Brewers clinch winning season

October 2, 2012

POSTGAME

> Despite being eliminated yesterday, the Brewers still had something to play for: a winning season. They were assured that today, defeating the Padres 5-3 for their 82nd win of the year.

Although Shaun Marcum gave up a home run to the opposing pitcher, Clayton Richard, the Brewers backed him with home run balls of their own from Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks.

THE NEWS

> Ron Roenicke said that tomorrow’s starter, Tyler Thornburg, will only go about three or four innings at the most because of how little he’s pitched lately. Thornburg was a September call-up, but the Brewers’ postseason run messed up their plans for him, and he wound up making just two appearances this month.

Thornburg is making what would have been Wily Peralta’s final start of the season, but he was shut down with one start to go due to lingering pain in his left biceps.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers now have four winning seasons out of their last six seasons overall. That follows a string of 15 straight seasons without a winning season.

> If Gomez hits one more home run this season, he and Mike Trout will be the only players this season with 20+ home runs and 35+ stolen bases.

> The Brewers need 18 more strikeouts if they want to break the MLB record 1404, set by the 2003 Cubs.

> Keep in mind the Brewers were 12 games under .500 as late as August 19th.

> Weeks’ home run was the Brewers’ 200th of the season.

> Chase Headley has 31 home runs this season, and 23 of them have come since the All-Star break.

> This was the second day in a row the Brewers allowed a home run to the opposing starter (Jordan Lyles yesterday, Richard today).

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Anthony Bass (2-7, 4.50 ERA) vs. Tyler Thornburg (0-0, 5.00 ERA)

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After Maldonado’s HR, Brewers hang on to take series

June 11, 2012

> This win certainly didn’t come as easy as it should have. But in the end, a win is a win; and a much-needed win for the Brewers.

> The Brewers defeated the Padres today, 6-5, in what became a nail-biter in the ninth inning. After Ryan Braun’s two-run home run in the eighth inning, it looked like the Brewers had an easy win that was theirs for the taking. But it didn’t turn out that way in the ninth inning.

It was a dismal start to the day, as Yovani Gallardo promptly gave up a lead-off home run to Will Venable. The ball didn’t appear to be hit that well, but it turned out that the ball was carrying a lot today. Gallardo actually nearly gave up another home run to Chase Headley in that same inning, but it was robbed by Braun in left field. Again, the ball wasn’t very well hit; both of these balls were opposite field home runs (Venable and Headley are lefties) that would have been routine fly balls on any other day. Anyway, Gallardo gave up another run in the second inning. With a man on second, Gallardo attempted to field a grounder from John Baker, but it went through his legs for an error, leaving men on first and third. Everth Cabrera then grounded out to score the run, although it looked like there could have been a play at the plate. But first baseman Taylor Green picked up the ball and just stood there looking at home instead of throwing, and first became his only play.

The Brewers had runners on base against Padres starter Anthony Bass all day, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances until the sixth inning. Norichika Aoki led off the inning with a single. He then stole second but got to third because the throw sailed into center field. Braun drove him in with an RBI single to cut the Padres’ lead in half, 2-1. After Aramis Ramirez and Green both flew out, the Brewers chances that inning weren’t looking very good, but then Rickie Weeks drew a walk. A batter later, Martin Maldonado once again came through in the clutch with a go-ahead, three-run blast, just like in the first game of the series. This gave the Brewers a 4-2 lead. Then, like I said earlier, Braun hit a two-run home run in the eighth that appeared to be just icing on the cake at the time. But it turns out those were two very important insurance runs that won the Brewers the game.

The ninth inning was just flat-out ugly. As far as the relief-pitching goes, it was the Brewers’ fundamentally worst inning of the year. John Axford came in to start the inning, but wound up recording just one out before the floodgates nearly opened. Chris Denorfia hit a one-out single, Venable doubled, and Logan Forsythe walked, all in sequence. Axford then gave up an RBI single to Headley, and followed that up with a bases-loaded walk to Carlos Quentin. The score was now 6-4, and marked the end of Axford’s awful outing. He threw 37 pitches and recorded just one out; more proof that he can’t pitch in non-save situations.

Then Jose Veras came in, which immediately got me thinking that the game was over, in a bad way. But, he struck out Yonder Alonso on eight pitches- all curveballs. Now there were two outs; any kind of out felt wonderful that inning. But Veras came back to walk Jesus Guzman, and now no mistakes could be made. There couldn’t be a walk, a hit, or anything. Veras needed to record an out no matter what. But, Veras came through in the clutch to strike out Baker on a 3-2 count- probably the biggest pitch any Brewers pitcher has made all year. That closed out the Brewers’ 6-5 win, and Veras was rewarded with the save.

This whole ninth inning frenzy sort of sucked up the fact that Gallardo actually turned in a decent outing after his shaky first two innings. He went seven innings while giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits. He walked two and struck out five, earning his fifth win of the year.

> Just a few days ago, I wrote about how we shouldn’t have expected Maldonado to put up very good offensive numbers, at least right away. But he’s proved everyone wrong so far, especially this series. Maldonado has brought his average up to .235 (he was down at .133 just a few days ago, mind you), and has come through when the Brewers needed him to this series. He hit a three-run home run the first game, a go-ahead RBI single yesterday (although the lead didn’t hold), and a three-run homer today. In other words, he’s been by far the Brewers’ biggest source of offense this series. By the way, I already mentioned that both home runs were go-ahead home runs, but that only adds on to his clutch factor.

> Ron Roenicke announced that, when ready, Marco Estrada will step back into the rotation in place of current fifth starter Michael Fiers. After Fiers’ first career start in Los Angeles, I was pumped and hoped he would be the five guy for the rest of the season. But, he hasn’t fared as well in his past few starts, having sub-par outings against both the Pirates and Padres, two of the worst offenses in the National League. Fiers will get at least one more start, but, at this point, I’m fine with Estrada returning to his role when he’s ready. Fiers would probably then move to the bullpen as a long man, or get sent back down.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow, but will start an Interleague series with the Royals on Tuesday. Here’s what the pitching match-ups are looking like:

Zack Greinke (7-2, 3.13 ERA) vs. Luis Mendoza (2-3, 5.36 ERA)

Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.45 ERA) vs. Luke Hochevar (3-7, 6.57 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.50 ERA) vs. Vin Mazzaro (3.60 ERA)

As you can see, Greinke is going to be starting against the Royals in the first game. He has never faced them, but is still very familiar with them. He was drafted by the Royals, and spent his entire career with them until he was traded to Milwaukee in December of 2010. Greinke has been great at home since coming to the Brewers, but Kauffman Stadium should feel like home to him.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

> Box Score

AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF-1B 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 .253
Norichika Aoki, CF-RF 2 2 1 0 2 1 0 .300
Ryan Braun, LF 3 2 2 3 0 0 0 .311
Aramis Ramirez, 3B 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 .254
Taylor Green, 1B 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 .246
Rickie Weeks, 2B 1 1 0 0 3 1 0 .158
Martin Maldonado, C 4 1 1 3 0 1 3 .235
Edwin Maysonet, SS 4 0 1 0 0 1 3 .200
Yovani Gallardo, P 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 .077
Carlos Gomez, CF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .258
Totals 29 6 6 6 5 9 11

BATTING

2B: Green (6).

3B: Maysonet (1).

HR: Maldonado (3), Braun (15).

TB: Maldonado 4, Braun 5, Maysonet 3, Aoki, Green 2.

RBI: Braun 3 (40), Maldonado 3 (10).

GIDP: Maysonet.

Team RISP: 2-for-8.

Team LOB: 5.

BASERUNNING

SB: Aoki (5).

FIELDING

E: Gallardo (1), Weeks (6).

IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Yovani Gallardo (W, 5-5) 7.0 5 2 1 2 5 1 4.21
Francisco Rodriguez 1.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 4.33
John Axford 0.1 3 3 3 2 1 0 4.37
Jose Veras (S, 1) 0.2 0 0 0 1 2 0 4.18
Totals 9.0 10 5 4 5 8 1

Pitches-strikes: Gallardo 104-64, Rodriguez 22-13, Axford 37-21, Veras 17-7.

Groundouts-flyouts: Gallardo 13-4, Rodriguez 0-2, Axford 0-0, Veras 0-0.

Batters faced: Gallardo 29, Rodriguez 5, Axford 6, Veras 3.

Inherited runners-scored: Veras 3-1.


Brewers embarrased by Padres’ bullpen

June 10, 2012

> Today was an embarrassing day for the Brewers’ offense, to say the least. They lost to the Padres, 5-2, and gave up 13 hits to the worst offense in the National League. And the Brewers could barely get any hits for themselves, despite the fact Padres starter Andrew Cashner left after just 2 1/3 innings. I thought the Brewers would start hitting after that, since Cashner was coming at them with a huge fastball- topping out at 101 MPH- and a 90 MPH change up that complimented the fastball nicely.

The Brewers got one run off Cashner, which was an RBI double by Rickie Weeks in the first inning. After he left the game, the Brewers could only get one more run: an RBI single by Martin Maldonado that gave them a temporary 2-1 lead. But the Padres jumped on Michael Fiers in the sixth inning for three runs, and a lead they wouldn’t again lose.

> I wouldn’t be as mad about the Brewers getting shut down by the Padres’ bullpen if we were still in 2011. Last year, the Pads actually had a bullpen they could brag about, with guys like Heath Bell, Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson, and so on. But that isn’t necessarily the case this year. Today, the Padres used Ross Ohlendorf (who went 4 1/3 innings of long relief), Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, Dale Thayer, and Huston Street. The Brewers should have been able to hammer Ohlendorf, like they did back in his days with the Pirates. Same goes for Street, whose save percentage against the Brewers is hovering around 60%. Other than Gregerson, none of these guys should have been too tough for the Brewers to handle. But I guess I can’t expect too much out of the Brewers’ offense with all the injuries. Regardless, though, it’s embarrassing.

> The only positive that came out of today’s game is that the Brewers only needed to use three pitchers. The enigma that is Fiers went six innings while giving up four runs on ten hits. He walked one and struck out six. Then, Manny Parra went two innings, and Francisco Rodriguez handled the ninth.

> And that’s already about it; really not much to talk about today. The Brewers will play a rubber game of this series tomorrow at 1:10 PM CT. They’ll send Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 4.50 ERA) to the mound, who will hope to come back from a sub-par outing against the Cubs his last time out. It was an odd start- he had good stuff, as shown by his ten strikeouts, but gave up five runs in six innings.

The Padres will counter with Anthony Bass (2-5, 4.21 ERA), who has shown flashes of being a decent pitcher at times this year. But, his ERA has escalated over his past few starts. Bass has never faced the Brewers.

> Anyway, I’ll have up the box score later. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

> Box Score

AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, 1B 5 0 0 0 0 3 5 .258
Norichika Aoki, RF 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 .297
Ryan Braun, LF 5 0 1 0 0 2 1 .306
Aramis Ramirez, 3B 4 0 2 0 1 0 0 .259
Rickie Weeks, 2B 4 0 1 1 0 0 3 .159
Cody Ransom, SS 2 1 0 0 2 2 2 .226
Nyjer Morgan, CF 3 0 1 0 0 2 1 .230
Martin Maldonado, C 2 0 1 1 1 0 1 .233
b-George Kottaras, PH-C 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .241
Michael Fiers, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
a-Brooks Conrad, PH 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .081
c- Taylor Green, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .245
d-Carlos Gomez, PH 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 .258
Totals 33 2 8 2 4 11 15

a-Struck out for Fiers in the 6th.

b-Struck out for Maldonado in 8th.

c-Batted for Parra in the 8th.

d-Singled for Green in the 8th.

BATTING

2B: Weeks (9), Ramirez (17).

TB: Maldonado, Braun, Ramirez 3, Weeks 2, Aoki, Morgan, Gomez.

RBI: Weeks (15), Maldonado (7).

Team RISP: 2-for-8.

Team LOB: 11.

BASERUNNING

SB: Aoki (4).

FIELDING

DP: (Ransom-Weeks-Hart), Hart.

IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Michael Fiers (L, 1-2) 6.0 10 4 4 1 6 0 4.50
Manny Parra 2.0 2 1 1 1 2 0 4.30
Francisco Rodriguez 1.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 4.50
Totals 9.0 13 5 5 2 10 0

WP: Fiers, Rodriguez.

Pitches-strikes: Fiers 91-62, Parra 32-19, Rodriguez 14-10.

Groundouts-flyouts: Fiers 2-4, Parra 2-0, Rodriguez 0-0.

Batters faced: Fiers 27, Parra 9, Rodriguez 4.


Aoki’s big day lifts Crew to series win

June 8, 2012

> Normally, Japanese imports don’t bring extra power to a Major League lineup. And usually, Norichika Aoki doesn’t do that for the Brewers. But, he did today in their 4-3 win over the Cubs in 10 innings. Aoki has had a couple of nice games for the Brewers since coming overseas to the Majors, but today was by far the best one yet. He went 3-for-5 and raised his average to .303 (although it feels like it should be a lot higher than that).

First off, though, we witnessed a very rare sighting today: Randy Wolf actually had a good outing. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up an unearned run on four hits. He walked two and struck out six. Wolf has had a very rough year up to this point, coming into today with a 6.05 ERA, but lowered it to 5.45. Arguably his two bests starts this year have come against the Cubs; he also threw six shutout innings against them back in May. Ironically, though, he hasn’t picked up a win in either of the starts.

The Brewers got in the board in the fourth on Aoki’s first hit of the day, a solo shot to make the score 1-0. Technically, Aoki did have one home run prior to this, which was an inside-the-parker against the Rockies. But this was his first legitimate, into the seats home run. Anyway, the Brewers got another run in the sixth on George Kottaras’ RBI single.

But things got bad in the late innings. Wolf started the seventh inning by walking Jeff Baker, then Joe Mather reached on an error by Cody Ransom, who was manning third base today. It looked like things wouldn’t get too out of hand after Wolf induced an Ian Stewart double play, but he then gave up an RBI double to Koyie Hill. Wolf was removed in favor of Jose Veras, who would get out of the inning and save the Brewers’ lead for the time being.

Then came the eighth inning. Francisco Rodriguez started the inning fine, retiring the first two he faced. But then he gave up a single to Alfonso Soriano, followed by a go-ahead, two-run shot by Bryan LaHair (who is slowly but surely becoming a Brewer-killer). This made the score 3-2.

But the Brewers wouldn’t go down without a fight. Aoki led off the Brewers’ eighth with a single, and, two batters later, Corey Hart tied the game with an RBI ground-rule double. But Rickie Weeks struck out with two men on to kill the rally, leaving it 3-3.

John Axford came on and threw perfect innings in the ninth and tenth. This set the stage for Aoki’s biggest moment as a Brewer, a walk-off shot on the third pitch of the tenth inning. Coming into today, Aoki hadn’t hit a ball out of a Major League park yet this year, but did it twice today.

> But K-Rod got his butt saved thanks to Aoki. Just when Rodriguez finally seemed to be settling down into the consistent setup man he was last year after being acquired by the Mets, he goes out and does this. I just don’t know about him any more. He’s like the first half Kameron Loe of last year.

> Aramis Ramirez missed his fourth consecutive start today, including the entire series against his former team. He did pinch-hit in the eighth inning, but was intentionally walked, and was pinch-run for by Zack Greinke. But hopefully him pinch-hitting a sign that he won’t be out for too much longer.

> Anyway, that’s about it. The Brewers will start a three-game set with the Padres tomorrow at 7:10 PM CT. The Brewers already lost a series to the Padres earlier this year in San Diego, which is pretty embarrassing, considering the Padres have by far the worst offense in the National League. But here’s what the pitching match-ups are looking like:

Edinson Volquez (2-5, 3.42 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (4-3, 3.39 ERA)

Eric Stults (1-2, 4.06 ERA) vs. Michael Fiers (1-1, 3.75 ERA)

Anthony Bass (2-5, 4.21 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 4.50 ERA)

And that’s about it. I’ll be starting up box scores again over the summer; I should have that up later. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

> Box Score

AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Norichika Aoki, RF 5 3 3 2 0 0 2 .303
Nyjer Morgan, CF 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 .228
b-Carlos Gomez, PH-CF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .261
Ryan Braun, LF 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 .306
Corey Hart, 1B 4 1 2 1 0 1 1 .255
George Kottaras, C 3 0 1 1 0 1 1 .245
c-Aramis Ramirez, PH 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .249
Rickie Weeks, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 1 3 .160
Cody Ransom, 3B 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .236
Edwin Maysonet, SS 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200
Randy Wolf, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .100
a-Martin Maldonado, PH-C 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .192
Totals 33 4 7 4 2 9 10

a-Struck out for Veras in the 7th.

b-Hit a sacrifice bunt for Morgan in the 8th.

c-Intentionally walked for Rodriguez in the 8th.

BATTING

2B: Hart 2 (16).

HR: Aoki 2 (3).

TB: Braun, Kottaras, Aoki 9, Hart 4.

RBI: Aoki 2 (9), Kottaras (10), Hart (26).

Team RISP: 2-for-6.

Team LOB: 6.

FIELDING

E: Ransom (3, fielding).

DP: (Wolf-Maysonet-Hart).

PITCHING

IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Randy Wolf 6.2 4 1 0 2 6 0 5.45
Jose Veras (H, 6) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.28
Francisco Rodriguez (BS, 2) 1.0 3 2 2 0 1 1 4.68
John Axford (W, 1-2) 2.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3.22
Totals 10.0 7 3 2 2 8 1

WP: Rodriguez.

Pitches-strikes: Wolf 117-76, Veras 2-2, Rodriguez 27-17, Axford 23-15.

Groundouts-flyouts: Wolf 7-4, Veras 0-1, Rodriguez 1-1, Axford 2-2.

Batters faced: Wolf 27, Veras 1, Rodriguez 6, Axford 6.

Inherited runners-scored: Veras 2-0.