, and even Marco Estrada and Kyle Lohse haven’t been too sharp over their last few starts or so.

Peralta broke out of his slump today, however, firing seven strong innings against the Phillies. He struck out six while allowing just two runs for his best start of the year. It was also the first time he finished seven innings on the year; his previous high was 6 2/3, which he accomplished in two starts against the Cubs.

> On a day when Ron Roenicke decides to field the correct lineup, these are the averages of the Brewers’ 1-5 hitters:

  • Norichika Aoki: .298
  • Jean Segura: .352
  • Ryan Braun: .300
  • Aramis Ramirez: .300
  • Carlos Gomez: .321

That might be the most consistent 1-5 in baseball. For a while, Yuniesky Betancourt could have been thrown into that conversation as well, but he’s cooled back to his old self over the past few weeks. Lucroy could be paving his way back, though: after coming into yesterday’s game with an average below .230, he’s brought it all the way to .259 after going 5-for-5 and 2-for-4 yesterday and today, respectively.

> The bullpen has been lights out as of late as well. Burke Badenhop’s ERA is 2.66, Tom Gorzelanny’s is 2.37, and Michael Gonzalez’s is 2.61. Jim Henderson had been stellar in the closer’s role (John Axford lost the job- again), but he hit the disabled list last week with an oblique strain. K-Rod, who was doing well at the time, earned the job while Henderson is gone.

> The Brewers will look for the sweep of the Phillies tomorrow, but I’ll say now that the odds don’t look very good. Mike Fiers (1-3, 5.66 ERA) will face Cliff Lee (6-2, 2.34 ERA). Interpret that how you want.

> So the reason I haven’t posted in four months is basically because I thought I was over my head with more important things. I decided to leave Reviewing the Brew a short time before so I could decrease my writing workload a bit, but I wound having to completely shut it down. My grades were slipping a bit in school, and I decided to play high school baseball this year, which turned out to be a huge time commitment (but also one of the best experiences of my life).

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to write consistently over the summer. I won’t make any promises, but I’ll have a bit more time on my hands.

Once summer is over, though, I’m not completely sure what I’ll do with this site. I’ll be going into my junior year, so my time to write will probably decrease even more. But we’ll see what happens once that time comes.


Loe, Morgan, Veras, and Ishikawa likely gone

November 2, 2012

> Schoolwork- endless schoolwork. That’s basically my excuse for getting articles up the past few days. The past three days have been the worst of the year for me. I’m hoping the next few weeks will be at least a bit lighter, otherwise my time to write on BWI will get mercilessly crunched. Anyhow, I’m not going to write a big article today, but all the news I’ve missed should cover that up.

THE NEWS

> So far, the offseason is going as planned- the Brewers are getting rid of the useless players, so to speak, in order to create roster space. The first batch of players to go is Kameron Loe, Nyjer Morgan, Jose Veras, and Travis Ishikawa.

Morgan’s outright to Triple-A (and eventual election of free agency) probably gathered the most national news, especially because of the role he played on the postseason team in 2011. He was responsible for getting the Brewers to the NLCS on that unforgettable walk-off hit against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, and he ingrained himself into the minds of Brewers fans (and into the minds of other fans, but in a negative way) with all of his aliases. But it just wasn’t Nyjer’s season in 2012. He hit a measly .239, and lost practically all of his playing time so that Carlos Gomez could prepare for a possible starting role in 2013. The emergence of Norichika Aoki didn’t help his cause either. And, with the left-handed Logan Schafer proving that he could possibly play the role of the fourth outfielder in 2013, there just wasn’t a spot for Morgan. So I thank Morgan for all of his contributions in 2011, but his antics and things weren’t fitting this year.

Loe and Veras also elected free agency following outright assignments. Loe was one of the Brewers’ best relievers in 2010, posting a 2.78 ERA. He had a second-half surge after getting off two a rough start in 2011, but it was the opposite this year. He had an ERA below 4.00 for most of the season, but it faded all the way to 4.61 in September. Statistically, Veras was one of the Brewers’ best relievers this year (though it’s not good when a guy with a 3.90 ERA is your best reliever). But he quietly had innings just about as frustrating as some of Francisco Rodriguez’s innings, so I’m relatively glad that he’s gone.

Lastly, Ishikawa was outrighted to Triple-A today, and is expected to elect free agency after he clears waivers. Ishikawa had his moments with the Brewers, but overall was the poster-boy of an extremely weak Brewers bench.

After their 2012 performances, I don’t think any of these players will be missed. However, Morgan will always be remembered: he’s written his legacy into Milwaukee history.

> The Brewers claimed reliever Arcenio Leon off waivers from the Astros.

> K-Rod was charged with domestic abuse for that incident in Wales that popped up two months ago.

Just stay away from Wisconsin, K-Rod.

> Speaking of K-Rod, the Brewers did not give “qualifying offers” to him or Shaun Marcum.

This “qualifying offer” thing is something brought about by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and basically replaced the Type A/Type B free agent system, which usually determined whether or not a team would receive draft picks as compensation for losing key free agents. Qualifying offers now play that role, and they are determined by the average salary of the top 125 player salaries from the previous season. That salary this season was $13.3 million.

As if K-Rod or Marcum are going to get $13.3 million on the market anyway. This was a no-doubter for the Brewers.

Only nine players received qualifying offers from their respective teams: Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Adam LaRoche, David Ortiz, B.J. Upton, and Kyle Lohse.

> Minor moves (and a lot of ‘em):

Tigers: Exercised 2013 options for Octavio Dotel and Jhonny Peralta; outrighted Don Kelly to Triple-A.
Rays: Exercised 2013 options for James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and Jose Molina; declined 2013 option for Luke Scott.
Braves: Exercised 2013 options for Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, and Paul Maholm; claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from the Astros; outrighted Erik Cordier, J.C. Boscan, and Robert Fish off their 40-man roster.
Astros: Designated Matt Downs for assignment; declined 2013 option for Chris Snyder; outrighted Fernando Abad, Sergio Escalona, Edgar Gonzalez, Jose Valdez, and Kyle Weiland to Triple-A.
Athletics: Outrighted Dallas Braden and Joey Devine, both of whom elected free agency.
White Sox: Signed Jake Peavy to a two-year extension; exercised 2013 option for Gavin Floyd; declined 2013 options for Brett Myers and Kevin Youkilis.
Mets: Exercised 2013 options for R.A. Dickey and David Wright.
Rangers:
Declined 2013 options for Scott Feldman and Yoshinori Tateyama; claimed Konrad Schmidt off waivers from the D-backs.
Cubs: Outrighted Justin Germano to Triple-A, who elected free agency.
Dodgers: Re-signed Brandon League to a three-year deal.
Orioles: Declined 2013 option for Mark Reynolds.
Indians: Exercised 2013 option for Ubaldo Jimenez; declined 2013 options for Travis Hafner and Roberto Hernandez (I still call him Fausto Carmona); outrighted Kevin Slowey and Vinny Rottino to Triple-A; claimed Blake Wood off waivers from the Royals.
Royals: Declined 2013 option for Joakim Soria; acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels; claimed Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Rockies; claimed Brett Hayes off waivers from the Marlins; designated ex-Brewer Jeremy Jeffress and Jason Bourgeois for assignment.
Yankees: Outrighted ex-Brewer Casey McGehee to Triple-A, who elected free agency; returned Rule 5 Draft pick Brad Meyers to the Nationals.
Reds: Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Madson each declined his side of his mutual option for 2013.
Pirates: Exercised 2013 option for Pedro Alvarez; declined 2013 option for Rod Barajas; released Hisanori Takahashi.
Blue Jays: Claimed Scott Maine off waivers from the Cubs; designated Scott Cousins and David Herndon for assignment; exercised 2013 option for Darren Oliver; re-signed Rajai Davis.
Diamondbacks: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Henry Blanco and Matt Lindstrom.
Rockies: Ex-Brewer Jorge De La Rosa exercised his player option.
Nationals: LaRoche and Sean Burnett each declined their player options.
Giants: Declined 2013 option for Aubrey Huff.
Twins: Claimed Josh Roenicke and Thomas Field off waivers from the Rockies.
Orioles: Claimed Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Twins.
Padres: Designated Josh Spence and Blake Tekotte for assignment.


Thoughts from the early offseason presser

October 15, 2012

> This article is well overdue, but I figured it was necessary at some point. A day or so after the offseason, Ron Roenicke, Doug Melvin, and a few others met with the media to discuss their early offseason goals and what we can look for from the Brewers going into 2013. Melvin in particular had some interesting comments, and basically explained what the status of some players are going into 2013.

John Axford is the closer, Corey Hart is the regular first baseman, Alex Gonzalez could be the starting shortstop, and, if he returns, Mat Gamel will serve as a bench player.

These are all some very debatable points. I agree with two of them, I’m relatively neutral with one of them, and then there’s one I think should receive some re-consideration.

The one I favor most is Hart remaining at first base. Following Gamel’s season-ending injury back in May, the Brewers found that Travis Ishikawa wasn’t getting the job done, so they moved Hart in from right field, and it paid off. To go along with his solid offense (which a player needs to be a first baseman), Hart provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position as well. If he plays as well as he did this year at first base in 2013, he’s a legitimate Gold Glove candidate. This move also allowed the Brewers to play Norichika Aoki every day in right field, and that also paid off, as Aoki posted a sensational rookie season.

I also agree with placing Gamel on the bench as a utility player. He’s had plenty of chances to start- the best one coming in 2012- but spoiled all of them with injuries or lazy play. Thanks to his ability to play multiple positions (first base, third base, and the corner outfield positions), however, he still has the opportunity to be a valuable utility player, and a power left-handed bat off the bench.

The one I’m relatively neutral (at least for the time being) on is the possibility of Gonzalez starting at shortstop. I liked what I saw from Gonzalez early in 2012 before his season-ending injury and would have gladly taken him back, but that was before the Brewers acquired Jean Segura. If the Brewers really want Segura to start at short for the long-term, they might as well start doing it now. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gonzalez return as another utility bench player, a role I feel he could play well. But I think what will determine this decision is the kind of spring Segura has.

Lastly, I do NOT want the closer’s role simply handed to Axford to start 2013. I’ll admit he finished sort of strong in 2012, but that doesn’t change the fact that he led the Majors with nine blown saves. His home runs allowed and walks significantly rising from his 2011 season definitely contributed to that. I know the excuse is that the Brewers don’t have anyone else who can take over, but that is a false statement. It’s true that the Brewers are slim in the relief corps at all levels, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anybody. For instance, Jim Henderson threw the ball very well down the stretch. The Brewers could also sign an established reliever this offseason. The closer’s job is still Axford’s job to lose, but, especially if he has a bad spring, it shouldn’t be handed to him by default.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Tigers took a 2-0 ALCS lead over the Yankees today. Last night’s game was dramatic as ever, with Jose Valverde blowing a 4-0 lead- which was a non-save situation- including two-run home runs to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. But Delmon Young gave the Tigers the lead in 12th inning, which would win the game. The biggest storyline, however, was Derek Jeter’s ankle fracture, which ended his postseason.

The Yankees’ offense continued to stay ice cold in today’s game, as they were shut out, 3-0. It’s hard to say whether or not Anibal Sanchez threw a gem, or if the Yankees’ offense is just awful. That offense killed a stellar start from Hiroki Kuroda, who took a perfect game into the sixth and struck out 11 over 7 2/3 innings.

> The Cardinals took the first game of the NLCS with the Giants. Both starters- Lance Lynn and Madison Bumgarner- got knocked around, but the Cards’ bullpen prevailed in tossing 5 1/3 shutout innings. The offensive heroes were who you’d expect: David Freese, who hit a two-run blast in the second inning, and Pete Kozma, who contributed an RBI double in the fourth. Carlos Beltran also had a two-run homer in the fourth.

THE NEWS

> Tom Haudricourt suggested Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse, and even Brandon McCarthy as possible veteran starting pitching adds for the Brewers this offseason. I wouldn’t mind any of those, but I would also toss Kuroda into that mix, despite the fact the Yankees will want him back badly. Haudricourt also said that the Brewers will more than likely sign an SP through the free agent market rather than trade for one due to all the prospects the Brewers have had to part with in recent years.

> Haudricourt doesn’t think the Brewers will trade Hart or Rickie Weeks to create payroll flexibility. Hart has expressed his desire to stay in Milwaukee for the rest of his career, while Weeks’ salary isn’t as big of a deal due the Brewers’ current payroll situation.

> Lastly, Haudricourt said that Nyjer Morgan will probably be non-tendered and easily replaced by Logan Schafer, as we all expected.

> Edwin Maysonet and Juan Perez each declared free agency.

> Today’s minor moves:

Rangers: Outrighted Luis Hernandez, who declared free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Matt Palmer, who declared free agency.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.


Brewers squeeze past Padres to take final series

October 3, 2012

POSTGAME

> All the Brewers needed tonight was Martin Maldonado’s third inning grand slam to defeat the Padres. Their 4-3 win gives them a series win in their final series of the year.

THE NEWS

> As Ron Roenicke announced yesterday, Tyler Thornburg went just four innings today. I thought RRR would let him go five innings and give him a chance for his first career win, but apparently that wasn’t his mindset.

Thorn looked good in his limited work though. He gave up a run on four hits and struck out four, including when he struck out the side in the first inning.

> Josh Stinson is going to start tomorrow. Yep, Yovani Gallardo won’t make his final start or have a bid at his 17th win.

Ron Roenicke, everyone.

> The Brewers will bring back their current coaching staff next year.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers need eight more strikeouts to tie the MLB single-season record for team strikeouts in a season. The record his held by the 2003 Cubs.

> The Brewers start seven rookies- Norichika Aoki, Logan Schafer, Maldonado, Taylor Green, Jean Segura, Jeff Binachi, and Thornburg- and still defeated the Padres. They also used two rookie relievers, Brandon Kintzler and Jim Henderson. Not to mention they started Travis Ishikawa at first base, which you could say is the equivalent of a rookie.

> Henderson’s string of 10 consecutive scoreless appearances was snapped last night.

> Kintzler, a reliever, has four wins in just 14 games. That’s a rather odd ratio for a reliever.

UPDATE: For some reason, Henderson was rewarded the win, despite the fact Kintzler should have received the win.

> Tomorrow’s match-up for the season finale (*sniffle*):

Andrew Werner (2-3, 4.78 ERA) vs. Josh Stinson (0-0, 0.00)

THE EXTRAS

> Adam Greenberg got his dream at-bat for the Marlins today. But, he was facing R.A. Dickey, so the result was rather predictable.

> Michael Morse may have hit the greatest grand slam ever the other day.


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 mount comeback to hold ground

September 21, 2012

POSTGAME

> It’s now safe to say that the Brewers are never out of any game. Despite a large early lead, they had to play comeback today, and they were successful. The Brewers managed to take a 9-7 win in a four-hour, back-and-forth contest with the Pirates.

The Brewers got off to a quick start, jumping on Wandy Rodriguez for three runs- including an Aramis Ramirez two-run blast- in the first inning. But, with a 4-0 lead in the third, Mike Fiers gave up a three-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. Fiers, who needed 81 pitches to get through just three innings, was removed after that.

After tying the game in the fourth, the Pirates rallied against Kameron Loe for three in the sixth inning, with a home run from Clint Barmes and an RBI single by Starling Marte.

Going into the eighth inning, the Bucs had a comfortable 7-3, but you could just tell the Brewers were going to mount a rally against struggling reliever Chad Qualls. And they wasted no time in doing so, as a two-run double from Norichika Aoki and a two-run triple from Rickie Weeks quickly knotted the game up at 7-7. Ramirez then gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI single. Logan Schafer tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth as well.

John Axford nailed down the save for the second straight night, as he worked around a Jean Segura error to strike out the side.

MY TAKE

> Segura’s error in the ninth inning should have probably been charged to first baseman Travis Ishikawa. Segura’s throw was slightly high, but it’s a throw that Ishikawa has to be able to handle.

> After the bullpen got off to a rough start (Brandon Kintzler gave up the lead following Fiers’ exit, then Loe nearly let the Pirates blow it open), they settled down nicely to shut down the Pirates for the rest of the game. Jose Veras got out of Loe’s jam in the sixth, Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Francisco Rodriguez handled the eighth, and Axford got another save as he continues his return to form.

> I hate to say it, but Fiers is starting to look legitimately fatigued on the mound. He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his last three starts. As I noted on Twitter earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ron Roenicke pull the plug on his season any day now.

> Jason Grilli plunked Ryan Braun in theseventh inning- when the Pirates had a three-run lead. That drew a standing ovation from the Pittsburgh crowd. Hope they enjoyed the eighth-inning rally too.

So now I’ve concluded that their fanbase doesn’t deserve a playoff berth, or a mere .500 season. If they act like that, they can stay in the cellar of the NL Central for the next 20 years as well- or longer.

Stay classy, Pittsburgh.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart made an unexpected return to the lineup today. He went 1-for-3 with a single, but it was noticeable that he was uncomfortable at the plate. Hart was removed in the fifth in exchange for Ishikawa.

> Axford said that the Zack Greinke trade “sharpened the Brewers’ focus.”

> Roenicke made a case for Aoki’s Rookie of the Year chances.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ current five-game winning streak is their longest on the season.

> This is the first time all year the Brewers have been give games over .500.

> Here’s the explanation for the Brewers passing up the Bucs in the standings: the Brewers have won 23 of their last 29 games. During that same stretch, the Pirates have won seven games.

> Oh, and the Pirates fell a game under .500.

> The Dodgers lost to the Nats, so the Brewers have leap-frogged them in the Wild Card race.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Nationals:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.91 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.89 ERA)

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

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. ???

Marco Estrada (4-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. ???

THE EXTRAS

> MLB Network’s Intentional Talk interviewed Axford the other day. But I was more amused at the murderous look on Jim Henderson’s face the entire time. Click here; you’ll know what I mean.

> This year’s edition of rookie hazing. They’re supposed to be the Flintstones… I think?

(It would appear Carlos Gomez took the photo.)


Offensive outburst puts Brewers 2.5 back

September 16, 2012

POSTGAME

> After a rough loss last night, the Brewers proved that they can put bumps in the road like that in the past. They came back and won a slugfest with the Mets tonight, 9-6.

Shaun Marcum and the Brewers got off to a bad start, as the Mets tagged Marcum for four runs over just four innings, including a three-run fourth. But the Brewers finally got to Mets starter Jenrry Mejia, who had been begging for trouble through the first few innings, in the bottom of the fourth. After Logan Schafer hit a two-run triple to cut the Mets’ lead to 4-3, Rickie Weeks hit a go-ahead three-run blast.

MY TAKE

> If the Brewers end up making the playoffs, a lot of the credit could go to Weeks. He got a lot of hate during his sub-.200 first half, but has had a much better second half, including the fact that he’s found his power stroke lately. The home run was his 20th of the season, a milestone I didn’t think he had a chance at reaching after the start he got off to.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals fell in walk-off fashion to the Dodgers, 4-3. They had a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning, but Jason Motte managed to blow another save. Former Brewer Luis Cruz was part of the rally, as he hit the game-tying double before Juan Rivera won it with an RBI single. The Brewers are now just 2.5 games out of their Wild Card spot.

Oh, and the Phillies were shut out by the Astros, so the Brewers once again passed them up in the standings.

THE NUMBERS

> Marcum hasn’t completed six innings since returning from the disabled list.

> Zack Greinke was great for the Angels tonight, going 8 1/3 innings in a bid for his first complete game shutout since 2009. But he was pulled with an out in the ninth, only for the usually reliable Ernesto Frieri to blow his lead, and the Angels’ win.

> Johnny Cueto got rocked again tonight, giving up six runs against the Marlins. For awhile I thought he was going to win the Cy Young Award, but now I think it almost unanimously goes to R.A. Dickey.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Chris Young (4-7, 4.39 ERA) vs. Wily Peralta (1-0, 3.46 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> So I was at the game tonight, and was sitting in the terrace level with my friend. Sometime around the seventh inning, I was talking to him and not looking at the field, when I heard the crowd start oddly cheering and people yelling “airplane!” I turned around and saw a paper airplane slowly gliding from a few rows behind us and towards the field.

I thought eventually it would just fall into the seats in front of us, but it just never stopped. It continuously glided until it was finally over the field, and at this point the crowd was going insane. None of the players noticed until Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy turned around and saw it coming down. Aramis Ramirez, who was batting at the time, called time when he saw it and stepped out.

But things got even more ridiculous- the plane landed inches away from second base, and received a standing ovation from the crowd. A bat-boy came out and retrieved the plane, and then Murphy made a clapping gesture towards the seats that the plane came from. Anyway, that was my take and perspective on the whole fiasco; you can watch part of it here.

However, Mets pitcher Manny Acosta wasn’t amused by the prank, and drilled Ramirez on the following pitch.


Brewers do in Braves with huge 5th

September 13, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers are over .500 and three games out of the Wild Card.

No, seriously.

I didn’t think I’d be saying that any time soon, but the Brewers’ great play recently has pushed them back near contention. They KO’d the Braves tonight, 8-2, and improved to 72-71 on the season.

Paul Maholm looked good the first few innings with a few defensive gems behind him, but he completely unraveled in the fifth. With a 2-0 lead, he gave up a go-ahead three-run blast to Rickie Weeks. The Brewers got three more RBI hits from Jonathan Lucroy, Travis Ishikawa, and even Yovani Gallardo in that inning.

Yovani Gallardo was solid as well, going seven innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out six, earning his 15th win of the season.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart was out of the lineup again, and reportedly received custom foot support for the nagging arch injury. But, he’ll be available on Friday at the earliest, and even then he’d likely be in a pinch-hit role.

> Carlos Gomez left the game after attempting to break up a double play in the second inning. He was successful in doing that, but bruised the lower quadriceps on his right leg in doing so. Gomez is considered day-to-day.

Logan Schafer took his place in center field and in the lineup.

> Mat Gamel won’t be ready for the Arizona Fall League.

> The Brewers have changed their plans for Tyler Thornburg now that they’re contending.

> MLB released its 2013 schedule, including the new Interleague-every-series concept. The Brewers make some interesting Interleague trips, including visiting Seattle, and the Athletics coming to Miller Park for the first time.

> The Cardinals lost. Might as well start paying attention to what’s going on in the WC standings.

THE NUMBERS

> This is only the second time in franchise history the Brewers have swept the Braves.

> The Brewers are now over .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 in April.

> Ishikawa went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, all coming on a bases-clearing double in the fifth. He isn’t quite as bad as I advertise him at times, I guess.

> The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow following a 20 games in 20 days stretch (during which they thrived). They’ll start a series against the Mets on Friday. Here are the probables:

Mike Fiers (9-7, 3.05 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hefner (2-6, 4.94 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.71 ERA) vs. Chris Young (4-7, 4.39 ERA)

Wily Peralta (1-0, 3.46 ERA) vs. Collin McHugh (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

MLB has yet to post the probables, so I just based this off the last order through each team’s rotation. The Mets’ starters might be one off since they’re using a six-man rotation.


Nearly astounding comeback falls short

September 10, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers had to have this game, and, after an amazing late comeback, it looked like they were going to get it. But, they couldn’t bring the momentum into extra innings, losing to the Cardinals 5-4 in 10 innings.

The Cards jumped on Shaun Marcum right away in the first inning, with home runs from Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran within a span of three batters. Matt Carpenter gave the Cards another in the second inning on an RBI double, and memories of the Brewers’ last NLCS game in 2011 were brought back. The only two Brewers runs came on a wild pitch that allowed a run to score in the second inning and a Jean Segura RBI single in the fourth.

Fast forward to the ninth inning. The Cardinals brought in their flamethrower, Jason Motte, whom the Brewers haven’t been able to touch since he was put into the Cards’ closer role. But today was a different story. Two batters after a Segura double, Norichika Aoki hit a game-tying homer on a 99 MPH fastball from Motte.

After that, I thought the Brewers were going to win for sure; everything’s been going our way lately. But not today- Kameron Loe gave up the walk-off single to Allen Craig in the 10th inning, and that was that.

MY TAKE

> Two out of three in St. Louis is usually good for the Brewers, but they desperately needed the sweep today. The Brewers don’t have any more head-to-head match-ups against the Cards for the rest of the year, and the schedules don’t exactly go in the Brewers’ favor either. The Cardinals get to play 12 of their last 22 games against the Padres, Pirates, and Astros, while the Brewers still have series against the Braves, Nationals, and Reds left.

So I’d love to see the Brewers do what the Cards did down the stretch last year, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.

THE NEWS

> Ryan Braun and Corey Hart each had to leave the game early today. Braun has a wrist problem that’s been lingering the entire season, and Hart had a mild sprained ankle. Neither are considered very serious.

Logan Schafer took over for Braun in left field, and Travis Ishikawa came in to play first base.

> The Brewers claimed Miguel De Los Santos off waivers from the Rangers. They had released him on Friday.

De Los Santos, a left-hander, put up a confusing 5.22 ERA for the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate this season. The reason I say confusing is because Baseball America thought De Los Santos had the best change-up in the Rangers’ organization prior to the season.

The Brewers now have two De Los Santos’ down on the farm, having acquired Fautino De Los Santos from the Athletics in exchange for George Kottaras back in early August.

> Mark Rogers said he isn’t ready to be shut down. Neither am I.

> Today is the 20th anniversary of Robin Yount’s 3000th career hit.

> Zack Greinke got the win for the Angels tonight, going seven strong against the Tigers.

THE NUMBERS

> Brandon Kintzler threw two scoreless innings. But I find it strange that he doesn’t have a strikeout in the Majors yet this year, especially with the kind of stuff he has.

> Segura went a perfect 3-for-3. He’ll need to put together a good stretch here if he wants to prove he can be the everyday shortstop next year.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Braves:

Mike Minor (8-10, 4.58 ERA) vs. Wily Peralta (1-0, 5.14 ERA)

Tim Hudson (14-5, 3.59 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-6, 3.99 ERA)

Paul Maholm (12-9, 3.67 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.76 ERA)


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