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.


Greinke dominates Dodgers in Crew’s sixth straight win

August 18, 2011

10:35p So… How about the pitching on this homestand? Or, the pitching this entire year, I should say.

Dodgers-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Dodgers, 3-1, in yet another close game on this homestand. It was also their sixth straight win, and this marks the third consecutive winning streak in which the Brewers have won at least six games.

It was a pitching duel between starters Zack Greinke and Nathan Eovaldi, but Eovaldi finally broke in the sixth inning. After walking Ryan Braun, giving up a single to Prince Fielder, and walking Casey McGehee (all with one out), Yuniesky Betancourt promptly popped out. But, after that, Jerry Hairston Jr. FINALLY came through offensively with a two-run single to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead.

That would be the rookie Eovaldi’s last inning. He went six innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out two.

Greinke, meanwhile, pretty much danced around danger all game while shutting out the Dodgers in the process. He gave up a solo home run to ex-Brewer Tony Gwynn Jr. in the seventh inning, but that would be it.

Greinke’s line was seven innings with a run on five hits. He walked three and struck out eight.

Anyway, LaTroy Hawkins threw a scoreless eighth, and John Axford struck out the side in the ninth for his 33rd consecutive save. That continues to add on to a franchise record, and, with each save he gets, he adds to a career high (which currently stands at 36). Axford had 24 saves as a rookie last year.

Greinke’s long-awaited sub-4.00 ERA

At long last, Greinke’s ERA dipped below the 4.00 mark. That marked the first time this season that he’s finished a game with an ERA below 4.00. In fact, the first time his ERA even went under 4.00 was in his last start against the Pirates, when it went as low as 3.96. But, he would give up two more runs after that, rising it to 4.08. Greinke’s ERA currently stands at 3.92.

Now, the only guy in the Brewers’ rotation with an ERA above 4.00 is Chris Narveson (4.49). He’s injured right now, but, even when he gets back, I don’t think he can bring it under 4.00 before the season ends.

Gomez on the way back from DL

Injured center fielder Carlos Gomez is still working his way back from the DL, but, he cleared a milestone earlier today. He took his first swings since the injury (25 dry swings and 25 swings off a tee).

Gomez injured himself while making a highlight reel play in Arizona back on June 20. It was determined that he had fractured his collar bone after that game.

The Brewers hope Gomez will be able to go on a Minor League rehab assignment before the Minor League seasons end in the first week of September.

Injured players Rickie Weeks (second base) and Chris Narveson (pitcher) are both further along in their returns from the DL than Gomez, as far as I know.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will go for a four-game sweep of the Dodgers tomorrow, but it certainly won’t be easy, and I’ll explain why in a bit. Anyway, the Brewers will send Marco Estrada (3-7, 4.46 ERA) to the mound, and he’ll be making his second spot start in place of the injured Narveson. He threw five shutout innings his last time out against the Pirates and got the win in that start.

The Dodgers will counter with one of the best pitchers in the National League: Clayton Kershaw (14-5, 2.72 ERA). Kershaw is definitely an early favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award this year (in fact, he’s my first choice to win it). Anyway, the good news is he’s 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his career against the Brewers. The bad news is that he’s having a career year this year and has already set a career high in wins, and his ERA is lower than it’s been the past few years. And yes, this is why it’s not going to be easy for the Brewers to get a sweep of the Dodgers.

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Los Angeles Dodgers 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 1
Milwaukee Brewers 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 X 3 6 1

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 .267
Nyjer Morgan, CF 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 .312
Ryan Braun, LF 3 1 1 0 1 1 3 .329
Prince Fielder, 1B 4 1 1 0 0 0 2 .304
Casey McGehee, 3B 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .236
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS 3 0 0 0 0 0 4 .264
Jerry Hairston, 2B 3 0 1 2 0 0 1 .257
Jonathan Lucroy, C 3 1 2 0 0 1 0 .289
Zack Greinke, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .188
a-Craig Counsell, PH 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .151
Total 26 3 6 2 4 4 10

a-Walked for Greinke in the 7th.

BATTING

2B: Lucroy (12, Eovaldi).

RBI: Hairston 2 (26).

Team RISP: 1-for-4.

Team LOB: 5.

BASERUNNING

CS: Counsell (1).

FIELDING

E: Betancourt (15).

Milwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Zack Greinke (W, 12-4) 7.0 5 1 1 3 8 1 3.92
LaTroy Hawkins (H, 19) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.63
John Axford (S, 36) 1.0 0 0 0 1 3 0 2.31

Pitches-strikes: Greinke 107-66, Hawkins 18-12, Axford 20-11.

Groundouts-flyouts: Greinke 8-5, Hawkins 2-1, Axford 0-0.

Batters faced: Greinke 29, Hawkins 4, Axford 4.


Kotsay gets walk-off single in ninth as Brewers roll

August 17, 2011

9:50p The Brewers seem to find new ways to win every day nowadays, and today was no different.

Dodgers-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Dodgers again today, 2-1, to continue their winning streak, which now stands at five. The final blow came on Mark Kotsay’s walk-off single in the ninth inning off Dodgers reliever Mike MacDougal, who was struggling with his command throughout the inning, but I’ll get to that later.

The Dodgers actually struck first in the second inning against Yovani Gallardo when Aaron Miles hit a RBI single to drive in Matt Kemp. Gallardo struggled with his command early before settling in, but that was the only run he would give up. He ended up going eight innings while giving up a run on four hits. He struck out nine and walked one. This performance was uncharacteristic of Gallardo against the Dodgers, who came into today with an 0-3 record with a 10.80 ERA against them in his career. He didn’t pick up the win, unfortunately, settling for a no-decision, but that ERA probably took a large drop.

Anyway, the Brewers countered right away in the bottom of the second on Corey Hart’s RBI groundout. The game would become a pitchers’ duel and stay tied until the ninth inning.

Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley also had a good start (not as good as Gallardo’s, but still good). He went seven innings while giving up a run on four hits. He struck out five and walked two.

Following Billingsley’s good outing, however, would be a bullpen meltdown for the Dodgers. They brought in Hong-Chih Kuo, a lefty, to face Prince Fielder leading off the inning. He promptly walked Fielder, which made Dodgers manager Don Mattingly go right back to his bullpen. This time, he brought out the right-handed MacDougal, who didn’t fare much better. He gave up a hit to Casey McGehee, then walked Yuniesky Betancourt to load the bases with no outs. That set the stage for Kotsay’s second walk-off single of the year.

Kotsay comes through in the clutch again

At times throughout the year, I’ve been extremely frustrated with Kotsay. A lot of times, he falters with guys on base by striking out, hitting an easy grounder, etc., but that all seems to change whenever he bats under pressure in the ninth. Kostay already had a walk-off against Francisco Cordero and the Reds earlier this year, and a game-tying single against Cordero and the Reds as well.

Brewers winning without many runs

Over the past four games, the Brewers have scored a total of eight runs. And yet they’re 4-0 in those games. Any other year before this, they would probably have been 0-4, but, this year, the pitching is good enough to bail out the Brewers even when there’s a lack of offense.

The Brewers have also hit only three home runs over the past four games, and all three of them came last night. So that goes to show that the Brewers don’t need the long ball to win, either.

Brewers extend division lead to seven

To go along with a Brewers win tonight, the Cardinals conveniantly lost in Pittsburgh. Garrett Jones hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning off newly signed Arthur Rhodes, who has been a bust with both the Rangers and Cardinals this year. The game actually wouldn’t have even had to go to extra innings, had Fernando Salas not given up a game-tying homer to Neil Walker in the ninth. But, I guess that’s what the Cardinals get for not upgrading the back end of their bullpen at the Trade Deadline, despite the fact that was their biggest need. (And no, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Arthur Rhodes don’t count as the “back end.”)

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will go for a series win against the Dodgers tomorrow and will send Zack Greinke (11-4, 4.08 ERA) to the mound. Greinke is on a roll since the All-Star break, and is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA since then. He has a 5.40 ERA in five innings for his career against the Dodgers, so I don’t really know what to make of that.

The Dodgers will counter with rookie starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.64 ERA), who will be making his third Major League start. He shut out the Astros for six innings his last time out, but the Brewers will obviously be much more of a challenge. I still don’t know much about Eovaldi, so I guess we’ll have to see how he does tomorrow.