NLCS draws even

October 22, 2012

> The Giants just continue to win elimination games, and their 6-1 win over the Cardinals tonight added to that streak. The NLCS is now tied at 3-3, with the deciding Game 7 to be played tomorrow.

Ryan Vogelsong was the story tonight, as he went seven innings while giving up a run on four hit. He walked one and struck out nine. He finishes with a 2-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in the NLCS, and has been the one consistent pitcher for the Giants this postseason.

The offense for the Giants wasn’t bad, either. Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval, and Brandon Belt each had two hits. In Scutaro’s case, it was his fifth multi-hit game of this series alone, and he has at least one hit in every game. If the Giants wind up pulling this off tomorrow, Scutaro could almost win the NLCS MVP by default (that, or he and Vogelsong should be co-MVPs).

That Giants offense was helped by the Cardinals’ defense, though, who screwed over Chris Carpenter again. Tonight it was shortstop Pete Kozma’s error in the second inning that blew open a four-run frame for the Giants.

THE NEWS

> The Diamondbacks made a pair of early-offseason trades yesterday. First, they acquired shortstop Cliff Pennington and infield prospect Yordy Cabrera from the Athletics in exchange for outfielder Chris Young. Then, the D-backs turned around and traded Cabrera to the Marlins for reliever Heath Bell.

I have to question this series of moves- particularly the Bell move- but Kevin Towers usually seems to know what he’s doing.

> The Red Sox hired John Farrell as their new manager.

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised Curtis Granderson’s option for 2013.
Diamondbacks: Exercised J.J. Putz’s option for 2013; designated ex-Brewer Takashi Saito for assignment.
Rays: Outrighted Wilking Rodriguez and Rich Thompson to Triple-A.
Red Sox: Sent Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays as part of compensation for Farrell.
Blue Jays: Sent David Carpenter to the Red Sox, also part of the Farrell deal.

THE EXTRAS

> I realized today that this Reds commercial has disappeared from TV stations broadcasting the postseason. Makes sense, since the Reds were eliminated, but man am I happy it’s gone.

> The only way Drew Brees can make himself look good: star in a commercial with One Direction.

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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.


Brewers reportedly decline Yuni’s option; full list of free agents

October 31, 2011

I didn’t look much at news today because I was busy, but here was the first thing I saw when I finally did- “Brewers decline Betancourt’s option.” My day was instantly made.

That’s right, Yuniesky Betancourt-haters (including myself). He probably won’t be playing shortstop for the Brewers next year, which means better defense at that position and better offense in the lineup- hopefully.

Betancourt had a pretty bad 2011. But it may have been good for his standards, actually. He hit .252 with 13 home runs and 68 RBI. All of those stats are worse than his 2010 season with the Royals, in which he hit .259 with 16 home runs and 78 RBI. Anyway, if you add his 2011 stats to his lazy defense at shortstop, you can see why the Brewers declined his option.

My guess is that Doug Melvin will make a push for Jose Reyes, the Mets’ All-Star shortstop who is now a free agent. His .336 batting average won him the NL batting title (although he technically cheated to get it). Reyes doesn’t hit for much power, but he did lead the NL in triples with 16. His offense, defense, and speed all make him a giant upgrade from Betancourt.

Oh yeah, and the Brewers are also expected to be top contender for lefty starter C.J. Wilson. He went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA as the ace of the Rangers this year, but he had an ugly postseason, as he went 0-3 with an ERA hovering around 7.00. But, he would make a great addition to the Brewers’ rotation, and would probably push lefty Chris Narveson (11-8, 4.45 ERA) back into the bullpen.

And just a couple more things before I move onto my next topic- the Brewers’ declined reliever Francisco Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option, but that was expected, as there was no way the Brewers would have been able to afford that. Also, Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed as one of the possible managerial candidates for the Red Sox. No idea why they’d want him, unless they’ve already given up on next year.

Anyway, onto the next topic. Here is a list of every free agent from every team, with their respective position next to their name:

Atlanta Braves

Alex Gonzalez, SS

Scott Linebrink, RP

Nate McLouth, OF

George Sherrill, RP

Jack Wilson, SS

Arizona Diamondbacks

Jason Marquis, SP

John McDonald, SS

Xavier Nady, OF

Lyle Overbay, 1B

Baltimore Orioles

Vladimir Guerrero, DH

Cesar Izturis, SS

Boston Red Sox

Erik Bedard, SP

J.D. Drew, OF

Conor Jackson, OF

Trever Miller, RP

David Ortiz, DH

Jonathan Papelbon, RP

Jason Varitek, C

Tim Wakefield, P

Chicago Cubs

John Grabow, RP

Reed Johnson, OF

Rodrigo Lopez, SP

Ramon Ortiz, RP

Carlos Pena, 1B

Kerry Wood, RP

Cincinnati Reds

Ramon Hernandez, C

Edgar Renteria, SS

Dontrelle Willis, SP

Cleveland Indians

Chad Durbin, RP

Kosuke Fukudome, OF

Jim Thome, DH

Colorado Rockies

Aaron Cook, SP

Mark Ellis, 2B

Kevin Millwood, SP

J.C. Romero, RP

Chicago White Sox

Mark Buehrle, SP

Ramon Castro, C

Juan Pierre, OF

Omar Vizquel, SS

Detroit Tigers

Wilson Betemit, SS

Carlos Guillen, 2B

Magglio Ordonez, OF

Brad Penny, SP

Ramon Santiago, 2B

Joel Zumaya, RP

Florida Marlins

Greg Dobbs, 3B

Jose Lopez, 2B

Javier Vasquez, SP

Houston Astros

Clint Barmes, SS

Jason Michaels, OF

Kansas City Royals

Bruce Chen, SP

Jeff Francis, SP

Jason Kendall, C

Los Angeles Angels

Russell Branyan, OF

Joel Pineiro, SP

Horacio Ramirez, RP

Fernando Rodney, RP

Los Angeles Dodgers

Rod Barajas, C

Casey Blake, 2B

Jonathan Broxton, RP

Jamey Carroll, SS

Jon Garland, SP

Hiroki Kuroda, SP

Mike MacDougal, RP

Aaron Miles, 2B

Vicente Padilla, SP

Juan Rivera, 1B

Milwaukee Brewers

Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

Craig Counsell, SS

Prince Fielder, 1B

Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B

LaTroy Hawkins, RP

Mark Kotsay, OF

Francisco Rodriguez, RP

Takashi Saito, RP

Minnesota Twins

Matt Capps, RP

Michael Cuddyer, OF

Jason Kubel, OF

Joe Nathan, RP

New York Mets

Miguel Batista, RP

Chris Capuano, SP

Scott Hairston, OF

Willie Harris, 2B

Jason Isringhausen, RP

Jose Reyes, SS

Chris Young, SP

New York Yankees

Luis Ayala, RP

Eric Chavez, 3B

Bartolo Colon, SP

Freddy Garcia, SP

Andruw Jones, OF

Damaso Marte, RP

Sergio Mitre, RP

Jorge Posada, DH

Oakland Athletics

Coco Crisp, OF

David DeJesus, OF

Rich Harden, SP

Hideki Matsui, DH

Josh Willingham, OF

Philadelphia Phillies

Ross Gload, OF

Raul Ibanez, OF

Brad Lidge, RP

Ryan Madson, RP

Roy Oswalt, SP

Jimmy Rollins, SS

Brian Schneider, C

Pittsburgh Pirates

Derrek Lee, 1B

Ryan Ludwick, OF

San Diego Padres

Heath Bell, RP

Aaron Harang, SP

Brad Hawpe, 1B

Chad Qualls, RP

Seattle Mariners

Josh Bard, C

Adam Kennedy, 2B

Wily Mo Pena, OF

Jamey Wright, RP

San Francisco Giants

Carlos Beltran, OF

Pat Burrell, OF

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Mark De Rosa, 2B

Guillermo Mota, RP

Cody Ross, OF

St. Louis Cardinals

Edwin Jackson, SP

Gerald Laird, C

Albert Pujols, 1B

Nick Punto, 2B

Arthur Rhodes, RP

Tampa Bay Rays

Juan Cruz, RP

Johnny Damon, DH

Casey Kotchman, 1B

Texas Rangers

Endy Chavez, OF

Michael Gonzalez, RP

Darren Oliver, RP

Matt Treanor, C

Brandon Webb, SP

C.J. Wilson, SP

Toronto Blue Jays

Shawn Camp, RP

Frank Francisco, RP

Kelly Johnson, 2B

Jose Molina, C

Washington Nationals

Rick Ankiel, OF

Todd Coffey, RP

Alex Cora, 3B

Jonny Gomes, OF

Livan Hernandez, SP

Laynce Nix, OF

Ivan Rodriguez, C

Chien-Ming Wang, SP


Brewers overcome Greinke’s shaky start, take 2-0 lead

October 3, 2011

Zack Greinke’s first postseason start probably didn’t go the way he or the Brewers wanted it to, but, in the end, it didn’t matter.

The Brewers now have a 2-0 advantage over the Diamondbacks in the NLDS with a big win today, 9-4. As I said before, Greinke’s first career postseason start didn’t go well, as he allowed three home runs for the first time this season. But, thanks to a big sixth inning by the Brewers’ offense, they remain undefeated during Greinke’s starts at Miller Park.

Ryan Braun got the Brewers on the board early, crushing a two-run home run off D-backs starter Daniel Hudson. The Diamondbacks answered in the second inning, as Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo shot off Greinke in his first postseason at-bat. But, the Brewers extended their lead to 4-1 in the third inning, thanks to a RBI single by Prince Fielder, followed by a RBI triple by Rickie Weeks. Hopefully, that triple by Weeks is a sign that his ankle is getting closer to 100%.

The Diamondbacks got back in it in the fourth inning on a Chris Young homer, then, in the fifth, Justin Upton hit a game-tying two-run shot to knot the game at 4-4. That ended up being Greinke’s last inning.

But, this all set the stage for the Brewers’ giant sixth inning. After Hudson gave up a one-out double to Jerry Hairston Jr., he was removed from the game for righty-specialist Brad Ziegler. But Ziegler’s outing ended up being worse than Hudson’s. After he committed an apocalyptic act- walking Yuniesky Betancourt on four pitches- Jonathan Lucroy laid down a suicide squeeze. But, Ziegler got greedy and tried to throw home on the play, resulting in an error. So a run scored and there were guys on second and third. But it wouldn’t stop there. Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Braun hit consecutive RBI singles to make the game 9-4, where it would remain the rest of the game. Oh yeah, and after Ziegler’s appearance, his ERA this postseason is 108.00. That’s what four runs in one third of inning will give you.

Remember Lucroy’s bloop RBI single yesterday off of D-backs ace Ian Kennedy? Well, apparently Kennedy was questioned about why he didn’t intentionally walk Lucroy to get to Yovani Gallardo, the pitcher, batting behind Lucroy. But here’s what Kennedy said:

“Not at all. I made my pitch and he placed it just right. Had him 1-and-2, there’s no thought of a walk. There was a guy who can’t really hit, and Galardo can swing it a little bit, so there was no thought at all, for me at least.”

So, in other words, he said Lucroy “can’t really hit.” Maybe he doesn’t swing the bat great compared to Miguel Montero, Kennedy’s typical batterymate, but he was in no position to say he “can’t really hit.” But Kennedy made a couple of idiot decisions yesterday. Not only did he pitch to Lucroy, but he decided to pitch to Fielder with a base open and two outs, and it resulted in a two-run homer. I thought a guy with 21 wins would be smarter than that, but apparently not.

But I did notice that, after Lucroy ended up at second after his suicide squeeze, he did a more emphatic “beast mode” than he usually does. I also noticed him glaring at the Diamondbacks’ dugout for a few seconds. I wonder who on earth he could have been staring at?

The Brewers have a chance to clinch a NLCS appearance after an off-day tomorrow in Arizona. They’ll send their best starter on the road- Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA)- to the mound. Marcum was 8-3 with a 2.21 ERA on the road this season, which was by far the best out of any Brewers’ starter on the road. He’s 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA in his career against the Diamondbacks, but here’s a funny stat- he has a grand slam against them this year.

The Diamondbacks will counter with rookie Josh Collmenter (10-10, 3.38 ERA). Normally, I wouldn’t be too worried about a rookie starter, especially in the postseason, but there a three main reasons I am this time around. First off- you can see he’s been one of the better rookie pitchers this year, putting up a 3.38 ERA in 154 innings of work. Secondly, the Brewers have sucked against rookie pitching this year. They’ve allowed the second lowest rookie ERA in the National League this year. Lastly, Collmenter has two career starts against the Brewers this season, and hasn’t allowed a run in 14 innings of work. Hopefully, the Brewers have seen him enough to get something going against him, but it’s the Brewers. You never know with them and how much they let rookie pitchers tear through their lineup…