Brewers mount comeback to hold ground

September 21, 2012

POSTGAME

> It’s now safe to say that the Brewers are never out of any game. Despite a large early lead, they had to play comeback today, and they were successful. The Brewers managed to take a 9-7 win in a four-hour, back-and-forth contest with the Pirates.

The Brewers got off to a quick start, jumping on Wandy Rodriguez for three runs- including an Aramis Ramirez two-run blast- in the first inning. But, with a 4-0 lead in the third, Mike Fiers gave up a three-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. Fiers, who needed 81 pitches to get through just three innings, was removed after that.

After tying the game in the fourth, the Pirates rallied against Kameron Loe for three in the sixth inning, with a home run from Clint Barmes and an RBI single by Starling Marte.

Going into the eighth inning, the Bucs had a comfortable 7-3, but you could just tell the Brewers were going to mount a rally against struggling reliever Chad Qualls. And they wasted no time in doing so, as a two-run double from Norichika Aoki and a two-run triple from Rickie Weeks quickly knotted the game up at 7-7. Ramirez then gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI single. Logan Schafer tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth as well.

John Axford nailed down the save for the second straight night, as he worked around a Jean Segura error to strike out the side.

MY TAKE

> Segura’s error in the ninth inning should have probably been charged to first baseman Travis Ishikawa. Segura’s throw was slightly high, but it’s a throw that Ishikawa has to be able to handle.

> After the bullpen got off to a rough start (Brandon Kintzler gave up the lead following Fiers’ exit, then Loe nearly let the Pirates blow it open), they settled down nicely to shut down the Pirates for the rest of the game. Jose Veras got out of Loe’s jam in the sixth, Manny Parra threw a scoreless seventh, Francisco Rodriguez handled the eighth, and Axford got another save as he continues his return to form.

> I hate to say it, but Fiers is starting to look legitimately fatigued on the mound. He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his last three starts. As I noted on Twitter earlier, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ron Roenicke pull the plug on his season any day now.

> Jason Grilli plunked Ryan Braun in theseventh inning- when the Pirates had a three-run lead. That drew a standing ovation from the Pittsburgh crowd. Hope they enjoyed the eighth-inning rally too.

So now I’ve concluded that their fanbase doesn’t deserve a playoff berth, or a mere .500 season. If they act like that, they can stay in the cellar of the NL Central for the next 20 years as well- or longer.

Stay classy, Pittsburgh.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart made an unexpected return to the lineup today. He went 1-for-3 with a single, but it was noticeable that he was uncomfortable at the plate. Hart was removed in the fifth in exchange for Ishikawa.

> Axford said that the Zack Greinke trade “sharpened the Brewers’ focus.”

> Roenicke made a case for Aoki’s Rookie of the Year chances.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers’ current five-game winning streak is their longest on the season.

> This is the first time all year the Brewers have been give games over .500.

> Here’s the explanation for the Brewers passing up the Bucs in the standings: the Brewers have won 23 of their last 29 games. During that same stretch, the Pirates have won seven games.

> Oh, and the Pirates fell a game under .500.

> The Dodgers lost to the Nats, so the Brewers have leap-frogged them in the Wild Card race.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Nationals:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.91 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.89 ERA)

Wily Peralta (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) vs. ???

Marco Estrada (4-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. ???

THE EXTRAS

> MLB Network’s Intentional Talk interviewed Axford the other day. But I was more amused at the murderous look on Jim Henderson’s face the entire time. Click here; you’ll know what I mean.

> This year’s edition of rookie hazing. They’re supposed to be the Flintstones… I think?

(It would appear Carlos Gomez took the photo.)

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Crew takes series from Bucs; remain 2.5 back

September 20, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers did what they needed to do in Pittsburgh: take the easy series, because the road ahead is going to be extremely difficult.

The Crew took down the Pirates again tonight, 3-1. The pitching continued to be as stellar as it’s been the past three games, led tonight by Marco Estrada’s seven scoreless innings.

Estrada also sort of led the way offensively. After Norichika Aoki’s first career lead-off homer in the first inning, Estrada was responsible for the final two runs- he got an RBI single in the fifth and received the benefit of a run-scoring error in the seventh inning.

John Axford was shaky in the ninth, but, after allowing a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen to lead off the inning, settled down to notch his 30th save of the year.

MY TAKE

> Estrada was removed after seven innings, but had just 96 pitches under his belt, and had allowed just three hits. If it were me, Estrada would be back out for the eighth inning, no questions asked. But apparently a starter needs to have below 90 pitches through seven if he wants to go beyond that under Ron Roenicke.

> Even if the Brewers continue to play well, don’t expect them to pick up much ground in the Wild Card over the next week and a half or so. During that span, the Cardinals- currently occupying the second WC spot- have the luxury of a schedule that goes Astros, Cubs, Astros.

THE NEWS

> Peter Gammons wrote about how Doug Melvin has been able to bring the Brewers back into contention during his tenure as Brewers’ GM.

> MLB Trade Rumors inquired on a topic I’ve also been preaching lately: whether or not Shaun Marcum deserves a decent contract come this offseason.

THE NUMBERS

> Estrada has brought his ERA all the way down to 3.56. He’s no slouch out there.

> Aoki’s recent power-stretch has him once again approaching the .300 mark, as he’s brought his average up to .293.

> As mentioned earlier, Axford recorded his 30th save of the year. A few months ago, I never would have guessed he could achieve that milestone this year.

> RRR finally attempted to fix the first base problem by using Taylor Green there today, but the results were basically the same ones Travis Ishikawa has been giving us: 0-for-4.

> The Brewers got another stolen base, but the Pirates also threw out a baserunner! That’s progress (even if the replay showed the runner was actually safe).

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.23 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (11-13, 3.65 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> So apparently today was the annual International Talk Like A Pirate Day.” That must mean talking like a contender who’s falling out of the race.


Peralta carves apart the Mets

September 16, 2012

POSTGAME

> The way the Brewers are playing right now, it feels almost as if now matter who takes the mound is going to give them a chance to win. Wily Peralta took that a step further today, firing a gem in the Brewers’ 3-0 win over the Mets, which sealed yet another series win.

Peralta was absolutely dominant- eight innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. That’s up there with the best pitching performances of the season for the Brewers. Peralta needed 104 pitches for the eight innings, and I was hoping he could go the distance, but he appeared to be running out of gas in the eighth.

Peralta needed only three runs, which all came on separate home run balls: Ryan Braun hit two, and Aramis Ramirez hit one.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart had a baserunning session this morning, but apparently it didn’t go too well, since now he’s doubtful to even return on Tuesday.

Hart was officially diagnosed with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia, a tissue that goes along the bottom of the foot.

Keep in mind Hart was supposed to be back on Friday. Hopefully this doesn’t linger on for too much longer; the Brewers will need Hart down the stretch.

> Despite his struggles since coming off the disabled list, the Brewers are going to stick with Shaun Marcum in the rotation. It’s hard to tell if Marcum is just struggling because of his long stint on the DL, or if he really can’t pitch in September.

Either way, his 5.70 ERA since coming off the DL has really been the only problem the Brewers have had pitching-wise lately. If he could get on track, the Brewers could be a very scary team.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun’s two home runs today gave him two large milestones. The first one was the 200th home run of his career, and the second one gave him the first 40 homer season of his career.

> Peralta has improved with every start. In his first start, he gave up three runs in 6+ innings against the Marlins. He allowed one run in six innings against the Braves in his second. But today’s outing blew away both of those.

> The 5-6-7 hitters- Travis Ishikawa, Martin Maldonado, and Carlos Gomez- went a combined 0-for-10. We need Hart back.

> Peralta also picked up his first career hit, a double in the seventh.

> The Brewers can’t gain any ground in the Wild Card race because the teams that are tied for the lead- the Cardinals and Dodgers- are playing each other. One of them has to win, and whoever does win will be leading the WC. So, regardless of that game’s result, the Brewers will be 2.5 games back at the end of the day.

> John Axford’s save today was the 100th of his career. Where has the time gone?

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers start a three-gamer in Pittsburgh. Here are the probables:

Yovani Gallardo (15-8, 3.72 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (15-5, 3.63 ERA)

Marco Estrada (3-6, 3.77 ERA) vs. Kyle McPherson (0-0, 1.54 ERA)

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.23 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (11-13, 3.65 ERA)

The Pirates announced today that they removed James McDonald from the rotation, which is why McPherson is starting on Wednesday.

THE EXTRAS

> I lol’d.

(That’s Ramirez during the postgame interview, if you can’t tell.)

> I also had a good laugh at this one.


Brewers handily take series from Bucs

August 26, 2012

POSTGAME

> It doesn’t matter how good the Pirates are or how bad the Brewers are: history tells us it’s likely the Brewers will always beat the Pirates. That happened again today, as the Brewers KO’d the Pirates 7-0.

Erik Bedard held the Brewers hitless through the first three innings, but the Brewers jumped all over him in the middle innings. Carlos Gomez hit a three-run blast off him in the fourth inning, then Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run shot following a Rickie Weeks RBI single in the fifth. The Brewers’ last run was Norichika Aoki’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.

BUCCOS RUNNING OUT OF TIME

> This is starting to become a common theme for the Pirates. Last year, they were in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1992. The quick assumption was that they’d finally reach the playoffs (or at least finish over .500) for the first time since that year as well.

But there was no such luck. The Pirates couldn’t even win 20 games down the stretch, and faded out of contention to a 72-90 record.

This year, the Pirates seemed to have stepped it up a notch, and have been contending for most of the year. But now they may be fading away yet again. They’ve lost 12 of their last 17 games, and have been struggling against the teams that most contending teams would beat (i.e. the Brewers, and they were swept in four games by the Padres prior to this series).

The reason for this happening two years in a row is probably because the young players are putting too much pressure on themselves. A perfect example of that is James McDonald, who had an ERA hovering around 2.20 before the All-Star break. Since the break, his ERA is over 8.00. That’s a sign he’s probably trying to do too much, and the same can be said for other young players on his team.

But the front office isn’t really helping them, either. They traded ex-Brewer Casey McGehee to the Yankees during a stretch in which he was really helping the Pirates win games, then attempted to replace him by acquiring Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins. I didn’t understand that all, considering Sanchez, a former All-Star, was hitting below .200 and had been in the Minors for most of the year with the Marlins. And all the Pirates got in return for McGehee was struggling reliever Chad Qualls. So that was clearly a bad series of moves. The Wandy Rodriguez trade looked good on paper, but Rodriguez has an ERA above 5.00 since joining the Pirates.

And while the Pirates continue to struggle, other teams are pulling away and are simply making themselves better than the Pirates. I want to say the Braves have a Wild Card spot locked up, but I can’t after last year. The Cardinals have pulled ahead of the Pirates in the WC chase as well. And there’s almost no chance the Bucs can compete with the juiced Dodgers.

While I wanted to see the Pirates contend for once this year, I can’t see it happening now. There are just too many teams that are better than them, and their struggles are holding them back.

MY TAKE

> Mark Rogers had a strange start today. He shut down the Pirates, but did so in a rather inefficient way, needing 101 pitches to get through just five innings. His three walks may have contributed to that.

When Rogers was first drafted, some considered him a future ace. At the time, that may have bode true, but after all these injuries he’s gone through, I don’t know if he’ll ever reach that point. That’s not to say he can’t be a solid two or three starter, because his stuff is definitely still there. But now I’m doubting he’ll ever be that true No. 1.

> Gomez is getting far more playing time than Nyjer Morgan nowadays, which I love to see. He’s hitting just .247, but is starting to show that power stroke everyone has been waiting for. With Morgan likely gone next year, I’m excited to see what kind of numbers Gomez will put up as a full-time center fielder.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers might not shut down Mike Fiers. They’ve been going back and forth on the decision regarding shutting him down, and have gone back to the good side.

If the Brewers do decide to shut down Fiers, it likely wouldn’t be until late September. But even Fiers himself has said he “feels fine” and would like to pitch the rest of the year.

> Ron Roenicke is going to stick with Weeks in the two-hole in the lineup. Weeks is just 8 for his last 50, but did get an RBI today.

> Vin Scully, the best sportscaster in history, is coming back to announce Dodgers games in 2013.

> The Orioles acquired Joe Saunders from the Diamondbacks. Not exactly the ace arm they were looking for, but we’ll see if he can help them with a playoff run.

> Roger Clemens went 3 1/3 innings in his first start with the Sugar Land Skeeters yesterday. He needed just 37 pitches and gave up no runs.

THE NUMBERS

> Rogers got his second consecutive win after the bullpen seemingly wouldn’t let him find one for a few starts.

> Jonathan Lucroy went a perfect 3-for-3, raising his average to .333.

> The Brewers have made five errors in their last two games. Whoever was saying defense has been a high point this year apparently jinxed it.

> Here are the probables for the upcoming Cubs series:

Marco Estrada (1-5, 4.23 ERA) vs. Justin Germano (2-3, 4.54 ERA)

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

Mike Fiers (7-6, 2.98 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.09 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> Yes. Yes we were.

But, according to this magazine, ESPN has the Packers going 16-0 and winning the Super Bowl. I’d take that.

> Wouldn’t you hate to play for a team called the “Sugar Land Skeeters?”


Loe picks up Axford in shaky ninth

August 25, 2012

POSTGAME

> It was another bullpen classic tonight. The Brewers squeezed past the Pirates, 6-5, in a game that should have been a much easier win. They had a three-run lead going into the ninth inning, but, after a dominating performance on Wednesday, John Axford couldn’t handle it today.

The Brewers jumped on Wandy Rodriguez early, with back-to-back RBI hits from Corey Hart and Jonathan Lucroy to give them a 2-0 lead. But the Pirates answered back on an Andrew McCutchen two-RBI single in the fourth.

It was a pitchers’ duel between Mike Fiers and Rodriguez until the Brewers finally broke the game open in the seventh. Rodriguez was removed with a runner on second and two outs in favor of Jared Hughes, who got his head blown off by the Brewers. He started by hitting Rickie Weeks with the first pitch he threw, then walked Ryan Braun to load the bases. Aramis Ramirez made him pay with a bases-clearing double.

The Brewers had a 6-3 lead going into the ninth, so Axford was put in for what looked like an easy save situation, especially after his save Wednesday. But nothing is easy for him nowadays. He walked McCutchen and Garrett Jones to start the inning, then gave up an RBI single to Neil Walker. Axford seemed to find it for two batters, notching back-to-back strikeouts of Pedro Alvarez and Jeff Clement. But then he gave up another RBI single to Michael McKenry, and Ron Roenicke decided to yank him for Kameron Loe, who struck out Gaby Sanchez to record the save.

AXFORD CAN’T HANDLE IT ANYMORE

> I wrote an article yesterday regarding Axford’s confidence coming back after he recorded back-to-back saves. I also mentioned that he himself went up to Roenicke and personally asked for the closer’s role back.

But I guess I was wrong. Axford just no longer has the ability to string together good outings. I want to say he’ll get better, but each blown save (or practically blown save, which was the case tonight) just lessens my confidence in him more and more.

Yes, I know it’s probably too early to judge him, and there’s no reason that he can’t still turn it around before season’s end. But, at the same time, there’s no reason that he can’t become the next Derrick Turnbow, which, scarily enough, seems to be exactly what’s happening to him. Axford had a ton of saves last year and sub-2.00 ERA, and now can barely string together two good outings.

Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds very familiar. The exact same thing happened to Turnbow. And we all saw what happened to Turnbow after this happened to him.

I hate to be all negative about Axford, because he has great stuff, and still has the potential to be that dominant closer. But, just like Turnbow, he can’t get it together mentally anymore.

(Sorry if I brought back any bad memories with that photo.)

THE NEWS

> Randy Wolf said the Brewers organization treated him with respect and “has been outstanding” even after they released him. He’ll return to his home in Los Angeles to work out and hopefully wait on another big league opportunity.

> Shaun Marcum was offically reinstated from the disabled list today and will make his first start since early June tomorrow.

THE NUMBERS

> Fiers bounced back nicely after two rough outings against the Rockies and Phillies. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out 10, which tied a career-high.

In Fiers’ two previous starts, he had a whopping 15.43 ERA.

> Braun got walked three times tonight, one of those times intentionally. Ramirez made the Bucs pay for all of those by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

> Jean Segura’s average has fallen to .189.

> Fiers finally recorded his first career hit, which was a bunt single to ignite the seventh inning rally.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA) vs. Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.79 ERA)


Ax saves back-to-back games; Wolf cut loose

August 22, 2012

POSTGAME

> Today was the ideal Brewers win: the starter goes seven strong, and the setup man and closer each throw scoreless innings to seal the win.

That’s been very uncommon this year thanks the bullpen, but it happened today in the Brewers’ 3-2 win over the Cubs, as the brooms were brought out. Yovani Gallardo won his fifth straight decision, going seven solid innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out nine.

Yo gave up a lead-off home run to David DeJesus, but buckled down until giving up another solo homer to Bryan LaHair in the seventh. After the Cubs took the early 1-0 lead, the Brewers responded in the bottom of the first with three straight doubles off Travis Wood from Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart. The Brewers added on another run on Braun’s solo home run in the sixth.

Jim Henderson pitched the eighth and struggled a bit with his command, but put up the zero. John Axford struck out the side in the ninth to record his 20th save, so maybe he’s on his way back to being a dominant closer.

THE NEWS

> In a somewhat shocking move, Randy Wolf was released prior to today’s game. With the numbers Wolf was putting up this year, it was extremely unlikely the Brewers were going to pick up his $10 million option for 2013 anyway, but he wasn’t expected to go this early.

Wolf was victim to nine blown saves behind him, but the 5.69 ERA speaks for itself. He was just flat-out ineffective this year and couldn’t duplicate the 2011 season in which he went 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA, while also getting a clutch win in the NLCS against the Cardinals.

He went 13-12 with a 4.17 ERA in 2010, including a 2.67 ERA in the second half, which was his first year with the Brewers. Wolf finishes with a career 29-32 record as a Brewer with a 4.37 ERA.

I hope Wolf gets picked up by someone (maybe a contender) down the stretch. He was a real class act, but just wasn’t getting it done for the Brewers this go around.

> In a corresponding move, the Brewers once again recalled Jeff Bianchi.

> Jean Segura was out of today’s lineup, and was witnessed limping in the clubhouse. Last night, Carlos Marmol covered first base the wrong way while fielding a Segura groundout, and Segura stepped on his foot. Segura did stay in the rest of the game.

Cody Ransom got the start at shortstop today, and the Brewers called up Bianchi just in case.

> Axford reportedly asked Ron Roenicke to return to the closer’s role. That’s a very good sign, because it means Ax’s confidence is starting to come back.

> Bartolo Colon, currently pitching for the contending Athletics, was hit with a 50-game ban today. It’s crazy how many players have been suspended this year. It was the second Bay Area player to get knocked out, with Melky Cabrera receiving a suspension last week.

THE NUMBERS

> Braun has been hot since snapping his slump, and continued that with a 3-for-4 day. His average now sits at .308.

> Ransom actually got a hit in his start, going 1-for-2. But, he naturally struck out the one time he was retired.

> Since his record evened at 8-8 following a rough start against the Nationals, Gallardo has won five consecutive decisions, only giving up more than two earned runs in one of those starts.

> Brewers pitchers struck out a cumulative 37 Cubs batters this series (12 in the first two games, 13 today).

> Wolf was released on his 36th birthday. Ouch.

> After an off-day tomorrow, the Brewers start a three-game set against the still-contending Pirates. Here are the probables:

Mike Fiers (6-6, 2.90 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (8-12, 4.00 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA) vs. Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.79 ERA)

Mark Rogers (1-1, 5.02 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (7-13, 4.76 ERA)

 


Brewers shut down Astros in opener

July 7, 2012

> So, despite the huge rant I went on last night that I was going to take a break, the break only lasted a day. Looking back on last night, I made a bigger deal about the whole thing than I should have. Regardless of the season the Brewers are having, let’s get on to covering them.

> After a very disappointing split with the Marlins, the Brewers took one to open their three-game set with the Astros, 7-1. It was your ideal game- good starting pitching, good relief pitching, and good offense- a game the Brewers have struggled to put up lately.

It started with a solid start by Yovani Gallardo, who, after the second inning, basically dominated a young Astros lineup. He toughed out six innings that he needed 108 pitches to get through, but he gave up just one run on four hits. He also walked three and struck out six for his seventh win of the year. He brought his ERA down to 3.74, the lowest it’s been since a a two inning, eight run disaster against the Cardinals in May. Even though Gallardo hasn’t been getting many wins lately, his numbers are beginning to return to where they should be.

The offense had a good night against Astros starter J.A. Happ, who the Brewers traditionally hammer. Happ did have a 1-0 record with a 3.27 ERA in two starts against the Crew so far this year coming into tonight, but he would not have the same luck. The Brewers hopped all over him early with a pair of first inning solo home runs by Norichika Aoki and Ryan Braun. The Astros answered with a solo blast by Scott Moore in the bottom of the inning, but after that Gallardo and the bullpen held the ‘Stros scoreless.

The Brewers didn’t score again until the sixth inning on Rickie Weeks’ seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot to make the score 4-1. The Brewers would tack on three more in the seventh with an RBI triple by Carlos Gomez, and RBI single by Aoki, and an Aramis Ramirez RBI double.

Lastly, the bullpen finally had a much-needed shut down game. After Kameron Loe’s ERA ballooned from 3.34 to 4.21 during the bullpen disaster against the Marlins on Tuesday, he came out and threw a perfect inning today. Then, Livan Hernandez threw two scoreless innings to finish off the Astros and seal the win.

> I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way, but I’m now far more than skeptical about our bullpen, even after their performance today. I didn’t post during the Marlins series, but the bullpen was flat-out terrible during the last three games of that series. Francisco Rodriguez is all over the place, John Axford is blowing saves like never before, Jose Veras is back to being Jose Veras, and the list goes on.

> On the bright side, though, it was reported yesterday morning that the Mets are interested in re-acquiring K-Rod. Keep in mind that, for a contending team, they have a terrible bullpen as well.

So you can have K-Rod back for free, Sandy Alderson. Just don’t blame us when your team misses the playoffs because of your bullpen- again.

> I was browsing Twitter this morning, when I found some ESPN analyst’s picks for the first half awards (i.e. MVP, LVP, ROY). I usually don’t waste my time with ESPN baseball reporters, since they don’t know anything about the sport half the time, but I thought I’d take a gander at it.

So I looked at the guy’s LVPs (LVP stands for Least Valuable Player, if you didn’t know). And guess who he had for the National League?

Rickie Weeks.

ESPN continues to prove to me that they know absolutely nothing about baseball, nor does it appear they even pay attention to it on a daily basis. A few weeks ago, I would have agreed with this analyst’s pick of Weeks, but he’s actually hitting over .300 for his 15 games or so, so I’ve let him off the hook.

If I recall correctly, Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins was one of his honorable mentions for the NL LVP. Sanchez, who was an All-Star last year, has been optioned to Triple-A TWICE this year. That’s the first time since 1995 that an All-Star has been sent down the following season, and probably even longer that the player was sent down twice. So how the analyst didn’t give it to Sanchez is beyond me.

But at least I was reminded why I don’t waste my time with ESPN.

> On a different note, Ron Roenicke mayhave finally grown a pair today.

Alright, that’s a bit harsh. But he finally stood up for one of his players. In the top of the ninth today, Braun was drilled in the small of the back by a Rhiner Cruz fastball. As usual, no warnings were issued, despite the fact the Brewers far and away lead the Majors in HBPs.

But, in the bottom of the ninth, I was blown away: the Brewers retaliated. With two outs in the ninth, Livan hit Jason Castro in the back with a fastball. I didn’t catch the speed of the pitch, but it was probably your typical 80 MPH Livan-ball, so it’s not the end of the world for the Astros. But I was very happy to see the Brewers retaliate for once, whether or not it was Roenicke’s decision, or Livan just did it on his own.

> And that’s about it. As I said at the beginning, forget about the break. My writing will iron itself out eventually, and I’ve realized that quitting writing isn’t going to help with that. The solution is to keep writing, which is what I’m going to do from here on out.

But, the Breaking Wisconsin site itself will be undergoing renovations. I’ve began to notice that my choice for blog design is boring, so I’ll definitely change that at least.

> Anyway, I leave you with tomorrow’s pitching matchup:

Zack Greinke (9-2, 3.08 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (6-6, 3.54 ERA)

Greinke is an All-Star snub, in my opinion, and deserved one of the last pitching spots over Lance Lynn. But I’m not going to argue about it; this is going to be one of the worst ASGs in a LONG time. David Wright and Carlos Ruiz, the NL’s leading hitters, aren’t even starting. Shows you how smart fans are becoming (at least San Francisco fans).