Recapping the Division Series to this point

October 9, 2012

> I’ve been busy the past few days, and there hasn’t been much Brewers news to report. But, seeing as we’re already into the third day of the Division Series, let’s jump right into some postseason coverage.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> A day after Justin Verlander’s 11-strikeout, 121-pitch adventure, the Tigers defeated the Athletics, 5-4, to take a 2-0 ALDS lead. It was a back-and-forth game with some shoddy defense on both sides, but ex-Brewer Grant Balfour finally gave in at the end, allowing a walk-off sacrifice fly from Don Kelly.

> Bronson Arroyo and the Reds dominated the Giants last night, shutting them down 9-0. Arroyo took a perfect game into the fifth, and finished with seven one-hit innings. He was backed by his offense, who crushed Madison Bumgarner and the Giants’ bullpen army. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, and Ryan Hanigan each had multi-hit days.

> The Cardinals-Nationals series started yesterday, and the Nats came out on top after take advantage of a later error by the Cards. Despite Adam Wainwright’s 10-strikeout game, Tyler Moore’s two-run single in the eighth was the decisive factor.

However, the Cardinals stormed back today with a 12-run outburst, including two home runs from Carlos Beltran.

> The Yankees rode a five-run pummeling of Jim Johnson in the ninth inning last night to a 7-2 win over the Orioles. The ninth inning rally started with a home run from Russell Martin. Former Brewer CC Sabathia nearly went the distance, but was pulled with two outs in the ninth.

The O’s-Yanks game is still in progress right now, but the Orioles are winning 3-2 after 6 1/3 stellar innings from Wei-Yin Chen.

THE NEWS

> A few managerial updates- some surprising, some not so much. The Indians hired Terry Francona, the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine, and Jim Tracy resigned his post as Rockies manager.

> The Angels signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a three-year extension.

> Minor moves:

Rays: Released Matt Bush.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.

And that’s about it. This is what the post format is going to look like for the rest of the offseason. Since there won’t always be Brewers news to cover, I have to compensate by reporting news from around the league as well.

THE EXTRAS

> Yesterday, Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque kissed the ball before tossing it to first base to record the final out of the ninth. No joke.

But, of course, something as trivial as this had to turn into a fiasco.

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Rogers settles down too late as Brewers fall

August 5, 2012

> The Brewers just couldn’t get anything going today against the Cardinals, losing 6-1. Mark Rogers, who had a solid start in his season debut against the Nationals, served up five runs between the second and third innings, and that would be the Brewers’ downfall, with the way their offense was all night.

Rogers went just five innings while giving up five runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out five. This is rather cliche, but, other than the third inning in which Rogers gave up four runs, he didn’t pitch all that badly. All seven hits he gave up came between the second and third innings, including six in the third. Carlos Beltran led off the second with a home run that was originally ruled a double, but it was reviewed and overruled to a home run. But it was nothing to argue about; the ball was clearly over the wall. That tied the game at 1-1, but Rogers allowed back-to-back doubles to start the third against the Cards’ eight and nine hitters, Daniel Descalso and pitcher Adam Wainwright. Two batters later, Allen Craig started a string of three straight singles, the others from Matt Holliday and Beltran. After Rogers struck out David Freese, he gave up an RBI single to Yadier Molina. That would be the last run of the inning, but by the end of all of that, the score was 5-1.

The only Brewers run came in the first inning. Carlos Gomez led off the game with a double, Nyjer Morgan moved him over with a groundout, and Ryan Braun drove him in with a sacrifice fly. But that’s been the story of the season for Wainwright: you have to jump on him early, because he’s nearly untouchable after the first inning, especially against a Brewers team he’s had success against. Wainwright went on to throw a complete game gem, allowing just that one run on five hits, along with no walks and seven strikeouts.

> If you didn’t already know, the Cardinals have been celebrating their 1982 World Series championship- which came over the Brewers- this weekend, with the big on-field ceremony coming prior to today’s game. The Cardinals wore their throwback uniforms from around that time, as did the Brewers.

But, as much as I love the powder blue retro road uniforms that the Brewers donned today, I have to question them agreeing to take part in the Cards’ celebration of them winning the ’82 Series. Again, keep in mind the Brewers lost that series, and is to this day their only World Series appearance. It’s almost like the Brewers commemorating the fact that they lost in the World Series.

I guess you could look at it two ways. It’s the Brewers’ only Series appearance in their history, and the ’82 team was arguably the best team the Brewers have ever fielded, so it could be worth celebrating. But, at the same time, I find it somewhat embarrassing that the Brewers would take part in a celebration of a series in which they lost.

But that makes it even more fitting that they lost today.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will try and save themselves the embarrassment of being swept in St. Louis tomorrow at 7:05 PM CT. They’ll send Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.34 ERA) to the mound, who is still in search of his first win. He’ll be opposed by Kyle Lohse (11-2, 2.91 ERA), who doesn’t have a good track record against the Brewers, but has been solid in his last two starts against them.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

 

 


Brewers hammer Astros again to complete sweep

August 2, 2012

> It may have only been the Astros, but it’s good to see nonetheless. The Brewers crushed the Astros again today, 13-4, to complete a three-game sweep over them. As the score shows, the bats were alive and well again, as they’ve been this whole series. Mike Fiers also had another good start.

It was a pretty gritty start for Fiers, actually, but he’s shown that he can pitch even without his best stuff. He went six innings while giving up two runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out six. Fiers’ ERA went up to 1.88, which still leads MLB rookies.

The Brewers took advantage of a multitude of early mistakes by the Astros, who ended up making a total of four errors in the game. Nyjer Morgan led off the game by reaching on an error by third baseman Scott Moore. Three batters later, Aramis Ramirez reached on another error by Moore, and that drove in Morgan to make the score 1-0.

But, the Astros tied the game in the third on Jose Altuve’s RBI single, then took the lead in the fourth on Brett Wallace’s solo homer. But, the Brewers took back the lead in the bottom of the inning on Cesar Izturis’ RBI single. An error by the second baseman Altuve (a failed glove flip) allowed a second run to score.

In the fifth inning, the Brewers’ offense erupted. After Morgan and Carlos Gomez hit back-to-back singles and pulled off a double steal to lead off the inning, Ryan Braun drove them both in with a single. Two batters later, Corey Hart hit an RBI double, and Rickie Weeks followed that him with his 12th home run of the year. But they weren’t done: Izturis, the one of the career .220 slugging percentage, hit a home run to extend the lead to 9-2.

Then, in the sixth, Braun added a homer of his own after a 14-pitch at-bat against Fernando Rodriguez. The Brewers tacked on two more in the seventh on Jonathan Lucroy’s first home run since his return from the disabled list, and a Morgan RBI single.

The Astros got two more in the eighth on Wallace’s second home run of the game, this one off Mike McClendon, but it wasn’t near enough to get back in the game.

> Shaun Marcum reportedly had a good bullpen session today, and is almost ready for a Minor League rehab assignment.

Marcum has been out since early June, and his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Because of it, he lost all of his trade value. And, being a free agent at the end of the season, he will likely walk without the Brewers get anything in return for him (although the Brewers still might get a compensation pick, the new rules make that sort of confusing).

You’d think Marcum wouldn’t be that tough of a pitcher to retain, but I think some personal issues come into play. Marcum expressed his interest in staying in Milwaukee last offseason, but said Doug Melvin wouldn’t even talk to him about an extension, likely because he was so focused on the Zack Greinke case. So now, one of two things is happening: Melvin STILL won’t talk to him, or Marcum is bitter about it.

So now we’ve basically lost both of our prized offseason acquisitions from the 2010-2011 offseason. Not very smart navigating by our front office, if you ask me.

> And that’s about it. After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers start a three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Here are the probables:

Randy Wolf (3-7, 5.45 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (1-4, 2.96 ERA)

Mark Rogers (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (8-10, 4.24 ERA)

Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.34 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (11-2, 2.91 ERA)


Brewers capitalize on first inning mistakes to take series

July 19, 2012

> Despite a very discouraging first game of this series, the Brewers managed to battle back and take a much-needed two-of-three from the Cardinals. They sealed the deal today with a 4-3 nail-biter win. And we’d better get used to these nail-biters- they’ll be happening pretty often with Francisco Rodriguez assuming the closer duties.

The Cardinals have been slumping hard- and I mean hard– recently. If not for John Axford wrapping the gift to give them in the first game of this series, they would be 0-6 since the All-Star break. I thought Axford blowing the game like that was going to give the Cards a new hope and they were going to go on a hot streak from there, but that hasn’t appeared to be the case.

The sloppiness that has been Cardinals baseball the past few days showed up again today, mostly in the first inning. Norichika Aoki got on base to lead off the game, courtesy to an error by shortstop Rafael Furcal. After Nyjer Morgan hit a single, Adam Wainwright hit Aramis Ramirez with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Corey Hart then came through with a broken bat, two-RBI single to give the Brewers the early lead. Two batters later, one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen occurred. Carlos Gomez hit your routine groundball to Furcal, and he fielded it cleanly. It looked at first like his throw was going to be fine, but it tailed off at the end, forcing first baseman Lance Berkman to come off the bag. But, Berkman’s momentum must have been a lot greater than I thought, and he tumbled over and nearly did a somersault. Not only that, but the ball flew out of his glove as he was rolling. This error allowed two runners to score and gave the Brewers a nice 4-0 lead to work with for the rest of the game.

And that was all they would need. The Cardinals got two runs off Tyler Thornburg: a David Freese solo home run in the second and an Allen Craig solo blast in the third. Other than those two runs, the Brewers’ bullpen shut the Cards down for the most part.

But K-Rod saves are always interesting, and the tale was no different today. After striking out Skip Schumaker to start the inning, Carlos Beltran hit a pinch-hit double. K-Rod then walked Furcal, but came back to strike out Matt Holliday (who was also pinch-hitting). But K-Rod walked Craig to follow that up, and the Cards’ third run came on Freese’s bases-loaded walk. To be honest with you, though, I was fine with that- better off walking him and giving up one run than letting him hit an opposite field bases-clearing double. Anyway, K-Rod finished the game by getting Berkman to fly out.

> Thornburg was making a spot start today in place of Zack Greinke, who is taking ten days off to “recharge” (although I think something else is going on behind the scenes). Thornburg’s start didn’t go all that well: he went just 4 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out five. Those numbers aren’t bad, but he needed 103 pitches to get through just 4 2/3 innings. He also served up two home runs, which brings his season total to seven home runs given up in just twelve innings. But all of the home runs are coming on elevated fastballs in the low 90’s, which, if not set up by the correct pitches, can mean trouble. Thorn has shown flashes of a great breaking ball and a decent change-up, though, which leads me to believe he can be successful in the future.

> But the bullpen managed to pick up Thornburg. Axford, removed from the closer’s role two days ago, came in and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the fifth and sixth innings. Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Jose Veras had a 1-2-3 eighth, and K-Rod got the save, despite walking three batters in the process.

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers move into their final series of this crucial stretch everyone has been talking about- a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the Brewers would probably need a sweep to get out of there as legitimate contenders, which I can’t see happening. But it’s worth hoping for, I suppose.

Anyway, here’s what the matchups for the series look like:

Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.13 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (8-6, 3.93 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.59 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 4.03 ERA)

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. ???


Gallardo’s 14 K’s give Brewers series win

July 16, 2012

> Despite last night’s ugly loss, the Brewers have had a successful start to the second half. They took two out of three in the first series after the second half from the first place Pirates by winning today, 4-1. The star of the show was Yovani Gallardo, who threw by far his best outing of the year today. He went seven innings while giving up one run on just four hits. Yo struck out a career-high 14 hitters and, to make it even more impressive, didn’t allow a walk. He lowered his ERA to 3.59, and, like I said after his last start, his numbers are starting to look more Yovani-like.

There wasn’t much offense today. The Pirates got one run, and you can probably guess who it came from- the extremely hot-hitting Andrew McCutchen. He hit a solo shot off Gallardo in the fourth inning to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead.

Up until the sixth inning, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett appeared to be on cruise control, like he has been so many times this year. But, the Brewers finally got to him in the sixth. Nyjer Morgan singled to lead off the inning, and Ryan Braun followed that up with a single to right field. Morgan tried to advance to third on Braun’s hit, and it appeared he would have gotten there anyway. But right fielder Garrett Jones decided to try and test Morgan’s speed, only to airmail into left field. Morgan ended up scoring on the play to tie the game, and Braun advanced to third base. Aramis Ramirez promptly drove in Braun with a single to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead. After Corey Hart struck out, Rickie Weeks hit an RBI double through the legs of third baseman Pedro Alvarez (it was originally scored as an error but was changed later). Martin Maldonado then put the icing on the cake with an RBI double to give the Brewers their fourth and final run.

After Gallardo left the game, it was up to the bullpen to preserve his stellar start, something they were unable to do for Marco Estrada and his 11 K’s last night. But Francisco Rodriguez came in and tossed a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts, and John Axford picked up his 16th save of the season.

> Even though the Pirates lost this series, I have to give them a lot of credit for how far they’ve come this year. McCutchen is hitting a Major League-leading .371 after going 3-for-4 today (two of the four hits Gallardo gave up were by him). Coming into today, Burnett had gone 9-0 over his last twelve starts, which makes it impressive that the Brewers were able to snap that streak. James McDonald is also having a great year and is developing into the ace everyone thought he would be (though the Brewers knocked him around in the first game of the series). So the Pirates have definitely put all the pieces together up to this point in the season.

They were having a similar story up until the All-Star break last year, which led to a second-half collapse. But something about them feels different this year. I don’t think they’ve playing over their heads right now; I think they’re legit for the first time since 1992.

> This series aside, the Brewers crucial stretch continues. They start a three-game set with the Cardinals at Miller Park tomorrow. Here are what the pitching matchups look like:

Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.41) vs. Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.31 ERA)

Joe Kelly (1-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (2-6, 5.80 ERA)

Adam Wainwright (7-9, 4.62 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.57 ERA)

So it’ll be Lynn vs. Fiers tomorrow. Fiers was hot entering the All-Star break, and tomorrow is his first career start against the Cards. We’ll see if he has better luck than the most of the other Brewers’ starters against the Cardinals. It’s a good thing Gallardo started in this series, because he’s 1-9 with a 7.07 ERA in his career against the Cardinals, including a 23.60 ERA in two starts this year (imagine his overall ERA without those two disasters). Wolf is on and off against them. Greinke has a 0.69 ERA in two starts against the Cards this year. But the starter who has the most success against the Cardinals is out for the year- Chris Narveson has a career ERA below 2.00 against them.

Anyway, I think Fiers will throw fine, because against the teams I’ve expected him to have trouble against, he’s done well (i.e. Dodgers, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Marlins, etc.).

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading.


Hart, Greinke give Wainwright a warm welcome back

April 8, 2012

> In a bad way, at least for the Cardinals.

> A day after they were outslugged by the Cards, the Brewers stormed back with a needed 6-0 win. They were definitely running on all cylinders today, unlike yesterday. The primary highlights of the game were Corey Hart’s 12th career multi-homer game, and Zack Greinke performing like he should have been the Opening Day starter.

Greinke was flat-out dominant, to say the least. He went seven scoreless innings while giving up just four hits- all singles. He also struck out seven and walked none; his command was literally spot-0n. Greinke was pretty much the polar opposite of what Yovani Gallardo was yesterday- Greinke left almost nothing over the plate and worked the corners, and didn’t walk anybody. This was very encouraging to see from Greinke. Not many people realize this, but this was his longest outing as a Brewer without giving up an earned run.

Greinke threw just 91 pitches in the seven innings, and probably could have gone longer, but handed the ball over to Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Veras to finish of the game. But hopefully Roenicke pull the string on Greinke (or anyone else for that matter) too early for the rest of the season, like he did a lot of times last year.

The offense wasn’t too shabby either. The Brewers got on the board in the second on Hart’s first home run, which was a mammoth. Adam Wainwright, making his first start for the Cardinals since September of 2010 because Tommy John Surgery made him miss 2011, left a fastball out over the plate, and Hart didn’t miss it one bit. In fact, left fielder Matt Holliday didn’t even move upon seeing the ball fly out- he just turned his head and watched it soar. Those are my favorite type of home run (unless they’re being hit against the Brewers, of course).

Wainwright locked down after that, but it only lasted until the sixth. Aramis Ramirez hit an RBI double for his first hit as a Brewer, and Hart’s second home run of the game followed that to give the Brewers a 4-0 lead. Hart’s home run actually came off reliever Victor Marte, as Wainwright was pulled after the Ramirez double. If you consider he hasn’t pitched since 2010, he didn’t too bad, going 5 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on four hits. He struck out six and walked one.

The Brewers tacked on two more runs in the eighth on Rickie Weeks’ first home run of the year and a Carlos Gomez RBI double.

> Ryan Braun rebounded from his 0-f0r-4 showing yesterday by going 2-for-3 today with a two doubles and a walk. Unfortunately, though, Mat Gamel couldn’t keep it going and went 0-for-4 today, although he had a few hits taken away from him by the Cards’ defense. Meanwhile, Alex Gonzalez and Nyjer Morgan are still looking for their first hits of the year, as both went 0-for-3 today.

> My thoughts and prayers are with broadcaster Bob Uecker today, and probably will be for awhile. Yesterday, after broadcasting the Brewers’ loss, he learned of a much bigger loss- his 52-year old son, Steve Uecker.

Steve passed away because of Valley Fever, a disease in which the lungs are infected by a harmful fungi.

I’m not sure if Uecker was broadcasting today because I didn’t catch any of the game on the radio. But, during the FOX broadcast, they put the camera on Uecker, who appeared to just be staring into space. I don’t blame him one bit; I probably can’t even start to imagine what kind of pain he’s holding in right now.

Again, my prayers are with Uecker, and hopefully yours are too.

> Prince Fielder, now a member of the Tigers, had a two-home run game today against the Red Sox. Looks like he’s trying to put away the doubters, who don’t think he’ll be able to handle Comerica Park, early.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the rubber game of this three-game series tomorrow at 1:10 PM CT. Randy Wolf, who went 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA last year, will go for the Brewers. He’s 8-8 with a 3.91 ERA in his career against the Cards, but has pitched poorly against them at Miller Park over the past few years.

The Cardinals will counter with Lance Lynn, who is filling in for the injured Chris Carpenter. He’s a hard-throwing righty who the Brewers saw a bit of last year when he came out of the ‘pen, but there’s no telling what the Cardinals will get from him in the rotation until Carp returns.

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


Gallardo chased by Cards in Opening Day loss

April 7, 2012

> The good news is, baseball is officially back. The bad news? The Brewers just virtually relived Game 6 of the 2011 NLCS.

The Brewers got crushed by the reigning World Champion Cardinals today, 11-5. Yovani Gallardo, who was making his third consecutive Opening Day start, still couldn’t win on the occasion, as he was hammered early. He gave up six earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings, while walking five and striking out three. The five walks show that his command clearly wasn’t there, and there may have been some nerves. Either that, or he just plain sucks against the Cardinals like he always does, which is probably the case.

The Brewers got on the board first on Carlos Gomez’s RBI triple off Jaime Garcia in the first inning. Aramis Ramirez followed that with an RBI groundout for his first RBI as a Brewer. This gave the Brewers an early 2-0 lead. But things went downhill from there.

Yadier Molina led off the second inning with a solo shot off of Gallardo to cut the score in half. Then, in the third, Gallardo gave up not one, not two, but three home runs to the Cards- they came from Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, and David Freese. Freese tacked on another RBI with a single in the fourth. Another run wouldn’t come until the seventh on Shane Robinson’s RBI single. The Cards got two more in the ninth on RBI doubles by Matt Carpenter and Rafael Furcal.

The Brewers got three more runs in the ninth on a George Kottaras three-run blast, but by then the game was already too far out of reach.

> I’m really starting to worry about Gallardo. I know you can’t judge a pitcher based on one game, but I’m not basing this on one game- it’s starting to become a trend. Gallardo gave up a career-high 27 home runs last year, 15 more than his 2010 total. I was hoping he’d be able to put that behind him, but then he starts the year by giving up four home runs in less than four innings- that isn’t a good sign.

I’ve been saying this all along, but he hasn’t been consistent ever since the first half of 2010. Following an oblique injury after the All-Star break, he was just never the same since then. Yes, I know he went 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 2011, but that was because he either had a great outing, or got shelled. He’s just never been consistent. I’m not saying he has to be Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee consistent, but just something better than he is now.

And, despite the fact I’m tempted to use the excuse that Gallardo is just historically bad against the Cardinals (he was 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA against them coming into today), I don’t think that was it today. Like I said earlier, he had no command, hence the five walks, and everything was out over the plate.

I’m sorry for freaking out over one game (and I’m actually not really, I’m just worried about what Gallardo is turning into). I know there are 161 games left. But Gallardo’s outing today really puts worries into my mind about his future.

> None of the newcomers to the Brewers did much offensively today, with Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez both going 0-for-4. Although you could tell the defense on the left site was much improved. On the bright side, though, Mat Gamel went 2-for-4, so hopefully that’s a precursor of a good season to come for him.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers play the second game of this series tomorrow at 3:10 PM CT (and remember it’s on regular FOX, not FSWI). The Brewers will send Zack Greinke to the mound, who went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA last year. He’s been better against the Cards in his career than Gallardo, to say the least, so hopefully we won’t see a merciless beating again tomorrow.

The Cardinals will counter with Adam Wainwright, who missed all of last year due to Tommy John Surgery. We’ll see how he bounces back in his first Major League start since the end of 2010.

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