Bullpen hangs on for much-needed win

August 7, 2012


> Finally, a game I can enjoy covering. It’s been too long. The Brewers defeated the Reds somewhat handily today, 6-3. This snapped a three-game losing skid courtesy of the Cardinals, and was a strong start to an important series, even if the Brewers aren’t contending.

I wasn’t high on Yovani Gallardo’s chances coming into tonight’s start. He had struggled his two starts before his last one, and, despite performing well in his last one, it came against the Astros. Plus, Yo has struggled against the Reds at Miller Park in his career. But, he jammed that down my throat with a great start, going seven innings while giving up a run on six hits. He walked three and struck out four. Gallardo had  to dance around danger multiple times, but it was one of his better outings this year as far as pitching in the clutch. He improved to 10-8 on the year and his ERA fell to 3.79.

Meanwhile, the offense backed him late. Early on, it looked like the Brewers were in for another rough go against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Coming into tonight, the Brewers at a .139 average against Arroyo in three games this year. That stat held true until the fifth inning, when the Brewers finally solved the puzzle. Martin Maldonado led off the inning with a double. After Jean Segura advanced him to third on a sacrifice fly (the throw actually hit Maldonado as he was sliding into third), Gallardo himself drove in the game’s first run. That was all the Brewers got that inning, but they added on massively later.

The Brewers hit three home runs off Arroyo in the sixth inning, which is what they should be doing to him all the time. Aramis Ramirez, who had been barking with Arroyo earlier in the game due to some beef that goes back a ways, hammered his 14th home run of the season. Corey Hart followed that up with a mammoth shot into the Harley Davidson deck (if you know Miller Park’s geography you know that’s pretty far). Then, after a single by Rickie Weeks, Maldonado hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball off the bat, but it just kept carrying until it was a two-run homer.

The only Reds tally came in the seventh on a Zack Cozart home run, which was the one blemish on Gallardo’s line.

Then, in the eighth, the bullpen appeared to be having one of its classic meltdowns. Jay Bruce led off the inning with a single off Francisco Rodriguez. One batter later, Scott Rolen hit a ground-rule double that put men on second and third with one out. After K-Rod walked Todd Frazier to load the bases, Ron Roenicke opted to go to the Brewers’ other struggling closer, John Axford. Ax promptly gave up an RBI single to Xavier Paul. Then, the Brewers were given a dash of luck. On a 3-2 pitch to Dioner Navarro, he hit into the right center gap, and it looked like it was going to be a bases-clearing double. But, right fielder Norichika Aoki saved the game with a sliding catch, and it turned into a sacrifice fly for Navarro. Axford then induced a Cozart pop-out to end the threat.

The Brewers tacked on one more on Maldonado’s RBI double in the bottom of the eighth. That allowed Axford to come back out for the ninth and record his first multi-inning save since 2010 (yes, all the way back to the Ken Macha era).

The Analysis

> Segura made his anticipated Brewers debut tonight, batting eighth and playing shortstop. It didn’t go well, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He saw eight pitches total, six of which were sliders that his nerves wouldn’t let him lay off of. He did have a productive at-bat to advance Maldo to third in the fifth, and he smashed a line drive to right field in the sixth, although Bruce had him played perfectly.

Segura didn’t look bad defensively, though. I was worried he’d pull some Yuni B’s in his debut, but that didn’t happen, thankfully.

I’m excited to see what Segura will do in the future for the Brewers. I have very high hopes for the kid who was the centerpiece of the Zack Greinke trade for the Brewers.

> I forgot to mention this last night, but Jim Henderson finally gave up a run. His ERA is now 1.93. Despite the small sample size, I consider him the most reliable reliever in our bullpen. Had Axford blown it tonight, my theory of Henderson closing may have became a reality.

The News

> Shaun Marcum will make his first rehab start for Class A Wisconsin on Thursday, which will be the first step for his comeback. Once he comes back, he’ll basically be auditioning for the free agent market or a late August trade, though.

> Cesar Izturis is headed to the Nationals, as he was claimed off waivers by them earlier today. That allowed the Brewers to call up Segura and get a look at him.

>And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up, which should be a low-scoring contest, with each team’s best pitcher going:

Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88 ERA)

In the end, was Roenicke too friendly?

October 21, 2011

The 107th World Series is now all evened up at 1-1. The Rangers managed to snatch a win from the Cardinals today in the ninth inning, as the clown car- or bullpen, if you prefer to call it that- finally imploded for the Cards.

I’m still somewhat depressed that the Brewers aren’t playing in this series. But, as I explained in yesterday’s post, that awful defense pretty much made it impossible. Anyway, I’m not going to ramble on about the World Series for the rest of this post. That would be kind of pointless for me, considering this is a Brewers blog. Rather, I’m going to continue that post from yesterday, because I didn’t get to say everything I wanted to about how the Brewers pretty much prevented themselves from winning that series.

I started to talk about Ron Roenicke towards the end of that post, and here’s what I was going to say- he got to0 friendly with the team.

Now, I don’t mean Roenicke should start being harsh on the Brewers and scold them for every little thing (although that would still be better than what Ken Macha did). But, the manager of a team isn’t really supposed to be a friend- he’s the manager.

What I’m getting at is Roenicke’s choice for starting Shaun Marcum in Game 6- the deciding game of the Brewers’ season. Roenicke knew that Marcum was struggling- it’s hard not to notice that a guy has a 12.46 postseason ERA (going into that start). Yet, he chose to start him. And that was probably an attempt to save Marcum’s ego- which is what I mean by Roenicke being too friendly towards him.

Roenicke didn’t want Marcum to go down in Brewers’ history as the guy who flamed out during the most important part of the season. So, he tried to give him one last chance to prove himself, and it obviously didn’t go too well- one inning, four earned runs. The Brewers clearly made some threats after that, but an early four-run deficit is just usually too much to recover from.

Anyway, instead of saving Marcum’s reputation like he was trying to, Roenicke simply made the legacy worse. In my opinion, he would have been better off just leaving Marcum alone and not starting him for the rest of the postseason, because he clearly wasn’t on his game. But, now the Brewers’ season is over- and that mistake is going to loom over Roenicke for quite some time.

And he was out-managed in the NLCS by the most hated man in Wisconsin, Tony La Russa. La Russa wasn’t trying to be friendly to his starters- or any players- all season. During the regular season, he would give starting pitchers as much as 11 days rest (notably Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia). I guess that isn’t a very good point, but it’s definitely what Roenicke should have done in this situation. Anyway, La Russa also used his clown car at the perfect time in every game, and wasn’t afraid to be Captain Hook towards his starters. He simply managed better than Roenicke during the NLCS. Anyway, as I much as I hate La Russa, I hope Roenicke, a first-year manager, learned something from this experience.

But back to Marcum. He’s getting sort of a lot of hate right now that he doesn’t really deserve. I don’t blame Marcum for this situation at all, because, if he’s simply in a slump, he probably shouldn’t be starting in the postseason. I blame Roenicke for starting him even though he knew he was struggling.

By the way- I still refuse to compare Marcum to Jeff Suppan. That’s just an idiotic comparison, and you all know it.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave your comments/thoughts below. And thanks for all the views lately- this site is getting more than it ever has.

La Russa getting gas from everyone- even his own fans?

August 11, 2011

2:26p This doesn’t really have much to do with the Brewers, but this topic caught my eye earlier today, and I just want to put it out there.

So, as Brewers fans, we all know Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has pretty much ruined his reputation with his actions during the last Cards-Brewers series at Miller Park. First, he accused the Brewers of “sign-stealing” and manipulating the lighting while the Cardinals were batting. So, in other words, he was saying the Brewers are cheating at home and their record at home, which has the best winning percentage in baseball, is all a fluke.

La Russa even filed a formal complaint to MLB over it. That was when I started to realize he had issues. But it wouldn’t stop there.

MLB dismissed La Russa’s idiotic complaint, like they should have. But, La Russa had to take it to another level.

The next day, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito was in a seventh inning jam with Albert Pujols batting. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy set up for a pitch inside, but the pitch took off on Saito and hit Pujols in the wrist. This was clearly unintentional, because Saito was in a jam with no outs and just trying to make a big pitch. Plus, what on earth would a Japanese reliever who has never even pitched in the NL Central before this year have against Pujols, or the Cardinals in general?

But, in the next inning, La Russa struck again.

La Russa decided to stick with reliever Jason Motte, who had pitched the inning before, to pitch against Ryan Braun. Motte threw a ball outside to Braun for the first pitch. Then, he came inside on the second pitch. I thought the inside pitch was just a pitch that got away from him, but those thoughts were erased after the next pitch.

Sure enough, Motte hit Braun. Intentionally. I don’t give a crap if La Russa says they didn’t hit him intentionally. It’s obvious. We aren’t stupid. Even last night, MLB Network hosts Mitch Williams and Ahmed Fareed were getting on La Russa for saying that he didn’t hit him intentionally.

But, after that incident, I noticed there were some Cardinals fans saying stuff like, “Why were the Brewers coming out of the dugout, expecting a fight a to go down? Give me a break.” Well, genius Cardinals fans, think about this. If we accidentally hit your star player, and you intentionally hit our star player, you expect the Brewers not to react? What planet are you guys from? If you know anything about baseball, you’d know that’s how the game works most of the time.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, La Russa completely freaked out at a Milwaukee reporter and said something along the lines of, “We didn’t intentionally hit him, but we were trying to send a message.” That’s like saying, “I accidentally spilled a drink on your carpet, but I did it on purpose.” (That was a bad comparison, but you get the point.) But that’s something I’ve noticed about La Russa, and even a few Cardinals fans: they love to contradict themselves. I don’t know why, but it’s true.

Anyway, that’s pretty much the entire story. But now, I’m going to get to the point about La Russa.

I was browsing through a Cardinals’ blog earlier today (sometimes I like looking at the rival blogs). The post was defending La Russa or something like that, and I looked at the comments of it. All the comments were bashing La Russa and saying things like, “We’re sick of his whining” or “I can’t stand him.” Assuming they were Brewers fans, I nearly replied to agree with them. Then, I noticed that they were Cardinals fans. That was a first for me. I had never seen fans over their a team hate their manager, who just so happens to be one of the best winning managers in baseball.

Now, I’m not saying that I had never heard fans complaining about their manager before. I was one of the Brewers fans who hated both Ken Macha and Ned Yost. But it was because they had no idea how to win games. At least La Russa knows how to win games, yet his fans hate him.

Anyway, that’s about it. I just found that interesting. I don’t know who La Russa thinks he is, but apparently he’s not realizing that he’s driving away his own fans.