Ninth-inning rally gives Brewers another comeback win

September 22, 2012

POSTGAME

> This team simply can’t lose. The Brewers once again pulled off the improbable, rallying in the ninth inning to defeat the Nationals- the best team in baseball- 4-2. Looking at the box score, you probably wouldn’t guess that it was that “improbable” of a comeback- the Brewers were only down by one going into the ninth. But, if you consider how foolish they looked in all aspects of the game during the first eight innings, then it was rather improbable.

Edwin Jackson, who for some reason dominates us, once again held off the Brewers for eight stellar innings. He gave up a run on six hits while walking none and striking out six. The only run Jackson gave up was as Jonathan Lucroy home run in the second inning, but that didn’t appear to phase him much.

After a bad first inning in which he gave up a two-run bomb to Adam LaRoche, Shaun Marcum probably had his best start since coming off the disabled list. He went six innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.

The Nationals brought on Tyler Clippard for the ninth inning, which I actually questioned. Clippard has been getting hammered recently, and Drew Storen got the save for the Nats last night, so why not put Storen back in his usual role? (If you didn’t know, Storen spent more than half of the season on the DL and Clippard filled in for him.)

Oh well; the Nats paid a big price for it. Norichika Aoki started the rally with a bunt single. Two batters, after Aoki had reached third base on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly, Ryan Braun tied the game up with an RBI single. After a Braun steal, Aramis Ramirez wasted no time giving the Crew the lead on an RBI double. The Brewers tacked on one more in the inning on Travis Ishikawa’s RBI infield hit.

John Axford came on for the ninth, and, unlike his counterpart, nailed down the save.

MY TAKE

> For some reason, Ishikawa got the start at first base today, despite the fact Corey Hart proved himself relatively healthy yesterday. It’s also worth noting Hart was hitting .545 in his career against Jackson. But that’s RRR logic for you (which, for some reason, I continue getting gas for on Twitter).

Ishikawa should have gone 0-f0r-4, but he got lucky on shortstop Ian Desmond’s misplay in the ninth.

> Sometimes I wonder if Ed Sedar knows what he’s doing as the third base coach. In the fourth inning, with the Nats ahead 2-1, Ramirez hit a soft liner into center field; not nearly deep enough to score Braun, who was on second base. But “the windmill” was at it again; he sent Braun home, and he was thrown out by center fielder Bryce Harper.

Sedar nearly left the time two years ago for a Minor League job for the Astros; I wish he would have taken them up on that.

> Jon Morosi brought up a great point on Twitter earlier today that I should have speculated on prior to this: had the Brewers not suffered the Lucroy injury, we could already be ahead of the Cardinals. Not saying that Martin Maldonado didn’t do a great job while Luc was on the DL, but keep in mind Lucroy was hitting .345 before he went on the DL. If that bat had stayed in the lineup all year, this race would definitely be a different story.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers acquired catcher Yorvit Torrealba from the Blue Jays. Not a major acquisition; probably just so the Brewers have some catching depth down the stretch behind Lucroy and Maldonado. Should the Brewers make the postseason, though, Torrealba would not be eligible for the roster (unless he were replacing an injured player).

> The Cubs walked off on the Cardinals earlier today in 11 innings. The Brewers are now 1.5 games back. Yes, this is really happening.

THE NUMBERS

> The 3-4-5 guys in the lineup tonight- Braun, Ramirez, and Lucroy- went a combined 7-for-12.

> Axford recorded his third consecutive save in as many games. That means he’ll probably be unavailable tomorrow.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Wily Peralta (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95 ERA)

Gonzalez is shooting to become the first 20-game winner in baseball this year, but the Brewers knocked him around back in Milwaukee earlier this year, so it won’t be easy.

THE EXTRAS

> The Brewers acquiring Torrealba gives me an excuse to re-visit this episode: Torrealba literally whacked an umpire in the face during a winter ball game.

> Sometime during the game- I can’t remember which inning- Brian Anderson gave us an update on the Reds-Dodgers game. He said the Reds were winning, 1-1.

OK, Brian.

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Gallardo stellar as Brewers hammer Kennedy

May 26, 2012

> Wait a second.

The Brewers have won two games in a row?

Ron Roenicke let a pitcher go into the eighth inning?

The Brewers crushed their opposing team’s ace?

> Yep, all of those things happened in the Brewers 7-1 win over the Diamondbacks, another thought-to-be contender who have been slow out of the gates. It was the Brewers’ second consecutive win, after beating the Giants the day before yesterday in the finale of that series. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s the first time the Brewers have won consecutive games since the beat the Cubs twice in a row in mid-May. Then, there was Yovani Gallardo, who was absolutely dominant last night. He went 7 1/3 innings while giving up a run on five hits. He walked three and struck out five, and lowered his ERA from 4.62 to a much more respectable 4.19. Gallardo was at just 92 pitches through seven innings, but, knowing Roenicke, I was sure that he was done. But Ron did something he’s only done one other time this year: let a pitcher throw in the eighth. Gallardo only got on out in the eighth, getting removed in favor of Francisco Rodriguez. But hopefully this a sign Roenicke is learning, as a manager, to have confidence in his starter. Prior to last night, the only other time a Brewers pitcher went into the eighth this year was when Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings against the Reds.

But onto the offense, which was hot last night. The Brewers got on the board in the second inning on a Rickie Weeks solo home run. Even though he was only hitting .150, you could just tell he wanted to hit one in Arizona to make their fans mad. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think back to the home run derby last year.)

In the fourth, Ryan Braun hammered an opposite field, two-run home run to make the score 3-0. Yesterday was Braun’s fifth anniversary of his Major League debut, so it was only fitting that he would go yard. Later in the inning, Cesar Izturis hit an RBI single. But something would happen to him later in the game, which I’ll get to later. Anyway, in the bottom of the inning, Jason Kubel hit a mammoth home run to get the D-Backs on the board. But that was Gallardo’s only blemish of the night.

Then, in the eighth, Corey Hart hit a home run off of Brewer-killer Josh Collmenter, who has struggled a lot this season. But those were the first regular season runs that the Brewers scored off Collmenter. They did get one off him in the NLDS last year, also coming on a Hart home run.

The Brewers got one more run in the ninth on a Travis Ishikawa sacrifice fly to close out their 7-1 victory.

I know I said earlier that the Brewers hammered the D-Backs’ ace. Well, Ian Kennedy is technically their ace, but hasn’t pitched like it this year. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings last night, and his ERA sits at 4.65. Not what you’d expect from a guy who won 21 games last year. But the Brewers did manage to beat him twice in the NLDS.

> Now for a disabled list update. I might as well just make these a daily thing, considering it feels like at least one Brewer gets sent to the DL every day. Izturis exited last night’s game in the sixth inning, reportedly with a strained left hamstring. As he was trying to score on a Hart single, he stepped on third funny, and just stopped in his tracks, despite the fact Ed Sedar was waving him home. Izturis was removed from the game, and Cody Ransom, who was just acquired from the D-Backs, took his place.

Losing Izturis isn’t a huge blow. In fact, the offense will probably improve without him in the lineup. But it’s unbelievable that the Brewers can have this bad of luck with injuries this year. If we lose another player or two, we might as well be the 2011 Twins.

Anyway, here’s some info on the new Brewer, Ransom. The Brewers got him off the waiver wire during their off-day, and sent down Edwin Maysonet to make room for him. We could see Ransom get a lot of playing time now with Izturis out, and I’m sort of excited to see what he can do. In his only at-bat last night, he got a single. I also heard he hit 27 home runs at Triple-A Reno, the D-Backs’ Triple-A affiliate, last year. So he could be an untapped source of power waiting to break out.

> Marco Estrada also went on the DL following the Brewers’ win over the Giants on Wednesday. He strained his right hamstring while rounding first base on a double, so you can add him to the thousands of players currently on the DL for the Brewers.

But now the Brewers need to find a replacement for the replacement (Estrada was already filling in for Chris Narveson, who is done for the season). The first possibility that would jump out at you is Manny Parra, a former starter now working in long relief. But the Brewers need to keep him in the ‘pen for long relief/left specialist, so it’s likely we’ll see a call-up from the Minors. The two most ready pitchers in Triple-A are Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta, both of whom have a bit of Major League experience. But neither of them are having years to remember- Fiers is 1-3 with a 4.55 ERA, and Peralta is 1-5 with a 5.62 ERA. Mark Rogers is also a possibility, although he’s 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA this year at Triple-A. But he put up a 1.80 ERA in a few starts at the end of 2010 for the Brewers.

If none of these guys work out, the Brewers could dig around at Double-A Huntsville, where Tyler Thornburg has been absolutely dominant. The hot prospect is 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA, but he would have to jump two levels, which is always a bit dangerous to do with a pitcher.

But we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I would love to see one of these Minor Leaguers get a chance.

> And that’s about it. The Brewersplay at 9:10 CT tonight, and will send their other ace to the mound in Greinke (5-1, 2.70 ERA). He’s 0-2 with a 6.12 ERA in his career against the D-Backs, but, with the hot streak he’s on, I think he can beat anybody. Greinke’s ERA in May so far is an astounding 1.33, so he’s hoping to finish the month strong.

The Diamondbacks will counter with rookie Wade Miley (5-1, 2.14 ERA). He made a few starts for them towards the end of 2011, but he came out of nowhere after starting this year in the bullpen, and is performing well. He has never faced the Brewers before.

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


Brewers’ coaching staff all invited back for 2012

November 9, 2011

> Today was just another typical day in the 2011 offseason thus far- the Brewers had close to no news to talk about. I get it, it’s still early on, so not many huge moves are going to be made yet. But honestly, it’s every blogger’s nightmare to have nothing to write about…

> The Brewers did stir a little today, though- they announced that the entire coaching staff has been invited back to serve under Ron Roenicke for the 2012 season. So that means at least bench coach Jerry Narron, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, bullpen coach Stan Kyles, third base coach Ed Sedar, first base coach Garth Iorg, and “eye in the sky” John Shelby will be back.

The only question mark on the Brewers’ coaching staff for 2012 is hitting coach Dale Sveum, who has interviewed for the job of manager in both Boston and the north side of Chicago. Sveum has been passed over twice for the managerial role for the Brewers, first after serving as the interim manager for 12 games in 2008, then before this year, when Roenicke was hired.

But, for some reason, I have a feeling that Sveum isn’t going to be back next year. He clearly wants to manage, and this is probably his best chance.

Anyway, with that aside, onto the Hot Stove news…

> The Phillies are apparently close to a deal with closer Ryan Madson. Reports are saying that they’re working on a four-year, $44 million contract for the veteran reliever.

This offseason’s theme must be to overpay relief pitchers as much as possible. Just the other day, the Giants signed Javier Lopez to a two-year deal worth $8.5 million, and picked up Jeremy Affeldt’s $5 million option. And now we see the Phillies pouring it on Madson. In my opinion, especially with a veteran like Madson, it’s better to sign him to a short-term deal (1-2 years). But apparently they haven’t been paying attention to the closing collapses of Trevor Hoffman, Jonathan Broxton, and Ryan Franklin. Honestly, it seems like they can just lose it overnight nowadays.

> Terry Francona interviewed for the Cardinals’ managerial vacancy today. I expected this, and everyone else probably did, too. Francona was cut loose by the Red Sox after their historical September collapse that cost them the postseason, despite the fact it wasn’t his fault- it was the guys having fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse’s fault.

Anyway, Francona is still a great manager, and the Cards probably want someone exactly like him to fill in the void left by a future Hall of Fame manager.

> I’ve recently been hearing that the Nationals and Marlins, the two teams sulking at the bottom of the NL East, are interested in pretty much every big name free agent on the market. The Nationals are reportedly showing interest in Tsuyoshi Wada (a Japanese starting pitcher), Yoennis Cespedes (a defected Cuban outfielder), C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt, Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols (as unlikely as it is to happen). And the Marlins are interested in most of the same players.

But every big name free agent is going to want to sign with a team that will have to compete with the Phillies every year in the East, right?

> So yeah, another slow news day. But, before I go, I have one thing to announce about the blog itself- we’re now part of El Maquino’s correspondents, something he started today to try and get news about every MLB team in one place. There’s going to be one representative (or more, I guess I don’t know yet) blogger for each team, and I’ve got the Brewers. So I’m looking forward to becoming part of that.

> Anyhow, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts/comments, if you’ve got any.


Brewers ride big fifth inning past Cards

August 2, 2011

10:56p I think I’ve lost count of how many times Tony Plush has come through in the clutch.

Cardinals-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Cardinals today, 6-2, in the first game of a crucial NL Central clash. The offense didn’t come until late in the game, but at least it came.

The Cardinals wasted no time getting on the board first against Brewers starter Zack Greinke, when Matt Holliday hit a two-run shot in the first inning. After that, Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one hit. But, he ran into some trouble in the fifth inning.

Yuniesky Betancourt led off the inning with a single. Casey McGehee then followed with a single of his own, then Jonathan Lucroy hit yet another single to cut the deficit to 2-1. Then, the play that happened next appeared to completely screw up the Cardinals for the rest of the game.

Zack Greinke laid down a bunt, and appeared to be trying for a safety squeeze to score McGehee from third. It looked like catcher Yadier Molina was going to throw to first to get Greinke out, but it turned out to be a fake so he could get McGehee on his way to home. One issue with that play, however: McGehee stayed at third. So the Cardinals didn’t get any outs, and that proved costly for them, because the two biggest blows of the game came next.

Corey Hart hit an RBI single to score McGehee and tie the game at 2-2. Lucroy, who ended up at third, held up for some reason, but that’s classic Ed Sedar for you. Anyway, that wouldn’t be costly, because Nyjer Morgan, the most clutch player on the team, hit a base-clearing double to give the Brewers a 5-2 lead that they wouldn’t again give up.

Carpenter’s day ended on a low note because of that one inning. He went just five innings while giving up five runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out six.

Greinke’s day also nearly ended on a low note, but he managed to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. He went six innings while giving up two runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out five.

The Brewers tacked on one more run in the seventh on Ryan Braun’s RBI double, but that would do it for the scoring.

LaTroy Hawkins and Kameron Loe combined to throw three scoreless innings to finish the game and give the Brewers their seventh consecutive win.

Middle innings not kind to Cards

I’m talking about the fifth and sixth innings. They do NOT like the Cardinals so far this year.

The main victim in the sixth this year for the Cards has been starter Jake Westbrook. It seems like he just cruises through the first five innings, then can’t get out of the sixth. Take last night for instance in their loss to the Cubs. Westbrook had a perfect game through the first 5 1/3, then gave up four runs before getting out of the sixth. Now, this sort of makes sense for a guy like Westbrook, who virtually only has one pitch: a sinker. Through the first few innings, he has it down and gets ground ball outs like crazy. Then, in the sixth, one of two things happens: he starters leaving it up in the zone, where a sinker should never be thrown, or hitters start timing it and get better swings at it. Those are the two disadvantages of being a pitcher like Westbrook.

Anyway, Westbrook’s ways appear to be starting to spread among the Cardinals. Carpenter has been having similar issues this year, at least against the Brewers. But, now we know the Cards’ weak point.

Greinke continues success at Miller Park

With his win today, Greinke is now 7-0 in his career at Miller Park (including starts while with the Royals). That means all four of his losses are on the road, so he, like the rest of the Brewers, need to pick it up away from Miller Park. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with Greinke and the Brewers doing well at Miller Park, but the splits for both of them at home and away are crazy.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers play the second game of this crucial series with the Cardinals tomorrow. Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.33 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and is coming off a solid start against the Cubs. Marcum has one career start against the Cardinals, which was earlier this year. He won that start after going seven innings and giving up three runs.

The Cardinals will counter with Jaime Garcia (10-5, 3.14 ERA), who, like Marcum, is also a 10-game winner. Garcia is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA against the Brewers in his career, including a complete game shutout against them earlier this year in St. Louis.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cubs defeated the Pirates, 5-3. They are 16.5 and 5.5 games back, respectively. (I’m also going to point out that Derrek Lee hit two home runs in his Pirates debut.)
  • The Astros defeated the Reds in extra innings, 4-3. They are 24.5 games (wow) and 7.5 games back, respectively.

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis Cardinals 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 8 0
Milwaukee Brewers 0 0 0 0 5 0 1 0 X 6 11 0

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 5 1 2 1 0 2 0 .274
Nyjer Morgan, CF 5 1 2 3 0 0 2 .324
Ryan Braun, LF 4 0 2 1 0 2 1 .324
Prince Fielder, 1B 2 0 0 0 2 1 1 .294
Felipe Lopez, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 .214
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 3 1 1 0 1 1 4 .256
Casey McGehee, 3B 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 .230
Jonathan Lucroy, C 4 1 1 1 0 2 1 .285
Zack Greinke, P 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 .231
a-Craig Counsell, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .145
b-Mark Kotsay, PH 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 .246
Total 35 6 11 6 3 9 14

a-Popped out for Greinke in the 6th.

b-Singled for Hawkins in the 8th.

BATTING

2B: Morgan (12), Braun (26).

RBI: Lucroy (44), Hart (35), Morgan 3 (27), Braun (72).

Team RISP: 4-for-11.

Team LOB: 8.

FIELDING

DP: (Lopez-Betancourt-Fielder).

Milwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Zack Greinke (W, 9-4) 6.0 7 2 2 1 5 1 4.41
LaTroy Hawkins (H, 16) 2.0 1 0 0 2 1 0 1.89
Kameron Loe 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.24

WP: Hawkins.

Pitches-strikes: Greinke 103-62, Hawkins 27-14, Loe 13-8.

Groundouts-flyouts: Greinke 8-4, Hawkins 3-1, Loe 3-0.

Batters faced: Greinke 25, Hawkins 9, Loe 3.