First of all, hello again, after a lovely vacation from my normal, boring, mundane (redundant?) life.
I spent a big chunk of it driving through some of the most boring landscape all by my lonesome, some of it on a boat, some in the water, eating and drinking a ton and, yes, even a week in the land of the Viqueens. And it couldn’t have possibly been any better.
I came back to Wisconsin ready for back-to-back tailgates and Brewers games, but not quite ready for the inevitable return to work. Boo.
So, there’s lots to cover, no?
Let’s first talk about Christopher and his inability to properly handle a scissors. Or his inability to let an equipment person fix his glove. I mean, what an idiot. Even if you think you’re completely capable of fixing your glove, you should probably let someone else do it. You know, just in case a sharp object has it out for your thumb. If anyone’s gonna suffer the wrath of a vengeful pair of scissors, I’d rather it not be a starting pitcher. Seriously. Dumb.
Because of Narv Dog’s stitches and subsequent DL stint, the Brewers called up Frankie De La Cruz to fill the spot in the bullpen formerly occupied by spot-starter Marco Estrada and Zack Greinke’s scheduled start was pushed up to the opener against Pittsburgh Friday night. Greinke absolutely killed it. So did the Crew’s offense. Brewers win 7-2. No surprise.
Saturday was my first game at Miller Park in, I’m almost ashamed to say, over a month. I was not looking forward to Estrada pitching. I was, however, looking forward to the inaugural lighting of my new blue grill and pretty much just being at a Brewers game. Well, Estrada pretty much put me in my place, pitching 5 scoreless innings before letting the bullpen protect his 1-0 lead. If you would’ve told me at the beginning of the game that Estrada would have a 1-hit shutout thru 5, with 5 Ks, and oh yeah, hit a double and that Yuniesky Betancourt’s solo homer would be the only run on the board, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Thankfully, my doubts were for naught and Milwaukee came out on top over Pitt. Shocking.
So Sunday’s game was Leff’s monthly tailgate, Craig Counsell bobblehead and Bierbrauer day. Excited, kinda excited, could care less. The Pirates already had a run on the board by the time I got my Long Island and pulled pork parfait and I was definitely not in any mood for extras once Ryan Braun tied the game at 1-all in the 9th. But alas, George, Casey and T-Plush all came through quickly in the 10th–single, double, sac fly. Boom. Done. Pirates suck.
After the weekend, Milwaukee has become just the 3rd team in the NL to 70 wins and is still holding onto a 5-game lead over St. Louis in the Central. The Cardinals head to Pittsburgh for a 3-game series and I hate to say it, but if the Pirates play even remotely close to how they played this weekend, they could have a chance to win a couple. I know I wouldn’t be too disappointed with that. The Brewers welcome the 3rd place, sub-.500 Dodgers to MP for 4 games and, you know, I think they’ll be just fine.
And, unrelated, but my mom just walked in and handed me a Hot Dog bobblehead. Awesome.
Tonight’s game: Randy Wolf (9-8, 3.48 ERA) has won his last 3 starts, including an 8-inning, 1-run outing in STL last week. Dodgers starter Ted Lilly (7-12, 4.71 ERA) has a 2.37 ERA in his last 3 starts but has had 2 tough-luck losses. He’d only given up 2 runs in each of those 3 games.
And since Randy’s on the bump, George is behind the plate. Yay!
So apparently, other than my job interfering, there is a new reason for me to avoid Wednesday day games at Miller Park.
Children under the age of 14 are half-price. Cheap people take advantage. Thus, droves of barely supervised kids run amok, ruining my day.
Okay, so today, the Brewers losing their 3rd series in a row kinda ruined my day, too. But still. The kids didn’t help.
So I took my very well-behaved niece to the game instead of just having a boring day babysitting her at my house. We sat in Bernie’s Terrace (soooooo basically the last section, the most obstructions, overall terrible seats) because it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon I even decided going to the game would be a good idea.
I realize now that the cheapest seat in the house is not a place I ever want to be again.
Call me a snob. Call me….whatever you’d like. I don’t really care. But I’m sorry, I cannot be around that many unruly children at one time.
Oh, you don’t see a problem with your kids climbing up and down the seats? It’s totally acceptable for them to throw peanuts to get each other’s attention? Is that because you’re the only adult presence for the 9 kids you brought with you? Yes, why don’t you send the 10 year old to take the three 4 year olds to the bathroom–that seems responsible. And don’t forget to have a beer or two while you’re not paying attention to the kids you probably volunteered to take.
Meanwhile, little Piper watched the game (and cheered very loudly for her favorite Brewer Ryan Braun), asked politely for a snack, WALKED to and from our seats and when I told her she may pick out a souvenir from the Team Store, she didn’t get whiny or pout or cry when I told her she had to keep it under $20. She stayed out of other people’s ways, said please and thank you when she bought her soda and held my hand when she thought I was getting too far ahead of her.
Such a good little girl.
And I’m sure there were other obedient kids at the game. But I honestly did not encounter any of them. Which is a total shame. Because after 7 years of working at the zoo (and one bad day at Miller Park), I loathe being around other people’s children. Especially on days with discounts. It’s like bad parents come out of the woodwork and bring their equally bad, if not worse, children with them. And, hell, bring the neighbor’s horrible kiddies, too! Why not?
Sorry, I just had to get that out.
So the game. What’s there to say, really? Shaun Marcum pitched 3 innings, Brewers and Rays were tied at 2 for awhile and Marco Estrada gave up a 3 run homer or something? I don’t know. I had to pay attention to the kid I had in tow. We were shopping at the Team Store. I honestly wasn’t paying much attention after the 5th inning. Regardless of how it happened, the Brewers eventually lost 6-3. Piper and I were at Gillie’s getting custard when the game-ending text came my way.
Milwaukee has an off-day tomorrow to regroup. Or something. I don’t know. The Twins come to town Friday and, unfortunately, after that, the Brewers still have two more interleague series. On the road. In NYC. And Minnesota.
Probables for the weekend are Randy Wolf (5-4, 3.15) v. Scott Baker (5-4, 3.24), Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 4.11) v. Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.59) and Chris “Narv Dog” Narveson (4-5, 4.55) v. Carl Pavano (5-5, 4.05). I’ll be going to Sunday’s game and as luck would have it, Narv Dog has won every game I’ve seen him start going back to September of 2009. At least I can’t remember him losing any. I could be totally glamorizing that statistic. (And I probably am.)
And, totally unrelated, but Albert Pujols is out for at least 4-6 weeks.
You mean…no! Prince Albert? Broken bones?? It can’t be! He’s infallible! Whatever will the Cardinals do? They can’t possibly have a replacement first baseman!
Oh. Wait. They have Lance Berkman. All-Star first baseman. Not too shabby of a hitter, either.
Yeah, great. Pujols got hurt. Can we PLEASE sto talking about it already???
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.
Such was the story of Christopher Narveson and the Brewers vs. Bud Norris and the Astros: 24 total strikeouts.
Christopher, who took the loss despite 6 strong innings and 7 strikeouts, has failed to earn his nickname back. He was pretty much dialed in until a towering 3-run homer off the bat of Carlos Lee gave the Astros a bit of insurance on their way to an eventual 5-0 win and series victory.
Brewers relievers Sergio Mitre (who gave up Houston’s 5th and final run) and Zack Braddock tacked on another 5 Ks, bringing the Crew’s strikeout total to 12 for the day.
Bud Norris, however, managed to strand 11 Brewers at the plate all on his own, even though he was the only one of the Astros 4 pitchers to give up any hits. (Mark Melancon notched Houston’s 12th K.)
On a somewhat positive note for Milwaukee, Ryan Braun walked in the first inning which mean’s he’s reached base safely in all 27 of the Brewers games this season. That was pretty much the only bright spot, even though Christopher seemed to have gotten his command back.
The Brewers also committed 5 errors in this 3-game series (if I remember correctly, they were all throwing errors?), so I’m pretty much over hearing Bill Schroeder talking about how great they are defensively. Um, not so much. And while we’re talking about their flaws, how about that Carlos Gomez running the bases? He’s so smooth. I wish I could be just like him. Grr…
Carlos Lee, despite his own bright spot of the homerun, was carted off the field and taken to the hospital during the top of the 7th after he and Angel Sanchez collided going after a Mark Kotsay pop up. Ouchie.
So the Brewers head to Atlanta for 4 games starting tomorrow and Zach Greinke is slated to pitch Wednesday against Tim Hudson. (Yay!) The Braves and Brewers are both in 3rd place in their respective divisions, but Atlanta is coming off a walk-off win against St. Louis to open this series. While the baseball world is waiting with bated breath to see Greinke’s National League debut, Milwaukee will have to take on Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson before that day even comes. Hopefully Yovani Gallardo has shaken off his streaky April and Marco Estrada will shine once again before his likely departure to Nashville.
In other baseball news:
If you’re playing in Cleveland as a visitor, plan on going home with your tail between your legs.
Don’t even bother trying to pitch to Andre Ethier because he will hit you.
Don’t make obscene gestures and homophobic slurs to fans of the opposing team. You’ll probably get suspended.
While you’re not doing things, don’t tweet about your ejection from the clubhouse. You’ll probably get suspended.
Lots of people are having surgery or breaking things. Casey Blake: out. Ryan Zimmerman: out. Panda: out. David Freese: out.
@TonyPlush will be back Tuesday. Lord knows the Brewers need him.
That’s right. I’m taking away Narv Dog priveleges after last night. At least until he get’s his ERA back under 3.
I mean, I certainly wasn’t expecting him to win the Cy Young this season or anything, but come on now. He was pitching so well. I hope it really was just illness that sidelined Christopher’s ability to throw anything useful last night. Seriously. Thanks a lot, head cold. I don’t like being mad at anyone on my team but you’re not making it easy for me.
Last night’s game was so bad that I switched to Always Sunny reruns and when I switched back it was 6-0 Reds and Christopher had thrown 65 pitches and still only had 1 out in the top of the 3rd. Aaaaaaaand enter Brandon Kintzler aaaaaaaand switch back to Sunny. (Sidenote: How does The Gang never get arrested for their crazy antics??)
Now, I can’t quite explain why the Brewers have so many issues playing against the Reds. Maybe Prince Fielder’s inability to throw to homeplate has something to do with it. (Three bad throws at home already this season. That’s definitely not good.) I mean, it took them 5 innings before they plated a run last night. That’s probably got something to do with it, too. Spot Cincinnati 7 runs in the first 3 innings, you might wan’t to try a little harder. And even when they did finally score, it was on a Paul Janish throwing error so, you know, not even helping themselves.
I finally turned off the TV after Sergio Mitre (who, by the way, I like. I think it’s the way he wears his hat so low) gave up 2 more runs in the ninth. I guess I was just hoping anything good might happen if I wasn’t watching. Ryan Braun hit a too-little-too-late 2-run homer to make it 9-5 and then Casey McGehee grounded out to end the game. And not only did he end the game, but he ran into Joey Votto and sprained his thumb. Icing on the cake, I suppose.
So it’s game 2 of the series tonight. The only one in the Brewers line-up to have ever faced Reds full-time starter and part-time shoplifter Mike Leake is Wil Nieves. And he’s gone 0-fer. Having never seen Leake could go either way for the Crew. He’s 3-0 on the season but has 4.94 ERA.
Brewers starter Marco Estrada has been nothing but good since filling the 5th spot in the rotation, though he only has 1 win to show for it. This will be his 3rd start and 6th game and he’s rocking a 3.21 ERA. He’s also had 13 Ks in 14 innings. Soooo he’s got that working for him.
In other Brewers news, Corey Hart is back with the team but will not be reinstated until tomorrow, Nyjer Morgan and Takashi Saito are both headed to AAA-Nashville for rehab outings before returning from the DL and apparently Erick Almonte took a ball off the face in warm-ups today. Ouchie.
The day was cold, windy and threatening rain. Yet we Brewers fans started lining up our caravans on Miller Parkway shortly before 9am. We were ready and we weren’t going to let a little inclimate weather or an 0-3 start get us down.
Once parked, the tents were set up (including the pee tent–genius), the keg was tapped and the wop was flowing. That glorious aroma of lighter fluid and charcoal filled the gusty air and shouts and music and laughter came from all directions.
The time had finally come: Baseball was back in Milwaukee.
We’d been there for less than 20 minutes when I noticed we already had a man down.
Bill Bob had somehow gotten smushed under the backseat. He was saved and had some more adventures later on in the day.
We ate, we drank (some of us, a bit too much–oops!), we played flip cup.
The pee tent came in handy!
We had cute, yummy desserts.
And then, before we went inside, we got the whole group. See how happy we all were, pre-game?
Blurg. What a loss. Narv Dog was awesome. Narv Dog did his job. Rickie Weeks got his 3rd homerun in 4 games. And then that was it. Well, not really. Takashi Saito surrendered 2 solo Braves homers and then that was it. Enough to send the Crew to an 0-4 start to the season. Boo. (Unfortunately, the only pictures I even attempted to take during the game were blurry shots of Narv. Drunk camera operating is not recommended.)
Sooooo it was back out to the lots.
Where Bill Bob was kidnapped. (Briefly. He’s safe now.)
And Bonnie wouldn’t start.
I mean, all in all, we had a blast. A measly loss isn’t gonna bring us down. Sort of, but not really.
It may have been too late for a happy home opener, but the Brewers did finally muster their first 2011 win last night. In a complete game shutout by Yovani Gallardo. I’ve said it many times before, pitchers’ duels are not my favorite but when you’re looking for your team to win by any means just so they can have a win at all, I will take it. Yo was certainly the hero last night, scoring the game’s only run and facing just one batter over the minimum. Great game.
So now that the monkey’s off their backs, hopefully the Brewers will start to become the team people thought they would be.
The Brewers called up Marco Estrada to start tonight against Mike Minor. Estrada had a good showing this spring as a starter so here’s hoping he can hold off the Braves. And also here’s hoping the Brewers offense will start to show up sooner rather than later.
This post was to have a different, more positive sounding title, but then I read the box score to today’s game against the Giants and it got decidedly more negative. Grrr.
My favorite oft-bearded, high socks wearing pitcher is set to go 4th for the Brewers this season. Dave Bush (who was 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 3 appearances at the time I began taking notes for this entry), is likely the best option for the 4th spot in the rotation, despite allowing a ginormous 7 runs in 6 innings today. What keeps me believing he fits the bill to start after Yovani Gallardo (who’s officially been tabbed as the Opening Day starter for April 5th in Milwaukee), Randy Wolf and Doug Davis is that he’s a legitimately great pitcher who just has some legitimately (really) bad days. I’ll forgive the inordinate amount of homeruns he gives up because he’s pitched multiple near-no-hitters, he’s had a buttload of quality starts and, let’s not forget folks, he’s got the only post season win for the Crew in the last 27 years.
Bush has proved in Arizona this spring (minus today’s hiccup. And, not to put all the blame on DB, it was a bit too little, too late on the offense, Brewers) that he’s back and ready to start. After taking a hard liner off the elbow last season, he spent 2 months on the DL and had the worst record of any of the myriad of Brewers starters to take the mound in 2009. Bush went 5-9 with a 6.38 ERA in just 21 starts, 22 total appearances. But, even after today’s 7 runs, Bush’s current ERA for the spring is 4.34 and, as someone whose opinion is completely taken into consideration by the powers that be, I think he’s going to be a worthy starter for Milwaukee in 2010.
As far as the Crew’s 5th starter goes, it’s been said more than once that a decision doesn’t have to be made until around April 14 because of how the schedule pans out. It’s still up in the air where Manny Parra (1-2, 6.32 ERA, 4 appearances), The Narv Dog (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 appearances) and Jeff Suppan (1-1, 7.71 ERA, 5 appearances) will fall before that make-shift deadline. Is it possible for the Brewers to settle on 6 starters and be an arm short in the bullpen? Sure. Is that likely? Probably not so much. I’ve said it many times, overpay Suppan in the bullpen because that guy hasn’t lived up to the expectations since signing with Milwaukee in 2007. He’s past his prime as a starter and we fans just plain old don’t like him. The Narv Dog has had a pretty good track record when he’s started for the Brewers, but I know his lack of Big League experience is weighing against him. And, I’m just gonna say it: It’s Manny’s year. He’s due for a breakout season and I think the Brewers need to give him that chance or risk losing him.
In addition to the pitching conundrum, the Crew currently has 29 guys on their active roster. And we all know that means some house cleaning will need to be done before next week. Catcher Angel Salome will likely be gone, as will outfielder Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Marco Estrada. The Brewers are an arm over in the bullpen so that means one more guy will have to go. There are a lot of guys in that ‘pen that Milwaukee can’t afford to lose, so unless something big happens with how the starting rotation falls into place (ie, getting rid of the odd man out), an established reliever will be on his way out.
Now, as there are 7 days before the best day of the year, I shall share with you the new creation, made especially for the chilly Wisconsin temperatures that we generally get on Opening Day.