Henderson struggles in 10th as Brewers fall again

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> I guess there’s no getting around these bullpen problems. The Brewers lost to the Astros again today, 6-5, in 10 innings. The Brewers never had a lead in the game, so there wasn’t a save for the bullpen to blow. Up until the 10th inning, it actually wasn’t that bad, but Jim Henderson ran into some control problems in the 10th, which eventually doomed the Brewers.

Henderson had also pitched the ninth, but it seemed to be a breeze, as he had a 1-2-3 inning while striking out the side. But he ran into a wall in the 10th. He gave up a lead-off single to Jose Altuve, then walked back-t0-back batters in Marwin Gonzalez and Steve Pearce. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Brewers were forced to go with five infielders and bring everyone in. So all Scott Moore had to do was drive a single into no-man’s land somewhere in the outfield, and that’s exactly what he did.

Marco Estrada had a pretty rough start that was actually cut short. He went just four innings while giving up four runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Estrada threw just 66 pitches, but was removed in the fifth inning with runners on first and third in place of pinch-hitter Cody Ransom. Ransom struck out (shocker), but Norichika Aoki followed it up with a two-run double to tie the game at 4-4.

ADDRESSING THE BULLPEN

> I thought the Brewers were going to win for sure today, since Ron Roenicke didn’t use John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez. Instead, he used almost everyone but, with Livan Hernandez pitching the fifth, Manny Parra the sixth, Kameron Loe the seventh, Jose Veras the eighth, and Henderson tossing the ninth and 1oth (although he didn’t record any outs).

Of course, though, people on Twitter were bashing Henderson for blowing the game, and that isn’t completely fair. Up to this point, Henderson had been lights out, and the only reliable reliever in the Brewers’ bullpen (and I think he still holds that title).

But the game wouldn’t have gone any differently had K-Rod or Axford been used in the 10th, so there’s no use in saying Henderson shouldn’t have been used in the situation. Last night I blamed Roenicke for not using Henderson, and I still do. But there’s not much he could have done tonight.

Anyway, here’s my theory that I’ve been trying to preach the past few days. In games where the Brewers have a three-run or less lead after the seventh inning (in other words, a hold/save situation), they should try Loe in the eighth, and Henderson in the ninth. Those are the two guys I sort of have confidence in at the moment. Loe has been shaky at times this year, but, out of the rest of the relievers, he’s been the best. Loe also has setup experience. He showed that he couldn’t handle the pressure of setting up when the Brewers were contending during the first half of 2011, but now the circumstances are different. Plus, they have no other choices right now, so it couldn’t hurt to try him.

Henderson has obviously proven he can close. He has yet to give up a run or a hit in the ninth inning. In three appearances in the ninth inning, he has six strikeouts and one walk. I have a feeling the 10th inning tonight was a fluke.

I’d love to see Roenicke try this. Hopefully he doesn’t assume Henderson can’t handle the job after his 10th inning tonight.

THE NEWS

> Mark Rogers said he didn’t mind that Moore broke up his no-hit bid in the sixth inning last night.

> Wily Peralta had a very efficient start for the Sounds tonight, going seven innings while giving up on run on six hits. He walked one and struck out six in Sacramento.

THE NUMBERS

> Tonight was the first time the Astros won back-to-back games since late June. Great.

> Carlos Gomez once again went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He might finally be cooling off.

> Jean Segura went 2-for-4 with an RBI for his first multi-hit game in the bigs.

> Jonathan Lucroy went 2-for-3 to bring his average back up to .331. He had a .345 average coming off the disabled list, but slumped down into the .320’s.

> Tomorrow’s pitching match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-8 5.69 ERA)

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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)


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.


Brewers defeated by 1B umpire

July 8, 2012

> The Brewers did indeed take a loss today, 6-3 in favor of the Astros in the second game of a three-game set. But, for a change, I don’t blame the Brewers one bit for losing: I’m blaming it on an umpire.

Very rarely do I hand umpires this much blame. I understand that they have a tough job, and mistakes will be made from time to time (although it feels  like a heck of a lot more often than that at times). Coming into today, I still had some respect for them, mainly because umpires are a traditional part of the original game of baseball.

But what occurred today in the first inning at Minute Maid Park was absolutely uncalled for and unacceptable. It wasn’t a mistake, it was a choice that could have easily been prevented. But first base umpire Sam Holbrook basically took the game right out of the hands of the Brewers after the second out of the game.

The game did start in a good way forace Zack Greinke. The first pitch of the game was hit hard into center field, but either should have been caught, or let go for a leadoff single. But, Carlos Gomez pulled the bone that we haven’t seen since last year out of his back pocket and completely misplayed the ball. It turned into a leadoff triple for Jordan Schafer, which is where the frustration started for Greinke.

Then, the next batter, Jose Altuve, hit a sharp ground ball to first baseman Corey Hart, who had to range far to his right to get the ball. Greinke didn’t have much time to cover first base because of how hard the ball was hit, so it came down to a race to the bag between Altuve and Greinke. Upon replays, it appeared that both reached first at the same time, and Holbrook called Altuve safe. Probably in frustration, Greinke spiked the ball into the ground after the play, which we’ve seen him do before. Nothing new, right?

But, a few seconds after Greinke spiked the ball, Holbrook turned around and threw him out of the game.

What?

Yep, Holbrook tossed Greinke in the FIRST INNING. You could see Greinke trying to mouth the words “I was mad at myself” to Holbrook, but Holbrook did the typical high-and-mighty ump thing and wouldn’t even look at Greinke. Ron Roenicke came out and argued, and it was about as angry as I’ve ever seen him.

Naturally, the Brewers’ bullpen went onto serve up five more runs, but that’s a given. And that’s what made me so angry about what Holbrook did. I doubt he knew the severity of what our bullpen has done lately, but to eject an ace starter in the first inning of a game after he’d thrown four pitches? For something that doesn’t even remotely affect the game, or Holbrook himself?

I don’t credit the Astros one bit for their win today. Greinke came in with a 4-0 record and 2.00 ERA in his career against them, and after that first inning probably would have shut them down. Holbrook completely took the game away from the Brewers.

So I’m joining the bandwagon for getting rid of umpires. The past few years especially, they’ve proven their uselessness and that the game doesn’t need them anymore.

> Anyway, the good news is, barring an idiot RRR move, Greinke could start again tomorrow. He threw just four pitches today, and it would be a waste of  a start. Unfortunately, Holbrook is umping home tomorrow.

> And that’s already about it. Not muchnews today, other than the fact that Sam Holbrook is an idiot.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers sweep Astros, get ready for series in St. Louis

August 8, 2011

6:44p The Brewers finished a sweep today, but it certainly doesn’t get any easier from here.

Brewers-Astros Wrap-Up

The Brewers completed a sweep of the Astros today, winning 7-3. Zack Greinke got his 10th win of the year, going seven innings while giving up one run one four hits. He struck out six and walked three. His Astros counterpart, Bud Norris, didn’t look as dominant as he usually he is against the Brewers. He went five innings while giving up six runs on eight hits. He struck out two and walked one.

The Brewers once again jumped on the Astros in the first inning, when Prince Fielder hit another long home run to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead. They also got two more runs in the third inning when Felipe Lopez and Mark Kotsay both hit RBI singles. Then, in the fifth inning, Yuniesky Betancourt stayed hot and got an RBI single as well.

The Astros finally broke through against Greinke in the sixth inning, when Jose Altuve hit an RBI single to cut the deficit to 6-1. But, the Brewers immediately answered in the seventh inning, when Betancourt hit his second RBI single of the day.

The Astros scored two more runs in the seventh when Carlos Lee hit a two-run single off Marco Estrada, but that would be it for them.

Big series against St. Louis coming up next

After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers will go to St. Louis for a crucial three-game series. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are coming off a four-game sweep of the Marlins. I was hoping the Marlins would win at least one game to give us a little more breathing room in the Central, but I guess they can’t even be counted on to do that.

Anyway, the Cardinals remain three games back in the Central, meaning if they sweep the Brewers at Busch Stadium, there’s going to be a tie atop the division again. I’m confident the Brewers won’t get swept, but you never know.

We’re also going to have to deal with the antics of the whiny Tony La Russa once again. Who knows what kind of crap he’s going to come up with to make the Brewers look bad this time around. During the last Cards-Brewers series, he had Jason Motte intentionally hit Ryan Braun with a pitch after Takashi Saito accidentally hit Albert Pujols. La Russa completely flipped out at a Milwaukee reporter after the game like the psychopath he is, but I heard the reporter on the radio the next day, and he put La Russa in his place.

Anyway, one more thing before I move on: the Cardinals were also whining that the Brewers were sign-stealing during the last series. They also claimed that sign-stealing is the reason the Brewers have had so much success at home this year. But, if we were sign-stealing, we would be undefeated at home, which we aren’t. So they can go whine about something else and make themselves look like idiots for the rest of the year, while the Brewers move on and try to win the division. I guess the Cardinals are failing to understand that whining and making up excuses about losing won’t win you a division in Major League Baseball, or in any other professional sport.

Also, yet another thing: if you’re a Brewers fan, you should go look at some of those Cardinals-biased blogs. They’re actually kind of entertaining to read. There’s one I go on occasionally that absolutely hates the Brewers this year, and the writer keeps saying stuff like “Brewers fans are the new Reds fans” or “The Cardinals are better than the Brewers.” Yeah, fat chance. We’re just sick of the fact that the Cardinals win the division every year.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting about our annoying rivals from St. Louis, let’s move on.

Up next for the Crew…

I already explained this, but here’s the pitching matchup for the day after tomorrow. The Brewers will send Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.58 ERA) to the mound. He got knocked around his last time out against the Cards, giving up six runs in six innings, but he didn’t factor in the decision. Marcum is 1-0 with a 7.20 ERA in two career starts against the Cards.

The Cardinals will counter with a pitcher who got knocked around by the Brewers even more his last time out- Edwin Jackson (8-8, 4.11 ERA). He was tagged for ten runs in seven innings against the Crew last week. Jackson is 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA against the Brewers in his career.

Box Score

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

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Nyjer Morgan, CF 3 2 1 0 1 0 1 .324
Felipe Lopez, 2B 4 0 1 1 0 0 1 .220
Ryan Braun, LF 5 0 0 0 0 2 2 .326
Prince Fielder, 1B 4 4 3 2 1 0 1 .304
Mark Kotsay, RF 5 1 3 1 0 0 1 .251
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 5 0 3 3 0 0 2 .268
Craig Counsell, 3B 3 0 0 0 1 0 4 .148
Jonathan Lucroy, C 4 0 0 0 0 2 2 .283
Zack Greinke, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .214
a-Josh Wilson PH-2B 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .262
Total 36 7 11 7 3 4 15

a-Popped out for Greinke in the 8th.

BATTING

2B: Betancourt (19), Morgan (13), Kotsay (7).

HR: Fielder (26).

RBI: Fielder 2 (85), Lopez (11), Kotsay (21), Betancourt 3 (48).

Team RISP: 5-for-13.

Team LOB: 8.

FIELDING
DP: (Greinke-Betancourt-Fielder).

ilwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Zack Greinke (W, 10-4) 7.0 4 1 1 3 6 0 4.21
Marco Estrada 0.2 3 2 2 0 2 0 4.80
Kameron Loe 1.1 1 0 0 0 3 0 4.05

WP: Greinke 2, Estrada, Loe.

Pitches-strikes: Greinke 101-64, Estrada 20-13, Loe 21-15.

Groundouts-flyouts: Greinke 6-2, Estrada 0-0, Loe 1-0.

Batters faced: Greinke 26, Estrada 5, Loe 5.

Inherited runners-scored: Loe 1-0.


Lopez, offense gives Wolf well-deserved win over Astros

July 30, 2011

9:47p Welcome back to the Brewers, Felipe Lopez.

Astros-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 4-0. Randy Wolf got his first win since June, and the Brewers offense actually gave him some run support today. Lopez, who I mentioned earlier, was a big part of the Brewers’ charge, going 2-for-4 in his first Brewers appearance since 2009.

The Brewers couldn’t really muster anything off of Astros starter Jordan Lyles until the fifth inning, when Casey McGehee got an RBI single from a swinging bunt. George Kottaras followed that up with an RBI single of his own to give the Brewers a 2-0 nothing lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Brewers tacked on a few more runs off the Astros’ bullpen when Corey Hart hit a two-run single to extend the lead to 4-0.

Wolf exited after seven innings due to a pitch count of 117, his second highest of the year, but had a stellar outing nonetheless. He gave up four hits while striking out five and walking three. The bullpen, Takashi Saito and Kameron Loe, combined for two perfect innings to finish off the game and give a break to Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford, who had both been used for three consecutive games.

Lyles, meanwhile, had a solid start, but is still searching for his first career win. He went six innings and gave up two runs on six hits while walking none and striking out three.

Lopez makes strong return to Brewers

Lopez made his first start with the Brewers since 2009 today, and he didn’t disappoint, going 2-for-4 with two singles. He also made a decent defensive play in the eighth inning to rob Jose Altuve of a bloop single.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin reacquired Lopez in a trade with the Rays in exchange for cash considerations yesterday. It was part of an emergency move because the Brewers regular starting second baseman, Rickie Weeks, went on the DL with a severely sprained ankle. Lopez appears to be the best option as the starting second baseman until Weeks’ return.

Lopez hit .320 during his time with the Brewers in 2009.

Pence traded to Phils mid-game

This was definitely one of the more awkward moments of the game. In the middle of the game, the Astros announced that right fielder Hunter Pence had been traded to the Phillies in exchange for four prospects. But, Pence was in right field at the time, so his replacement, Jason Michaels, had to go out and tell him that he’d been traded. So he shook hands and waved to everybody as he left the field for the last time on the worst team in baseball. Tomorrow, he’ll go onto the field for the first time with the best team in baseball.

SLOW curve…

I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a long time, and it finally happened today. Wolf lobbed a 58 MPH sweeping curve as a strikeout pitch to Michael Bourn, and it was the first time I’ve seen Wolf throw a curve below 60 MPH. I was waiting to see whether it would be Wolf or Zack Greinke, who both have part-eephus curveballs, to throw a curve below 60 MPH. I guess Wolf won that.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play the second game of a three-game set with the Astros tomorrow. They’ll send Yovani Gallardo (11-7, 3.89 ERA) to the mound, who will be in search of his 12th win of the season. Gallardo has completely dominated the Astros in his career, going 8-2 with a 3.32 ERA against them.

The Astros will counter J.A. Happ (4-12, 6.12 ERA), who is having the perfect definition of an awful season. He’s given up at least five runs in seven of his last eight starts, and has an 8.63 ERA over that span.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Pirates were hammered by the Phillies, 10-3. They now fall to 2.5 games back.
  • The Cardinals defeated the Cubs, 9-2. They are 1.5 games and 15.5 games back, respectively.
  • The Reds are locked up with the Giants in the 13th inning, 3-3. They are currently seven games back.