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.

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Brewers hang on after wild ninth

April 30, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts lately (it feels like I have to say that too often nowadays). Schoolwork and things like that have been piling up recently, so I just decided to take a bit of a hiatus from Breaking Wisconsin and Reviewing the Brew to make sure I stayed on top of my work. Plus, the Brewers had a three-game losing streak going into today, so it wasn’t like I was missing much, as far as posting goes.

> But I figured today would be a good day to come back. The Brewers managed to salvage one game out of this dismal series with the Cardinals, winning 3-2. Zack Greinke notched his third win of the season, and the Brewers managed to defeat Jaime Garcia at Busch Stadium for once. And, although the offense wasn’t somewhat non-existent for the third consecutive day, it was enough to take down the Cards.

For the second straight start, Greinke didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to pull a win out of his pocket. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. His command wasn’t the sharpest, as he walked four and struck out just two. But, both of the strikeouts came against the Cards’ hottest hitter, David Freese, so it’s nice to know we have someone on the team capable of getting him out.

The Cardinals got on the board first in the second inning on Rafael Furcal’s RBI single. After that, I thought the Brewers were in for another rough day of bad pitching. But Greinke managed to dance around trouble every time he got into a jam after that.

The Brewers finally tied up the game in the sixth on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single. A few batters later, Jonathan Lucroy hit a go-ahead, two-RBI double to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t again give up.

But they had to work for it. John Axford came on for the save in the ninth inning, and it didn’t start well. He walked Matt Holliday to lead off the inning, then gave up a single to Carlos Beltran. That advanced Tyler Greene (pinch-running for Holliday) to third. Axford then rallied to strike out Freese (man did it feel good to see him strike out three times). Axe then struck out another hot-hitting Cardinal, Yadier Molina, and that’s when the drama started. As Molina struck out, Beltran broke for second base. Lucroy threw down to second where Alex Gonzalez caught the ball, and they had Beltran in a rundown. As Gonzalez was chasing Beltran back to first, Greene broke for home in a dangerous attempt to tie the game. Gonzalez then threw back to Lucroy at home, and they tagged out Greene for a shocking finish to the game.

Regardless of all that happened, this was Axford’s 48th consecutive save, and he’s well into elite company at this point. 48 is the fourth longest save streak in Major League history, which is incredible, especially if you know Axford’s back story.

> The Brewers made a couple of roster moves prior to today’s game, sending Mike McClendon back to Triple-A. They called up journeyman Vinnie Chulk, who last pitched in the Majors in 2009 for the Indians.

But it was only a matter of time before McClendon was sent down. I used to have high hopes for this guy, especially when he was called up in September of 2010- he looked great. But now his mechanics are completely out of whack, and he doesn’t have any command. He ate up some valuable innings while he was up, but the 10.13 ERA was too much.

> On a non-Brewers note, Prince Fielder hit a home run today off another ex-Brewer, CC Sabathia. Fielder looked like a fool against CC in Interleague play last year, but the homer he hit today was a mammoth- and I mean a mammoth. But the Yankees still wound up winning, as the Tigers’ recent struggles continue.

> Tomorrow, the Brewers head out to the west coast for the first time this year, and will take on the Padres in a three-game series. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Randy Wolf (1-2, 7.17 ERA) vs. Joe Wieland (0-3, 4.76)

Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. Cory Luebke (3-1, 2.61 ERA)

As you can see, Wolf is going tomorrow, and he’s coming off a solid start against the Astros. But he struggled for the most part in his first three starts. Anyway, despite the fact the Padres have close to no offense, Wolf has had a tough time with his former team in his career, going 6-5 with a 5.51 ERA against them. Not quite sure how he has a winning record, though.

The Pads will counter with Wieland, who was called up a few weeks ago because of an injury to Tim Stauffer. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t pitched particularly bad, but has just fallen victim to the “run support” of the Padres.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.