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 swept in Atlanta… again

April 17, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I’ve been pretty busy lately. But, then again, there’s been just about nothing to post about: except the Brewers getting embarrassed by a couple of young Braves pitchers, whom they should have crushed.

> The Brewers were swept in a three-game series by the Braves at Turner Field- again. They now have a seven-game losing streak going in Atlanta, a venue that just hasn’t been kind to them ever since 2010. They lost the first game, 10-8, after an amazing comeback of five runs. But a broken bat single by Dan Uggla in the eighth- which wouldn’t have gotten through if the Brewers didn’t use such a stupid shift on him- decided the fate of the game. They lost the second game, 2-1, despite a stellar effort by Shaun Marcum. He gave up both runs, but neither were his fault (although one was earned, and I’m not sure why). The Brewers were shut down by Mike Minor in that game, a somewhat inconsistent young pitcher entering his second full season in the Majors. The Brewers lost the last game, 7-4, following a rough outing by Chris Narveson.

So the only bright spots in this series were Marcum’s good start, and the fact that Corey Hart managed to stay hot, as he hit two homers and a few doubles.

> But now the Brewers are coming home, where they were extremely successful last year. They’ll start a three-game series against the Dodgers, and will thankfully miss Clayton Kershaw’s spot in the rotation, so they’ve got a good chance to win all three. Anyway, here are the match-ups:

Chad Billingsley (2-0, 0.63 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 5.91 ERA)

Chris Capuano (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (1-1, 6.75 ERA)

Aaron Harang (0-1, 5.91 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (0-1, 10.61 ERA)

Gallardo will make his third start tomorrow. His first was a disaster against the Cardinals, but his next one against the Cubs wasn’t so bad. Gallardo is 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA in his career against the Dodgers, which looks bad, I know. But, coming into last year, his ERA against the Dodgers was a whopping 10.80, and he changed that with a stellar eight inning, one run outing against them in August (or somewhere around there). Unfortunately, he took a no-decision that day.

Billingsley, meanwhile, is off to an unbelievable start, shown by his sub-1.00 ERA. He’s given up just one run so far, which was a home run to Clint Barmes of the Pirates. He’s 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA in his career against the Crew.

> Anyway, that’s about it. 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.


Greinke hurls longest start of season in crazy win over Bucs

August 13, 2011

10:18p It seems like every Brewers game I go to ends well.

Pirates-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Pirates (shocker) today, 7-2, and continued their domination of their NL Central rivals. They also improved to 6-0 against the Pirates this season, and 34-3 against them at Miller Park since the start of 2007.

The Brewers continued the trend of killing Pirates pitching, starting with Paul Maholm. Josh Wilson got the Brewers on the board in the second inning with an RBI single. Then, in the third, Casey McGehee hit a rare two-RBI triple to extend the Brewers lead to 3-0. (The reason I say rare is because of McGehee’s extreme slowness.) The Brewers also tacked on another run in the fifth on Ryan Braun’s sacrifice fly.

Maholm’s night ended after just five innings, as he gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits. He didn’t have a walk or a strikeout.

Anyway, until the ninth inning, the story of the night was Zack Greinke. He cruised through the first seven innings until running into some trouble in the eighth. He gave up RBI doubles to Michael McKenry and Andrew McCutchen to cut the Bucs’ deficit to 4-2 and was lifted after recording two outs in the eighth. But, this was Greinke’s longest outing as a Brewer at 7 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out nine. Francisco Rodriguez finished off the eighth for him to set the stage for a crazy bottom of the inning.

Joe Beimel came in to pitch the eighth for the Pirates, but his outing wouldn’t last very long. He gave up back-t0-back homers to Braun and Prince Fielder before being lifted, but the inning wouldn’t stop there. Jose Veras came in to replace Beimel, and, after recording an out, gave up a double to Yuniesky Betancourt. After Nyjer Morgan advanced him to third with a groundout, Jonathan Lucroy hit an RBI infield single to score him. Then, since Lucroy got on, Ron Roenicke did something crazy: he let Rodriguez hit.

It was K-Rod’s second Major League at-bat, since he never got to bat while with the Angels due to the DH rule, and only had one at-bat with the Mets. But, sure enough, what does K-Rod do? He took advantage of a Pirates’ defense that had no idea what they were doing and got infield hit; his first hit of his career.

Unfortunately, after the inning ended, he tried to come back out to pitch the ninth. But, apparently, he left the game with a leg cramp. It’s nothing serious according to Ron Roenicke, so we probably don’t need to worry. So Kameron Loe came in and pitched a perfect ninth inning to finish off the Bucs.

Weeks, Narveson on road to recovery

Injured Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks and pitcher Chris Narveson are both doing well in coming back from the DL, according to Roenicke. Weeks is apparently ahead of schedule and said his ankle is completely healed. Narveson, on the other “hand,” said he’s going to play catch tomorrow to see how his injured left hand feels. (That was an awful pun, I know. Just thought I’d give it a shot.) As far as injured center fielder Carlos Gomez’s recovery is going, I haven’t heard anything about that yet.

Greinke turning around his season

Greinke has noticeably been a completely different pitcher during the second half of this season, and his statistics are showing it. Since the All-Star break, Greinke is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA. Obviously, he isn’t at the level he was in 2009 when he won the American League Cy Young Award with the Royals, but he’s getting closer.

Going into the All-Star break, Greinke had was 7-3, despite a 5.45 ERA. Looks like he finally figured out that he needed to pick it up.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play the second game of this series with the Pirates tomorrow on FOX, which is a national station. Marco Estrada (2-7, 4.80 ERA) will be making a spot start for the injured Narveson. This will be his first start since May 4th, when he filled in for Greinke while he was injured.

The Pirates will counter with Kevin Correia (12-10, 4.78 ERA), who isn’t exactly the same pitcher he was at the beginning of the year. Correia is 10-2 on the road this season, but the Brewers have already beaten him twice this season- once at Miller Park, and once at PNC Park. Correia is 2-5 with a 5.71 ERA against the Brewers in his career.

Zambrano has another episode…

This doesn’t have anything to do with the Brewers, but it’s worth posting, nonetheless. Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano made yet another scene earlier today in his start against the Braves. After giving up five home runs (two of which were to Dan Uggla), Zambrano vented out his frustration on Chipper Jones, nearly hitting him with a pitch well inside. Zambrano was ejected (like we haven’t heard that one before), and, instead of blowing up like usual, just walked off the mound and into the dugout, while the rest of the benches cleared. He was also seen laughing with a camera guy next to the Cubs’ dugout, so one can only guess what he was saying to the guy.

Anyway, it didn’t stop there. Later, Cubs manager Mike Quade went into the clubhouse only to find Zambrano’s locker empty. Players were spreading rumors of Zambrano possibly retiring, and those rumors eventually reached the media, so now it’s a national thing.

It’s not often you here about a 30-year old pitcher retiring, unless there’s some kind of medical issue involved. But who knows what goes on inside Zambrano’s head, so it’s probably better just to let him retire or do what he wants than to question his decision.