Braun gets two hits in NL’s third straight win

July 11, 2012

> Welcome to the new and improved Breaking Wisconsin (at least for now). More on the new setup later, but for now let’s get straight to the All-Star Game.

> The National League defeated the American League, 8-0, for the third consecutive year. Personally, I thought some of the NL’s starters shouldn’t have gotten the nod, as did many others. But, it was some of those starters in particular who may have won the game for the NL.

Justin Verlander was starting for the AL, and I’m sure everyone thought he would have a tidy six-up, six-down two innings. But he did exactly the opposite. After striking out Carlos Gonzalez to start the game, he gave up a single to Melky Cabrera. Then, Ryan Braun represented the Brewers with an opposite field RBI double off JV to give the NL an early 1-0 lead. Verlander struck out Joey Votto the next batter, but struggled with his control after that, giving up back-to-back walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey to load the bases. Pablo Sandoval then made him pay with a bases-clearing triple (yes, Sandoval hit a triple). Dan Uggla followed that up with an RBI single, but got a little help from some sheepish defense by Prince Fielder. Corey Hart would have made the play.

The NL added three more runs in the fourth against Matt Harrison. Matt Holliday hit an RBI single off him, then Cabrera put the icing on the cake with a two-run home run to extend the lead to 8-0. The biggest deficit ever recovered from in ASG history was five runs, and that didn’t change tonight.

The NL pitching staff was stellar, as shown by the nine goose eggs in the AL box score. Matt Cain started, and he threw two solid innings to begin the game. From there, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey, and Cole Hamels each threw scoreless innings. Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman combined for an eighth inning that was filled with high-90’s and low-100’s fastballs, and Wade Miley, Joel Hanrahan, and Jonathan Papelbon each got an out in a scoreless ninth inning. The only NL pitchers who didn’t make an appearance were Huston Street, the Padres’ only representative, and Lance Lynn. But who knows- maybe Tony La Russa called to the bullpen for Lynn, but got someone else this time.

Other than Verlander and Harrison, the AL pitching staff didn’t give up a run, either. Joe Nathan, David Price, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, and Fernando Rodney each threw scoreless innings. The only AL player not to enter the game was position player Adam Dunn, but he would have probably just struck out to end the game.

> As I sort of expected, Cabrera took home the ASG MVP award this year after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. I was gunning for Braun to win it- he also had a triple to go along with his RBI double- but Cabrera was definitely worthy as well.

> Here was a cool moment in the game. Chipper Jones got into the ASG thanks to an injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Chipper announced at the beginning of the year that this will be his last year before he retires, so everyone wanted him to get into the game somehow, and that opportunity presented itself.

Not only that, though- Chipper got a hit in his only at-bat. He hit a weak tapper to the right side, and second baseman Ian Kinsler may or may not have let the ball sneak through for a hit. That was probably the case, because Chipper was laughing his head off by the time he got to first base. Still, though, that was a cool moment.

> That’s about all I’ve got about the game.I could go on forever about all of the different storylines that were going on, but I think I covered the main points.

> You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve given BW a new theme. I’ve been pondering that idea for a while, actually going all the way back to near the time I started the blog. The old theme was supposed to be temporary, and this one is also probably going to end up not being around very long. But I haven’t found a theme I like for the long-term yet.

Anyway, you guys probably don’t care much about themes, but, to go along with quality writing, there needs to be a catchy theme to grab the eye of the reader.

> And that’s about it. Tomorrow I’ll try and put up an article with my ratings of all of the players on the Brewers’ roster up to this point in the season. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

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Brewers reward Greinke in extras after vintage duel

June 23, 2012

> Today, a Brewers starter went nine innings for the first time since April of 2011. Yet, the Brewers still don’t have a complete game since April of 2011.

> The Brewers defeated the White Sox today, 1-0, in ten innings. This was by far the best pitchers’ duel the Brewers have been involved in this year. You knew it was going to be a duel coming in, with Zack Greinke going for the Crew and Chris Sale for the Sox. Both are having All-Star campaigns, and continued their remarkable seasons today.

Greinke may very well have had his best start in a Brewers uniform today. He fired nine shutout innings while giving up just three hits, all singles. He walked one and struck out four. While the strikeout numbers may have been down, these are the types of starts that Ron Roenicke must be looking for: pitching to contact and keeping the pitch count down, which is exactly what Greinke did today. He threw exactly 100 pitches through nine, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him go out for the tenth. Anyway, it didn’t matter that the strikeouts were down for Greinke tonight, because he didn’t even allow a runner to reach second base. Yeah, he was that dominant.

Sale, on the other hand, also had a stellar start. He went eight shutout innings while giving up four hits. He walked one and struck out seven. The Brewers had a few chances to score against him, particularly in the fifth and seventh innings, when they had a runner on second with one out in each inning. But Sale weaved his way out of trouble in both situations.

Sale was removed in favor of Addison Reed in the ninth, and I was worried that if the Brewers didn’t score that inning, Greinke wouldn’t factor in the decision. Reed did toss a perfect ninth, but Greinke came back for the ninth and matched him.

Aramis Ramirez led off the tenth with a double off Jesse Crain, his second double of the night. He was pinch-run for by Nyjer Morgan. Corey Hart then struck out. But, with Rickie Weeks batting, Crain threw a wild pitch that allowed Morgan to advanced to third. Weeks took advantage of it and slapped an RBI single to left field, which would be the only run of the game.

I was honestly hoping for Greinke to come back out and pitch the tenth, but instead struggling closer John Axford was on. And it looked like he was going to have another rough night, as he walked Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning. But he came back to strike out the American League leader in home runs, Adam Dunn, which was a huge out. But he still had to deal with another great hitter in Paul Konerko. Axford may have caught a bit of luck with him- he hit a ground ball down the line, but third baseman Taylor Green had him positioned perfectly, and from there the Brewers turned a game-ending double play.

> Prior to today’s game, the Brewers reportedly sign veteran starter Livan Hernandez to a one-year contract. But the news was leaked in an odd way- ex-Brewer utility man Bill Hall announced it via Twitter after he ran into Livan at an airport.

Anyway, Hernandez has been around for quite some time. He was most recently released by the Braves on June 18th after putting up a 4.94 ERA out of their bullpen. But Livan could be of help for the Brewers, who could need an extra starter if Shaun Marcum does end up hitting the disabled list, or if Marco Estrada has a setback in his rehab. If neither of the situations happen, though, Hernandez could be a long reliever.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the second game of their last Interleague series tomorrow at 6:15 PM CT. They’ll send Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.11 ERA) to the mound, who has had just terrible luck his past three starts. He should have won all of them, but the bullpen found a way to blow it each time. So don’t be deceived by the numbers; he’s been a lot better as of late.

The White Sox will counter with Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 3.52 ERA), who will make a spot start in place of the injured Philip Humber.

> Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Will the NL use the DH?

February 5, 2012

> Earlier today, I was reading an article in an issue of Sports Illustrated. I think it was the latest edition, but I’m not sure, because I just found it lying around the house. Anyway, the article regarded the use of the designated hitter, and how the AL has the luxury of throwing money at free agent sluggers more than the NL. Why? Because of the DH.

The DH provides a cushion for hitters as they get older, as we all know. Because of this, AL teams can give out mammoth deals of 6-10 years worth anywhere between $150-200 million. Probably about five to six years into that deal, the hitter- at least defensively- will start to slug off because of age. So, regardless of his position on the field, he can move into what the article referred to as a “semiretirement position”- the DH.

And we’re seeing this happen more and more nowadays. Albert Pujols and his 10-year, $254 million deal with Angels. Prince Fielder’s 9-year, $214 million deal with the Tigers. Pujols is already 31, and Fielder is 28. But, because of the DH rule in the AL, age isn’t a factor.

You would never see an NL team give out a deal like that. NL teams don’t have the comfort of the DH, so, once players get too old to play in the field, they’re forced to retire, or sign with an AL team (i.e. Adam Dunn).

We have seen a few mega-deals, as I like to call them, in the NL over the past few years. Obviously, there’s Ryan Braun, who just keeps getting extensions, and is now under team control until 2020. Then, there’s the Rockies, who signed both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to monster deals prior to the 2011 season. And there’s Ryan Howard of the Phillies. Dan Uggla of the Braves. I could probably keep going.

But, there’s one difference between the deals that the NL give than the AL- most of them are five-year deals. Howard’s and Uggla’s deals are both for five years. The Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, and Braun deals are longer, but they’re a bit younger.

Anyway, I think I’ve made my point- there’s more risk involved when NL teams sign players to huge deals.

But probably not for long.

Starting in 2013, assuming Bud Selig follows through on moving the Astros to the NL, thus forming two 15-team leagues, there will be Interleague games every day. With the rules that are in place right now- the AL using the DH and the NL not- the rules of the game would be changing every day, which would be a hassle for all teams, and just the sport in general. So, there are two possible theories, one of which is going to have to happen- the NL adds the DH rule, or the AL drops it.

You and I both know very well that the AL isn’t going to get rid of the DH rule, after its success ever since it was experimented with in the 80’s.

Which means, inevitably, the NL is going to add the DH. I never thought the day would come, but when Selig announced that he was moving the Astros to the AL (despite the fact he moved the Brewers from the AL to the NL back in 1998, which to this day I still don’t really understand), it came to my mind immediately that the NL would finally have to use the DH.

To be honest with you, I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. A lot of people I know absolutely hate the DH, and, up until recently, I kept telling myself that I did too.

But now I don’t know. It could really benefit the NL, as the cumulative batting average of all pitchers has constantly dropped over the years.

But, whether or not we want it to happen, I think it’s coming.

> Anyway, with all that aside, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been gone for a few days. So, I might as well go through the news that happened while I was away.

> The Brewers came to terms with Shaun Marcum on a one-year, $7.725 million deal on Friday, minutes before their scheduled arbitration hearing. This is alright, I guess, but I was hoping the Brewers would sign Marcum to a multi-year extension. Even a two-year deal would be fine for now, but a one-year deal is dangerous, because Marcum is a free agent after 2012.

The Brewers still have all season to sign him to an extension, assuming Marcum isn’t one of those players who doesn’t allow negotiations during the season, though.

Marcum also said the other day that he’s going to start using his legs more in his pitching motion. His September/postseason faults probably came from him being all arms, and he said using his legs more should generate more velocity.

> And that’s about it for now. Again, sorry for my brief absence, but everything should be back to normal now. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.