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.

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Ransom gives Brewers grand start to second half

July 14, 2012

> The Brewers have a very crucial stretch of games coming up. Their next nine games are against division opponents, and this will definitely determine if the Brewers are indeed sellers for the first time in the Mark Attanasio era, or if they can come back and at least contend.

> They certainly started that stretch in a good way tonight. They defeated the first place Pirates, 10-7, in a back-and-forth slugfest that was expected to be a pitchers’ duel. There were a ton of storylines behind this game, so let’s start with a few of them.

Zack Greinke didn’t have a start to remember, but he will remember it. This was his third consecutive start, as he got ejected by Sam Holbrook in the first inning two games before the All-Star break, then started the next day as well. He became the first pitcher since Red Faber of the White Sox in 1917 to accomplish this feat.

Like I said, it wasn’t very special otherwise- he went five innings while giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits. He walked two and struck out six. But, the Miller Park magic once again came into effect, and Greinke’s home record remains perfect.

His counterpart, James McDonald, didn’t do so well either. He couldn’t even make it out of the fifth inning, going just 4 2/3 innings while giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits. He also walked five, which contributed to his pitch count of 109 in the short outing.

The Brewers put up a three-spot in the first inning. Ryan Braun hit a solo shot, followed by a Rickie Weeks two-run double to start the second half with a bang. But the wheels fell off for Greinke a few innings later. The Pirates got a run in the third thanks to a Weeks error with bases loaded, then they took the lead in the fourth on Drew Sutton’s RBI double and Neil Walker’s go-ahead three-run homer. Braun got the Brewers a run back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single, but Pedro Alvarez made the deficit 6-4 in the fifth with a solo shot.

Then the comeback trail began. Travis Ishikawa hit a pinch-hit RBI single in the fifth, then Braun tied the game up in the sixth with his second home run of the night.

The Brewers managed to come full circle in the eighth inning and finally take the lead. Braun and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back singles with one out. Corey Hart then struck out, but the Brewers pulled a double steal on the pitch. That prompted Pirates reliever Tony Watson to intentionally walk Weeks, which was surprising, unless you consider Cody Ransom was coming up next.

But, boy, did Ransom make them pay. All the Brewers would have needed was a little bloop single, which are usually what Ransom’s hits are like when he isn’t striking out. Instead, Ransom smashed a line drive in to deep left field for a go-ahead grand slam. I can tell you honestly that it was the craziest Miller Park had been since October of last year; I was at the game.

Andrew McCutchen hit a solo home run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough for the Pirates.

> Even though the Brewers won this game, I’m still worried about Axford. He did get a save the other day, but was shaky. And now he gives up another home run tonight. If the Brewers truly want to contend in the second half, they’re going to have to find out what’s wrong with Axford (and the rest of the ‘pen for that matter).

> And that’s already about it. I got home late from the game, so I don’t have much time right now. But, for now, 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.


Close plays, missed chances cost Brewers in loss to Giants

July 24, 2011

Update 10:42a A little more clarification on the ejections and umpires. Bochy wasn’t actually ejected; it was the Giants’ bench coach, Ron Wotus, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. And I figured out that the home plate umpire was not West, but Sam Holbrook. I guess that means Holbrook was the one making the bad calls. But that doesn’t change anything I said about West later in this post. Anyway, sorry for any confusion, and hopefully it’s cleared up now.

11:14p There are a few things that have made me angry during the Brewers’ time in San Francisco. That includes their loss today, but it’s more than that, and I’ll get to that later.

Brewers-Giants Wrap-Up

The Brewers lost a close game with the Giants today, 4-2. Randy Wolf was on the mound, and had another solid start, but the Brewers’ bats seem to always shut down whenever he pitches.

The Brewers struck first in the fourth inning, when Ryan Braun hit a solo homer off of Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. Rickie Weeks followed up with a double, then Casey McGehee hit a hard single to left field. Weeks tried to score, and he did, but not according to home plate umpire Joe West. Left fielder Cody Ross’ throw was on the money, but catcher Chris Stewart completely missed the tag, and yet Weeks was called out. But West was making questionable calls all night, which was another thing that I wasn’t too impressed about, but I’ll get to more on that later as well.

The Giants immediately answered in the bottom of the fourth, as Nate Schierholtz, who would be a nightmare for the Brewers the rest of the game, hit a two-run double off of Wolf to make it 2-1, Giants.

The Brewers tied the game in the fifth, however, on Nyjer Morgan’s RBI double. But, in the bottom of the inning, the Giants regained the lead on Aubrey Huff’s sacrifice fly.

The Giants added another run on Andres Torres’ RBI single in the eighth inning. Brian Wilson and his shoe polish beard came into finish the game for the Giants, who sealed the 4-2 victory over the Brewers.

Morgan “flips off” fans in center

He didn’t, actually. That’s what put me over the top about this.

While Morgan was playing center yesterday, he made a great catch to rob whoever was batting of extra bases. Morgan then put up two fingers to signify that there were two outs in the inning, but the fans in the center field crowd, who must have been blind, took it the wrong way. They all assumed that Morgan had flipped them off. Morgan, who is an emotional player and likes to have fun on the field, played along and continued to taunt the fans (which the deserved for being that stupid). Ever since then, Morgan has been booed whenever he makes a play or comes up to bat in a game in this series.

Anyway, Giants beat reporter Henry Shculman made the whole situation worse by tweeting and blogging that Morgan flipped off the center field crowd, which probably got him some extra boos today. Shculman also said that Morgan would probably be suspended for a game or two. I noticed Shculman’s tweet earlier today, and said that he was only signifying that there were two outs (and many others did as well). His reply? “That debate was so yesterday.” I guess Giants fans and affiliates have a little less class than I thought.

By the way,  I don’t normally do things like this on my blog (meaning referring to tweets and things on other blogs). But this was just flat-out stupid and I had to say something.

Anyway… I could go on about past experiences where the Giants didn’t have too much class, such as an incident between Prince Fielder and Barry Zito, and some offensive comments by Giants GM Brian Sabean regarding Buster Posey’s season ending injury. But that would get me WAY off topic…

West is the greatest home plate umpire ever.

Not.

West, who was umpiring home plate for today’s game, was making extremely questionable calls early on in the game, and continued throughout. He actually screwed over Vogelsong on a lot of pitches, which led to him having to throw 103 pitches just to get through the fifth inning. In fact, Giants manager Bruce Bochy (or another coach in their dugout, I couldn’t really tell due to the camera angles) was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes, which isn’t allowed.

Anyway, back to West. He’s made a pretty bad reputation for himself this year as one of the worst umpires in baseball. This wasn’t the first time he’s made a scene in a game this year. I remember earlier this year when he was umpiring a Boston game, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona got into an argument with another one of the umpires in the crew. West, of course, had to get into the argument, because, as Francona said after the game, “he’s always getting in other people’s business.”

I’ll stop my ranting after this, but I just want to say one more thing about how bad umpires have been this year. Former Brewer Bill Hall, while he was in a game for the Astros, was at bat, and the umpire was giving him some bad calls. Now, we all know that Hall takes awhile to get set before he steps back into the batter’s box after a pitch, but he took a few extra moments before getting back into his stance. While he was taking his time, the home plate umpire came up to him and said, “Get the **** back in the batter’s box.” (I censored the word because I’m not going to go as far as putting swears on my blog.) Yeah. An UMPIRE said that. Hall clearly wasn’t too happy with that, and, after the game, he made a statement that went something along the lines of “all umpires think that fans come to the games to watch them and try to attract attention to themselves.” Which is completely true. I could name a few umps who appear to think this way, such as West, Bob Davidson, Angel Hernandez… I could go on. But, when did all this craziness with umpires start? Well, I noticed it immediately after Jim Joyce blew Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. Which makes perfect sense, if you think about it.

Anyway, I’ve gotten way too far off topic with these last few topics, so I’m going to get back to the Brewers now. My apologies for all this ranting.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will play a rubber match against the Giants tomorrow in the finale of their three game set. Yovani Gallardo (11-6, 3.96 ERA) will go for the Brewers, hoping to become more consistent as the ace of the staff. Gallardo has had success against the Giants in his career, going 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA against them. I should also mention that Gallardo won the first game of his career against the Giants.

The Giants will counter with Madison Bumgarner (5-9, 3.72 ERA), who has been victim of even less run support than Wolf, and his having a much better year than his record shows. Bumgarner is 1-1 with a 1.32 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Cardinals knocked around the Pirates, 9-1. They are tied with us for the division lead and one game back, respectively.
  • The Cubs defeated the Astros, 5-1. They are 12.5 games back and 20 games back, respectively.
  • The Reds blew out the Braves, 11-2. They are four games back.
  • Zack Cozart and Scott Rolen of the Reds were both placed on the DL today. (By the way, I’m going to start putting news about other teams under this section of my posts, if you’re wondering what this is doing here.)

Box Score

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Milwaukee Brewers 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
San Francisco Giants 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 1 X 4 10 0

Milwaukee Brewers

Player AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Corey Hart, RF 3 1 1 0 1 1 0 .258
Nyjer Morgan, CF 3 0 1 1 0 0 1 .327
c-Brett Carroll, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
d-Mark Kotsay, PH-CF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250
Ryan Braun, LF 3 1 1 1 1 2 0 .319
Prince Fielder, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .285
Rickie Weeks, 2B 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 .275
Casey McGehee, 3B 4 0 1 0 0 1 3 .227
Yuniesky Betancourt, S 3 0 1 0 1 0 2 .252
George Kottaras, C 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .207
a-Jonathan Lucroy, PH-C 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .283
Randy Wolf, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .194
b- Josh Wilson, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .283
Total 30 2 7 2 4 7 9

a-Lined out for Kottaras in the 7th.

b-Grounded out for Wolf in the 7th.

c-Batted for Morgan in the 8th.

d-Flied out for Carroll in 8th.

BATTING

2B: Weeks (25), Morgan (10).

3B: Hart (2).

HR: Braun (19).

RBI: Braun (67), Morgan (23).

Team RISP: 3-for-6.

Team LOB: 5.

BASERUNNING

SB: Weeks (9).

CS: McGehee (2).

Milwaukee Brewers

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Randy Wolf (L, 6-8) 6.0 7 3 3 3 6 0 3.62
LaTroy Hawkins 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.15
Kameron Loe 0.1 2 1 1 1 0 0 4.60
Marco Estrada 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.50

Pitches-strikes: Wolf 101-62, Hawkins 18-12, Loe 13-7, Estrada 3-3.

Groundouts-flyouts: Wolf 4-6, Hawkins 1-0, Loe 0-1, Estrada 1-1.

Batters faced: Wolf 28, Hawkins 4, Loe 4, Estrada 2.

Inherited runners-scored: Estrada 2-0.