First WC game brings about controversy

October 6, 2012

> It was an ugly, ugly sight today in Atlanta, where the Braves and Cardinals played the first ever Wild Card play-in game (or whatever you want to call it). As you’d expect, it was dramatic as ever, but things took a turn for the worse in the eighth inning.

With the Cards up 6-3 in the eighth inning, Mitchell Boggs was pitching, and allowed two baserunners to start the inning. Then, Andrelton Simmons hit what looked like a routine pop-up off the bat, and shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday each went for it. It appeared Kozma had the ball played and was about to catch it, but at the last second he ran out of the way, expecting Holliday to take charge. But, as they stared at each other in shock, the ball fell in between them. This would have loaded the bases for the Braves and set them up for a comeback.

But, after the play appeared to be over, Sam Holbrook- the left field umpire- signaled that the infield fly rule had come into effect. In other words, Simmons was out, despite the fact neither fielder caught the ball.

At first glance, it looked like Holbrook blew the call: an outfield umpire shouldn’t be calling an infield fly rule, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t how the rule works. Since Kozma- an infielder- was close enough to the ball to have made a routine play on it, the rule still came into effect.

Braves fans didn’t take it well. In fact, they went as far as throwing trash on the field, which induced a 20-minute delay and forced Mike Matheny to do some jumbling in his bullpen.

So the first instinct is to blame Holbrook, but, in reality, he was just following the rules, and we can’t blame him for that- even if the rule is beyond stupid. The infield fly rule is supposedly there to keep runners from getting doubled off (or tripled off, in some cases) on shallow pop-ups like that. But, if the fielder misses it, why should he get credit for an out? That’s his fault, and the other team should be allowed to take advantage.

But, as usual, a Bud Selig idea gets off to an awful start. My opinion on the Wild Card play-in games is for another day, however.

MY TAKE

> It’s worth noting that Holbrook was the same umpire who ejected Zack Greinke after just three batters in Houston a few months back. That was a bad call, but is probably irrelevant in this situation.

> I’m really surprised at the hate Braves fans were getting for throwing garbage on the field. Sure, it’s a classless move. But what would you have done if you were a Braves fan, and you saw a play like that occur and didn’t receive an explanation for it right away? I really don’t blame the fans at all.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> In the midst of this controversy, the Cards wound up beating the Braves by the same score of 6-3. Kyle Lohse got his first postseason win, and Matheny used his bullpen effectively. On the other side, Kris Medlen took a rare loss (though only two of the five runs he allowed were earned).

> The Rangers not winning the AL West proved costly, as the Orioles knocked them out in the American League WC game, winning 5-1. Joe Saunders, despite being 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in Arlington in his career coming in, got his first postseason win. Former Brewer J.J. Hardy contributed one RBI for the O’s.

THE NEWS

> The was a Brewers press release yesterday in which Doug Melvin addressed a few issues going into 2013. I’ll have my opinions on that up within the next few days.

THE NUMBERS

> The Braves- who had the fewest errors in baseball during the regular season- committed three in a game when it mattered most.

Advertisements

Brewers end it somewhat fittingly

October 4, 2012

POSTGAME

> I don’t think the Brewers could have finished their season in a more fitting way. After an early 6-0 lead, they fell to the Padres, 7-6, to end a season in which this situation so often plagued them.

The Brewers scored six runs in the first three innings, with four of those runs coming from Travis Ishikawa (in what was likely his final game in a Brewers uniform). But after that, things went downhill quickly. The Padres got five runs between the fourth and six innings, including home runs from Chris Denorfia and Cameron Maybin. They then took the lead in the seventh off of Jim Henderson with an RBI triple from Chase Headley and a Yonder Alonso sacrifice fly.

MY TAKE

> I have to wonder if Ron Roenicke even tried to win this game. A day after taxing his bullpen by letting Tyler Thornburg go just four innings, he sits his ace, Yovani Gallardo, who could have easily given him at least seven innings. RRR instead started Josh Stinson, who he also let go only four innings, forcing his bullpen to go at least five innings again.

So obviously the bullpen was going to get rocked, and I worried about that from the start. In this case, it is DEFINITELY the manager’s fault, and there’s no argument against it.

THE NEWS

> Aramis Ramirez left the game early after reaching the .300 mark. The standing ovation he got was pretty cool.

> The Wild Card play-in games are tomorrow. It’ll be the Cardinals against the Braves (Kyle Lohse vs. Kris Medlen) and the Orioles against the Rangers (Joe Saunders vs. Yu Darvish).

> Former Brewer Ben Sheets made what was probably his final big league appearance yesterday. He pitched the first inning of the Braves-Pirates game and struck out two.

THE NUMBERS

> Headley secured his RBI title with two RBIs yesterday. He finishes at 115, while Ryan Braun stayed at 112.

> The Brewers needed eight strikeouts to tie the Major League strikeout record set by the 2003 Cubs, but only got six (despite Stinson not striking out a batter). If Gallardo starts, it’s almost guaranteed the Brewers at least tie the record.

> Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45 years.

With the regular season over and the Brewers not in the playoffs, there are going to be changes here at BWI in order to better fit offseason news. From now until the beginning of Spring Training 2013, here will be the new format: the biggest news story of the day (whether or not it’s a Brewers headline or not) or an opinionated article, the regular news section (Brewers news will always come first), postseason coverage (up until it ends), and the extras. The numbers might pop back every now and then, but I doubt there will be enough statistics to report over the offseason to consistently keep it is a section.

I already have some opinionated articles in mind, but I’ll save those for days in which there’s nothing else to write about.

THE EXTRAS

> The FOX Sports Wisconsin analysts continued the tradition of wearing bowties on the last day of the season.


Brewers handily take series from Bucs

August 26, 2012

POSTGAME

> It doesn’t matter how good the Pirates are or how bad the Brewers are: history tells us it’s likely the Brewers will always beat the Pirates. That happened again today, as the Brewers KO’d the Pirates 7-0.

Erik Bedard held the Brewers hitless through the first three innings, but the Brewers jumped all over him in the middle innings. Carlos Gomez hit a three-run blast off him in the fourth inning, then Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run shot following a Rickie Weeks RBI single in the fifth. The Brewers’ last run was Norichika Aoki’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.

BUCCOS RUNNING OUT OF TIME

> This is starting to become a common theme for the Pirates. Last year, they were in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1992. The quick assumption was that they’d finally reach the playoffs (or at least finish over .500) for the first time since that year as well.

But there was no such luck. The Pirates couldn’t even win 20 games down the stretch, and faded out of contention to a 72-90 record.

This year, the Pirates seemed to have stepped it up a notch, and have been contending for most of the year. But now they may be fading away yet again. They’ve lost 12 of their last 17 games, and have been struggling against the teams that most contending teams would beat (i.e. the Brewers, and they were swept in four games by the Padres prior to this series).

The reason for this happening two years in a row is probably because the young players are putting too much pressure on themselves. A perfect example of that is James McDonald, who had an ERA hovering around 2.20 before the All-Star break. Since the break, his ERA is over 8.00. That’s a sign he’s probably trying to do too much, and the same can be said for other young players on his team.

But the front office isn’t really helping them, either. They traded ex-Brewer Casey McGehee to the Yankees during a stretch in which he was really helping the Pirates win games, then attempted to replace him by acquiring Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins. I didn’t understand that all, considering Sanchez, a former All-Star, was hitting below .200 and had been in the Minors for most of the year with the Marlins. And all the Pirates got in return for McGehee was struggling reliever Chad Qualls. So that was clearly a bad series of moves. The Wandy Rodriguez trade looked good on paper, but Rodriguez has an ERA above 5.00 since joining the Pirates.

And while the Pirates continue to struggle, other teams are pulling away and are simply making themselves better than the Pirates. I want to say the Braves have a Wild Card spot locked up, but I can’t after last year. The Cardinals have pulled ahead of the Pirates in the WC chase as well. And there’s almost no chance the Bucs can compete with the juiced Dodgers.

While I wanted to see the Pirates contend for once this year, I can’t see it happening now. There are just too many teams that are better than them, and their struggles are holding them back.

MY TAKE

> Mark Rogers had a strange start today. He shut down the Pirates, but did so in a rather inefficient way, needing 101 pitches to get through just five innings. His three walks may have contributed to that.

When Rogers was first drafted, some considered him a future ace. At the time, that may have bode true, but after all these injuries he’s gone through, I don’t know if he’ll ever reach that point. That’s not to say he can’t be a solid two or three starter, because his stuff is definitely still there. But now I’m doubting he’ll ever be that true No. 1.

> Gomez is getting far more playing time than Nyjer Morgan nowadays, which I love to see. He’s hitting just .247, but is starting to show that power stroke everyone has been waiting for. With Morgan likely gone next year, I’m excited to see what kind of numbers Gomez will put up as a full-time center fielder.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers might not shut down Mike Fiers. They’ve been going back and forth on the decision regarding shutting him down, and have gone back to the good side.

If the Brewers do decide to shut down Fiers, it likely wouldn’t be until late September. But even Fiers himself has said he “feels fine” and would like to pitch the rest of the year.

> Ron Roenicke is going to stick with Weeks in the two-hole in the lineup. Weeks is just 8 for his last 50, but did get an RBI today.

> Vin Scully, the best sportscaster in history, is coming back to announce Dodgers games in 2013.

> The Orioles acquired Joe Saunders from the Diamondbacks. Not exactly the ace arm they were looking for, but we’ll see if he can help them with a playoff run.

> Roger Clemens went 3 1/3 innings in his first start with the Sugar Land Skeeters yesterday. He needed just 37 pitches and gave up no runs.

THE NUMBERS

> Rogers got his second consecutive win after the bullpen seemingly wouldn’t let him find one for a few starts.

> Jonathan Lucroy went a perfect 3-for-3, raising his average to .333.

> The Brewers have made five errors in their last two games. Whoever was saying defense has been a high point this year apparently jinxed it.

> Here are the probables for the upcoming Cubs series:

Marco Estrada (1-5, 4.23 ERA) vs. Justin Germano (2-3, 4.54 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (13-8, 3.62 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (4-10, 4.76 ERA)

Mike Fiers (7-6, 2.98 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.09 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> Yes. Yes we were.

But, according to this magazine, ESPN has the Packers going 16-0 and winning the Super Bowl. I’d take that.

> Wouldn’t you hate to play for a team called the “Sugar Land Skeeters?”


Brewers hammered by D-Backs in spring finale

April 5, 2012

> The Brewers’ Spring Training season ended on a sour note today with a 14-3 loss to the Diamondbacks. Since it was the last game of the spring, the two teams played in the Diamondbacks actual home stadium, Chase Field, rather than their ST complex. The ball typically flies pretty far there, but 14 runs is sort of outrageous.

On the bright side, though, Corey Hart showed that he was ready for the Opening Day roster with a two-run homer off Joe Saunders. It was his first Major League game of the spring (he’d played in a few Minor League games prior to this). But it’s good to know the outfield won’t be in a flux to start the season.

But, three pitchers who had looked good practically all spring prior to today got mauled. Shaun Marcum, who had one Major League start this spring before today, was shelled for five earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. Manny Parra, who had been having a great spring after missing all of 2011, gave up five runs without even recording an out. Tim Dillard also gave up three runs in just 1 2/3 innings, after I’ve been pretty high on him all spring.

Obviously, these outings don’t really matter at this point, since they’re pretty much guaranteed spots on the Opening Day roster. But hopefully this isn’t a premonition of things to come during the regular season for these pitchers.

> It was announced today that Travis Ishikawa made the Opening Day roster over Brooks Conrad, and thank goodness he did. I don’t care how versatile Conrad is- if he can’t hit or play defense, it sort of negates the versatility.

> The Cardinals won their Opening Daygame in Miami today at the Marlins’ new ballpark, and made them look pretty foolish. Kyle Lohse took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and the Cards ended up winning, 4-1. They’ll now travel to Milwaukee tonight, have a workout tomorrow, and play the Brewers on Friday.

> The Reds locked up Joey Votto yesterday, with a 10-year, $225 million deal that came completely out of nowhere. But it doesn’t surprise me- Votto has been a great player for the Reds over the past few years, with a .313 career batting average. He also has an NL MVP under his belt that he took home in 2010.

But Votto is a Brewers-killer, and it looks like he’ll continue that until 2024. He and his left-handed, power-hitting buddy Jay Bruce have murdered the Brewers the past few years.

> And that’s about it. I won’t have another post up until Opening Day, but let me tell you I’m pumped. Opening Day should just become a national holiday at some point.

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


Postseason preview of the Brewers-D-backs NLDS

September 30, 2011

It’s been awhile. Sorry for not getting up an articles in a couple days; I’m having a pretty stressful week. I’ve had close to no time to even get on the computer, much less write a full article. But I’m back, and should have all the postseason coverage on this blog.

Speaking of the postseason. The last time I posted was when the Brewers clinched the NL Central on Ryan Braun’s clutch home run against the Marlins. From there, the Brewers went on to sweep the Marlins and win their regular season-ending series against the Pirates. The also finished with a franchise record 96 wins, which is astounding, if you think about it.

But wow, did some crazy things happen in both Wild Card races yesterday.

The Rays and Cardinals are headed to the postseason. If I told you that coming into September, you would have called me crazy. I would have called myself crazy. But it happened, thanks to historical September meltdowns by the Braves and Red Sox.

That’s right. The Red Sox. The dream fantasy team, that had Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester- I could go on forever. And they blew a nine-game Wild Card lead. That’s the largest Wild Card lead blown since it was introduced in the early 90’s.

Anyway, here’s what happened to them last night. After a rain delay that lasted a few hours in Baltimore, the Red Sox led the Orioles, 3-2, in the ninth inning. Jonathan Papelbon, one of the best closers in the game, was in to try and finish it off. And he blew it. He gave up two runs, the parting blow coming from Robert Andino- a name that no casual baseball fan has ever heard. But, he’ll always be remembered as part of what ruined what could have been a good season for the BoSox.

But something great had to happen in St. Pete if the Rays were to make the postseason, right? And it was great. They were playing the Yankees, and were down 7-0 going into the eighth inning. But, they scored six runs in the eighth, putting a ton of pressure on the Yankees to close it out in the ninth. The Yankees must not have felt that much pressure, though- they didn’t even put in all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera (ugh, it feels weird saying that) to close out a one-run game. That resulted in a game-tying home run by Dan Johnson (another name that a casual baseball fan has never heard). But, the Rays wouldn’t clinch their postseason berth until the 12th inning. It came on a line-drive home run by Longoria- his second of the game- and it left the Red Sox absolutely stunned. Even I’m still trying to get a grip on the fact that the Red Sox aren’t going to be in the postseason.

Anyway, the Cardinals can thank two players in particular for getting them into the postseason- Chris Carpenter and Craig Kimbrel. Carpenter tossed a two-hitter against the Astros, and Kimbrel, unable to contain his emotions in the ninth inning, blew a crucial save against the Phillies, ending the Braves’ season abruptly.

But, with all that out of the way, let’s get down to business. The regular season is over; now, we wait and see who’ll reach the Fall Classic.

Thanks to the Cardinals reaching the postseason, the Brewers will host the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. To be honest with you, this completely messes up my predictions for the postseason- I was hoping for a Brewers-D-Backs NLCS. But that obviously can’t happen now.

Anyway, here are the pitching match-ups for this series:

Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA)

Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders (12-13, 3.69 ERA)

You can just tell by looking at the numbers that these are all going to be great match-ups. But, it couldn’t have come out better for the Brewers- and you’re about to figure out why home field advantage was so important to the Crew.

Gallardo and Greinke each have 11 wins at home this year. Gallardo has two losses, and Greinke has none. This is why home field advantage was so important. Both pitchers are practically invincible at home, especially Greinke, who is invincible at home (at least so far). Kennedy and Hudson obviously won’t be easy to beat, however, so expect a few pitchers’ duels. Oh, by the way, I just thought I should mention this- Gallardo is 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his career against the D-Backs. That could be a pretty big factor.

Then, the series changes venues- which also plots out in the Brewers’ favor. Marcum has been that one guy who is different from everyone in the rotation. Instead of being great at home, he’s great on the road- his 2.31 ERA on the road proves that.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. The two ALDS’s start tomorrow between the Rays and Rangers, and Yankees and Tigers, so we’ll have those to keep us company until the NLDS starts. The Yanks-Tigers game will be interesting- CC Sabathia, a former Brewer, will face Justin Verlander, who has a no-hitter against the Brewers. That’s a game I won’t be missing.

Anyway, one more thing before I go- let me say that this could be a magical year for the Brewers.


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.