For third straight day, Brewers hammer Reds

September 19, 2011

If you didn’t see the Brewers’ offense before this series, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you they’d struggled against the Cardinals, Phillies, and Rockies. But, with all the offense in this series, I doubt the Brewers would remember how badly they were struggling, either.

The Brewers won their 90th game of the season today against the Reds, beating them 8-1 in yet another blowout win. With this blowout win, the Brewers outscored the Reds 24-5 in this series sweep of them, and also held them to just two hits in each of the past two games (courtesy of Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke). Anyway, the Brewers’ magic number now goes down to four, and, if the Cardinals lose to the Phillies in a game that’s starting right now, then it will fall to three.

Zack Greinke had a great start today and earned his 15th win of the season. That’s actually remarkable, considering he missed all of April and didn’t make his season debut until May 4th. He’s now just one win away from tying a career-high in wins (his career-high, 16, came in 2009, his AL Cy Young year). Anyway, Greinke went seven innings while giving up one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out 10, as he continues to be a strikeout machine. (Also note that Greinke is in the top 10 in the league in strikeouts despite missing a month.)

The Brewer offense started the game with a bang in the first inning. Carlos Gomez and Prince Fielder both hit two-run homers off Matt Maloney, who was making a spot start in place of Dontrelle Willis. Maloney clearly wasn’t ready for this start, as he lasted just 1 2/3 innings while giving up seven runs (six earned). Anyway, Rickie Weeks’ two-run single in the second inning made it 7-0, and Corey Hart’s solo shot in the sixth finished the Brewers’ scoring. The only run the Reds scored was on a Devin Mesoraco RBI single in the fifth.

Ryan Braun had another good day at the plate, going 3-for-4 and raising his batting average to .336. Jose Reyes of the Mets, who Braun has been competing with for a batting title over the last month, wasn’t in the Mets’ starting lineup today. Reyes is currently hitting .331, so hopefully Braun can maintain the lead he has on him.

Oh, and one more thing, Logan Schafer got his first career hit today off usual Reds closer (and former Brewers closer) Francisco Cordero. I guess the fact that it was off Cordero makes it that much better.

The Brewers will travel to Chicago and start a three-game series with the Cubs tomorrow. Chris Narveson (10-7, 4.40 ERA) will make his first start in awhile. The Brewers skipped his spot in the rotation due to off-days the last time through, but, in his last start, he gave up six runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies. Anyway, Narveson has had a lot of success against the Cubs in his career, going 6-0 with a 3.41 ERA against them.

The Cubs will counter with Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06 ERA). He’s still replacing Carlos Zambrano, who won’t pitch for the Cubs for the rest of the season, and probably won’t pitch for the Cubs next year, either. Anyway, back to Coleman- he’s 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

By the way, Justin Verlander of the Tigers picked up his 24th win of the season today against the Athletics. You never see guys getting win totals in the mid-20’s in this day and age. But Verlander is definitely something special… He can’t win 30 games, but, he could probably win 26 or 27 games, which would still be remarkable.

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Brewers pound Reds again behind Gallardo’s 13 K’s

September 18, 2011

I knew the Brewers’ offense would come around in this series. I mean, who has a better pitching staff to get an offense going than the Reds? (Well, maybe the Royals, but they aren’t in the NL, unfortunately.)

The Brewers crushed the Reds again today, 10-1. Coming into this series, the Brewers’ offense had mightily struggled against the Cardinals, Phillies, and even Rockies. But, the Reds’ awful pitching staff has helped get them back on track. And, the Brewers are now extremely close to winning their first division title in 29 years, as their magic number now moves to five, thanks to a Cardinals’ loss to the Phillies. Not to mention the Diamondbacks lost to the Padres as well, so they’re now two games behind the Brewers for the second-best record in the National League. Oh, and yet another good thing for the Brewers- they’re one win away from 90 wins.

For the second straight start, Yovani Gallardo had the strikeout pitch working. He went six innings while giving up one run on just two hits. He also walked two and struck out a new career-high 13 batters. It was the second straight start Gallardo struck out at least 10, as he struck out 12 in his last start against the Phillies. And, Gallardo made a little history today as well- he became the second pitcher in Brewers’ history to strike out four batters in one inning, because Jonathan Lucroy couldn’t handle what would have been the third out of the fifth inning. The first Brewers to do it was Manny Parra, who struck out four in one inning last year.

Anyway, onto the offense. Ryan Braun got it started in the first by driving in his 100th RBI of the season with a single off Edinson Volquez. The Reds countered right away with Yonder Alonso’s game-tying solo homer in the second inning, but the Brewers’ offense took off from there.

Yuniesky Betancourt had a good day at the plate (which isn’t something you see too often from him anymore). He hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to give the Brewers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and added on a RBI single in the sixth.

But, Braun delivered the knock-out punch to the Reds in the seventh inning with a three-run shot for his 31st homer of the year. Braun finished with a 3-for-5 night, and took the lead in the NL batting title chase. He’s now hitting .333, while Jose Reyes of the Mets is hitting .332.

Anyway, that wasn’t even the end of the offense. Mark Kotsay hit a base-clearing double in the eighth inning, and Nyjer Morgan followed that up with a RBI single. But that would finally be it for the offense.

By the way, Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ future Hall of Fame closer, earned his 601st career save today, which ties Trevor Hoffman for the most all-time. I was hoping Hoffman would hold onto that title longer, but I guess I wasn’t expecting Mo to have a 40+ save season at his age.

The Brewers will go for a sweep of the Reds tomorrow at 12:10 PM CT. They’ll send Zack Greinke (14-6, 3.87 ERA) to the mound. He’s coming off a short start against the Rockies that was plagued with long at-bats and bad defense, lasting just five innings, but the Brewers would come back and win that game. Anyway, Greinke is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his career against the Reds.

The Reds will counter with Dontrelle Willis (0-6, 5.04), who, no matter what he does, can’t find his first win with the Reds. And he’s pitched better than his record and ERA show, in my opinion. Willis is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

UPDATE 10:49a: Willis actually became a late scratch for the Reds earlier today due to back spasms. Matt Maloney (0-2, 6.88 ERA) will start against the Brewers in Willis’ place. This will be Maloney’s first start of the year. He’s also only faced the Brewers in relief, never in a start.