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!
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.)
It’s gonna be a busy week with Festiva, fireworks and even a wedding, so I don’t know if I’ll have too much time to write an actual post while interleague play finally wraps up.
So here’s my first ever mobile blog.
Thanks to one Leslie Knope, my favorite phrase ever has become my little way of letting the Brewers know they’ve let me down.
After sweeping the surging Twins and leaving town on a pretty high note, the Brewers were utterly embarrassed tonight in the Bronx.
It’s no secret that I loathe the Yankees. It’s no secret that everyone in the world pretty much does, except those with the misfortune of being a New Yorker, born into fandom, blah, blah, blah.
Yet tonight’s blowout loss doesn’t make me hate the Yankees even more. Nope. Tonight’s loss makes me wonder why the hell a little league team filled in for an otherwise sturdy Brewers ball club.
Zack Greinke was absolutely shelled. He gave up 7 ERs in 2 innings. He walked 3 (I think) and didn’t strike out a single batter. For the first time in his career.
I turned it off shortly after Zach Braddock jogged to the mound. It was 9-2 at that point.
The Twitter world told me assorted relievers continued to give up more runs, Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak and that even my favorite MLB beard George Kottaras got to partake in the beating.
Final score: 12-2.
Crap on a spatula.
Thankfully interleague play ends after this weekend. Why the Brewers had the misfortune of playing both the Red Sox and Yankees, I don’t quite know.
But at least the get to play Minnesota again. Maybe they just forget about NY and roll into Minne all like, “Yeah, remember when we swept you last weekend? Remember when Carlos Gomez had 4 hits? Remember when Betancourt had an inside-the-parker? We do.” And then sweep ’em again.
And PS, Narv Dog won Sunday. Just like I said he would.
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.
Grasping onto the coattails of John and Cait, I’ve been thinking a lot about ballpark food lately.
I’ve eaten the most amazing Philly Cheesesteak in St. Louis (go figure) and the tacos at Busch aren’t so bad, either. The nacho bar (and the liquor-types of bars) at Target Field will be hard to rival and although I didn’t have food at Great American Ballpark, the beer selection was pretty nice.
And I have my go-to’s at Miller Park. For sure. Who doesn’t?
Cactus League Nachos and Friday’s Strawberry Long Islands are generally the way to go, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an argument from me otherwise. (Though the baked potato equivalent to the nachos are good, too.) And since my friend Chris’s chicken parm sandwiches were beat by chunks of sausage on a stick (blech!) in the concession contest prior to the start of the season, I haven’t really wanted to try too many of the new items out of spite.
However, the talk of the pulled pork parfait has piqued my interest. For sure.
The first time I tried to get it, I was so excited. I ate a minimal lunch before the 3:10 start in anticipation of meat and potato gloriousness. I was expecting a long line and instead came across just a father and son paying for their pork delectibles. I step up to the counter and place my order.
“Actually, we just ran out of mashed potatoes. I can make you a sandwich, though!”
I have LI-trally never been so disappointed about food in my life. I wanted to trip the small child that was handed the last parfait of the day, steal his and run away. (I had no intention of that sentence rhyming so much.) I kind of wanted to cry. I did’t want a sandwich! I wanted my barbeque slathered pork goodness layered in a dessert cup with mashed potatoes! A sandwich?? A sandwich??? Gah!
I turned to the loaded baked potato for comfort. It wasn’t the same. It could never match the things I’ve heard spoken of the parfait, of that I was certain.
So, friends, tomorrow is my chance. The pulled pork parfait will finally be in my belly. I’ve learned my lesson to not wait. Immediately after securing a Long Island, I’ll make my way over to Section 127 and stand in line as long as it takes.
She will be mine. Oh, yes. She will be mine.
So, um, baseball. Right.
The Brewers absolutely LIT UP Kyle Lohse and assorted Cardinals relievers, handing the Narv Dog a much-needed, and extremely well-deserved win. Ryan Braun and Corey Hart each homered in the 8-0 victory and though the strike zone was somewhat–no, very–inconsistent, Narv pitched 8 shutout innings and the Crew managed to play smart ball on all facets and are now just a game and a half behind the Red Birds.
Tonight Milwaukee sends Zack Greinke (5-1, 4.83 ERA) to face Chris Carpenter (1-5, 4.25 ERA). The Brewers offense has treated Greinke well since he joined the rotation and the team is 6-1 in games he’s started. Both starters have Cy Young Awards under their belts, but Carpenter’s still searching for win #2, despite pitching for a first place team that’s 11 games over .500.
Tomorrow’s game, which I’ll be attending and stuffing my face with yummy food, is Zack Greinke bobblehead day. It’s also a game that could potentially put the Brewers alone in first place (assuming they win tonight). The Brewers have Shaun Marcum (6-2, 2.58 ERA) lined up against Jake Westbrook (6-3, 5.01 ERA). Marcum pitched a lovely game Tuesday night against the Mets but the Brewers couldn’t provide enough offense and they lost it 2-1.
So, here’s to a team that’s finally starting to work together on a consistent basis and here’s to knocking the Cards down a bit!