Henderson joins the club

August 16, 2012

POSTGAME

> Coming into this road trip, I thought the Brewers were going to win six straight games against the National League’s two worst teams.

Unfortunately, I once again underestimated the ways of the Brewers’ bullpen.

The Brewers lost to the Rockies today, 7-6, and were swept by the NL’s second worst team. That comes off the heels of a series loss to the worst NL team, the Astros. The Brewers finished 1-5 on this road trip, and you can say this is the new low point of the season. That is, if you’ve already gotten over the thousand other previous low points.

The Rox jumped on Mark Rogers right away in the first inning, getting three runs on RBI hits from Ramon Hernandez and Chris Nelson. They added another in the second inning on a solo shot from the hot-hitting Eric Young Jr.

Guillermo Moscoso, spot-starting in place of Drew Pomeranz, danced around danger through the first few innings, stranding seven runners through the first four. But the Brewers finally solved him in the fifth. Moscoso walked Carlos Gomez to lead off the inning, then gave up three straight hits to Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez, and Corey Hart. Moscoso’s 75-pitch limit then came into play, so Jim Tracy brought in Carlos Torres, who only continued the trouble. Torres started his outing by hitting Jonathan Lucroy to load the bases, then gave up a game-tying single to Nyjer Morgan to make the score 4-4. Jean Segura hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly, and that was all the Brewers would get.

Rogers gave up a game-tying single in the bottom of the inning to Nelson, but the Brewers answered back with another g0-ahead hit in the sixth, this one from Morgan.

Up until the ninth inning, the bullpen was doing fine. Jim Henderson came on for the ninth, and struck out the first batter he faced. But, he proceeded to give up back-to-back singles to Wilin Rosario and Young. Then, as if on cue, Tyler Colvin hit a walk-off two-run double.

Make that three closers in the ‘pen who can’t get the job done.

Oh well, nothing here we haven’t seen before. Useless to try and explain it. Again.

MELKY’S OUT

> In very surprising news today, Melky Cabrera was hit with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone. That means he’s out for the rest of the season, and potentially the National League Division Series, should the Giants somehow make it there without his presence.

Cabrera was hitting .346 while leading the Majors in hits with 159. He was on pace to have a career year and was igniting an otherwise weak Giants offense. He was also the MVP of the All-Star Game.

Now, I’m not going to come down on Cabrera here, because I know I’m going to get nothing but hate as a Brewers fan. People on Twitter were actually directly addressing Brewers fans not to get cocky during this situation, for some reason. Don’t know why you’d call out fans of a team whose MVP was exonerated before even getting on Cabrera- who admitted to taking an alleged substance-  for what he did.

Oh well. Hopefully this humbles any Giants fans who were mocking Ryan Braun earlier this season (I’m pretty sure he was booed in San Francisco).

THE NEWS

> Melky was banned for 50 games, but hopefully you already know that.

> In the midst of the slump I wrote about last night, Braun received an off-day.

> The Brewers are planning for Shaun Marcum to return sometime next week. He’ll make his second- and hopefully last- rehab start tomorrow for the Timber Rattlers.

> Felix Hernandez threw the 23rd perfect game in history today against the Rays. I watched the last three innings, and I don’t know what he looked like early in the game, but he was utterly nasty those last three innings. Rays hitters weren’t even remotely close to making solid contact, or any contact at all, for that matter: King Felix struck out 12.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers haven’t won a series at Coors Field since 2005. It all makes sense now.

> This was Henderson’s first career blown save, so maybe it’s not worth throwing him in the trash yet. I still trust him more than John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Phillies (at home, thankfully):

Cliff Lee (2-7, 3.85 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.36 ERA)

??? vs. ???

??? vs. ???

 

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Brewers avoid utter embarrassment

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> A sweep at the hands of the Astros would have made the Brewers truly hit rock bottom. But, they were able to avoid a sweep by the worst team in baseball, defeating the Astros 5-3.

Yovani Gallardo was able to go deep into the game, throwing 7 2/3 solid innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out eight. It was his longest outing of the year, and the second most pitches he’d thrown (114). Jose Veras came in to get the last out of what could have been a rocky eighth inning, then Kameron Loe recorded the save in the ninth (which was also pretty shaky).

Gallardo had a rough first inning, giving up back-t0-back doubles to Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez to start the game. But, Gallardo himself tied the game with an RBI single in the second inning. Rickie Weeks gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, and Ryan Braun followed that up with an RBI groundout to make the score 3-1. Gonzalez’s RBI groundout in the bottom of the inning cut into the Brewers’ lead, but Corey Hart added an insurance run in the sixth on 22nd home run of the year. The Brewers added another important run in the eighth on Martin Maldonado’s RBI double. The last Astros run came on Scott Moore’s RBI single in the eighth.

THE ROTATION SITUATION

> The other day, Ron Roenicke announced that the Brewers might start monitoring pitch count and the number of innings that pitchers throw, also mentioning that a few could even be shut down. If you don’t already know, I’m strongly against pitch count and the emphasis it has on today’s game of baseball, so naturally I’m opposed to this idea. But let me explain why I think it’s useless.

The only name Roenicke mentioned as to who would probably shut down is Mike Fiers, who is by far the best pitcher in the Brewers’ rotation right now. His 1.80 ERA makes him a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. So why even think about shutting him down?

According to Roenicke, the Brewers want to “protect his arm.” After an eight-inning performance his last time out, Fiers is at 80 innings on the year (excluding 55 innings in the Minors). If you add those together, he’s at a total of 135 innings, and Fiers has never thrown more than 135 innings, which is RRR’s excuse to possibly shut him down.

And that’s what I don’t understand. Not letting a young a guy throw more innings than he has before isn’t going to help him develop. He has to get out of his comfort zone and throw more innings; he’s in the Majors now.

I do understand trying to protect his arm, but that’s pretty pointless, considering Fiers doesn’t have much injury history. For a guy like Mark Rogers, who has a ton of injuries on his ledger, sure, I can cope with not letting him throw as many innings until we know he’s back to 100%. But Fiers is at 100% right now, and is doing some of the best pitching the Brewers have seen in quite some time. So why take that away?

Roenicke has also suggested going to a six-man rotation, which would also hold back the innings of each pitcher. I’m not for that, either, but at least the guys would continue to pitch, instead of being shut down for the year. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the six-man rotation.

RRR also tried to compare this to what the Rockies are doing. Please, our pitching staff isn’t that bad. (Unless we’re talking about the bullpen, which we aren’t.)

THE NEWS

> Weeks was tried again at the top of the order, a role he lost earlier this year after his awful start. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, so I doubt we’ll see him there tomorrow.

> Two former Brewers took the mound today. Chris Capuano took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against the Marlins before it was broken up by Jose Reyes. Ben Sheets will try to continue his astounding comeback tonight against the Mets, which will be broadcasted on ESPN.

> The Cubs picked up former Brewers starter Seth McClung today, signing him to a Minor League deal. The Brewers tried McClung again this year in the Minors, but just couldn’t control the damage, so he was released two weeks ago.

The Cubs have already tried something similar to this. Last year, they signed former Brewer Doug Davis to a Minor League deal, and he eventually reached the Majors. But that experiment didn’t work out too well, and I doubt McClung will either.

> One of the Brewers’ first round picks in this year’s draft, Victor Roache, was cleared to take dry swings today. He’d been out for over four months due to major arm surgery.

THE NUMBERS GAME

> Jean Segura continues to improve at the plate, as he went 2-for-4 today. His average is up to .250.

> Hart’s home run today snapped him out of an o-for-11 slump.

> This was Gallardo’s third consecutive start in which he himself picked up an RBI.

> Loe’s save was just the third of his career.

> Probables for the upcoming series in Colorado:

Mike Fiers (6-4, 1.80 ERA) vs. Jeff Francis (3-4, 6.06 ERA)

Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.46 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 5.06 ERA)

Mark Rogers (0-1, 4.08 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-7, 5.07 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> This play may have been the Brewers’ play of the year, and sparks some excitement for the Segura/Weeks double play tandem.

> Hart technically had the only Brewers home run this series, but Mike Vassallo might disagree with that.


After slow start, Brewers storm back to crush Rox

April 22, 2012

> The Brewers’ offense has lookedextremely shabby early on this season, as three of their regulars came into today hitting below .200. For the first four innings of the game today, it looked like that trend was going to continue. But, from the fifth inning on, the Brewers put on one of their best offensive runs of the season, and showed they weren’t screwing around.

> The Brewers took down the Rockies today, 9-4. By that blowout score, you wouldn’t have thought that the offense struggled at all. But it did- especially during the first four innings, like I said before. But, after managing to put up a few runs in the middle innings, the bats broke out in the seventh inning, unlike they ever had prior to this game.

Marco Estrada got the start today in place of the injured Chris Narveson (more on that later). The news had just come to him yesterday, so no one knew how he would react. But, like he always does when he’s thrown into the fire that is the starting rotation, Estrada had a stellar start. He went five innings while giving up a run on two hits. He struck out nine and walked none. The reason he only went five innings is because Ron Roenicke put a pitch limit of around 80 pitches on Estrada, but he definitely could have gone longer with the way he was throwing the ball.

Onto the offense. For the first four innings, Rockies starter Drew Pomeranz was perfect, and it looked like he was going to throw the second perfecto of the day (also more on that later). He was finally given a run to work with in the fourth on Troy Tulowitzki’s solo home run. But, in the fifth, I don’t know what happened, but Pomeranz just lost it. He started the inning by walking Aramis Ramirez- who is hitting .151 now- on four pitches. Corey Hart followed that up with a ground-rule double to put runners on second and third with no outs. After that, Pomeranz gifted the Brewers a tie game on a wild pitch. Alex Gonzalez then hit an RBI double to make the score 2-1. Despite the fact Pomeranz would go on to walk two more batters and his defense would make a few errors behind him, he didn’t give up another run that inning.

In the sixth inning, Roenicke made yet another idiotic bullpen move: he put in Manny Parra in a 2-1 game. He naturally struggled and gave up a run, then Mike McClendon, who came in after Parra got two outs, gave up the lead, making it 3-2. But, in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Braun tied the game with a solo homer, which broke him out of a huge slump- he didn’t have a hit the entire homestand prior to that at-bat.

But the seventh inning is when the Brewers broke loose. Rickie Weeks hit an RBI triple to give the Brewers a 4-3 lead, followed by a Carlos Gomez RBI single. Braun then hit the second RBI triple of the inning to make the score 5-3. Then, after an intentional walk to Hart, Gonzalez murdered a line drive blast into the Brewers’ bullpen to pretty much put the icing on the cake for the Brewers.

The Brewers definitely needed a game like this, though. Despite the fact they have the highest team ERA in the NL, their pitching has been pretty good lately; the bats just haven’t quite heated up yet. After today, it looks the offense will start to pick it up.

> The reason Estrada was starting today was because of an injury to Narveson. Apparently, the morning after he got shell-shocked by the Braves, Narveson said his shoulder was sore. He got an MRI, which revealed at least one significant tear on his rotator cuff, a vital part of the shoulder. If this holds true, Narveson will more than likely have season-ending surgery, which is too bad, since he just had surgery at the end of last season.

But I wonder if the MRI got it wrong for once. I’m pretty sure if you tore your rotator cuff, your shoulder would be a little more than just “sore.” So maybe it’s just a pulled muscle or something. But I guess I wouldn’t know; I’ve never torn my rotator cuff, and hopefully never will.

Anyway, McClendon was recalled from Triple-A because of this (which is why I question Roenicke’s decision to throw him into a pressure situation like that right away). The Brewers also called up prospect Wily Peralta because Kameron Loe is taking a bereavement leave, and will be gone at least three days. So that’s probably just a temporary move, but I’d like to see Peralta get some action in the Majors for once.

> This doesn’t have to do with the Brewers, but Philip Humber of the White Sox threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history today. It came against the Mariners, who can’t score runs to save their lives anyway, but it’s a historic feat nonetheless.

The 27th out of the game was ex-Cardinal Brendan Ryan, who struck out swinging (sort of) on an awful 3-2 pitch. Had he not swung, Ryan would have walked, and broken up the perfect game. He check-swung, though, and we may never know if he swung or not, but it was called that he broke the plane. It was an awful pitch, though, so I don’t even see how he could have even moved that bat at a pitch like that.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the rubber game of this series tomorrow at 1:10 PM CT. Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 4.58 ERA) will go for the Brewers, coming off a decent start against the Dodgers. But he’s been awful in his career against the Rockies, going 0-4 with a 6.69 ERA against them. Most of those bad numbers have come at Coors Field, though, where Gallardo’s career ERA is miles over 10.00.

The Rox will counter with Jeremy Guthrie (1-1, 7.79 ERA), whom they acquired from the Orioles during the offseason. Guthrie has never faced the Brewers in his career.

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