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.
Yes, Stargirlmol, I agree that the reasoning for the Brewers horrid start to the season is that we Triplets have yet to participate in our traditions as a threesome. Although, I swear, when I take a lonely Chorizo Shot, those boys try their damnedest to turn it around. (Scout’s Honor, I’ve only done that once. And it did work. Although it could’ve been the bridesmaid shoes, too.) Regardless, come this Friday, we will do our best as superfans to get the Crew that elusive win against the Cubs and I’m feeling like we will succeed.
Why do I feel this way you might ask? I mean, understandably, the Brewers have done very little in the first 2 weeks of the season to warrant any faith on my part. Let’s take a look at this past weekend in our Nation’s Capitol, shall we?
Friday night I went to dinner with some very lovely ladies and only heard the first couple of innings in the car on the way there. Casey McGehee was still on fire, Adam Dunn was ejected in the bottom of the first and by the time we sat down to eat, Milwaukee was leading Washington 3-2. After dinner I checked to make sure the Brewers had indeed won only to find out that they indeed had not. Instead of looking at the box score, I took to the TwitterWorld and found out it was basically LaTroy Hawkins’ fault and it was late inning heroics on the Nats part and lack of late inning offense on the Brewers part. Super. Nice job, guys.
Saturday was supposed to be nice and relaxing for me. I just wanted to sit, make lunch and watch the game. What I did not anticipate was an all out annihilation from Washington. I’m pretty sure that the Brewers picked up Randy Wolf over the winter to help out the otherwise mediocre pitching staff and instead, he winds up with a wallop of a loss. The Nationals slammed my boys 8-0. To be fair, Washington had some above stellar defense on Saturday and the Brewers seemed to barely make it on base. Needless to say, I watched the entire beating, biting off my nails in the process.
As I was getting ready to curl up in bed and flip aimlessly through channels until SNL came on, I stumbled across what I thought was sports highlights on the local news. Um, nope. Just your regular old 17th inning of play down in St. Louis. I called to my mom to turn it on and we watched the rest of that game together by shouting across the hallway. I was laughing so hard at Felipe Lopez, not because he was pitching, but because he actually pitched pretty well. That and he reminded me of when I used to work at the zoo and we’d work day-into-night 14, 15, 16 hour shifts and by post-dinner break we were all on our second winds and were just downright giddy for the second half. He was just laughing and having a good time. So adorable. The Cards lost to the Mets after 20. Not that I had to tell any of you that, but it was the most exciting, watchable baseball I’d seen that day.
So anyway, yesterday, I swore off the Brewers. My mom and I were out running some errands and I told her not to turn on the radio and I was doing my best to keep my phone in my purse and not check scores. Well, I’m no good at keeping promises to myself and peeked. Umm, zohmygod. I was not prepared to see a 10-0 score, especially with how crappily the Crew had been doing. Upon closer inspection, I noted that it was THE TOP OF THE FIRST! And there was ONLY ONE OUT! (Mind you, I did actually shout these things. My mom was literally sitting right next to me.) So of course, we turn on Bob Uecker. Which, of course gets us no information whatsoever except that someone hit a grandslam and Doug Davis had a sacrifice fly. Seriously, Bob. Stop the babbling and catch us up on the game! Aren’t you aware that I wasn’t listening until right this second?? So, I go to the box score and find out all the details. Craig Effing Cousell! It takes that guy like half a season to get one homerun these days. Well, not anymore. Looks like he’s hitting grandslams in the first 2 weeks. So by the time we finished our errands and made it home, it was still 10-0, Davis was still pitching and for the first time in 2010, I was actually comfortable with the Brewers lead. Perhaps a little too comfortable… We all know that you don’t count your chickens before they hatch and we Crew fans should really heed that advice when it comes to runs. Just because you have a 10 run lead doesn’t mean you should expect your bullpen to carry you through. And, of course, they didn’t. The Nationals battled and came up with 7, yes 7, runs of their own before Milwaukee tacked on the 11th and final run they could muster. But, alas, it was enough and the Brewers got that all important, sweep avoiding win.
So now the Boys will be in Pittsburgh and the Pirates have actually been doing really well to start the season. This isn’t like last year when the Brewers were in the middle of that 17-0 winning streak or whatever it was. Their last trip to PNC was a sweep. Although, the Pirates came back to Miller Park and were swept right back, but the way the Crew has been playing, it’s gonna be super important for them to finally win a series opener. And I’d really like to see them start that now. Because then maybe they’ll remember how good that feels when the Cubbies come to town on Friday and win while I’m actually there. This time last year I had a pretty good record at Miller Park and, granted, I’ve gone to a lot less games so far, but I’m 1-2. I wanna get back to .500. And I’d like to see the Brewers hit that mark, too. At the very least.
I’m not dwelling on JJ Hardy’s departure. Sure, the Brewers lost a true hottie, a Top 10 Hottie no less, but here’s to hoping they gain much more. Much more by way of speedy, young center fielder Carlos Gomez.
When I found out Narveson would be starting one my final games at Miller Park this season, let alone against the Cubs, I had to just grin and bear it. The Brewers season was over, afterall, but I don’t ever like to go into a game with the anticipation of a loss. Even though Narveson won his previous start, Milwaukee had very little to show for so far in the series, amassing a measly 4 runs in 2 games, while giving up 17 to Chicago.
As it turned out, I had absolutely no reason to be worried.
After Nik, Mol and I settled in to our seats, we looked around at the poor showing for a marquee game. Attendance was just over 31,000 for the night and we girls pretty much just got to chatting about anything other than the game.
All of the sudden, it’s the top of the 3rd and my most hated Cub, Reed Johnson, leads off the inning with a double. As I groaned the obligatory, “I hate Reed Johnson,” I glanced at the scoreboard to see that his hit was the first allowed in the game and Narveson had already recored 3 strikeouts. And then Johnson was unable to score. Darn!
The Brewers walked away with a 3-2 win last night, all 3 runs coming via the longball. Prince Fielder smacked a 2-run dinger, his 42nd of the year, in the 4th and also coasted above Poo Holes in the RBI column once more, now with 131, while Jody Gerut added that 3rd insurance run in the 6th.
The obvious hero of the game was Chris Narveson, though, striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings, only allowing 4 hits. The only mistake he made was a first-pitch fastball to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija to start off the 6th. That mistake didn’t end up costing the game, but it was Samardzija’s first major league hit, so I’m sure he felt pretty good about it. After that, Narveson padded the already impressive strikeout total by fanning Tyler Colvin and Derrek Lee before being pulled after throwing only 70 pitches.
Todd Coffey made his amusing sprint to the mound in record time to then finish out the 6th and the only other Chicago run allowed came from a small string of hits put together while Police Academy’s Tackleberry look-a-like David Weathers was on the hill in the 7th. No biggie though, as Felipe Lopez, second baseman extraordinaire, was able to pull off a very close play at first, then had an amazing line-drive catch to end the inning. If it wasn’t a WebGem, it certainly deserved to be. Claudio Vargas pitched a scoreless 8th, proving me wrong in my wavering trust in his abilities, then before we knew it, it was Trevor Time. Hoffman recorded his 35th save of the season and added to his All-Time lead, now standing at 589.
Chris Narveson looks to get at least one more start this season, but with Monday’s scheduled off-day, it could turn into 2. I’m pretty much sold on him to get as many in as the powers that be deem worthy. I know last night could be a fluke, but it could also be a window into what this guy’s capable of. I’d like to think of it as the latter. Narveson deserves to be seen and deserves to be put into consideration to stay with the team for 2010. I realize the Brewers have other, far more pressing pitching issues to take care of in the off-season, but throw Narveson in the mix. I’m pretty much all over that guy.
So tonight the Phillies look to close in on the post-season, sending J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77 ERA) to the mound to face Jeff Suppan (7-10, 4.76 ERA).
The Phillies lead the NL East by 6.5 games over Atlanta, whose elimination number is 5. It’s a possibility during this 4-game series that Philadelphia, unless Milwaukee can hold them off, could be celebrating once again at Miller Park. Last season, of course, we all remember Philly winning the Division Series and the champagne being uncorked in the visitor’s clubhouse. The Brewers need to embrace the spoiler role and do everything they can to not let that happen again this year.
As I checked the MLB leaderboards this afternoon on my lunchbreak, the Brewers players (or lack thereof) listed got me thinking about a lot of things. Take a look at some of these numbers and you’ll see what I mean.
MLB Batting Leaders
Prince Fielder – 31 (4th)
Ryan Braun – 26 (Tied, 13th)
Prince Fielder – 107 (1st)
Ryan Braun – 86 (Tied, 6th)
Ryan Braun – .314 (Tied, 15th)
Felipe Lopez – .313 (Tied, 18th)
On Base Percentage
Prince Fielder – .420 (4th)
Prince Fielder – .600 (4th)
Ryan Braun – .568 (9th)
Ryan Braun – 143 (11th)
Felipe Lopez – 140 (Tied, 13th)
Ryan Braun – 85 (6th)
Yovani Gallardo – 11 (Tied, 17th)
Yovani Gallardo – 165 (6th)
Trevor Hoffman – 26 (Tied, 10th)
Mitch Stetter – 57 (Tied, 11th)
Todd Coffey – 56 (Tied, 12th)
I’d say it’s pretty apparent what the problems are here. It’s a major, major issue when only 2 players show up consistently on the batting leaderboards. Admittedly, it’s nice when players hit hot streaks, like Fielder’s current tear. And, of course, not every position player on a team will get hot at the same time. And true, the Brewers have logged double digits in the hits column for what? The last 7 games? But when the one pitcher you see on the boards only takes the mound once every 5 games, things aren’t going to sync up as often as they need to. And even when Gallardo does pitch, the Brewers have trouble giving him ample run support.
It’s no secret that Milwaukee’s pitching staff has taken a perpetual beating this season. Currently, the starting rotation has given up both Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush to the DL, Braden Looper gives up homerun after homerun (to be fair, the entire staff has given up 159 longballs – the most in the majors. Ouch.), Manny Parra spent a few weeks in the minors only to come back and be crazy-consistent, Gallardo is the ace in the making and then there’s Mike Burns, reliever on loan. Even when the starters manage to go the distance, the distance is generally somewhere around 6 innings – definitely not enough.
Which leads me to the bullpen. It’s no wonder the Brewers have 2 relievers showing up as having pitched in the most games. The bullpen works far too often because the rotation can’t get it done. Adding a few new arms out there have so far not paid off. The only thing Jesus Colome, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas have in common with the rest of Milwaukee’s pitching staff? The ability to give up runs in great numbers.
There are only 44 games left for the Brewers this season. If the pitching doesn’t match up with the offense soon, the team will be in serious jeopardy of falling further out of contention. (Despite what it may sound like so far, I do still have faith in my boys.) It’s just really hard to fathom a big comback in either the NL Central or Wildcard races if batting and pitching coming together is about as rare an occurence as a solar eclipse.
Including wrapping up this current series in Pittsburgh, there are 14 match-ups left in 2009. Only 6 of those series will the Brewers face teams lower in the standings than they are. Also looming for Milwaukee are 3 series against the Cardinals, 2 versus the Cubs and 1 against the Wildcard-leading Rockies. If the Brewers are hoping to take any or all of those series, they had better start by winning more against the teams that, on paper, they’re capable of beating.
And at the risk of sounding selfish, I have at least 6 more games to attend this year, including 2 in St. Louis at the end of the season. I’d like very much to see a major turnaround from my team by then. Well, in addition, I’d like to see the Cubs and Cards take a nosedive, but beggars can’t be choosers. And don’t get me wrong, I know enough about baseball to understand it’s full of ups and downs and I can’t expect the world all the time. But come on, Brewers. I’m really sick of the downs.
Okay, so in other news, Bill Hall’s future will be decided by Friday. It’s entirely possible that Doug Melvin will use Hall as a trading chip. Quite honestly, I hope that he does. Obviously, Hall’s career is far from over and there’s got to be at least a few teams interested in picking him up. The Brewers, if I haven’t made it clear enough yet, need another starter. I’ve been reading the Reds are interested in Billy and, well, they’ve got a couple arms they’re willing to part ways with. And I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Bronson Arroyo or Aaran Harang put on a Brewers uni. But the decision on Hall still has a few more days to be made, so don’t worry – I won’t hold my breath.
Anyway, the Crew is at PNC Park again tonight to try and restore some dignity and stop the downward spiral. Manny Parra (8-8, 6.44 ERA) matches up with Ross Ohlendorf (10-8, 4.30 ERA). Parra’s been nothing short of spectacular since returning from Triple-A just a few weeks ago and since the last time the Brewers saw the Pirates, they’ve gotten rid of the majority of their team. Hopefully, this will bode well for Parra and he’ll be on point again tonight. Hopefully.
Alright, boys. I didn’t want to have to recap a crappy weekend, but I guess that’s what it’s gonna be because that’s all you’re giving me.
Friday is already forgettable. My big complaint about Friday night is that Manny Parra was taken out too soon. Okay, so I missed the first hour of the game because I took Piper to see G-Force. (Too cute. Totally want a guinea pig now.) But still, Parra out after 5? It was a pretty good last inning, yet Macha takes him out and the game starts to go downhill. Ryan Braun had it tied at 4 with a 2-run shot, but the Brewers would fail to score following that at bat. Over it. Next.
Saturday my mom and I headed to Miller Park for game 2 against the Braves. It was Negro League night and my boys were decked out in the replica Bears unis. Adorable.
Even Rickie was back in the dugout with the rest of the boys. Awe.
I was also quite excited for a match-up of the two hottest Ryan’s in baseball, Braun and Church. I was totally in heaven with all the high socks and Top 10 Hotties. Until Braun flew out to Church. That moment ruined the night just a bit.
This one’s for me.
And this one just is funny. I think RB’s too freaking cute in that uniform.
Anyway, the game was great. 4-0 shutout by Yovani Gallardo (it was my first time seeing him pitch all season) and the first RBI was knocked in off Yo’s bat. Such an all-around guy. Love him! Prince was showing all other first basemen how to play solid defense and the rest of the guys got it done with a lot of small ball. Nice.
Two things from last night, however, that I must must must complain about.
One, some obnoxious drunk named Jeremiah was sitting 2 seats down from me. He was completely wasted when he sat down with TWO full bottles of beer in his hands. He never, I mean never, stopped talking for the entire game. Scratch that. He never stopped shouting the entire game. The only silence I experienced was when he got up to get more alcoholic beverages. He continually sang “Your Love” by The Outfield because it’s Frankie C’s at bat song. Not just when Catalanotto was batting. No, no. THE WHOLE GAME!!! (Listen to it now if you want to experience a tiny bit of what I had to hear.You know you want to.)
Next, I’ve never experienced such a conundrum in the parking lot leaving a game. Never. Mom and I actually re-parked the car because nobody was going anywhere. In any direction. When we finally did move, nearly an hour after the game was over, it was just to sit in more traffic, where we discovered there were very few cops directing cars. Generally, they’re on top of things and keep the flow going, but for some reason, many were absent last night. Gah! The game was over a little after 9 and it was nearly 11 when we rolled into our driveway. Ridic. Thankfully I had my new iPhone to take notes with so I’d remember what I wanted to post about when I got home.
So, onto other news. I’d rather not share my thoughts on today’s 10-2 blowout loss to the Braves, but I do have some other things I’d like to touch on briefly.
First, Telly Hughes interviewed the Brewers newly signed pitcher, Kyle Heckathorn, during today’s game. Future Top 10 Hottie right there. Holy yum. I’d love to post a picture of the 6’6″ righty, but there aren’t any out there yet that do him any sort of justice. Plus, he’s a Southern boy so he’s got that adorably dopey accent. Too cute.
Also, I mentioned earlier that I loved seeing Rickie Weeks back with the boys in Milwaukee. I do miss that guy, but I was thinking, if he weren’t out for the season, Craig Counsell would not be producing the way he is and it’s a pretty sure bet that Felipe Lopez wouldn’t even be in a Brewers uniform. Even though Weeks was having a great start to 2009, his injury has brought some bright spots to the Brewers’ game.
Third, with Dave Bush’s injury keeping him out of the rotation until at least mid-August now, my fellow July 19th birthday buddy, Tim Dillard, was recalled from Triple-A and is likely in line to start Tuesday’s game againsts the Nationals. He transitioned from reliever to starter down in the minors and has been doing relatively well– well enough that Ken Macha is putting the team in Dillard’s hands for the time being. One can only hope that Timmy steps up to the challenge, but I would still like to see Doug Melvin try to get a new starter before the trade deadline. I saw the Phillie’s offer for Roy Halladay was rejected. And included in that offer? J.A. Happ. Are the Phil’s really willing to part ways with Happ, who’s got a 7-1 record and an ERA well under 3.0? Well, probably not for anyone on the Brewers current roster, but a girl can dream can’t she?
Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got in me today. The Brewers start a 7-game stretch against 2 of the last place teams in the National League tomorrow. Let’s hope they can start something this week before heading off to LA and Houston?
Tomorrow the Nats come to town. Jeff Suppan (5-7, 4.71 ERA) vs. Craig Stammen (3-5, 4.14 ERA).