Game of endurance goes in Brewers’ favor

September 8, 2012

POSTGAME

> Last night may have been the biggest win of the season for the Brewers up to this point. After a two and a half hour rain delay and a four and a half hour game, they came out on top against the Cardinals in 13 innings, 5-4.

Since Yovani Gallardo was getting the ball, I’m pretty sure all Brewer fans were bracing themselves for the worst. Yo is terrible against the Cards in his career, with a 1-9, 7.05 ERA mark against them going in. And he got off to a bad start, as the Cardinals jumped on him for two in the first inning on an RBI double from Matt Carpenter and a sacrifice fly from Allen Craig. After that, though, Gallardo held serve against the team he’s struggled so much against, going six innings while giving up just those two runs. He struck out six and walked none.

The first Brewers run didn’t come until the fourth inning on Taylor Green’s RBI groundout. Other than that, Kyle Lohse didn’t show many signs of breaking, until the seventh inning. He walked Martin Maldonado and gave up a single to Jeff Bianchi, which prompted Mike Matheny to remove Lohse in favor of Edward Mujica. Mujica gave up what looked like a routine line out from Travis Ishikawa, but right fielder Carlos Beltran misplayed it and let the ball get past him. Ishikawa was given an RBI double.

The Brewers then took the lead in the eighth. Carlos Gomez hit what would have been an infield single anyway, but shortstop Daniel Descalso threw the ball away, allowing Corey Hart to score from second base. After Gomez advanced to second on a stolen base, Maldonado came through with an RBI single to give the Brewers a 4-2 lead.

But this was far from over. Jim Henderson walked the lead-0ff man in the eighth, like he always seems to do. Then, after recording two outs, he gave up a game-tying home run to Yadier Molina.

The next run didn’t come until the 13th inning, when Braun dealt the Cards their finishing blow with a go-ahead solo shot off Lance Lynn. John Axford came on to nail down the save for a game that ended at 2:05 A.M. CT. Yes, you read that correctly.

[EM’s coverage]

THE NEWS

> Green got the start in place of Aramis Ramirez, who’s still out with an oblique strain/bad back.

But here’s Green’s side of the story. He drove from Nashville to his home in Vancouver (God knows why), only to get the call from the Brewers after he got there. Apparently he lives four hours from the airport, so he had to make that drive, then make the four and a half hour flight to St. Louis so he could be in the starting lineup. Tack on the rain delay and 13 inning game, and Green had himself quite a day.

> Ramirez hopes to return to the lineup for tonight’s game.

> MLB.com re-ranked their top 100 prospects and each team’s top 20 following the September call-ups. Here are the Brewers’ top 20:

1. Jean Segura, SS
2. Tyler Thornburg, SP

3. Taylor Jungmann, SP
4. Jed Bradley, SP
5. Wily Peralta, SP
6. Johnny Hellweg, SP
7. Scooter Gennett, 2B
8. Hunter Morris, 1B
9. Logan Schafer, OF
10. Jimmy Nelson, SP
11. Clint Coulter, C
12. Kentrail Davis, OF
13. Ariel Pena, SP
14. Drew Gagnon, SP
15. Victor Roache, OF
16. Caleb Gindl, OF
17. David Goforth, SP
18. Yadiel Rivera, SS
19. Khris Davis, OF
20. Jorge Lopez, SP/RP

THE NUMBERS

> Brandon Kintzler got his second big league win after pitching a scoreless 12th. His first win in the Majors also came in an extra inning game.

> Beltran’s average has fallen all the way to .261.

> Tonight’s match-up:

Mike Fiers (8-7, 3.11 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (13-10, 3.93 ERA)

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Morgan, bullpen make sure Brewers get swept

August 6, 2012

> Getting swept by division opponents multiple times is no way to get back into a playoff race. But the Brewers appear to have yet to learn that, as they were shut out by the Cardinals today, 3-0. There are plenty of things we could criticize as to what went wrong today, but I’d just be explaining basically the same thing I’ve been saying all season.

Marco Estrada still couldn’t find his first win, despite putting up another quality start. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two. It was a very gutsy outing for Estrada, who, after giving up an RBI double Daniel Descalso in the second inning, was pretty much untouchable. He kept the Brewers in the game while he was in, but was foolishly removed (more on that later).

Anyway, the Cardinals added two more runs late, with Allen Craig hitting an RBI double in the seventh and a David Freese RBI single in the eighth.

(EM’s coverage)

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> So here was what pretty much lost the game for the Brewers. The Cardinals removed starter Kyle Lohse after six scoreless innings, so you’d think the Brewers would be jumping for joy that he was out. And it looked like they were. Cody Ransom promptly led off the seventh with a single off Edward Mujica. Estrada’s spot in the batting order was next, so Ron Roenicke pinch-hit for him with Nyjer Morgan (who, as usual, was massively booed). Estrada is not a good hitting pitcher, so I can understand pinch-hitting for him in this situation. But, as I expected, Morgan was going to bunt anyway, which he did. And what did he do? He tried putting down the sacrifice, popped it up, and catcher Yadier Molina easily fielded it. Ransom, naturally running on the sacrifice attempt, was doubled off at first.

Which brings me to my point: if Morgan was going to bunt anyway, why not let Estrada lay it down instead? Morgan has proven that he’s extremely inconsistent at bunting. And, Estrada’s pitch count was at a manageable 84 through six innings, so he could have given at least one- if not two- more innings and save our horrible bullpen.

But, as we learned even in the great 2011 season, Roenicke likes pinch-hitting for players so that the pinch-hitter can bunt, when the original hitter could have done it himself, and Roenicke hates the idea of pitchers going deep into games. Even though our bullpen is the worst in baseball this year.

I don’t even want to attempt to explain what probably goes on in our manager’s mind.

> For the third straight regular season start, Lohse inexplicably dominated the Brewers. Going into 2011, Lohse was 3-10 with a 5.10 ERA in his career against the Brewers, and didn’t have a win against them as a Cardinal. But, in his last three regular season starts against the Crew, he’s 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA. (That excludes the postseason, when the Brewers beat him in Game 4 of the NLCS.)

> Shaun Marcum is closing in on his return to the starting rotation, as he threw a simulated game at Busch Stadium today.

But, to be honest with you, I’m not looking forward to his return anymore. The Brewers (and Marcum himself) have made it clear that they aren’t going to make a run at re-signing the crafty right-hander, so I don’t want to see him pitch at the end of the season and watch what could have had (but won’t) the next few years.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers return to Miller Park tomorrow to start a three-game series against the Reds. The Reds are a division opponent, so there’s a good chance of the Brewers getting swept by them (again). But we can at least hope that the Brewers win one or two in this series, right?

Anyway, here are the probables:

Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92 ERA)

Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88 ERA)

Mat Latos (10-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.57 ERA)


Bats explode to back solid Gallardo

August 1, 2012

> Even if they aren’t contending, the Brewers needed a game like this. They blew out the Astros today, 10-1, and won their second game in a row. Yovani Gallardo got back on track after two sub-par starts against the Reds and Nationals, going seven innings while giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out five. He improved to 12-2 in his career against the Astros, which is by far the best mark he has against any National League Central opponent.

The offense was alive today as well. The Brewers got on the board early in the first inning on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single, the first hit of a big day for him. Then, in the bottom of the second, Gallardo attempted to put down a suicide squeeze to score Rickie Weeks from third base, which was successful. But Gallardo wound up beating out the play and was credited with an RBI single.

The only Astros run came in the third inning on a Chris Snyder solo home run. But the Brewers countered immediately in the bottom of the inning on Ramirez’s three-run blast. In the fifth inning, the Brewers tacked on three more on Corey Hart’s three-run homer. That closed the book on Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who struggled mightily in his first career start against the Brewers. He went just four innings while giving up seven runs on seven hits. He walked a whopping six batters and struck out one.

The Brewers added two more in the eighth on Nyjer Morgan’s two-RBI single.

I should also mention that, one day after blowing yet another save and practically blowing the game, the bullpen looked good. Obviously that doesn’t mean mention in a nine-run blowout, but Jim Henderson threw another scoreless inning, and Francisco Rodriguez had his first 1-2-3 inning in…

Let’s just say “a while.”

> I wasn’t even paying attention to this, but, after Ramirez’s 3-for-4 performance today, his average sits at .293. Since his sub-.200 April, Ramirez has hit .322.

And to think the Brewers were tossing around the idea of trading Ramirez and/or Hart. And, even more surprisingly to me, there were some Brewers fans who were in favor of it. Beats me as to why, but this team doesn’t need to go into a total rebuilding mode at the moment. A few offseason signings (which the Brewers will be able to pull off after dumping the rest of  Zack Greinke’s contract), and the Brewers could be contenders again next year.

> Speaking of trades, the Trade Deadline was today at 3:00 PM CT. The Brewers already made their splash with the Greinke trade, but here’s some news from around baseball:

> The Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs. After Dempster pretty much vetoed a deal to the Braves and couldn’t get a deal worked out with the Dodgers, he heads to Texas and will help them try and reach the postseason.

> The Phillies couldn’t decide which side of the rivalry to join, trading Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, and Hunter Pence to the Giants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of trades like that.

> The Cardinals received reliever Edward Mujica from the Marlins. That was about the only move they made, and probably the only move they needed to make.

There were definitely more deals than that, but those are a few of the highlights.

> And that’s about it. Mike Fiers (4-4, 1.77 ERA) tomorrow in the series finale as the Brewers go for a sweep of the struggling ‘Stros. They will counter with Jordan Lyles (2-7, 5.54 ERA).

Anyway, thanks for reading.