The Championship Series begin

October 14, 2012

> All of the Division Series have come to a close. And, considering it was the first time in history that all of the necessary DS games were played- each series went to five games for 20 games total- I don’t think any of them was a bad series.

> The Giants came all the way back from an 0-2 deficit in their series against the Reds and won three straight to reach the NLCS. Their offense was non-existent during the first two games. But, after a Scott Rolen error in the 10th inning of Game 3 gave them a gift win, the offense exploded in Games 4 and 5. The highlights were Pablo Sandoval’s two-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 4 and Buster Posey’s grand slam in Game 5 that pretty much sealed the series.

> The Tigers nearly allowed the other Bay Area team- the Athletics- to come back from an 0-2 deficit against them, but Justin Verlander was having none of that. He threw a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts to abruptly end the A’s miracle season and send the Tigers to the ALCS.

> The Yankees’ offense only showed up for one inning during the entire series with the Orioles, but CC Sabathia didn’t need much yesterday. He threw a complete game to also end a dream season for the O’s. The big story was that Alex Rodriguez- the highest-paid player in baseball- was benched in Game 5 of the series, but Raul Ibanez’s .444 ALDS average picked up the slack.

> Despite the fact they were down 6-0 early, the Cardinals did exactly what they did in the 2011 World Series. Down 7-5 going into the ninth inning, they ambushed Nationals closer Drew Storen with four two-out runs. With the bases loaded, Daniel Descalso hit a hard ground ball up the middle that deflected off of shortstop Ian Desmond’s glove- I leave it up to you as to whether or not Desmond should have had the ball- and boom, tie game. Then Pete Kozma, some rookie shortstop that no non-Cards fan had heard of until late September, hit the go-ahead two-run single to sink the Nats.

Hate to say it, but this season might once again by written in the stars for the Cardinals. (Yes, that pun was definitely intended.)

MY TAKE

> PLEASE quit calling the Cardinals a “cinderella story.” Yes, they won in dramatic fashion last night, but that doesn’t put them in that category. A cinderella story is a team that, at the beginning of the year, is expected to finish near last in their division, then go on to have a miracle season. This year, that was the Orioles and Athletics (you could argue the Nationals, but I don’t think anyone expected them to be terrible this year).

Sure, the Cards lost Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa, and Dave Duncan. But there was still way too much talent on that team coming into 2012 for them not to contend.

So I guess if you expected the Cardinals to finish in dead last and lose 100 games coming into this season, then sure, they’re a cinderella team to you. But there’s clearly a problem if you expected that.

> There aren’t series MVPs handed out in the Division Series, only for the Championship and World Series. But, if they did exist in the DS, these would be my MVPs for each series:

Giants: Sandoval

Cardinals: Kozma

Yankees: Ibanez

Tigers: Verlander

I actually had a tough time picking for the Giants, but Sandoval was the only Giants hitter to hit over .300 for the series. And I couldn’t give it to a pitcher, since the starters especially underperformed in this series. The rest of MVPs were rather easy, however.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum doesn’t expect to pitch for the Brewers next year.

> Following outright assignments, relievers Vinnie Chulk and Tim Dillard each elected free agency.

> The Brewers also outrighted Cody Scarpetta and Eric Farris to Triple-A Nashville, but neither has the right to elect free agency.

> News has surfaced regarding Francisco Rodriguez and his arrest for domestic violence sometime in September. The incident took place in Wales, a suburban city about 45 minutes to an hour away from Milwaukee.

But apparently K-Rod has a history of things like this that I wasn’t aware of. In late 2010, he had to take anger management classes after “an altercation” with one of his relatives at Citi Field during his days with the Mets.

It seems he’s doing everything he can to make sure he can’t find a deal anywhere else for 2013. His horrible 2012 campaign made it bad enough, but you can bet teams that see this on his resume won’t be impressed.

> Other than that, there hasn’t been much to report about the Brewers lately, so let’s get on to the minor moves around baseball the past week:

White Sox: Outrighted Ray Olmedo, who elected free agency.
Blue Jays: Outrighted Jesse Litsch, Aaron Laffey, Bobby Korecky, Robert Coello, and Scott Richmond, all of whom elected free agency.
Pirates: Outrighted Doug Slaten, who elected free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Ross Ohlendorf, who elected free agency.
Rays: Outrighted Brooks Conrad, who elected free agency.
Indians: Outrighted Shelley Duncan and Luke Carlin, both of whom elected free agency.
Red Sox: Outrighted Jason Repko and Guillermo Quiroz, both of whom elected free agency.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed Brent Clevlen.
Giants: Outrighted Shane Loux and Justin Christian to Triple-A.

Advertisements

Brewers tally 15 in blowout

August 28, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers absolutely annihilated the Cubs tonight, demolishing their rivals 15-4. It was actually a rather close game through eight innings, but the Brewers put up a very crooked number- a nine-spot- in the ninth inning.

Basically everybody had a good day at the plate. Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and Ryan Braun went 4-for-6 with five RBIs, those just being the highlights. But the biggest blow was to start the ninth inning, when Braun, Ramirez, and Corey Hart hit three consecutive home runs off Alex Hinshaw. And Braun’s home run went out of Wrigley Field.

Yeah, it was that kind of night.

THE PROBABLE BATCH OF SEPTEMBER CALL-UPS

> With September just around the corner, most teams are probably starting- or already have- looking over prospects to recall and take a look at. Last year, the Brewers were contending at this time, so they only called up four players who they thought would help them to the postseason- Taylor Green, Logan Schafer, Martin Maldonado, and Mike Fiers. Maldonado and Fiers are both having success on the Brewers roster right now, and that month of experience at the big league level could have helped them.

This year, the Brewers aren’t close to contending, and will probably call up a larger crop of players to let them audition for roster spots next year. Here are some players who we could see come up and get playing time in September:

Green, 3B: Green has already spent time with the club this year, but was optioned back to Triple-A in July after most of his playing time diminished. His .198 batting average at the big league level probably didn’t help much either. Green is hitting a sub-par .269 at Triple-A this year, but is hot over his past 10 games, with a .300 average and three home runs.

Green is blocked at basically every position he plays- third base (primary), second base, and first base- at least for the near future. If he were to win a shot at the Brewers’ roster in 2013, it would be a similar role that he played earlier this year (utility/bench player). But he’d have to prove he can still swing the bat even without full playing time.

Schafer, OF: The speedy outfielder is hitting .270 with nine home runs and nine triples for the Sounds this season. He had a decent Spring Training, but didn’t really have a chance at making the team because the Brewers had (and still have) five big league caliber outfielders. With Nyjer Morgan likely leaving for the free agent market next year, Schafer could make the team as the fifth outfielder, but that still might be a long shot.

Schafer got the call last year, and got one hit in three at-bats for the Brewers.

Caleb Gindl, OF: Gindl typically hits for average, but is having a bit of a down year this year with just a .263 average. He’s very likely to get called up, though, having won the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week last week after posting a monster .533 average. Gindl hasn’t seen any Major League time yet.

Brandon Kintzler, RP: I’m almost certain Kintzler will be a September call-up, and that would complete his journey back. Kintzler was a September call-up in 2010 and was rather ineffective then, but made the roster out of ST in 2011. He posted a 3.68 ERA in nine games in ’11 before going down for the year, and he’s been out ever since with a series of elbow and shoulder problems. Kintzler currently has a 3.23 ERA between Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.

Personally, I see a bright future for Kintzler. His stuff tells me he could be a future setup man, which is exactly what the Brewers need right now.

Rob Wooten, RP: Wooten is probably a long shot, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him come up. He posted a stellar 1.74 ERA with eight saves in 17 games for the Stars, and is now playing for the Sounds, where he has a 3.88 ERA. I considered Jim Henderson (before his call-up) and Wooten the two best relievers in the Brewers organization this year.

Fautino De Los Santos, RP: The Brewers quietly acquired De Los Santos in the deal with the Athletics for George Kottaras, and he could be a talented arm. He posted a 4.32 ERA in 34 games for the A’s in 2011 and is an extreme strikeout pitcher. He also walks his fair share of batters, which draws him an alarming comparison to Jose Veras, but we just have to hope no one else can be that bad.

Tyler Thornburg, SP: Thornburg was up for awhile with the Brewers earlier this year, making two starts in July. He struggled with long ball, allowing seven homers at the big league level, more than he had allowed during the entire season in the Minors. But, if the Brewers do indeed shut down Mark Rogers and/or Fiers, Thorn could see a few starts in September, or at least work out of the bullpen.

Wily Peralta, SP: Already a leading candidate for the rotation next year, the Brewers have said that Peralta will more than likely make some September starts (more likely than Thornburg). Peralta has just one inning of big league experience, which came earlier this year against the Rockies.

My only concern about Peralta is that he can let his nerves get to him at times- at least in the past. In ST of 2011, the Brewers gave him a few starts, and he got rocked- and I mean rocked– each time. That’s probably behind him by now, but it’s something worth watching out for if he’s in the bigs this September.

If that is in fact behind him, though, watch out- he has some of the best stuff I’ve seen out of a Brewers prospect in quite some time (probably since Yovani Gallardo). His two best pitches are a high-90’s running fastball and a slider, which, not surprisingly, were the only two pitches he used in his debut (which was in relief). But he’ll be forced to at least bring out the change-up or curve if he’s starting.

Eric Farris, 2B: He has just one big league at-bat under his belt, but this kid has a ton of speed. Farris isn’t a power hitter, but does have a career .287 average, which tells me he’ll eventually become a good lead-off hitter/table setter.

Farris is blocked for the next few years by Rickie Weeks, whom the Brewers just have too much money invested into to give someone else a chance.

Scooter Gennett, 2B: Despite his small stature, Gennett has a ton of potential, probably more so than Farris. Like Farris, he has speed and hits for average, with a career .302 Minor League BA. He’ll probably eventually be the Brewers’ starting second baseman if Weeks continues to flail himself out of the job. But, like Farris, Gennett is at least blocked until Weeks’ four-year contract ends.

Obviously not all of these guys are going to be called up; the clubhouse would turn into a mad house. But I’d say the most likely to be called up of the players I listed are Green, Kintzler, and Peralta.

THE NEWS

> Ron Roenicke said it has yet to be decided on whether or not Carlos Gomez will be the starting center fielder next year.

“The at-bats, he’ll have a real good game, and then all of a sudden, the next day it will be just so-so. We’re wanting him to string together a lot of them.”

“Defensively, I know he dropped the one ball [in Tuesday’s loss to the Pirates], but we know he’s going to play good all the time. Baserunning, he’s really good stealing bases. But the offensive part is the part we’ve always wanted him to be more consistent, and that’s what we would still like to see, a little more consistency.”

“If you’re going to swing at that first pitch, you need to square it up a lot. Gomey can do those things, which is what excites you about what he could do if he gets consistent.”

“You can learn a lot after 26 years old. I don’t know what’s going to happen with him. We all like him. Regardless of whether he’s starting for us or platooning, we like him a lot.”

> Tim Dillard was optioned to Double-A. I hadn’t picked up on this, but Dillard had a 9.42 ERA since being sent back to Triple-A a few months ago. Sort of why he wasn’t on the prospect list.

THE NUMBERS

> 15 runs. 21 hits.

> Every Brewers starter- including Marco Estrada- had a hit tonight.

> The ninth inning lasted almost exactly 35 minutes. It took the Cubs 25 minutes to record an out.

> Every Cubs pitcher, except Alberto Cabrera, gave up a run tonight. Justin Germano, Michael Bowden, Manny Corpas, Hinshaw, and Lendy Castillo all got their heads blown off.

> Brewers pitchers have quite a streak going- seven consecutive games with 10 or more strikeouts. That’s the longest streak of its kind since 1900.

> Estrada notched his second win of the season tonight. Both have come against the Cubs.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (13-8, 3.62 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (4-10, 4.76 ERA)

I sort of wasted most of this article on the September call-up piece, but I wanted to get that up at some point before the month ended. I would have saved it for another day had I known this game was going to happen, however.

THE EXTRAS

> The Cubs needed Joe Mather, an outfielder, to finish the ninth inning for them.

> Here’s a clip of Hinshaw’s reaction after he gave up the third consecutive home run. Possibly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. (Special thanks to Jaymes Langrehr from Disciples of Uecker for creating it.)


Brewers take series from Jays

June 21, 2012

> The Brewers completed a much-needed series win today, as they took two out of three from the Blue Jays. I haven’t had time to post over the past few days, so I’m just going to quickly recap all three games, then talk about a few things after as well.

> The Brewers took the first game, 7-6, in a hard-fought win. The game started in a way the Brewers weren’t hoping to see- Brett Lawrie, the former Brewers farmhand, hit a lead-0ff home run off Randy Wolf on the second pitch he saw. But the offense broke out against Jays starter Henderson Alvarez, scoring six runs in just the first two innings. This included RBIs from Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Norichika Aoki, and Aramis Ramirez. But, with the score 6-3 in the seventh and two men on, Jose Bautista hit a game-tying home run (I’ll go more in depth on that situation later). The Brewers then answered back the next inning on an overturned home run by Ramirez. It was a line drive shot that was actually lower than the top of the wall in left field, but it hit off the yellow strip of padding that extends below the foul line. The ball was first called foul, but Ron Roenicke went out to argue, and the umpires eventually overturned the call after going in to look at the replay.

> Last night’s game, the Jays’ 10-9 win, should have been a fairly easy win for the Brewers, but the bullpen made sure that didn’t happen (again, I’ll talk about our bullpen issues later this article).

The Jays were leading 6-5 in the sixth inning, and after the Brewers loaded the bases with one out, they put in Jason Frasor to pitch to Ramirez. Ramirez then came through with yet another clutch hit, just as he had the night before. But this one was a grand slam to give the Brewers a 9-6 lead. Unfortunately, a combined four runs given up by Manny Parra and John Axford (yet another blown save for him) would end up being the fate of the Brewers.

> Today’s game was yet another offensive outburst for the Brewers, which is a good sign for them, considering the scored at least seven runs in all three of these games. After Edwin Encarnacion homered in the top of the second, the Brewers answered back with five in the bottom of the inning, getting home runs from Corey Hart, Martin Maldonado, and Carlos Gomez. Braun also hit a home run in the seventh inning for his 20th of the year.

> Last night (the 10-9 loss), Tyler Thornburg was making his Major League debut in place of the injured Shaun Marcum, who may actually hit the disabled list. Anyway, his debut appeared to be going fine, but it appeared to me (I was at the game) that nerves may have gotten to him in the sixth. He gave up three consecutive home runs to Colby Rasmus, Bautista, and Encarnacion. But it turned out it might not have been nerves; it may have been a serious drop in velocity, which is a cause for concern. The scoreboard at Miller Park had Thornburg topping out at 96 MPH, and I noticed the scoreboard had him clocked in the mid-to-high 80’s on all of the home run balls. Because of the angle I was at, I just assumed he had hung a couple of sliders due to nerves, but those actually might have been Marcum-speed fastballs. Those type of fastballs can be effective, but, since Thornburg had been throwing in the mid-90’s previous to that and he probably wasn’t getting much movement on them, you can imagine why it was easy for the Jays hitters to start picking him up.

> Despite the fact the Brewers won this series, the bullpen continued to slump. In the first game of the series, Wolf left the game with a 6-3 lead, hoping to pick up his first win since the end of April (despite he’s pitched well enough to win his past three or so starts). But he would have no such luck- Kameron Loe came in and promptly gave up the game-tying shot to Bautista.

Then, last night, after Thornburg’s debut, Tim Dillard came in and gave up a run to finish the sixth. Like I said earlier, Parra pitched the seventh inning of that game, giving up two runs to cut the Jays’ deficit to one run. After Francisco Rodriguez, who has been pitching a lot better as of late, threw a scoreless eighth last night, Axford came in and blew yet another save, giving up back-to-back home runs to Rasmus and Bautista.

Today the bullpen wasn’t as bad, but Dillard did allow an inherited runner to score, which charged an extra earned run to Yovani Gallardo.

But it goes without saying that the bullpen has been flat-out terrible lately. Loe is supposed to enter the game and get groundball outs against power hitters, not give up go-ahead or game-tying home runs. And I have no idea what’s going on with Axford; he may be getting the Brewer-closer syndrome. Previous victims of this include Dan Kolb, Derrick Turnbow, Eric Gagne, and Trevor Hoffman. I don’t know what it is; it feels like we have closers who are stellar for a year and a half, then it’s like they go out there and forget how to pitch. Anyway, maybe Axford shouldn’t be listed with those other names yet, but I can’t imagine the Brewers are going to stand for this much longer.

By the way, just an interesting note from the end of today’s game: Michael Fiers pitched the last inning. He was scheduled to start the first game of the White Sox series, but maybe this means Marco Estrada will be back by then. That, or the Brewers have different plans that we don’t know about.

> As I said earlier, Marcum may be on his way to the disabled list. He experienced shoulder tightness prior to his would-have-been start against the Blue Jays, his former team, so Thornburg was called up for the emergency start.

But this is why I question taking Fiers out of the rotation (assuming he has been taken out). Unless Thornburg is staying to take Marcum’s spot in the rotation until he comes back, which the Brewers hinted they wouldn’t do, I can’t imagine why they would remove Fiers in a situation like this.

> Anyway, that’s about it. The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow, then start their final Interleague series, this one against the White Sox. Here’s what the matchups are looking like:

Michael Fiers? (2-2, 3.60 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (8-2, 2.46 ERA)

Zack Greinke (7-2, 3.10 ERA) vs. Philip Humber (3-4, 6.01 ERA)

Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.11 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (2-1, 1.53 ERA)

UPDATE: Actually, I recall Brian Anderson saying during today’s broadcast that Greinke got bumped up in the rotation to face Sale, but will be pitching on regular rest because of the off-day. So, either the Brewers are skipping Fiers’ spot in the rotation this time around, or they’re just going to go with a four-man rotation until Estrada returns.


Greinke’s solid effort goes for naught after 15 innings

June 18, 2012

> These aren’t the type of games you can lose. The Brewers’ fell to the Twins today, 5-4, after an extremely discouraging 15 innings. Despite a solid effort from Zack Greinke, the Brewers couldn’t capitalize on any late-inning RISP chances.

Greinke went eight innings while giving up four runs on eleven hits. He walked two and struck out six. The eleven hits and four runs don’t look too great on the box score, but those numbers are because of a bump in the road in the seventh. Other than that, he had a decent start. But this was just his second time completing eight innings as a Brewer.

The Brewers got on the board quickly against Twins starter Nick Blackburn on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single in the first inning. But Joe Mauer helped the Twins answer back in the third inning with an RBI single of his own.

Then, in the fifth inning, the Brewers put up their biggest threat of the game. Norichika Aoki led off the inning with a double off the right field wall, and Nyjer Morgan followed that by reaching on a bunt single. That gave the Brewers runners on first and third with no outs, but they nearly wasted the opportunity. Ryan Braun hit a weak pop up to second baseman Jamey Carroll, and Ramirez struck out looking. That brought up Corey Hart, who battled with Blackburn until the count was full. Hart then came through in the clutch and hit a three-run blast over the right field wall, not an easy feat at Target Field. This gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.

But then came Greinke’s rough seventh. I don’t want to say he melted down, but he did blow the lead. He started the inning by walking the hot-hitting Trevor Plouffe, which I didn’t mind; it’s better than him hitting another one into the second deck. Greinke then recovered by inducing a Ryan Doumit pop-out and a Brian Dozier groundout, with Plouffe advancing to second on the groundout. Then came a Twins hitting barrage. Carroll drove in Plouffe with an RBI single, and Denard Span followed that with another single to put runners on first and third. Ben Revere then hit an RBI single, which set the stage for another RBI single by Mauer, who once again tied up the game.

No one would have guessed that the next run of the game would come another eight innings later. Tim Dillard was on to pitch the 15th inning, and gave up a lead-off single to Plouffe. He came back to strike out Doumit, but then gave up a single to Dozier. Carroll followed that up with a single that Plouffe tried to score on, but the right fielder Aoki gunned him down at home. This put runners on first and third with one out. Then, Ron Roenicke made yet another questionable move by replacing Dillard with lefty Juan Perez to face the left-handed hitting Span. I still don’t know why, since Dillard appeared to be handling the rest of the lefties in the Twins’ lineup just fine. Naturally, though, Span hit a walk-off single off Perez to give the Twins their win.

> But the Brewers wasted a ton of scoring chances all game, especially in the extra innings they were given. They wound up leaving 17 men on base, which is averaging over one man left on per inning. And they wonder why the aren’t scoring runs.

> Today was an interesting game. The game seemed to be moving along at a reasonable case, although it started raining after the first pitch and continued to drizzle until around the 11th inning. As Kameron Loe was finishing pitching the 11th, the skies opened up, and the tarp was pulled onto the field. So there was a rain delay in extra innings, not something you see very often. But this made the game extend to nearly six hours long.

> Sort of a random note to end on, but that’s about it. The Brewers come back home to start a three-game set with the Blue Jays tomorrow. Here are what the matchups are looking like:

Henderson Alvarez (3-6, 3.87 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.06 ERA)

??? vs. Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA)

??? vs. Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 4.23 ERA)

As you can see, there are a few TBAs on the Blue Jays’ side. That’s because they’ve been having Brewers-injury luck lately. Within a five-day span, three members of their starting rotation were injured- Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison. But, on the bright side, the Brewers won’t have to face Morrow, who was leading the American League in shutouts and appeared to be on his way to an All-Star campaign.

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


Brewers smash Twins to end losing streak

May 21, 2012

> Today’s game may have been the Brewers’ offense making up for their lack of runs during their last four games. Unfortunately, we don’t know where it’s going to go from here: it’s either going to start getting consistent, or they’re going to have games like this every five days, with no offense on the days in between.

> In the meantime, though, let’s look at the positives. The Brewers literally mauled the Twins today, 16-4. The 16 runs on 17 hits were season highs for the Brewers, and probably their biggest offensive outburst since 2011. Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun highlighted the contributors to the 16 runs. Lucroy had a career day, hitting two home runs- including a grand slam- and seven RBIs. After going 3-for-5, he boosted his average to .342, which leads the Brewers. Braun went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, and his average is now .331.

The Brewers jumped all over Twins starter Jason Marquis early. After the Twins took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Josh Willingham RBI single, Corey Hart and Lucroy hit home runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 2-1. The Brewers then had a six-run offensive binge in the second, including RBIs from Hart, Braun, Lucroy, and Travis Ishikawa. Marquis’ wouldn’t even make it through that big second inning, and went just 1 2/3 innings while giving up eight runs- all earned- on eight hits.

The Brewers added on two more in the fourth on another RBI from Braun, this one on a double. Taylor Green then hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 10-1. Braun tacked on yet another RBI in the fifth on a single.

The Brewers put up another crooked number in the seventh. First, Norichika Aoki hit a pinch-hit RBI single. One batter later, Lucroy hit his first career grand salami- an opposite field home run, no less. He’s turning into some kind of hitter.

But the Twins weren’t going to go down without a fight. Brian Dozier hit an RBI single in the eighth. Then, the Twins got two more in the ninth, courtesy of a fielding error by Cesar Izturis and a bases-loaded walk by Kameron Loe. But that would be all the Twins got, and they were still nowhere close.

Zack Greinke continued to pitch like an ace today. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up a run on five hits. He walked two and struck out six. I recently wrote an article on Reviewing the Brew on Greinke’s season up to this point, and I’ll say it again: he’s been a joy to watch. Nothing against Yovani Gallardo or Shaun Marcum, who I think can both get better as the season goes on, but Greinke is the only one I enjoy watching pitch at this point.

> Tim Dillard was ejected in the ninth inning today after throwing behind Jamey Carroll. I was on my way home from the game at this point (I was there today), so I didn’t get to see it live, but apparently Dillard’s first pitch to Carroll was inside, and the second one went behind him. I still don’t see why Dillard would be trying to intentionally hit a batter with a 14-run lead, but I’ve noticed that all of the umpires this year have been pretty radical. Heck, Bob Davidson- an umpire- received a suspension the other day. You never see stuff like that. I have a feeling umpires won’t be around much longer; that or their roles aren’t going to be as significant, with expanded replay just around the corner.

> The Brewers are thinking about moving Hart to first base. The Brewers have tried multiple options at first since Mat Gamel went down with a torn ACL, including Ishikawa, Green, and Brooks Conrad (but it won’t be long before he’s cut, I can’t believe he’s still on the roster). While Ishikawa has shown flashes of a consistent hitter in the middle of the lineup, none of them have been putting up the production the Brewers are looking for. Plus, if they move Hart to first, they can put Aoki as a starter in the outfield, which I would love to see.

> And that’s about it. The Giants are coming to town tomorrow, who the Brewers have already lost a series to this year. The Brewers will send Randy Wolf (2-4, 6.38 ERA) to the mound. At this point, I would say you might as well count this as an automatic loss, but I don’t like being negative. But don’t be surprised.

The Giants will counter with Madison Bumgarner (5-3, 3.10 ERA). He’s already beaten the Brewers this year, throwing seven innings of one-run ball back on May 5th.

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


Dillard struggles as Brewers finish disappointing road trip

May 7, 2012

> Today was yet another disappointing game for the Brewers, which has been a common theme during this nine-game road trip. They fell to the Giants today, 4-3, in somewhat of a nail-biter. The Brewers got on the board right away in the first on an Aramis Ramirez RBI single, but Shaun Marcum gave up the lead quickly in the bottom of the inning. Conor Gillaspie hit an RBI double, and Angel Pagan followed that with an RBI fielder’s choice. Ryan Theriot tacked on another run for the Giants in the fourth, making it 3-1. Ramirez picked up another RBI in the sixth on a sacrifice fly.

The Brewers then put up a fight in the ninth inning against Giants closer Santiago Casilla (the beard is on the DL for those who don’t know). Two outs after Corey Hart reached on a fielding error, ex-Giant Travis Ishikawa stunned his former team with a game-tying RBI double.

But the Brewers couldn’t keep the momentum going, and the game went to extra innings. In the 11th, Tim Dillard came in to pitch, and you could just tell things were going to go downhill from there. He’s probably had one, but I honestly can’t recall Dillard having a scoreless outing yet this year. And that trend continued today. Dillard loaded the bases, including two walks, before giving up a walk-off single to Hector Sanchez.

> With that loss aside, here’s some other news involving the Crew…

> Marcum took his third consecutive no-decision today, and his record remains 1-1. In other words, the Brewers wasted yet another quality start from him (six innings, three runs, five hits, three strikeouts).

> Alex Gonzalez is headed to the DL with a knee injury. It shouldn’t be anything season ending, but he follows Chris Narveson, Mat Gamel, and Carlos Gomez to the DL.

> Taylor Green was called up yesterday, and made his first start today, batting seventh. He went 1-for-5 with a double that would have been a home run almost anywhere else. But it’ll be interesting to see if he starts again tomorrow.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will go home to face the Reds tomorrow, with the pitching match-up being Yovani Gallardo (1-3, 5.79 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 3.03 ERA). Gallardo threw a 13-strikeout, six-inning gem in his last start against the Reds (September of last year), but, other than that, his numbers against them aren’t so good.

As you can see, I tried a bit of a different article format today. This was meant to make it a more brief post, simply because I’m having trouble finding time to dedicate to full-out articles. It didn’t really work out this time, but from here on out I’ll hopefully just re-cap the game, briefly talk about a few pieces of news, and preview the pitching match-up for the next day. I hopefully only have to do this for a month until school lets out, but my schedule is pretty busy until then.

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


Bullpen makes things interesting in ninth vs. Cubs

April 10, 2012

> Going into the ninth inning of today’s game, it didn’t appear that the Brewers would have any issues closing out this game. But, a few bullpen moves by Ron Roenicke made for a tight finish on the north side.

First off, though, the Brewers did defeat the Cubs, 7-5. Shaun Marcum picked up the win in his first start of the season, as he managed to make those dismal postseason starts in 2011 an afterthought. The offense wasn’t bad either, but again, the bullpen- at least in the ninth inning- nearly rose a few questions.

Marcum’s start was solid, as he went six innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He struck out six and walked none. Although he gave up two home runs in the first two innings, he did a good job of missing bats, something he was struggling with towards the end of 2011.

The Brewers scored right away in the first inning on an Aramis Ramirez sacrifice fly. Ramirez was making his first start in Chicago since leaving the Cubs, and it probably made Cubs fans miss him. Anyway, the Cubs answered back right away in the bottom of the inning on Darwin Barney’s solo home run. The Cubs then took a 2-1 lead in the second on a solo shot by Bryan LaHair. But, the Brewers tied it back up in the third on Rickie Weeks’ second home run of the year- yet another solo shot.

In the fourth inning, the Brewers made the first of two successful squeeze plays, this one by Marcum. But the Cubs evened the score in the fifth on a Blake DeWitt sacrifice fly. That followed a “triple” by Geovany Soto, but he only reached third because center fielder Nyjer Morgan lost the ball in the light and wind on what would have been a routine fly ball.

The Brewers then took a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish in the sixth on a Mat Gamel RBI triple. Jonathan Lucroy followed that up with a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-3. Ramirez then hit an RBI double in the seventh. Carlos Gomez tacked on one more run in the eighth on the second squeeze of the game by the Brewers.

Then came the ninth, where things got interesting. The Brewers held a 7-3 lead up until that point. Jose Veras and Francisco Rodriguez had handled the seventh and eighth innings respectively, so you’d think John Axford would come in for the ninth (despite the fact it wasn’t a save situation). But, like many managers do nowadays, Roenicke took the four-run lead for granted and put in Manny Parra instead. As we all know, he’s just returning after missing all of 2010, so he hasn’t had much work lately.

So, sure enough, Parra gave up a leadoff double to Ian Stewart. He then induced a groundout from LaHair, but Steward advanced to third on the play. Although it was already a save situation, Roenicke had Axford warming up along with Tim Dillard. So he decided to put in Dillard for some reason, I’m still not quite sure why. Dillard came in and walked Soto, and that was all he did. Roenicke then brought in Axford at last, but things were still starting to go downhill. On what could have been a game-ending double play, the third baseman Ramirez booted an easy grounder, which allowed Stewart to score, and left guys on first and second. Steve Clevenger followed that up with an RBI single, but the center fielder Gomez committed a missed catch error, allowing runners to reach second and third.

But Axford managed to strike out David DeJesus for the second out of the inning. He then walked Barney to load the bases. But, Axford finished the game by striking out Starlin Castro on three pitches.

> The back-end of the bullpen isn’twhat worries me at the moment, but more so the middle relievers. Dillard, Parra, and Kameron Loe haven’t looked particularly sharp so far. I know we’re only four games into the season, but hopefully this gets fixed soon.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the second game of this four-game series tomorrow at 6:05 PM CT. Chris Narveson will go for the Brewers, making his first start of the season. He’s dominated the Cubs in his career, going 6-1 with a 3.51 ERA against them.

The Cubs will counter with free agent acquisition Paul Maholm, who has seen a lot of the Brewers with the Pirates over the past few seasons. He’s 3-8 with a 4.45 ERA in his career against the Crew.

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