Results of the major awards

November 17, 2012

> Now that the week of debating over awards is over, the boring part of the offseason starts: waiting for all of the big name players to sign. But first, let’s look at the complete placing for each award (via Baseball Reference).

NL MVP:

1. Buster Posey
2. Ryan Braun
3. Andrew McCutchen
4. Yadier Molina
5. Chase Headley
6. Adam LaRoche
6. David Wright
8. Craig Kimbrel
9. Aramis Ramirez
10. Jay Bruce
11. Matt Holliday
12. Aroldis Chapman
13. Brandon Phillips
14. R.A. Dickey
14. Joey Votto
16. Ian Desmond
16. Clayton Kershaw
18. Michael Bourn
19. Allen Craig
20. Gio Gonzalez
20. Kris Medlen
20. Martin Prado
20. Alfonso Soriano
24. Giancarlo Stanton
24. Ryan Zimmerman
26. Carlos Beltran
26. Aaron Hill
28. Jason Heyward
28. Carlos Ruiz
30. Johnny Cueto
30. Bryce Harper
32. Chipper Jones
32. Miguel Montero
32. Angel Pagan
32. Hunter Pence

AL MVP: 

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Mike Trout
3. Adrian Beltre
4. Robinson Cano
5. Josh Hamilton
6. Adam Jones
7. Derek Jeter
8. Justin Verlander
9. Prince Fielder
10. Yoenis Cespedes
11. Edwin Encarnacion
12. David Price
13. Fernando Rodney
14. Jim Johnson
15. Alex Rios
16. Josh Reddick
17. Albert Pujols
18. Ben Zobrist
19. Joe Mauer
20. Rafael Soriano
21. Matt Wieters
22. Felix Hernandez
22. Jered Weaver
24. Raul Ibanez

NL Cy Young Award: 

1. R.A. Dickey
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Johnny Cueto
5. Craig Kimbrel
6. Matt Cain
7. Kyle Lohse
8. Aroldis Chapman
8. Cole Hamels

AL Cy Young Award: 

1. David Price
2. Justin Verlander
3. Jered Weaver
4. Felix Hernandez
5. Fernando Rodney
6. Chris Sale
7. Jim Johnson
8. Matt Harrison
9. Yu Darvish

NL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Bryce Harper
2. Wade Miley
3. Todd Frazier
4. Wilin Rosario
5. Norichika Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
6. Matt Carpenter
6. Jordan Pacheco

AL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Mike Trout
2. Yoenis Cespedes
3. Yu Darvish
4. Wei-Yin Chen
5. Jarrod Parker

NL Manager of the Year: 

1. Davey Johnson
2. Dusty Baker
3. Bruce Bochy
4. Fredi Gonzalez
5. Bud Black
5. Mike Matheny

AL Manager of the Year: 

1. Bob Melvin
2. Buck Showalter
3. Robin Ventura
4. Joe Maddon
5. Joe Girardi
6. Jim Leyland
6. Ron Washington

> I forgot to mention the other day that Ramirez placed ninth in the NL MVP voting. It seems like a lot of non-Brewers fans are overlooking that he actually turned in a great year.

> The Brewers signed Eulogio De La Cruz and Zach Kroenke- both pitchers- to minor league deals.

Kroenke is a lefty, so he gives the Brewers some much-needed depth in that department. And, if you don’t recognize the name “Eulogio” De La Cruz, trust me- you do.

Does “Frankie” De La Cruz ring a bell? Yep, he’s back, and n0w I can continue vomiting over how horrible his mechanics are.

> Jack Zduriencik- a former Brewers scout, and currently the general manager of the Mariners- said they aren’t actively pursuing Josh Hamilton. That could be good for the Brewers, though Doug Melvin has been saying basically the same thing as Zduriencik.

> The Blue Jays signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal worth $16 million. Interpret that how you want.

> Minor moves: 

Mets: Signed Brian Bixler to a minor league deal.
Padres: Acquired Tyson Ross and A.J. Kirby-Jones from the Athletics.
Athletics: Acquired Andrew Werner and Andy Parrino from the Padres.
Royals: Signed Brandon Wood, Atahualpa Severino, Brian Sanches, and Anthony Ortega to minor league deals.


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.


Tigers headed to the World Series

October 20, 2012

> Sorry for my inconsistent writing recently. I’ve been pretty under the weather the last few days, and I just haven’t been in the mood to write. But here’s an article covering what’s gone on the past few days.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> Prince Fielder and the Tigers are going to the World Series. They blew out the Yankees and their “offense” yesterday, 8-1, to secure their first trip to the largest stage since 2006. Max Scherzer was stellar, striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings while allowing just two hits. His counterpart, CC Sabathia, didn’t have such luck, however- he lasted only 3 2/3 innings and was pounded for six runs on 11 hits. The Tigers got home runs from Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, and Jhonny Peralta, who hit two.

But you can bet the Yankees are happy this awful postseason for them is over. They hit .188 in the ALDS and ALCS combined, Alex Rodriguez has been getting hampered by the media for flirting with fans and hitting .125, they lost Derek Jeter to a horrible ankle injury- not much went right.

And you have to wonder what on earth went wrong. A-Rod, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher all hit below .200, and Robinson Cano hit under .100. Mark Teixera hit exactly .200. The lone players to hit over .300 this postseason for the Yankees were Ichiro Suzuki, Eduardo Nunez, and Jeter (before he got injured). And Nunez was left off the ALCS roster until Jeter got hurt.

A strange phenomenon indeed.

> The Cardinals won last night and could have clinched a World Series berth today, but the Giants will live at least another day after their win today. The Cards ambushed the Giants for eight runs last night on great offensive days from Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Pete Kozma, but couldn’t replicate that today. They were completely shut down by Barry Zito, who fired 7 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the Giants alive. But the Cards’ biggest mistake was Lance Lynn’s error in the fourth inning, which, had it turned into a double play, could have made this a very different game.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers outrighted Hector Gomez to Triple-A Nashville.

> Fernando Rodney and Buster Posey won the AL and NL Comeback Player of the Year Awards, respectively.

> Delmon Young won the ALCS MVP award.

> Minor moves from the past few days:

Rangers: Outrighted Tyler Tufts to Triple-A.
Blue Jays: Claimed Tyson Brummett off waivers from the Phillies.
Phillies: Outrighted Pete Orr and Steven Lerud off their 40-man roster.
Mets: Outrighted Fred Lewis, who will probably elect free agency.
Athletics: Outrighted Jeremy Accardo, who elected free agency.
Royals: Signed Juan Gutierrez, Devon Lowery, Max Ramirez, Matt Fields, and Nick Van Stratten.
Marlins: Outrighted Nick Green to Triple-A; outrighted Donnie Murphy, who elected free agency.


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.


Nearly astounding comeback falls short

September 10, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers had to have this game, and, after an amazing late comeback, it looked like they were going to get it. But, they couldn’t bring the momentum into extra innings, losing to the Cardinals 5-4 in 10 innings.

The Cards jumped on Shaun Marcum right away in the first inning, with home runs from Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran within a span of three batters. Matt Carpenter gave the Cards another in the second inning on an RBI double, and memories of the Brewers’ last NLCS game in 2011 were brought back. The only two Brewers runs came on a wild pitch that allowed a run to score in the second inning and a Jean Segura RBI single in the fourth.

Fast forward to the ninth inning. The Cardinals brought in their flamethrower, Jason Motte, whom the Brewers haven’t been able to touch since he was put into the Cards’ closer role. But today was a different story. Two batters after a Segura double, Norichika Aoki hit a game-tying homer on a 99 MPH fastball from Motte.

After that, I thought the Brewers were going to win for sure; everything’s been going our way lately. But not today- Kameron Loe gave up the walk-off single to Allen Craig in the 10th inning, and that was that.

MY TAKE

> Two out of three in St. Louis is usually good for the Brewers, but they desperately needed the sweep today. The Brewers don’t have any more head-to-head match-ups against the Cards for the rest of the year, and the schedules don’t exactly go in the Brewers’ favor either. The Cardinals get to play 12 of their last 22 games against the Padres, Pirates, and Astros, while the Brewers still have series against the Braves, Nationals, and Reds left.

So I’d love to see the Brewers do what the Cards did down the stretch last year, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.

THE NEWS

> Ryan Braun and Corey Hart each had to leave the game early today. Braun has a wrist problem that’s been lingering the entire season, and Hart had a mild sprained ankle. Neither are considered very serious.

Logan Schafer took over for Braun in left field, and Travis Ishikawa came in to play first base.

> The Brewers claimed Miguel De Los Santos off waivers from the Rangers. They had released him on Friday.

De Los Santos, a left-hander, put up a confusing 5.22 ERA for the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate this season. The reason I say confusing is because Baseball America thought De Los Santos had the best change-up in the Rangers’ organization prior to the season.

The Brewers now have two De Los Santos’ down on the farm, having acquired Fautino De Los Santos from the Athletics in exchange for George Kottaras back in early August.

> Mark Rogers said he isn’t ready to be shut down. Neither am I.

> Today is the 20th anniversary of Robin Yount’s 3000th career hit.

> Zack Greinke got the win for the Angels tonight, going seven strong against the Tigers.

THE NUMBERS

> Brandon Kintzler threw two scoreless innings. But I find it strange that he doesn’t have a strikeout in the Majors yet this year, especially with the kind of stuff he has.

> Segura went a perfect 3-for-3. He’ll need to put together a good stretch here if he wants to prove he can be the everyday shortstop next year.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Braves:

Mike Minor (8-10, 4.58 ERA) vs. Wily Peralta (1-0, 5.14 ERA)

Tim Hudson (14-5, 3.59 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-6, 3.99 ERA)

Paul Maholm (12-9, 3.67 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.76 ERA)


Offense crushes McDonald early

September 3, 2012

POSTGAME

> You could tell from the early innings on that today was going to be a slugfest, and that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully, it came out in favor of the Brewers, who downed the Pirates, 12-8. It was home runs galore, as a grand total of eight of them were hit between the two teams.

The Brewers absolutely murdered James McDonald, tagging him for eight runs (seven earned) in just 2 2/3 innings. Ryan Braun hit a mammoth three-run blast off him in the first inning, then Jeff Bianchi and Rickie Weeks each hit bombs off him in the second (all three were tape-measure shots). Carlos Gomez added one in the third inning, which spelled the end of the day for McDonald.

But the offense wasn’t done after that. Aramis Ramirez added two RBi singles before it was all said and done, and even Yovani Gallardo- the starter- hit a solo blast.

CUTCH DOESN’T DESERVE THE MVP- AT THE MOMENT

> So recently I’ve been preaching that, if the National League MVP award was handed out today, I would not give it to Andrew McCutchen. Today I finally put something on Twitter regarding that, saying that I laugh at the people who were handing him the award two months ago.

Naturally, I received gas for voicing my opinion that, more often than not, differs from others. My main point was that you shouldn’t assume whoever is having the best season in freaking June is going to win the MVP award. But I also wanted to state that McCutchen has been in a bit of a tailspin lately. He was hitting roughly .370 last month, but dropped all the way to the .340 range in August. Like I said, .340 is still great, but people seem to be forgetting that it’s still a drop of .3 in average points, which itself is horrible.

And, not surprisingly, during McCutchen’s drop in average, the Pirates have dropped in the standings. They’re 11 games back of the Reds in the National League Central, and let the Cardinals pass them in both the division and Wild Card standings (obviously). Yes, the Pirates are still just 1.5 games out of a WC spot, but that’s courtesy of some sheepish play on the Cardinals’ part.

I stated this in an article a few days ago, but I don’t see the Pirates being relevant come October. If they can’t beat teams like the Brewers and Padres, then they don’t belong in the postseason. And it’s pretty much a given that, if the Pirates don’t make it, McCutchen won’t take home the award. That’s just the way the voting works nowadays. Say the Cardinals and/or Giants make it. Then someone like Matt Holliday or Buster Posey will win it because of the value they had on their team’s postseason run.

There were some false assumptions on Twitter today; I did NOT say McCutchen is having a bad season by any means. Even after his slump (by his standards), he’s up there among league leaders in most offensive categories, and his defense is spectacular in center field. But, if the Pirates don’t make it, there’s plenty of reason to doubt he’ll still win the MVP award.

MY TAKE

> Today proved that Ron Roenicke has no idea how to manage a pitching staff. He left in Gallardo to get the crap beaten out of him for 4 2/3 innings, forcing him to throw 119 pitches. But would he ever be allowed to throw a 119-pitch complete game? No, because that’s too many innings.

Makes sense, right?

> Manny Parra continues to state his case for not being on the team next year. He came on to start the ninth with a four-run lead, but allowed a hit and a walk. RRR decided not take any chances and put in John Axford, who managed to bail out Parra and record the save.

But what caught me was the way Parra reacted to being removed. He whipped the ball back at Martin Maldonado before leaving the field, then appeared to be angry with Roenicke. But honestly, what is Parra expecting? Going out and throwing like crap every other outing isn’t going to win your manager’s confidence (no matter how mindless that manager may be). He’s become strangely cocky about himself this year, despite the fact this is arguably his worst year in the Majors. His attitude and performance definitely don’t match.

THE NEWS

> Pirates manager Clint Hurdle claims that the Brewers are still dangerous in the pennant race.

“Toughest thing to do in sports is repeat. I know that going in. They’ve had a lot of injuries, and some pitching challenges, which never bodes well for a club. They’re a very dangerous club right now, very dangerous. Offensively, they can beat you a number of different ways. One of the best dynamics to have offensively is speed and power, and they have that. The speed shows up every day.”

“They’re playing with a lot of pride, playing together. And whether you like it or not, sometimes you get in situations where your best opportunity is to finish strong, and wreck other people’s seasons.”

> Chris Narveson began a throwing program today.

> Randy Wolf made his debut for the Orioles today, against the Yankees. He came on in relief of the injured Chris Tillman, and threw 3 1/3 innings while giving up a run and notching the win.

THE NUMBERS

> Every starter in the lineup- except Maldonado- had a hit.

> The Brewers have gone on an 11-2 run in which they went from 12.5 games back in the WC standings to 6.5. But, according to CoolStandings.com, they still have only a 0.6 chance at making the postseason.

> Braun tied his career-high in homers (37), and we still have a month to go. It’s also worth mentioning he’s two away from 200 dingers for his career.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Marlins:

Mike Fiers (8-6, 2.85 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (10-12, 4.78 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.35 ERA) vs. Jacob Turner (1-3, 7.33 ERA)

??? vs. Nathan Eovaldi (4-10, 4.48 ERA)

Marco Estrada (2-5, 3.85 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson (7-11, 3.86 ERA)

The ??? will probably be Wily Peralta, since Mark Rogers has been shut down for the year.


Yo does the job again

August 29, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers once again handled the Cubs with ease tonight, winning 4-1. Yovani Gallardo had another stellar start, going seven innings while giving up a run on three hits. He walked three and struck out nine.

The Brewers jumped on Travis Wood early, as Jeff Bianchi hit his first career home run- a three-run blast- in the second inning. The only Cubs run came on a home run from Wood, the pitcher. Other than that, the Cubs’ offense was rather lifeless.

The 2011 bullpen was successfully revisited tonight, as Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford got the hold and save, respectively. If only we could have had that a few months ago.

LOOKING INTO THE NL MVP RACE

> Recently I’ve been mulling over who I think should win the major baseball awards come the end of the season, and I’ve found there are a lot of interesting award races around the game. One I’m having a particularly tough time with is the National League MVP race.

Our own Ryan Braun took it home last year after posting a career high in batting average and leading the Brewers to the playoffs. But, while Braun is nearly duplicating the numbers he put up last year- and on pace for a career high in home runs- I can’t see him taking it home this year. The Brewers aren’t remotely close to contention, which we all know always affects the MVP race. And his eventful offseason is certain to take more than a few votes away.

Other than Braun, I see three candidates for the MVP (all on contending teams): Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, and Matt Holliday. Obviously there are other sleeper guys around the league, such as Adam LaRoche, Freddie Freeman, Carlos Beltran, and so on, but the three I listed prior seem to be the choices whom all the buzz is surrounding.

Everyone was pretty much handing McCutchen the award in July, which is clearly too early. He was hitting around .370 at the time, but has fallen into the .340’s. That still isn’t bad, but, as McCutchen has fallen, so have the Pirates. If that continues, my vote would not go to Cutch.

Posey and Holliday are my top two right now; both are valuable assets to their contending teams. Assuming the Giants and Cardinals stay where they are in the standings into the playoffs, my vote would go to Posey. The Giants have an otherwise weak offense without him, while the Cardinals still have a lineup of perennial All-Stars without Holliday.

That’s my opinion on the race right now. I would be thrilled if Braun somehow came out with the award again, but I have a feeling one of the guys I listed will to do Braun what Braun did to Matt Kemp last year.

MY TAKE

> Bianchi must have been listening when I called him Brooks Conrad 2.0 the other night, because he’s gone on a tear since I criticized him in Pittsburgh. After starting his career with an 0-for, Bianchi had five consecutive hits, ending with his first career homer in the second inning.

Needless to say I’m liking the Jean Segura-Bianchi shortstop tandem than I did the Cody Ransom-Cesar Izturis tandem.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum was placed on waivers today. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get nabbed by a contender.

> Randy Wolf didn’t go unemployed for very long, as it was reported that the Orioles signed him earlier today. They’ll likely use him as a relief since they’re primary lefty out of the ‘pen, Troy Patton, is taking a long time to recover from an injury. But Buck Showalter didn’t rule out using him as a spot starter in the ever-changing O’s rotation.

UPDATE: The Athletics also had “serious interest” in Wolf before he signed with the Orioles.

> Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said he doesn’t want Brewers pitchers trying too hard to get strikeouts in what could be a record-breaking season.

“I don’t want to see guys try to get strikeouts. They are a product of strike one and strike two. But when the situation dictates it, we’ve got guys who know how to strike guys out.”

“I’m just as happy with a shutout with no strikeouts and no walks. I don’t want to get caught up in all that [strikeout talk]. That’s why you have a defense out there.”

The Brewers are on pace to break the team strikeout record set by the 2003 Cubs, who featured elite arms such as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

> The Pirates released Erik Bedard. His final start with them was a loss at the hands of the Brewers just a few days ago, when he gave up seven earnies in 4 2/3 innings.

THE NUMBERS

> Gallardo made strides in quite a few stats tonight. He reached 14 wins for the third consecutive year. He won his sixth consecutive decision. He struck out nine for the third consecutive start. He threw his Major League-leading 22nd quality start. Yep, he’s the ace of the staff right now.

> Brewers pitchers struck out 10 for the eighth straight game.

> Holy crap, Justin Verlander gave up eight earned runs today.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

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


Rogers settles down too late as Brewers fall

August 5, 2012

> The Brewers just couldn’t get anything going today against the Cardinals, losing 6-1. Mark Rogers, who had a solid start in his season debut against the Nationals, served up five runs between the second and third innings, and that would be the Brewers’ downfall, with the way their offense was all night.

Rogers went just five innings while giving up five runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out five. This is rather cliche, but, other than the third inning in which Rogers gave up four runs, he didn’t pitch all that badly. All seven hits he gave up came between the second and third innings, including six in the third. Carlos Beltran led off the second with a home run that was originally ruled a double, but it was reviewed and overruled to a home run. But it was nothing to argue about; the ball was clearly over the wall. That tied the game at 1-1, but Rogers allowed back-to-back doubles to start the third against the Cards’ eight and nine hitters, Daniel Descalso and pitcher Adam Wainwright. Two batters later, Allen Craig started a string of three straight singles, the others from Matt Holliday and Beltran. After Rogers struck out David Freese, he gave up an RBI single to Yadier Molina. That would be the last run of the inning, but by the end of all of that, the score was 5-1.

The only Brewers run came in the first inning. Carlos Gomez led off the game with a double, Nyjer Morgan moved him over with a groundout, and Ryan Braun drove him in with a sacrifice fly. But that’s been the story of the season for Wainwright: you have to jump on him early, because he’s nearly untouchable after the first inning, especially against a Brewers team he’s had success against. Wainwright went on to throw a complete game gem, allowing just that one run on five hits, along with no walks and seven strikeouts.

> If you didn’t already know, the Cardinals have been celebrating their 1982 World Series championship- which came over the Brewers- this weekend, with the big on-field ceremony coming prior to today’s game. The Cardinals wore their throwback uniforms from around that time, as did the Brewers.

But, as much as I love the powder blue retro road uniforms that the Brewers donned today, I have to question them agreeing to take part in the Cards’ celebration of them winning the ’82 Series. Again, keep in mind the Brewers lost that series, and is to this day their only World Series appearance. It’s almost like the Brewers commemorating the fact that they lost in the World Series.

I guess you could look at it two ways. It’s the Brewers’ only Series appearance in their history, and the ’82 team was arguably the best team the Brewers have ever fielded, so it could be worth celebrating. But, at the same time, I find it somewhat embarrassing that the Brewers would take part in a celebration of a series in which they lost.

But that makes it even more fitting that they lost today.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will try and save themselves the embarrassment of being swept in St. Louis tomorrow at 7:05 PM CT. They’ll send Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.34 ERA) to the mound, who is still in search of his first win. He’ll be opposed by Kyle Lohse (11-2, 2.91 ERA), who doesn’t have a good track record against the Brewers, but has been solid in his last two starts against them.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

 

 


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. ???


Everything goes right for Crew in much-needed win

July 18, 2012

> The Brewers definitely needed this after last night’s disaster. They defeated the Cardinals today, 3-2, to even the three-game series at one apiece. For once, everything went right. Randy Wolf got his first win since April 30th, the bullpen didn’t blow his lead, and the offense was just enough to get by.

Wolf definitely should have more than three wins, but the bullpen has gone all out the past few months to make sure that it didn’t happen until now. But this may have been Wolf’s best outing, at least recently- 6 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out six.

It appeared the Brewers were going to have a rough day after the start Wolf got off to. After retiring Rafael Furcal to start the game, he gave up a single to Allen Craig, then nailed Matt Holliday in the knee with a fastball. Holliday was rolling on the ground in pain, but stayed in the game (he was removed later in the second inning). But, Wolf got Carlos Beltran to ground into a double play, and that was when you knew the Brewers had a chance.

Corey Hart gave the Brewers the lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI single. The Cardinals answered back with two in the third inning on a Jon Jay RBI double and Beltran’s sacrifice fly, but Aramis Ramirez knotted the game up in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single.

The Brewers dealt the big blow in the fourth inning on Rickie Weeks’ solo home run to make the score 3-2. It appeared to be Weeks’ way of venting out all of the frustration of his sub-.200 season, as the homer traveled 460 feet to left center field.

And, believe it or not, it was the game-winning RBI. After Wolf was done, the bullpen did something it hadn’t done for quite some time: hold the lead. Jose Veras got the last out in the seventh inning, Manny Parra had a 1-2-3 eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez got the save.

> Not exactly the order we usually see the relievers used, right? Well, it appears John Axford has finally put Ron Roenicke over the limit. After Ax’s blown save last night- his sixth of the year already- Roenicke decided to move K-Rod into the closer’s role.

It’s about time. Axford hasn’t been the same after his 49-save streak was snapped. He’s completely lost control of his breaking ball, which makes his high fastball extremely ineffective.

K-Rod hasn’t been great this year, but he’s been a lot better as of late, lowering his ERA down to 3.59. He’s a much better option than Axford at this point.

> Here’s a cause for concern. Ryan Braun left the game early with what is now considered a right groin strain. Braun said it’s been a chronic thing all year, but he’ll see how it is in the morning, and that will determine if he’s good to go or not.

> And that’s about it. There are obviously a ton of things going on behind the scenes with the Brewers that we don’t know about right now, primarily the whole Zack Greinke situation (I actually heard some pretty interesting news about that from a friend who works at Miller Park). But I’ll save that for now, just because I’m not completely sure if it’s true, and I don’t want to go publishing false information.

But it’s a trade rumor about Greinke; I’ll say that much.

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