Brewers out-pitched in Cincy opener

July 21, 2012

> Tonight was just an ugly game on all fronts. The Brewers fell to the Reds, 3-1, in the first game of a critical series for the Crew. To put it simply, the Brewers were out-pitched by a Reds pitching staff that’s been pretty hot lately.

The Brewers’ pitching wasn’t, either, but wasn’t enough to match the Reds. Marco Estrada went seven solid innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. But, all three of the runs he gave up came on solo home run balls, coming from Zack Cozart (fourth inning), Jay Bruce, and Scott Rolen (both in the seventh inning). But Estrada had a very Estrada-like start: he mowed through the Reds’ lineup the first time through, nine up, nine down. But he broke in the fourth inning on Cozart’s homer.

Anyway, the Brewers’ only run came in the eighth inning on Norichika Aoki’s RBI double. That was the one blemish on Reds starter Homer Bailey’s line, who was stellar tonight. He went eight innings while giving up one run on six hits. He also didn’t walk a batter and struck out a career-high ten. The one thing I don’t understand is that Bailey was 0-5 with a 6.50 ERA in his career against the Brewers coming into this start, and they had already rocked him twice this year. You could make the argument that Bailey is hot right now, I suppose, but I’m not completely bought into that. Bailey went eight innings in his first start after the All-Star break against the struggling Cardinals lineup, which we saw last series. Maybe this just means the Brewers’ lineup is struggling.

The Reds used Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Brewers, who threw a perfect inning with two K’s. There were no somersaults tonight, though.

> There was one bright spot tonight: Ryan Braun’s 1,000th career hit. He came into today with 998, and got hits in his first two at-bats. He becomes the 11th player in franchise history to reach the 1,000-hit milestone, but got to the milestone the quickest in franchise history, needing just 815 career games to do it. That’s even faster than the likes of Pete Rose, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount.

> Zack Greinke has confirmed himself that the Brewers have indeed made a contract offer to him, but refused to go any further. The word on the street is the Brewers are willing to give him five years and over $100 million, but Matt Cain’s deal is still larger than that. Unless Greinke gives the Brewers a discount because he likes pitching at Miller Park or something, it seems more and more unlikely that he’s going to get traded (or will just walk into free agency at the end of the season).

> A couple of starting pitching notes: Shaun Marcum will throw off flat ground tomorrow for the first time since he went on the disabled list. There’s still no timetable for his return, however.

Also, Tyler Thornburg has been moved back to the bullpen with the impending return of Greinke. Thorn filled in for Greinke against the Cards the day before yesterday.

> One more thing before I go. I was pretty disturbed at something I saw on Twitter tonight. I tweeted something after Braun made an outfield assist to throw out Rolen at home, and some obnoxious Reds fan made a crack about him being on steroids. It’s really too bad that this had to happen to Braun, because idiots, such as this random guy from the Reds fan base, are going to think for the rest of his career that he did a performance-enhancing drug.

Braun didn’t get out of it on a “technicality,” he got out of it because of a flaw in the process. Other than that, there wasn’t proof that he did it.

Also, Braun has vindicated himself so far this season. He clearly isn’t doing any drug, otherwise routine drug tests would have shown it by now. Yet he’s still putting up these numbers. That’s the part of this whole thing that fans of other teams seem to be misunderstanding- or just ignoring so they can keep making cracks at him.

> And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.59 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 4.03 ERA)

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Brewers capitalize on first inning mistakes to take series

July 19, 2012

> Despite a very discouraging first game of this series, the Brewers managed to battle back and take a much-needed two-of-three from the Cardinals. They sealed the deal today with a 4-3 nail-biter win. And we’d better get used to these nail-biters- they’ll be happening pretty often with Francisco Rodriguez assuming the closer duties.

The Cardinals have been slumping hard- and I mean hard– recently. If not for John Axford wrapping the gift to give them in the first game of this series, they would be 0-6 since the All-Star break. I thought Axford blowing the game like that was going to give the Cards a new hope and they were going to go on a hot streak from there, but that hasn’t appeared to be the case.

The sloppiness that has been Cardinals baseball the past few days showed up again today, mostly in the first inning. Norichika Aoki got on base to lead off the game, courtesy to an error by shortstop Rafael Furcal. After Nyjer Morgan hit a single, Adam Wainwright hit Aramis Ramirez with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Corey Hart then came through with a broken bat, two-RBI single to give the Brewers the early lead. Two batters later, one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen occurred. Carlos Gomez hit your routine groundball to Furcal, and he fielded it cleanly. It looked at first like his throw was going to be fine, but it tailed off at the end, forcing first baseman Lance Berkman to come off the bag. But, Berkman’s momentum must have been a lot greater than I thought, and he tumbled over and nearly did a somersault. Not only that, but the ball flew out of his glove as he was rolling. This error allowed two runners to score and gave the Brewers a nice 4-0 lead to work with for the rest of the game.

And that was all they would need. The Cardinals got two runs off Tyler Thornburg: a David Freese solo home run in the second and an Allen Craig solo blast in the third. Other than those two runs, the Brewers’ bullpen shut the Cards down for the most part.

But K-Rod saves are always interesting, and the tale was no different today. After striking out Skip Schumaker to start the inning, Carlos Beltran hit a pinch-hit double. K-Rod then walked Furcal, but came back to strike out Matt Holliday (who was also pinch-hitting). But K-Rod walked Craig to follow that up, and the Cards’ third run came on Freese’s bases-loaded walk. To be honest with you, though, I was fine with that- better off walking him and giving up one run than letting him hit an opposite field bases-clearing double. Anyway, K-Rod finished the game by getting Berkman to fly out.

> Thornburg was making a spot start today in place of Zack Greinke, who is taking ten days off to “recharge” (although I think something else is going on behind the scenes). Thornburg’s start didn’t go all that well: he went just 4 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out five. Those numbers aren’t bad, but he needed 103 pitches to get through just 4 2/3 innings. He also served up two home runs, which brings his season total to seven home runs given up in just twelve innings. But all of the home runs are coming on elevated fastballs in the low 90’s, which, if not set up by the correct pitches, can mean trouble. Thorn has shown flashes of a great breaking ball and a decent change-up, though, which leads me to believe he can be successful in the future.

> But the bullpen managed to pick up Thornburg. Axford, removed from the closer’s role two days ago, came in and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the fifth and sixth innings. Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Jose Veras had a 1-2-3 eighth, and K-Rod got the save, despite walking three batters in the process.

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers move into their final series of this crucial stretch everyone has been talking about- a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the Brewers would probably need a sweep to get out of there as legitimate contenders, which I can’t see happening. But it’s worth hoping for, I suppose.

Anyway, here’s what the matchups for the series look like:

Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.13 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (8-6, 3.93 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.59 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 4.03 ERA)

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. ???


Weeks’ homer helps Brewers edge Reds

July 8, 2011

10:13p The Brewers beating the Reds? That’s not something you hear too often, at least over the past few years.

Reds-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers took game one of a four-game set against the Reds today, 5-4. It turned into a bit of a thriller at the end, but was a win for the Crew, nonetheless.

The scoring started in the second inning, when Yuniesky Betancourt drove in Prince Fielder with a sacrifice fly. Fielder had doubled to begin the inning, then Mark Kotsay moved him to third on a groundout.

The Reds answered in the third, when Miguel Cairo hit an RBI single to drive in Homer Bailey, who doubled earlier in the inning. The Reds then took their only lead of the game in the fourth, when Ramon Hernandez hit an RBI single to drive in Zack Cozart, who was making his Major League debut. Cozart had a solid debut, going 1-for-3 with a single.

In the fifth, however, after Jonathan Lucroy singled and Chris Narveson walked, Rickie Weeks took Bailey deep with a three-run shot to give the Brewers a 4-2 lead. Later in the inning, Kotsay added an RBI single to make it 5-2. Bailey would go one more inning after that, finishing with six innings, while giving up five runs on eight hits along with two walks and a strikeout.

Narveson turned in a solid outing, going six innings while giving up two runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out five. It was Narveson’s first career win against the Reds. Coming into today, Narveson was 0-3 against the Reds with an ERA above seven.

The Brewers bullpen was a bit shaky after Narveson left. Takashi Saito tossed a scoreless seventh, but LaTroy Hawkins ran into trouble in the eighth. He got out of a jam after giving up one run. Closer John Axford’s save didn’t come easily, either, as he gave up a lead-off homer to Hernandez in the ninth. After allowing back-to-back hits to Miguel Cairo and Joey Votto, Axford fielded a Brandon Phillips comebacker to record the save.

Bullpen surprisingly shaky

I was surprised that the bullpen had a rough time today, considering Kameron Loe didn’t enter the game. Both Hawkins and Axford, who are two of the most consistent guys out of the bullpen, gave up runs. It appears Saito is getting settled back in from the DL, considering he tossed a scoreless inning.

But I am happy that Ron Roenicke used Hawkins in the eighth again today. That marks back-to-back days that he’s done that, and that could symbolize a role change for Loe, who just hasn’t been doing it in the setup role. That could very well be the case, because I was actually at the game today and noticed that Loe was warming up in the sixth inning. It was probably just in case Narveson got in trouble. But that was the role Hawkins was used in for awhile, which is why I think they may have changed roles, at long last.

Braun sits AGAIN…

Alright, it didn’t surprise me today, because Roenicke said yesterday that Ryan Braun probably wasn’t going to play today. But note that this is fifth consecutive day not on the field, and if it gets longer than this, Braun might need some rehab time before coming back to the Brewers. I hope it doesn’t get that far, though, because we’re going to need him back soon.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play the second game of the four game series with the Reds tomorrow (I’m actually going to that game too…). Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.66 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he is in need, and I mean in NEED, of a good start. He is 7-3 with a 5.66 ERA, and let me tell you, I’m sick of seeing that high of an ERA next to his name. It’s just so uncharacteristic of him. He’s coming off a start in Minnesota where he gave up five runs (four earned) in six innings. But he really needs to get it together, and a start against the Reds could be what he needs. In two career starts against the Reds, he is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA.

The Reds will send Mike Leake (8-4, 4.03 ERA) to the mound, who has made two starts against the Brewers this season, but didn’t take a decision in either of them. Those are his only two career starts against the Brewers, and he has a 3.46 ERA against them over that span.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cardinals and Diamondbacks just got out of a delay, and the Diamondbacks are leading 3-0. Joe Saunders was tossing a gem against the Cards, but the D-backs turned to their bullpen, meaning the delay didn’t let him finish. If the Cards lose, they will be tied with the Brewers for first in the division.
  • The Cubs defeated the Nationals, 10-9. They are 11.5 games back.
  • The Astros were shut out by the Marlins, 5-0. They are a whopping 17.5 games back. (I have no idea why I even put what they do on here, but they are part of the division, despite they aren’t contenders.)
  • The Pirates had an off-day today. They are 1.5 games back.

McGehee comes through as Brewers rally against D-backs

July 7, 2011

3:52p Now this is exactly the kind of game the Brewers needed.

Diamondbacks-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers finally snapped a three-game losing streak today in a win against the Diamondbacks. Three good things happened today: Casey McGehee hit a late-inning homer, Yovani Gallardo tossed a gem, and Ron Roenicke finally used LaTroy Hawkins in the setup role.

Gallardo recovered pretty well after giving up a lead-off homer to Kelly Johnson in the first inning, but received no run support through the first six innings. That was because Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter finally had a decent start and shut out the Brewers for six innings before handing it off to the Diamondbacks’ inconsistent bullpen.

Reliever Joe Paterson came in to pitch the seventh. After striking out Prince Fielder, Paterson gave up back-to-back singles to Mark Kotsay and Jonathan Lucroy.

Then, the slumping Casey McGehee stepped up to the plate to pinch-hit for Mat Gamel.

Reliever Sam Demel came on to replace Paterson after he recorded just one out. Then, on a 3-2 count, McGehee crushed a three-run homer to give the Brewers the lead, 3-1.

LaTroy Hawkins came in and pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and John Axford struck out the side in the ninth to record his 22nd save of the year. Gallardo finished with seven innings, giving up one run on four hits while walking one and striking out six. It was his tenth win of the year and lowered his ERA to 3.76.

McGehee finally comes through

McGehee has been in a season-long slump so far this year, but he shined today as he hit the go-ahead homer off of Demel in the seventh. McGehee was actually out of the lineup as Gamel made his second start of the season at third base.

I’ve said this a lot, but McGehee is on track to have the worst season of his career this year. He’s hitting just .225 with five home runs and 36 RBIs. Hopefully the homer today is a symbol that he’s finally beginning to break out of his slump. However, he may have just been showing his dominance against the Diamondbacks. Coming into this series, McGehee was hitting .548 against Arizona for his career. He is also 5-for-5 against Arizona starter Daniel Hudson in his career.

Hawkins finally used in the eighth inning role

Roenicke finally used Hawkins in the eighth inning today, the role he was meant for. It seems to me that Hawkins has only been used when starters can’t get out of an inning, or in a mop-up role, which is not what his role actually is. I heard that Hawkins recently talked to Roenicke about being used in a better role in the bullpen, but, up until today, that hadn’t really showed.

Roenicke, for some reason, has been using Kameron Loe for the setup role. Here are Loe’s numbers out of that role so far: 2-7, 4.72 ERA. Great numbers for a setup guy, right? Here are Hawkins’ numbers out of his role, mop-up or whatever it may be: 0-0, 0.78 ERA. As you can see, Hawkins hasn’t even factored in a decision yet, which shows how unused he is. To me, Loe’s numbers and Hawkins’ numbers are the complete opposites of what their numbers should be, given their roles.

Braun sits fourth straight, has MRI on calf

Ryan Braun sat out for the fourth straight game today, and, just to make sure there wasn’t anything extremely wrong with his calf, had an MRI. The MRI should nothing more than an inflammation in his calf. Roenicke said Braun probably won’t be in the lineup tomorrow, but could be on Friday.

Brewers avoid first sweep at home of the year

It appeared that the Brewers were going to get swept at home for the first time this season today with the way Collmenter was pitching. However, McGehee’s late inning heroics changed that, and the Brewers remain unswept (yes, I made that word up) at home this season. Yesterday and the day before marked the first time this season that the Brewers had dropped back-to-back games at home.

Up next for the Crew…

Tomorrow, the division rival Reds will come to town. The Brewers haven’t fared very well against the Reds so far this season, or for the last three seasons at that. The Brewers are 2-7 against the Reds so far.

Homer Bailey (3-3, 3.64 ERA) will go for the Reds. He’s still getting settled in after a few stints on the DL earlier this season. The Brewers will counter with Chris Narveson (5-5, 4.86 ERA), who got knocked around his last start against the Twins. He gave up a career-high 14 hits to go along with seven runs. He didn’t factor in the decision, however, because that was the day of the huge comeback against the Twins. He hasn’t been good against the Reds this season, as he is 0-2 and gave up seven runs in one start, and five in the other. He better win tomorrow, though, since I’m going to be at the game.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cubs are currently tied with the Nationals, 4-4. To be honest, I could care less whether or not they win, considering how far out of the race they are. It’s just fun to watch the Cubs lose.
  • The Astros are leading the Pirates, 5-2. Is the Pirates lose, the Brewers will move ahead of them in the Central standings.
  • The Reds are destroying the Cardinals, 6-0. If the Cards lose, the Brewers will gain a game on them.