Pitching shines in spring opener

February 24, 2013

> No, I’m not dead. Just your typical month-long absence. Things have been hectic for me recently, and I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get on BWI nowadays. But I figured I owed at least one article after not even checking on the site in over a month.

A lot has happened since I’ve been away, with the most significant thing pertaining to Ryan Braun and his second straight eventful offseason. But first, let’s talk positives: it’s hard not to be positive when baseball is getting back into full swing.

> The Brewers’ had their first Spring Training game yesterday, and squeezed past the Athletics in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. The A’s recorded just five hits off the Brewers’ pitching staff, while the Brewers themselves managed just three. But patience at the plate was what gave the Brewers the edge: they drew seven walks against an otherwise-solid Athletics pitching staff.

Braun got the Brewers on the board in the first inning with a home run in his first (and only, as it turns out) ST at-bat. The second Brewers run came on Jean Segura’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning. In the seventh, prospect Michael Choice drove in the only Athletics run.

> So offense wasn’t exactly the Brewers’ strong point yesterday: the only players to pick up hits were Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Caleb Gindl. However, Carlos Gomez and Taylor Green drew back-to-back walks twice in the game. Hopefully this foreshadows that Gomez will be a bit more patient at the plate this year.

But the pitching was nothing but stellar. Aside from Santo Manzanillo allowing a run in 2/3 innings of work, the staff shut down the A’s. Mike Fiers worked around a shaky 26-pitch first inning to toss two scoreless innings. From there, John Axford, Jim Henderson, Donovan Hand, Rob Wooten, Michael Olmsted, and Jesus Sanchez- who recorded the save- all had scoreless outings as well.

> Speaking of Olmsted, he’s received a lot of clamor and praise from players early on in Spring Training. He pitched the eighth yesterday and recorded two strikeouts. Hopefully that’s a role we’ll see him playing during the regular season.

> With that out of the way, let’s move onto the news that’s made this past month somewhat miserable for the Brewers.

> So there’s this pharmacy in Miami that’s been referred to as the “Biogenisis clinic.” Roughly a month ago, news broke out that it had allegedly sold PEDs to six players: Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal. Perhaps not coincidentally, four of these players- A-Rod, Melky, Colon, and Grandal- had all been linked to PEDs (and, in some cases, suspended for use of them) in the past.

Since this incident was first reported by Yahoo!, however, more players have come out to be linked to Biogenesis.

Braun was one of them. But you knew it had to happen since he had said just a few days before that he was enjoying his non-eventful offseason.

To be honest, though, I’m not nearly as worried about this case as I was about the whole fiasco last offseason. Braun has not been directly linked to PEDs in this case- at least not yet. His name is on some extremely sketchy piece of paper next to a sum of money, but it does not say that he bought PEDs. According to Braun, he reached out to Anthony Bosch- the Biogenesis founder- for help during his trial last offseason. Why would he link himself to someone like that? Beats me. But all I know is that he hasn’t been linked to PEDs directly yet, and, until he is, he’s completely innocent.

Braun2

> There was a 1/10 chance that Mat Gamel was going to re-tear his surgically repaired ACL. But, since he’s Mat Gamel, that automatically becomes a 10/10 chance, which it did. Now he’s going to miss the whole 2013 season after getting knocked out of the 2012 season in May.

That leaves the Brewers with two injured first baseman to start the 2013 season, as Corey Hart will likely miss at least a month as well. The Brewers hope to tread water internally at first base until Hart returns, and are primarily looking at Alex Gonzalez (re-signed to a Major League deal to play a utility role), Hunter Morris (has never played above Double-A), and Bobby Crosby (former Rookie of the Year, signed to a minor league pact).

Personally, I’d like to see Morris get a chance, but I can see where the Brewers wouldn’t want to waste an option on him and start his free agency clock early just so he can fill in for a month.

> And that’s about it for now. The Brewers take on the Indians later today at 2:05 PM CT. Mark Rogers will take the hill as one of the many Brewers competing for a spot in the rotation. Carlos Carrasco will go for Cleveland.

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Results of the major awards

November 17, 2012

> Now that the week of debating over awards is over, the boring part of the offseason starts: waiting for all of the big name players to sign. But first, let’s look at the complete placing for each award (via Baseball Reference).

NL MVP:

1. Buster Posey
2. Ryan Braun
3. Andrew McCutchen
4. Yadier Molina
5. Chase Headley
6. Adam LaRoche
6. David Wright
8. Craig Kimbrel
9. Aramis Ramirez
10. Jay Bruce
11. Matt Holliday
12. Aroldis Chapman
13. Brandon Phillips
14. R.A. Dickey
14. Joey Votto
16. Ian Desmond
16. Clayton Kershaw
18. Michael Bourn
19. Allen Craig
20. Gio Gonzalez
20. Kris Medlen
20. Martin Prado
20. Alfonso Soriano
24. Giancarlo Stanton
24. Ryan Zimmerman
26. Carlos Beltran
26. Aaron Hill
28. Jason Heyward
28. Carlos Ruiz
30. Johnny Cueto
30. Bryce Harper
32. Chipper Jones
32. Miguel Montero
32. Angel Pagan
32. Hunter Pence

AL MVP: 

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Mike Trout
3. Adrian Beltre
4. Robinson Cano
5. Josh Hamilton
6. Adam Jones
7. Derek Jeter
8. Justin Verlander
9. Prince Fielder
10. Yoenis Cespedes
11. Edwin Encarnacion
12. David Price
13. Fernando Rodney
14. Jim Johnson
15. Alex Rios
16. Josh Reddick
17. Albert Pujols
18. Ben Zobrist
19. Joe Mauer
20. Rafael Soriano
21. Matt Wieters
22. Felix Hernandez
22. Jered Weaver
24. Raul Ibanez

NL Cy Young Award: 

1. R.A. Dickey
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Johnny Cueto
5. Craig Kimbrel
6. Matt Cain
7. Kyle Lohse
8. Aroldis Chapman
8. Cole Hamels

AL Cy Young Award: 

1. David Price
2. Justin Verlander
3. Jered Weaver
4. Felix Hernandez
5. Fernando Rodney
6. Chris Sale
7. Jim Johnson
8. Matt Harrison
9. Yu Darvish

NL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Bryce Harper
2. Wade Miley
3. Todd Frazier
4. Wilin Rosario
5. Norichika Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
6. Matt Carpenter
6. Jordan Pacheco

AL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Mike Trout
2. Yoenis Cespedes
3. Yu Darvish
4. Wei-Yin Chen
5. Jarrod Parker

NL Manager of the Year: 

1. Davey Johnson
2. Dusty Baker
3. Bruce Bochy
4. Fredi Gonzalez
5. Bud Black
5. Mike Matheny

AL Manager of the Year: 

1. Bob Melvin
2. Buck Showalter
3. Robin Ventura
4. Joe Maddon
5. Joe Girardi
6. Jim Leyland
6. Ron Washington

> I forgot to mention the other day that Ramirez placed ninth in the NL MVP voting. It seems like a lot of non-Brewers fans are overlooking that he actually turned in a great year.

> The Brewers signed Eulogio De La Cruz and Zach Kroenke- both pitchers- to minor league deals.

Kroenke is a lefty, so he gives the Brewers some much-needed depth in that department. And, if you don’t recognize the name “Eulogio” De La Cruz, trust me- you do.

Does “Frankie” De La Cruz ring a bell? Yep, he’s back, and n0w I can continue vomiting over how horrible his mechanics are.

> Jack Zduriencik- a former Brewers scout, and currently the general manager of the Mariners- said they aren’t actively pursuing Josh Hamilton. That could be good for the Brewers, though Doug Melvin has been saying basically the same thing as Zduriencik.

> The Blue Jays signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal worth $16 million. Interpret that how you want.

> Minor moves: 

Mets: Signed Brian Bixler to a minor league deal.
Padres: Acquired Tyson Ross and A.J. Kirby-Jones from the Athletics.
Athletics: Acquired Andrew Werner and Andy Parrino from the Padres.
Royals: Signed Brandon Wood, Atahualpa Severino, Brian Sanches, and Anthony Ortega to minor league deals.


Predictions for the upcoming awards

November 12, 2012

> Seeing as the major MLB awards are going to be handed out all week starting tomorrow, I figured I’d better get this article up tonight.

So this is basically going to be the same drill as it was last year: I’m going to give my predictions for all of the major MLB awards (NL and AL Rookies of the Year, NL and AL Managers of the Year, NL and AL Cy Young Awards, and NL and AL MVPs). I’ll also put some other noteworthy players who are deserving of the respective award, but just weren’t my choice. (I’m going to do that regardless of who the “finalists” for each award are, because that’s a stupid concept.)

Also, one more note before we begin: I make my picks partly based on my own opinion, but also depending on who will draw the most votes. There are certain trends for each award that voters tend to follow, so I take those into account as well. This is who I think will win, not who I want to win. (If it were who I wanted to win, I’d find ways to incorporate Brewers players into winning all of the awards.)

Anyway, on that note, let’s begin.

NL MVP: Buster Posey, Giants

It puts pain into my heart to write that, but that’s who I think is going to win it. As much as I want to put Ryan Braun, there’s no chance he’s going to win, despite putting up a much better year than Posey in every stat (except batting average).

There’s no denying Posey had a great year- 24 homers, 103 RBIs, and a .336 batting average- on a team that hasn’t been known for its offense in recent years. He also plays catcher (at least most of the time), which is a very important position, and will no doubt be taken into consideration during the voting.

Again, Braun had the better year, but there are unfair reasons he can’t win the award that we’ve just come to accept.

Other notable contenders for the NL MVP: Braun, Brewers; Chase Headley, Padres; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Yadier Molina, Cardinals

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

This award probably has the best debate out of any of the awards this year. Many believe it’s become a two-horse race between Cabrera and Mike Trout, who had a phenomenal rookie season. It almost want to say it’s a toss-up between the two for who should win the AL MVP, but that wouldn’t be any fun. I can’t just say Cabrera is going to win the MVP; I suppose I have to state my case.

Trout definitely had a great rookie season, as mentioned earlier. That’s why he’s going to win the AL Rookie of the Year, which I’ll get to later on. But, in my opinion, Cabrera had the better season.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs. The Triple Crown certainly helps his case, but even without that back him, I think he’d still win it. If the Triple Crown numbers weren’t enough, Cabrera also led the AL in slugging percentage (.606) and led the Majors in OPS (.999).

And, since the MVP seems to be determined by whether or not the recipient’s team makes the playoffs, Cabrera also wins it in that aspect- his Tigers made it to the World Series, while Trout’s Angels watched the playoffs from home. Do I agree with that part of the voting? No, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

My final case is that without Cabrera, the Tigers don’t make the playoffs (a lot of other players in their lineup underperformed this season, in my opinion). The Angels would have finished in third place in the AL West with or without Trout, which is unfortunately true, despite the impact Trout had on that lineup.

Other contenders for the AL MVP: Trout, Angels; Josh Hamilton, Rangers; Adrian Beltre, Rangers; Robinson Cano, Yankees

NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Mets

No, I’m not picking him because he’s a “feel-good story.” The knuckleballer came out of nowhere and had one of the more dominant seasons in recent NL history, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA. He also had five complete games (three of them shutouts) while eating up 233 2/3 innings. Dickey struck out 230 in that span, which is pretty wild for a knuckleballer. All four of those stats- complete games, shutouts, innings, and strikeouts- led the NL.

Dickey will probably win the award because he is, in fact, a feel-good story, but that’s not why I’m giving it to him. Once you get past that part of it, he had some pretty amazing stats.

Other contenders for the NL CYA: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Johnny Cueto, Reds; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Rays

Price nearly won the award two years ago when he went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, but was narrowly beat by Felix Hernandez and his 2.27 ERA. This year, I think it’ll be the opposite: Price will take home the award as King Felix watches.

Price was tied for the AL lead in wins with 20, and also led the AL in winning percentage (he went 20-5). His career-best 2.56 ERA also led the AL. Price will be pitted against some tough competition for the AL CYA, as 20-game winner Jered Weaver and the reigning CYA/MVP Justin Verlander will no doubt give him a run for his money.

Other notable contenders for the AL CYA: Weaver, Angels; Verlander, Tigers; Chris Sale, White Sox; Hernandez, Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks

There’s an interesting crop of contenders for the NL RoY this year; some of them are overhyped, some not. But I’m giving it to Miley for a few reasons. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, which is spectacular, since he was barely being considered for the D-backs’ rotation during Spring Training. Miley also pitched about half of his games at the hitter-friendly Chase Field.

But I’m also sick of hearing that Bryce Harper should win the NL RoY because of all the hype surrounding him. What does that have to do with his performance? And I can guarantee that if Todd Frazier hadn’t saved someone’s life earlier this year, there wouldn’t be nearly as much hype around him.

Other notable contenders for the NL RoY: Harper, Nationals; Frazier, Reds; Norichika Aoki, Brewers; Mike Fiers, Brewers; Wilin Rosario, Rockies

AL Rookie of the Year: Trout

He should be given this award unanimously. Trout had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, hitting .326 with 30 home runs. He also stole 49 bases.

Again, I’m not giving him the MVP for a case already stated, but he should win this award easily.

Other notable contenders for the AL RoY: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics; Yu Darvish, Rangers; Jarrod Parker, Athletics; Tommy Milone, Athletics; Robbie Ross, Rangers

NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson

Before the season started, Johnson said that if the Nationals didn’t make the playoffs, he wanted the Nats to fire him. Many thought those were bold words at the time, but Johnson backed his statement by leading the Nationals to their first playoff berth since their move to Washington. Not to mention the Nationals led the NL in wins along the way.

Other contenders for the NL MoY: Bruce Bochy, Giants; Dusty Baker, Reds; Mike Matheny, Cardinals

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin

Now, this is literally a toss-up between Buck Showalter and Melvin for me. Both led their teams to unpredictable playoff runs. But, if I had to pick one, I’d go with Melvin, just because I predicted that the Athletics were going to have a terrible season prior to this year. He certainly jammed that back down my throat.

Other notable contenders for the AL MoY: Showalter, Orioles; Robin Ventura, White Sox; Joe Maddon, Rays

> And that’s all I’ve got for tonight. Any news (and minor moves) that I missed today will come tomorrow.


Brewers sign Asencio

November 8, 2012

> The Brewers signed reliever Jairo Asencio to a minor league deal on Monday. The deal includes an invite to Spring Training.

It’s probably unfair for me to judge him based on just parts of three seasons in the Majors, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the guy. His numbers in the Majors, though they are a small sample size, are unimpressive: he has a 5.23 ERA over 58 1/3 innings. In 2012, he threw a career-high 40 1/3 innings between the Indians and Cubs. Asencio had a 4.91 ERA overall in 2012, but was significantly better with the Cubs, posting a 3.07 ERA in 12 games with them.

The Brewers are doing exactly what I expected them to do: attempt to rebuild the bullpen from scratch. Not saying that’s a bad thing; sometimes it works. I think Michael Olmsted, if he stays healthy, could be a huge contributor at the big league level. I don’t feel quite as strongly about Asencio, but you never know.

> Apparently Doug Melvin and Zack Greinke recently had a conversation, but it was “just about baseball.” Of course, the media has tried to blow this into a “the Brewers are extremely interested in Greinke” situation, but they didn’t take into consideration that Melvin and Greinke became very good friends outside the game during Greinke’s time in Milwaukee.

Not saying that I don’t want the Brewers to bring Greinke back, but it’s extremely unlikely. The Angels and Dodgers seem to be his most likely suitors at this point.

> Melvin also continues to preach that the Brewers are a “long shot” for Josh Hamilton, who recently announced he’s seeking $175 million years over seven years (not like he’s actually going to get that kind of deal with his injury/drug history, though).

One thing I’ve forgotten to take into consideration this offseason is that Melvin has probably been turned off of mega-deals because of his history with them. In 2001, when Melvin was the general manager of the Rangers, he was the man who signed Alex Rodriguez to the infamous 10-year deal. Of course, the Rangers wound up not being able to afford it and had to send A-Rod to the Yankees. But perhaps that’s why Melvin is being so hesitant with these big-name free agents.

> The finalists for each major award were announced tonight. I’m really not a big fan of this “finalist” concept that has been introduced this year for awards, but here they are:

AL Rookie of the Year: Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout

NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper, Wade Miley

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Buck Showalter, Robin Ventura

NL Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy, Davey Johnson

AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver

NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw

AL MVP: Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano Hamilton, Trout

NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Chase Headley, Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey

I’ll reveal my own picks for each award sometime before next week. (By the way, all of my picks were correct last year.)

> Juan Nieves, who threw the only no-hitter in Brewers history back in 1987, was hired as Boston’s hitting coach today.

> Brooks Conrad signed with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan. Maybe he’ll hit higher than .000 over there.

> Minor moves:

Twins: Re-signed Sam Deduno and Esmerling Vasquez to minor league deals.
Braves: Signed Wirfin Obispo to a minor league contract.
Orioles: Outrighted Steve Tolleson, who elected free agency.
Mariners: Claimed Scott Cousins off waivers from the Blue Jays.
Yankees: Claimed David Herndon off waivers from the Blue Jays; claimed Josh Spence off waivers from the Padres.
Mets: Outrighted Mike Nickeas and Fred Lewis, both of whom elected free agency; released Jason Bay (that’s probably more than a minor move, but he was so hilariously bad for them that I can’t consider it major).
Diamondbacks: Signed Eddie Bonine to a split contract.
White Sox: Acquired Blake Tekotte from the Padres.
Padres: Acquired Brandon Kloess from the White Sox.


Brewers serve up Gio’s 20th

September 23, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers have seemed invincible recently, but I suppose a good offense and a Cy Young contender can put that to a halt quickly. The Brewers lost to the Nationals today, 10-4, in a game they let get away too early.

Wily Peralta had a very short start- he went just 2 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out four. But you could just tell it was going to be a short outing from the get-go; despite not giving up a run in the first two innings, he needed 42 pitches to get through them. He left the game with 73 pitches after having recorded just two outs in the third.

Peralta gave up consecutive RBI hits to Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, and Ian Desmond in the third before being taken out in exchange for Livan Hernandez.
But Hernandez got completely murdered by his former team in the fourth, allowing three-run homers to both Ryan Zimmerman and Desmond.

All the while the Brewers’ offense was being silenced by Gio Gonzalez, who became the first 20-game winner of 2012.

THE NEWS

> Ryan Braun is reportedly dealing with some groin issues after a “rough slide” into home last night. He’s going to play through them for the stretch run, however. Braun went 1-for-3 with an RBI today.

> MLB Trade Rumors has continued to mention Alex Gonzalez’s vesting option for 2013 that would have come into play had he achieved 525 plate appearances this season. But, since he went down in May, there’s almost no chance he returns to the Brewers next year.

> The Cardinals defeated the Cubs in extra innings, so the Brewers fall to 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race for the time being. However, the Phillies, Dodgers, and Pirates all lost, so the teams close behind the Brewers will stay pat as well.

THE NUMBERS

> Yorvit Torrealba made his Brewers debut today, replacing Martin Maldonado in the fifth inning. But he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

> Taylor Green hit his third career homer in the ninth inning.

> Peralta had allowed just one extra-base hit in his first three big league starts coming into today. But, he gave up three XBH’s in a row in that rough third inning.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (2-3, 6.92 ERA)

Gallardo’s last loss was against the Nationals back in late July, and his record fell to 8-8 after that. Since then, though, Gallardo has been untouchable, going 8-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 starts following that outing.

THE EXTRAS

> I don’t think I’ve ever seen MLB refer to a home run as a “downtowner” in a highlight label.


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.


Brewers mount comeback to hold ground

September 21, 2012

POSTGAME

> It’s now safe to say that the Brewers are never out of any game. Despite a large early lead, they had to play comeback today, and they were successful. The Brewers managed to take a 9-7 win in a four-hour, back-and-forth contest with the Pirates.

The Brewers got off to a quick start, jumping on Wandy Rodriguez for three runs- including an Aramis Ramirez two-run blast- in the first inning. But, with a 4-0 lead in the third, Mike Fiers gave up a three-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. Fiers, who needed 81 pitches to get through just three innings, was removed after that.

After tying the game in the fourth, the Pirates rallied against Kameron Loe for three in the sixth inning, with a home run from Clint Barmes and an RBI single by Starling Marte.

Going into the eighth inning, the Bucs had a comfortable 7-3, but you could just tell the Brewers were going to mount a rally against struggling reliever Chad Qualls. And they wasted no time in doing so, as a two-run double from Norichika Aoki and a two-run triple from Rickie Weeks quickly knotted the game up at 7-7. Ramirez then gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI single. Logan Schafer tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth as well.

John Axford nailed down the save for the second straight night, as he worked around a Jean Segura error to strike out the side.

MY TAKE

> Segura’s error in the ninth inning should have probably been charged to first baseman Travis Ishikawa. Segura’s throw was slightly high, but it’s a throw that Ishikawa has to be able to handle.

> After the bullpen got off to a rough start (Brandon Kintzler gave up the lead following Fiers’ exit, then Loe nearly let the Pirates blow it open), they settled down nicely to shut down the Pirates for the rest of the game. Jose Veras got out of Loe’s jam in the sixth, Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Francisco Rodriguez handled the eighth, and Axford got another save as he continues his return to form.

> I hate to say it, but Fiers is starting to look legitimately fatigued on the mound. He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his last three starts. As I noted on Twitter earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ron Roenicke pull the plug on his season any day now.

> Jason Grilli plunked Ryan Braun in theseventh inning- when the Pirates had a three-run lead. That drew a standing ovation from the Pittsburgh crowd. Hope they enjoyed the eighth-inning rally too.

So now I’ve concluded that their fanbase doesn’t deserve a playoff berth, or a mere .500 season. If they act like that, they can stay in the cellar of the NL Central for the next 20 years as well- or longer.

Stay classy, Pittsburgh.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart made an unexpected return to the lineup today. He went 1-for-3 with a single, but it was noticeable that he was uncomfortable at the plate. Hart was removed in the fifth in exchange for Ishikawa.

> Axford said that the Zack Greinke trade “sharpened the Brewers’ focus.”

> Roenicke made a case for Aoki’s Rookie of the Year chances.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ current five-game winning streak is their longest on the season.

> This is the first time all year the Brewers have been give games over .500.

> Here’s the explanation for the Brewers passing up the Bucs in the standings: the Brewers have won 23 of their last 29 games. During that same stretch, the Pirates have won seven games.

> Oh, and the Pirates fell a game under .500.

> The Dodgers lost to the Nats, so the Brewers have leap-frogged them in the Wild Card race.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Nationals:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.91 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.89 ERA)

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

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. ???

Marco Estrada (4-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. ???

THE EXTRAS

> MLB Network’s Intentional Talk interviewed Axford the other day. But I was more amused at the murderous look on Jim Henderson’s face the entire time. Click here; you’ll know what I mean.

> This year’s edition of rookie hazing. They’re supposed to be the Flintstones… I think?

(It would appear Carlos Gomez took the photo.)