Brewers hammer Astros again to complete sweep

August 2, 2012

> It may have only been the Astros, but it’s good to see nonetheless. The Brewers crushed the Astros again today, 13-4, to complete a three-game sweep over them. As the score shows, the bats were alive and well again, as they’ve been this whole series. Mike Fiers also had another good start.

It was a pretty gritty start for Fiers, actually, but he’s shown that he can pitch even without his best stuff. He went six innings while giving up two runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out six. Fiers’ ERA went up to 1.88, which still leads MLB rookies.

The Brewers took advantage of a multitude of early mistakes by the Astros, who ended up making a total of four errors in the game. Nyjer Morgan led off the game by reaching on an error by third baseman Scott Moore. Three batters later, Aramis Ramirez reached on another error by Moore, and that drove in Morgan to make the score 1-0.

But, the Astros tied the game in the third on Jose Altuve’s RBI single, then took the lead in the fourth on Brett Wallace’s solo homer. But, the Brewers took back the lead in the bottom of the inning on Cesar Izturis’ RBI single. An error by the second baseman Altuve (a failed glove flip) allowed a second run to score.

In the fifth inning, the Brewers’ offense erupted. After Morgan and Carlos Gomez hit back-to-back singles and pulled off a double steal to lead off the inning, Ryan Braun drove them both in with a single. Two batters later, Corey Hart hit an RBI double, and Rickie Weeks followed that him with his 12th home run of the year. But they weren’t done: Izturis, the one of the career .220 slugging percentage, hit a home run to extend the lead to 9-2.

Then, in the sixth, Braun added a homer of his own after a 14-pitch at-bat against Fernando Rodriguez. The Brewers tacked on two more in the seventh on Jonathan Lucroy’s first home run since his return from the disabled list, and a Morgan RBI single.

The Astros got two more in the eighth on Wallace’s second home run of the game, this one off Mike McClendon, but it wasn’t near enough to get back in the game.

> Shaun Marcum reportedly had a good bullpen session today, and is almost ready for a Minor League rehab assignment.

Marcum has been out since early June, and his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Because of it, he lost all of his trade value. And, being a free agent at the end of the season, he will likely walk without the Brewers get anything in return for him (although the Brewers still might get a compensation pick, the new rules make that sort of confusing).

You’d think Marcum wouldn’t be that tough of a pitcher to retain, but I think some personal issues come into play. Marcum expressed his interest in staying in Milwaukee last offseason, but said Doug Melvin wouldn’t even talk to him about an extension, likely because he was so focused on the Zack Greinke case. So now, one of two things is happening: Melvin STILL won’t talk to him, or Marcum is bitter about it.

So now we’ve basically lost both of our prized offseason acquisitions from the 2010-2011 offseason. Not very smart navigating by our front office, if you ask me.

> And that’s about it. After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers start a three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Here are the probables:

Randy Wolf (3-7, 5.45 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (1-4, 2.96 ERA)

Mark Rogers (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (8-10, 4.24 ERA)

Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.34 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (11-2, 2.91 ERA)

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Brewers’ bullpen holds serve until extra inning W

July 9, 2012

> I missed most of today’s game, but something rare took place, apparently: the Brewers’ bullpen didn’t give up a run. *gasp*

> The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 5-3, in ten innings. The offense had another relatively slow day, but it was just enough to squeak past the Astros. The Brewers’ bullpen was also stellar, holding the ‘Stros down to give the Brewers a win in their last game before the All-Star break.

Zack Greinke was starting his second consecutive game, and it didn’t go very well. If you recall yesterday, he was ejected in the first inning after four pitches for spiking the ball at the ground. So he was able to come back and start again today, but went just three innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Greinke’s bright spot was that he struck out the side in third inning, but other than that, he wasn’t very sharp. Ron Roenicke had already announced prior to the game that Greinke wouldn’t go very deep, and that he wanted to get Marco Estrada, the original scheduled starter, his share of work in.

All of the Astros runs came in the first inning. Jordan Schafer led off the game with a single, and Jose Altuve drove him in with a double. One batter later, J.D. Martinez hit an RBI single. Then, Greinke had a temporary lapse of command. After striking out Jed Lowrie and giving up a single to Chris Johnson, Greinke walked Brian Bogusevic to load the bases, then served up a bases-loaded walk to Chris Snyder. He struck out the pitcher, Jordan Lyles, to end the inning, but the damage had been done, and it was obvious Greinke was still shaken up about yesterday.

The Brewers answered in the second inning on Rickie Weeks’ solo home run, but didn’t score again until Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single in the sixth.

The next threat came in the eighth inning. Astros reliever Wesley Wright walked Norichika Aoki to start the inning. After Nyjer Morgan moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, Ryan Braun once again came through in the clutch and hit a game-tying RBI single. Braun then stole both second and third base, but Corey Hart killed the rally.

Neither squad scored in the ninth, so the game was sent to extras, which has been quite the theme for the Brewers this year. The Astros put in struggling reliever Fernando Rodriguez for the tenth, and he walked Morgan to start the inning. Morgan then stole second, which prompted the Astros to intentionally walk Braun. Then, with Ramirez batting, Rodriguez threw a wild pitch (apparently the last name Rodriguez automatically makes you an erratic reliever), and both runners advanced. So Rodriguez was gifted with another open base, and naturally walked Ramirez. Hart then made up for his rally-kill in the eighth by hitting a go-ahead RBI single. Weeks followed that up with another RBI single. Unfortunately, Rodriguez found his stuff and struck out the side from there, preventing the Brewers from putting up a big inning.

John Axford was on for the save in the bottom of the inning, and we all know how he’s pitched lately. It looked like we were in for another blown save when he gave up back-to-back singles to Snyder and Matt Dominguez. But, after Schafer moved both runners on a sacrifice bunt, Ax came back to strike out Altuve and Scott Moore to end the game and earn hi 15th save of the year.

> As I’ve kept saying, the Brewers bullpen was outstanding today. Until Axford gave up the singles in the tenth, the Astros hadn’t gotten a hit since the second inning when Greinke was still in. Estrada did indeed get his work in, tossing three near perfect innings, blemished by one walk while striking out three. Jose Veras, Francisco Rodriguez, and Manny Parra each threw perfect innings of their own as well.

I’m not going to get too excited about this, because it is the Astros. But this is a good sign and should be a confidence-builder for the Brewers’ struggling bullpen.

> Don’t look now, Jayson Stark, but Weeks is legitimately starting to get hot. He went 3-for-5 today with two RBIs, yet his average is still at an excruciating .199. Guess he’ll have to wait until after the All-Star break to bring it over the .200 barrier.

> Greinke already sort of made history today, being just the second pitcher this season to start consecutive games (C.J. Wilson of the Angels being the other). But now he’s got a chance to do something a pitcher hasn’t done since 1917: start three start games. Greinke is scheduled to start the first game after the All-Star break (which has been changed to four days this year), and that would count as three consecutive.

If he only he were starting the All-Star Game too.

> And that’s about it. After the ASG, the Brewers face a crucial stretch of division opponents in the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds. This could decide the fate of their season, and whether or not they can get back in contention. Let’s hope for the best.

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


Fielder helps Brewers past depleted Astros

July 31, 2011

4:06p To be honest, I’m surprised the Astros put up that much of a fight without their two star players.

Astros-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 5-4, to complete their sweep of Houston and keep their winning streak going, which now stands at six. The Astros put up a good fight in the late innings, but they couldn’t pull it off, and having lost two of their best players didn’t help. They traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies two days ago, then traded Michael Bourn to the Braves earlier this morning.

Anyway, the Brewers got to Astros starter Brett Myers early when Yuniesky Betancourt hit an RBI double in the second inning. Then, later in the inning, Jonathan Lucroy laid down a squeeze bunt to score Betancourt from third (he had advanced on an error after his double).

But, trouble came for the Brewers in the fourth inning. Chris Narveson, who had retired the first nine batters he faced, gave up a double and a walk start the fourth inning. Then, ex-Brewers Jason Bourgeois hit a three-run shot to give the Astros a 3-2 lead. The Brewers would tie it, however, in the bottom of the inning on Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI double.

The Brewers then retook the lead in the sixth inning when Yuniesky Betancourt drove in Ryan Braun on a fielder’s choice.

But, in the eighth, the bullpen blew yet another lead. After allowing a double steal, Francisco Rodriguez threw a wild pitch by Lucroy to tie the game, 4-4. K-Rod then struck out J.D. Martinez the pitch after to end the inning.

Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Astros reliever Fernando Rodriguez gave up a lead-off double to Braun. The next batter was Prince Fielder, who was expected to be intentionally walked, since there was a base open. But, for some reason, Rodriguez pitched to him, and Fielder hit a go-ahead single, which gave the Brewers a 5-4 lead that the would not relinquish.

John Axford came in and recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 31st save of the year.

Narveson had a decent start, but didn’t get the win because of K-Rod’s wild pitch. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out four.

Myers also had a solid start, but he didn’t factor in the decision either. He went six innings while giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits. He walked none and struck out six.

Counsell extends franchise long slump

Craig Counsell was in the starting lineup today at third base to give Casey McGehee a day off. Instead of ending his career-high slump at 0-for-41, he extended it to 0-for-44, which is a new franchise record for the Brewers. The previous one was held by former Brewers pitcher Doug Davis. If you ever saw Davis attempt to swing a bat, you’d see why this is pretty embarrassing for Counsell.

Anyway, Ron Roenicke said he put Counsell in the lineup because of his defense, and that paid off. In the fifth inning, Myers attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but Counsell had it played perfectly. Since there were men on first and second, Counsell threw to Betancourt covering third, who then threw to first to finish a great double play.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers start an extremely important series with the Cardinals tomorrow. Zack Greinke (8-4, 4.50 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and is coming off his best start of the year, when he shut out the Cubs for 6 2/3 innings. He already has a win against the Cards this year, when he threw seven innings of three-run ball. Greinke is 4-2 with a 4.10 ERA in his career against the Cardinals.

Chris Carpenter (6-7, 3.68 ERA) will go for the Cardinals. He hasn’t exactly had success against the Brewers in his career, going 4-4 with a 5.24 ERA against them.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cubs and Cardinals will play at 7:05 p.m. CT tonight. They are currently two games back and 17 games back, respectively.
  • The Reds crushed the Giants, 9-0. They are still 6.5 games back.
  • The Pirates fell to the Phillies in 10 innings, 6-5. They are now 4.5 games back and keep falling in the standings.

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Houston Astros 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 4 5 2
Milwaukee Brewers 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 X 5 11 0

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 4 0 3 0 0 1 0 .271
Mark Kotsay, CF 4 0 0 0 0 2 2 .242
Ryan Braun, LF 4 2 2 0 0 1 1 .322
Prince Fielder, 1B 4 1 3 1 0 1 0 .296
Felipe Lopez, 2B 3 1 1 0 0 0 3 .222
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 4 1 1 2 0 0 4 .255
Jonathan Lucroy, C 3 0 1 2 0 0 2 .285
Craig Counsell, 3B 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .147
Chris Narveson, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 .154
a-Jerry Hairston, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .266
Total 32 5 11 5 0 8 13

a-Popped out for Saito in the 7th.

BATTING

2B: Betancourt (17), Lucroy (11), Braun (25).

RBI: Betancourt 2 (40), Lucroy 2 (43), Fielder (76).

Team RISP: 2-for-8.

Team LOB: 5.

BASERUNNING

CS: Hart (6).

FIELDING

DP: (Counsell-Betancourt-Fielder).

Milwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Chris Narveson 6.2 4 3 3 3 4 1 4.39
Takashi Saito (H, 5) 0.1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2.53
Francisco Rodriguez (BS, 5) (W, 4-2) 1.0 1 1 1 1 1 0 3.20
John Axford (S, 31) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2.50

WP: Rodriguez.

Pitches-strikes: Narveson 86-59, Saito 12-6, Rodriguez 20-10, Axford 9-7.

Groundouts-flyouts: Narveson 9-4, Saito 0-0, Rodriguez 1-0, Axford 0-2.

Batters faced: Narveson 26, Saito 2, Rodriguez 5, Axford 3.

Inherited runners-scored: Saito 2-0.