A mere 4 days ago, I was bragging about my first place Milwaukee Brewers.
It seemed, at the time, that they could do no wrong.
Of course, they had just swept the Cubs, who we all know suck. They split a 4-game series with the Pirates, who we all know try really hard not to suck, but still do. They swept the Mets, who we all know don’t suck as badly as Chicago or Pittsburgh, but still suck in their own right.
The Brewers were winning left and right, turning triple plays, hitting monster bombs — basically just backing up their awesome starting rotation with stellar defense and bursting offense.
Soooooooo when the Cardinals come to town 10 1/2 games back in the NL Central, you’d think the Crew would be able to keep the momentum alive and at least win one.
You know. Or not. Whatever.
Shaun Marcum’s loss Tuesday wasn’t his fault. A couple unearned runs was all it took to lessen the gap. Thank you, errors. Brewers lose, 2-1.
Last night was entirely RAAAAANDY’s fault. (RAAAAANDY may or may not be trademarked by Aziz Ansari. Regardless, I use it. Constantly.) Leadoff home run for Rafael Furcal, one out, follow up dinger from Albert Pujols, settled down, GRAND SLAM FROM PITCHER JAKE WESTBROOK. All pretty standard, no? Oh, not, actually. Somewhere in there the Brewers scored 3 runs, Ryan Braun’s trademark hustle became his downfall while attempting an inside-the-park home run (HILARIOUS, btw!) and, just as RB went down, so did the Crew. 8-3. Boo.
So, today. Nearly a carbon copy of last night, except for Yovani Gallardo was the one giving up 1st inning homers to Furcal and Pujols, and a subsequent grand slam to Prince Albert, which is when I turned off the game to catch up on DVR and pack for the first round of moving to MN. Yo surrendered a career high 4 HRs in a single outing. An outing that lasted less than 5 innings. Evidently, Jonathan Lucroy, Corey Hart and Prince Fielder answered with some too-little-too-late homers but alas, 8-4. Donezo.
And the Brewers were swept for the first time in Milwaukee all season.
The comfortable LoveSac lead has dwindled: 7 1/2 games over STL.
Thankfully, the baseball gods were smiling on My Boys when the 2011 schedule was made and they should be able to rebound nicely, facing the already eliminated Houston Astros over the weekend, while St. Louis takes on the Cincinnati Reds.
Now’s the time to gain back the 3 games lost. As they say, there’s no time like the present.
But don’t think I’m at all discouraged by this sweep. It was bound to happen and quite honestly, I’m surprised it hadn’t already.
I will say this, though: Even though the rest of the month seems like a cakewalk (half of the remaining 24 games are against the NL Central, and Chicago and Pittsburgh will very likely be officially out of the running by the time they face Milwaukee again), the Brewers need to bring their A-game now more than ever. I know they’re not a team that would ever rest on their laurels, and I’m certainly not accusing them of that for this series, but this is crunch time, no matter how big the lead.
I still have faith in you, Brewers. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I’m convinced it’s your year every year, going back pretty much for forever. And I’m sure you won’t prove me wrong this season. Because you wouldn’t do that to me, right?
PS, don’t forget to tune in to the Energy Sports Zone on mnenergy.com this Sunday morning from 9-11! College football, NFL, baseball, BREWERS!!! What more do you need?
I never had any doubt that the Brewers would be leading the NL Central by August.
I knew there would be continual sweeps, great pitcher’s duels and offensive outbursts that couldn’t be matched.
I always hoped that Felip-ayyyyyyy Lopez would be back in a Brewers uniform.
There was never once a bit of hesitation whenever asked if Milwaukee was a legitimate contender in 2011.
Of course, you know that none of the previous statements are true. Yes. I’ve had my doubts about this team. Who hasn’t? They got even bigger once I saw the Pirates were forcing their way towards the top and I thought they were going to be insurmountable when Rickie Weeks went down last week against the Cubs. (Though the surprise re-addition of Lopez puts a bandage on that wound, and the pick-up of Jerry Hairston, Jr. is kinda like the Bactine–it really will help, even though you might not want to put it on.)
However, the Brewers swept that series and followed it up with a sweep of the Astros, which isn’t hard to do when both teams are scraping the bottom of the division and Houston decided to part ways with both Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn during the series.
Milwaukee extended their winning streak to 7 with one monster inning against Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter last night. Zack Greinke allowed a 2-run homer to Matt Holliday in the top of the first and the Brewers were playing with that deficit because Carpenter was lights out through the first 4, allowing just one hit. The Crew batted around in the bottom of the 5th, starting with Yuniesky Betancourt, and all 5 of the runs scored before the first out was recorded. Turns out, Milwaukee didn’t even need all 5, but hey, any time Tony Plush decides to poke his head out for a little fun (and a bases-clearing double), I’m into it.
But, there were a couple of moments that had my heart racing (and not in a good way). I was not pleased to see a bases-loaded, one-out jam at the hands of Greinke in the 6th. The Brewers probably wouldn’t have gotten out of it without harm if it weren’t for a, well, blown call at first on a Skip Schumaker double play-inducing grounder. We all hate bad calls. Until they go our way. So, obviously, I’m okay with it.
With last night’s win, Milwaukee has a relatively comfortable 3 1/2 game cushion over STL. It’s certainly no LoveSac. More like your standard beanbag chair. But it works. And who doesn’t like a beanbag chair?
But what hasn’t been helping on this little climb to the top? Craig Counsell’s bat.
Remember when Counsell used to come in to PH and would actually do something beneficial? Aside from the walk-off sacrifice fly to finish the first half (which I didn’t actually see, due to a 3rd day of preoccupation with Dave Matthews), I do not. Forty-five ABs without a hit. Four RBIs on the season with a .145 AVG. It’s atrocious. Yes, he’s a veteran presence, yes he can still play above average defense, yes he’s…nope. That’s all I got. I love you, Craigy, but turn this around offensively or it’s gonna have to be time to retire. I don’t particularly like either of the 40-year-old lefties on the bench (seriously, Brewers. Who needs TWO??) but something’s gotta give with Counsell. Like, soon.
Attempting to stretch the current streak to 8 wins, Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.33) faces off against Jaime Garcia (10-5, 3.14). Garcia is tough on left-handed hitters, thus Hairston getting the start in CF over Nyjer Morgan and the only lefty in the Brewers line-up is, of couse, Prince Fielder. On the flip-side, Garcia’s ERA in 2 previous starts at Miller Park is 7.20, so if the Crew can continue to swing and play the same smart baseball they’ve been playing as of late, they may be able to solve the otherwise on-point Garcia.
But I’m good. I think that LoveSac is on it’s way.
Sooo the Brewers play their next 18 games within the NL Central.
Given that 9 of the first 12 are against Chicago and Houston, the divison’s losing-est teams, you’d think coming out of those 18 games with a winning record shouldn’t be a problem.
And the fact that Narv Dog is starting the first game against the Cubs tomorrow night shouldn’t hurt, either. He’s 5-0 in his last 11 appearances against Chicago but he’s facing Ryan Dempster, who’s been trouble for the Crew since, oh, just about forever.
Now, coming off a losing series in San Francisco, where little offense, multiple base running blunders and costly errors all weighed heavily on the outcomes of both losses, the Brewers are finally returning to the comforts of home for the first time since the All Star break.
On the plus side of this sad road trip, Ryan Braun seemed to have found his stroke after sitting out the last couple of series of the first half, homering in 4 of the last 5 games, putting him at 20 for the season. (3 of those homers were in his first at-bat.)
On the minus side? Meh. Take your pick.
Prince Fielder struggled throughout the entire roadie, almost as mightily as the swings he took at pitches outside the strikezone. In those 11 games, he went just 8 for 39, with 7 walks. The fact that only one walk was intentional and it came in the first game in Colorado tells the opponents exactly what it told me: Fielder currently isn’t a threat at the plate. Fix that, dude.
Also on the negative side was the injury to OF Carlos Gomez. Yes, he made a spectacular catch but he broke his collarbone in the process. The Brewers called up Brett Carroll from Nashville as a replacement and he made quite a defensive debut in SF yesterday, but went 0-3 at the plate, so I don’t know how beneficial he’ll be just yet.
So will Milwaukee’s recent bad play carry over to what should be one of the easier stretches of the second half? It’s hard to say.
Of course, with Gomez out, no lefties in the bullpen and the defensive woes in the left side of the infield, the Brewers have some holes to be filled and the trade deadline is looming. Of course, which hole is the biggest remains to be seen. The ‘pen hasn’t been working all too hard given the high amount of quality starts coming from the rotation, Carroll, Nyjer Morgan and Mark Kotsay are all capable outfielders, but none are everyday outfielders and Yuniesky Betancourt seemingly is getting sick of people saying he’s useless and went on an offensive tear, even going 3-5 with 2 homeruns in a single game in Arizona.
Relievers, infielders, outfielders–Dougie’s got some choices to make.
So, while they may currently share first place with St. Louis and Pittsburgh (Who knew?!), Milwaukee needs to seriously step it up. Like, now. They’re not gonna hit an easier string of opponents anytime soon and they need to take advantage and make do with what they’ve got until Melvin can find some new blood. I mean, if the Pirates can push and shove their way to the top with complete disregard for how crappy they are, then the Brewers should be able to knock everyone else down a peg or two.
I mean, really. It shouldn’t be that hard.
(PS, if you have Showtime, you really should be watching The Franchise. Even if you aren’t a Giants fan. Seriously. Great show. Wednesday nights.)
Why does it seem, every season, the Brewers have to face the oft-dominating teams of the AL in interleague play?
Two months ago, I wouldn’t have been to bothered to face Boston. They started the season 0-6 and slid uncomfortably into last place in the AL East, all the while the Brewers held themselves up towards the top of the standings in the NL Central. And, despite a bit of a tailspin, Milwaukee has finally begun to establish themselves as a team to be reckoned with, but they were thrust into their first interleague series after a dismal showing at Wrigley. And, as luck would have it, the first series was on the road at Fenway Park.
After finally posting a W on the third try in a 4 game series in Chicago, I thought maybe the Brewers could split the series and swoop into Boston with a little bit of momentum. Instead, Thursday’s game at the hole that is Wrigley proved to be disastrous and the Crew fell to the Cubs 12-7, handing Zack Greinke his second loss of the season. So any hope of an upswing to start the series in Boston was long gone.
It’s not that the Brewers didn’t try. They just ran into a couple of insurmountable issues from their starting pitchers.
Friday night Milwaukee held a brief 2-0 lead, but starter Shaun Marcum left the game after a 44-pitch first inning with a hip injury. Even after a 2 more RBIs, Marco Estrada took the loss after giving up 3 more ERs, but Boston kept plugging away for an eventual 10-4 win.
Game 1 = crap on a spatula.
Last night’s game handed Randy Wolf an early 2-0 lead after back-to-back homeruns for DH Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart. Ryan Braun followed with a line-drive double but was unable to cross the plate and the Red Sox tied it up at 2 in the second. My favorite (almost) MLB beard George Kottaras had a solo homer in the 3rd, followed by a Casey McGehee RBI single to give the lead back to Milwaukee. Wolf went 7 innings and Kameron Loe held the game at 4-2 for John Axford to come in for the save.
Game 2 = barely squeaking by, but I’ll take it.
Today was horrendous. Yovani Gallardo somehow managed to go 3 full innings, despite basically serving Boston a 6-0 lead on a silver freaking platter in the first. (Yo left with no outs in the 4th and an 8-2 deficit.) Nyjer Morgan hit his 2nd homerun of the season just barely over the right field wall to give the Brewers a couple runs but the bullpen failed to hold the Sox at bay. Sergio Mitre and Mark DiFelice combined for 4 innings and 4 runs. The only pitcher that didn’t allow a run to score was LaTroy Hawkins.
Game 3 = bad. Wicked bad.
The Brewers may have only been on the road for 7 games, but the home confines of Miller Park are going to be a very welcome sight. Tampa Bay comes into town first. The Rays just swept the Marlins in 3 games and if the Brewers are going to put a halt to TBs momentum, they need to shake off the horrid roadtrip. The fact that Marcum’s scheduled start for Wednesday is up in the air could put a damper on things, too. Chris “Narv Dog” Narveson (4-4, 4.48 ERA) gets the nod in game 1 tomorrow. Narv is coming off a good start in Chicago, taking home the only win of the series. He faces Jeff Niemann (1-4, 4.74 ERA), a tall righty who hasn’t won a game since April 28th.
After Tampa, the Brewers have to face the Minnesota Twins, who have been knocking so hard at the basement door, someone finally let them out. Minnesota has won their last 3 series, including a sweep of the Padres. The Twins have always been a tough opponent for Milwaukee but you have to hope with the way the Brewers have been able to play at home that they may have better luck this season. Plus, I’m going on Sunday and the Brewers have yet to lose a Sunday game that I’m at. (Knock on wood.)
So anyway, I’m gonna try to forget the last week’s worth of games and I suggest the Brewers do the same. They’re really gonna need to pick themselves up soon if they’re gonna get out of interleague play alive.
…The Holy Grail of ballpark food!
The Brewers just completed a 3-game sweep of the Rockies, after a strange 4-game roadie on the West Coast that left them with a win apiece against San Diego and LA.
Friday, I was up drinking at a bonfire anyway so I mostly caught game one. I say “mostly” because I can’t get AM radio at my house so we had the TV audio coming through the outdoor speakers. Um, Bill Schroeder? I’d kinda like to know what’s happening with the game. I understand you’re not broadcasting for audio-only purposes, but still. I little more info, please. So anyway, I ran to the window just in time to see Yuniesky Betancourt’s blast tie up the game for the second time. (Casey McGehee did it first.) Needless to say, when the game was in the 14th and Colorado was in the lead, yet again, I made it a point to settle in for the bottom of the frame. Soooooooo glad I did!
I love Prince Fielder! I love that he just watched that ball sail. I love that he had a classy celebration at home plate. I (sort of) love that Felipe Paulino was almost immediately DFA’d after giving up that homerun.
So Saturday’s game…..
What is the flipping deal with FOX? Sorry, but the Cubs-Red Sox is not my market. I do not want to watch the effing scrubs. I want to watch the Brewers and your stupid deal will make my Saturdays miserable for the next 6 seasons of baseball. Major League Baseball, why did you have to make this deal? Why did you have to make me so angry? As I said before, I can’t for the life of me get a radio to get AM at my house. I don’t enjoy using GameDay on my phone. I want to watch the Brewers play. I don’t want to watch whoever it is you think is closest to my team’s market that day. This deal sucks and I want to physically hurt someone because of it.
Grr. Sorry. So Milwaukee won 3-2. Jonathan Lucroy hit his 4th homer. John Axford got the save. I saw none of it.
Though, I saw none of it today, either.
I didn’t even check the score til the 6th inning because I was at a baby shower. But I did wear a yellow and white dress and had on a Brewers necklace, so I was still supporting my boys.
The Brewers closed it out with another win today, 3-1. They’re finally over .500 but just can’t seem to close the gap with Cinci and St. Louis.
Somehow, I did not have tickets for a single game this weekend and I don’t have tickets at all this week, either. I may try to make up for it with some light player stalking post-game Friday night, but the week is still young. I may make it to a game yet. I should probably try to go Saturday since I know I won’t be able to actually watch it otherwise…
But the Nationals are in town first and in order to avoid any further embarassment at the hands of Jim Riggleman and Co, the Brewers need to keep this hot streak alive. I mean, we all remember that sweep back in April. It was not pretty. Yovani Gallardo, Narv Dog and Zack Greinke are slated to face off against, well, Tom Gorzelanny so far. I’d like to think those 3 can handle the Nats, so I’m just gonna run with that.