Giants pull another series out of the hat

October 23, 2012

> Coming back from a three-game deficit in one series is impressive, but to accomplish that feat in two postseason series in a row is unbelievable. The Giants did just that- they won three consecutive games against the Reds after being down 2-0 in the NLDS, and have now done the same against the Cardinals in the NLCS after being down 3-1.

The Giants’ 9-0 blowout sealed an improbable comeback for them, and snagged them the National League Pennant for the second time over the last three years. Matt Cain labored threw 5 2/3 innings, but managed to keep the Cards off the board, and got more than enough help from his offense. But his offense itself received some help, that coming from the Cardinals’ defense, as it did for the last three games of the series. Shortstop Pete Kozma had another rough day at the office, as it was his miscue(s) in the third inning that broke the game open for the Giants. Kyle Lohse and Joe Kelly combined to give up seven earned runs through the first three innings, but it wasn’t their fault, for the most part.

Anyway, the NLCS MVP unanimously goes to Marco Scutaro, who hit .500 in this series. He had multi-hit games in six of the seven games, and continued to produce even after Matt Holliday took him out during a double play early in the series.

MY TAKE

> There was a ton of speculation on Twitter tonight that Cain hitting Holliday in the sixth inning tonight was “retaliation” for Holliday sliding into Scutaro earlier this series. Here’s the thing, though: it was an 0-2 pitch and the Giants were up by seven. Either Cain is a huge wimp, or he let one get away, and I’m more convinced by the latter.

THE NEWS

> Dave May passed away today. May, a former big league All-Star, was traded from the Brewers to the Braves in exchange for Hank Aaron back in 1974. He played for the Orioles, Braves, Brewers, Pirates, and Rangers, but his best season came in 1973 with the Crew, when he hit 25 home runs with 93 RBIs and a .303 batting average.

> Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Claimed Bobby Wilson off waivers from the Angels; designated Chad Beck for assignment.

THE EXTRAS

> Why FOX decided to put the camera on Hunter Pence during “God Bless America” is beyond me.

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Brewers pull within one of .500

September 9, 2012

POSTGAME

> With the way the Brewers were playing just a few weeks ago, I never would have guessed they’d even be in shouting distance of the .500 mark at any point the rest of the season. Yet, here they are at 69-70, after taking a key series from the Cardinals.

The Brewers won tonight, 6-3. Mike Fiers was on the mound, and he certainly didn’t have his best stuff, but it was enough to get by. He needed 96 pitches to get through just five innings while giving up a run on five hits. He walked three and struck out five.

The Brewers got on the board first in the second inning on a Carlos Gomez squeeze bunt, followed by Fiers getting an RBI single of his own. They also got a few runs late, with a Rickie Weeks home run in the seventh inning and Aramis Ramirez’s solo homer in the ninth.

THE NEWS

> Manny Parra says he’s doing OK after taking a line drive to the face in the ninth inning of last night’s marathon.

> Speaking of line drives to the head, Athletics starter Brandon McCarthy is recovering in the hospital following what looked like a life-threatening play.

> The Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg early. Now I would love to see them lose the World Series by one game.

A few big names have tried to indirectly talk some sense into the Nats’ front office. Former pitcher Jim Kaat wrote Stras an open letter talking about why he thought the decision was incorrect. Heck, even freaking Tommy John himself disagrees with the decision.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ 3-4-5-6 hitters went 11-for-20 in tonight’s game.

> Ramirez went a perfect 3-for-3 in his return to the lineup. He also brought his average up to .300 for the first time this season.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.53 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (5-6, 3.54 ERA)


Nothing doing for Brewers against JJ

September 6, 2012

POSTGAME

> I missed most of today’s game because I was in school (day games late in the year drive me insane). But, I didn’t miss much, as the Brewers scuffled to do anything in today’s 6-2 loss to the Marlins, forcing them to settle for a split of the four-game series.

Marco Estrada was knocked around a bit. The Marlins tagged him for four runs on seven hits over five innings. That included a very rough first inning, in which Estrada allowed three consecutive hits- two doubles- to Bryan Petersen, Donovan Solano, and Jose Reyes to start the game. The only Brewers runs came on sacrifice flies from Ryan Braun and Norichika Aoki in the third and seventh innings, respectively.

THE NEWS

> Estrada claimed that he “wasn’t ready” for today’s game, saying he lost track of time and to rush through his pregame routine.

“I rushed a little bit. By the time I was done, the game had already started and (Josh) Johnson had a pretty quick inning. It’s my fault, I can’t let things like that happen.”

I don’t know how he “lost track of time,” but, regardless of what happened, it’s pretty inexcusable.

Again, I wasn’t watching today’s game, but looking at the box score, Johnson had a hit batter and a walk in the first inning. Both came without the assistance of a double play, so the inning couldn’t have gone that quickly. But I don’t know. This is one of the stranger excuses I’ve seen.

> Aramis Ramirez was held out of the lineup with a lower back/oblique strain. He was pulled from the game when he was in the on-deck circle for his final at-bat last night.

> A few September call-ups made their season debuts today. Josh Stinson threw a third of an inning, and Logan Schafer got a pinch-hit single following an eight-pitch at-bat in the ninth inning.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun now sits at 99 RBIs on the season.

> No one in the lineup had more than one hit today.

> Match-ups for the upcoming Cardinals series:

Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (14-2, 2.81 ERA)

Mike Fiers (8-7, 3.19 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (13-10, 3.93 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.53 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (5-6, 3.54 ERA)

Gallardo- who’s 1-9 with a 7.05 ERA in his career against the Cardinals- is pitching this series. Wouldn’t be surprised to see his ERA sail over 4.00 after that game.


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)


Gallardo’s 14 K’s give Brewers series win

July 16, 2012

> Despite last night’s ugly loss, the Brewers have had a successful start to the second half. They took two out of three in the first series after the second half from the first place Pirates by winning today, 4-1. The star of the show was Yovani Gallardo, who threw by far his best outing of the year today. He went seven innings while giving up one run on just four hits. Yo struck out a career-high 14 hitters and, to make it even more impressive, didn’t allow a walk. He lowered his ERA to 3.59, and, like I said after his last start, his numbers are starting to look more Yovani-like.

There wasn’t much offense today. The Pirates got one run, and you can probably guess who it came from- the extremely hot-hitting Andrew McCutchen. He hit a solo shot off Gallardo in the fourth inning to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead.

Up until the sixth inning, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett appeared to be on cruise control, like he has been so many times this year. But, the Brewers finally got to him in the sixth. Nyjer Morgan singled to lead off the inning, and Ryan Braun followed that up with a single to right field. Morgan tried to advance to third on Braun’s hit, and it appeared he would have gotten there anyway. But right fielder Garrett Jones decided to try and test Morgan’s speed, only to airmail into left field. Morgan ended up scoring on the play to tie the game, and Braun advanced to third base. Aramis Ramirez promptly drove in Braun with a single to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead. After Corey Hart struck out, Rickie Weeks hit an RBI double through the legs of third baseman Pedro Alvarez (it was originally scored as an error but was changed later). Martin Maldonado then put the icing on the cake with an RBI double to give the Brewers their fourth and final run.

After Gallardo left the game, it was up to the bullpen to preserve his stellar start, something they were unable to do for Marco Estrada and his 11 K’s last night. But Francisco Rodriguez came in and tossed a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts, and John Axford picked up his 16th save of the season.

> Even though the Pirates lost this series, I have to give them a lot of credit for how far they’ve come this year. McCutchen is hitting a Major League-leading .371 after going 3-for-4 today (two of the four hits Gallardo gave up were by him). Coming into today, Burnett had gone 9-0 over his last twelve starts, which makes it impressive that the Brewers were able to snap that streak. James McDonald is also having a great year and is developing into the ace everyone thought he would be (though the Brewers knocked him around in the first game of the series). So the Pirates have definitely put all the pieces together up to this point in the season.

They were having a similar story up until the All-Star break last year, which led to a second-half collapse. But something about them feels different this year. I don’t think they’ve playing over their heads right now; I think they’re legit for the first time since 1992.

> This series aside, the Brewers crucial stretch continues. They start a three-game set with the Cardinals at Miller Park tomorrow. Here are what the pitching matchups look like:

Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.41) vs. Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.31 ERA)

Joe Kelly (1-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (2-6, 5.80 ERA)

Adam Wainwright (7-9, 4.62 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.57 ERA)

So it’ll be Lynn vs. Fiers tomorrow. Fiers was hot entering the All-Star break, and tomorrow is his first career start against the Cards. We’ll see if he has better luck than the most of the other Brewers’ starters against the Cardinals. It’s a good thing Gallardo started in this series, because he’s 1-9 with a 7.07 ERA in his career against the Cardinals, including a 23.60 ERA in two starts this year (imagine his overall ERA without those two disasters). Wolf is on and off against them. Greinke has a 0.69 ERA in two starts against the Cards this year. But the starter who has the most success against the Cardinals is out for the year- Chris Narveson has a career ERA below 2.00 against them.

Anyway, I think Fiers will throw fine, because against the teams I’ve expected him to have trouble against, he’s done well (i.e. Dodgers, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Marlins, etc.).

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading.