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!
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.)
So I’ve been away for a bit.
There was Summerfest. There was a wedding. There were 3 glorious, albeit sweltering, days of Dave Matthews Band.
But the good news isn’t that I’m back. No. The good news is that I have good news to report. And not even report, really, but just weigh in on. Because, let’s face it, you already know what I’m about to tell you.
The Brewers wrapped up the official first part of the season in a first-place tie with the Cardinals before sending 3 elected starters to the All Star Game. Even though top vote-getter Ryan Braun bowed out of the game with a lingering leg injury, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder were not only starting the game, but participating in Monday’s Home Run Derby. Which we can just gloss over.
But for once, some Brewers players actually helped out during the game. Prince’s 3-run homer off CJ Wilson put the NL on top and subsequently was named MVP. Later, in his 3rd and final at bat, Weeks reached on a fielder’s choice and scored an insurance run. Not too bad of a showing for the Brewers. Minus the Derby, anyway. (Hottie Robinson Cano absoultely killed it.)
And just to be sure the excitement we Brewers fans were feeling after the ASG wasn’t wavering, Doug Melvin wanted to present us with one more little nugget before bedtime: Francisco Rodriguez was joining the team.
Yeah. You know, Mets closer. Little bit of a temper, apparently. But hey, for a spotty bullpen, any arm helps.
All Dougie has to do is send off 2 minor league prospects and K-Rod is his. Not a bad deal.
I mean, let’s face it. The ‘pen needs help. It needs consistency. It maybe even needs a guy that isn’t afraid to assault an old man. I don’t know. It needs someone. Maybe Rodriguez isn’t the solution. But maybe he is. Melvin’s stated K-Rod won’t officially take over the closer’s role from John Axford but he won’t not close, either. So he’ll apparently be a set-up/closer on an “as needed” basis, sharing both roles with Axford.
But, you know, I can’t knock it til I try it.
I learned that lesson with Nyjer Morgan. I hated that guy for all the bases he stole against Milwaukee and all the fights he started on the field. But hot damn do I love me some T. Plush now!
So, welcome, Francisco. I hope you help.
Now. Middle infielders, anyone…?
And, just because there are so many American Leaguers fresh in my mind after the All Star Game, my running tally of MLB Hotties will get a final run-through on this wonderful off-day. I expect to have the official list up in the coming weeks.
I know you can’t wait.
But real baseball is back tomorrow. Milwaukee takes on the NL West this week. Rockies, Diamondbacks, Giants.
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 Brewers own the Pirates. Everyone in the world knows this.
But how does that law of physics go? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?
The Reds subsequently own the Brewers.
I, for one, will no longer stand for it. Because, obviously, I’ll be able to do something about it.
The fact that the Reds are the thorn in their sides has to have something to do with the fact that the Brewers basically fall to pieces every time the two match up. I mean, look at the Pirates. (Well, it’s not exactly the same because the Pirates suck.) They used to dominate Milwaukee at PNC. Then the Crew won like, 18 in a row? And suddenly PNC isn’t so threatening.
Milwaukee started the season on the road in Cinci and were swept. The Reds came to town 3 weeks later and took 2 of 3. Considering the Brewers have either won or swept all of their home series, to lose that one was pretty telling. The season so far is 6-1 in favor of Cincinnati and there are 6 games left to play.
Though, the road is a bleak place for the Brewers, no matter who the opponent.
The Reds had sunk in the standings after losing 6 in a row earlier in the month and had a dismal roadie, going just 2-8 in Cleveland, Philly and Atlanta. So you’d think the now second place Brewers would be able to ride another stellar string of games and cruise through Cincinnati pretty easily.
But you’d think wrong.
Last night, Christopher Narveson (Narv Dog is tabled. Again.) let one bad pitch get too far into his head. After Jay Bruce’s 3-run homer in the 4th, Paul Janish pushed the Reds even further ahead with a single and Christopher was done for, with a 5-0 deficit to his name.
Back-to-back homeruns for Carlos Gomez and pinch hitter Josh Wilson (new guy, kinda cute) in the 5th were a welcome sight, but definitely not enough of a rally as the Brewers eventually fell 7-3.
Tonight Zack Greinke (3-1, 5.79) looks to put an end to the road woes as he goes up against Chad Reineke (0-0, -.–), a fill-in from the minor leagues.
Dusty Baker’s pitching staff looks a bit different than usual since struggling starter Edinson Volquez was sent to Triple-A and Homer Bailey added to the DL. Lucky for the Brewers, hot-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman probably won’t be activated during this series, either.
If Milwaukee can capitalize on facing a pitcher who hasn’t seen Major League action in nearly 2 years and get into Baker’s bullpen early, they could have a strong chance to pull off a much-needed win. (Of course, they need to keep the errors to a minimum, too.)
The Brewers line-up tonight really has no surprises but hopefully Corey Hart is back at 100%. Ryan Braun has also been on an offensive tear lately, hitting in 18 of his last 19 (that early ejection against Washington halted his latest streak) and if Nyjer Morgan can get himself on base, I’m gonna need everyone to start using the term “scoring position” when he’s standing on first, too. ‘Cause that dude is fast.
So, seriously, Boys. I like that you dominate the Pirates. It’s kinda comical to be on this end of it because it’s like, why even try, Pittsburgh? But it’s not cool to be on the losing end. Please stop this now before it turns into a 20-something game losing streak. Thanks.
No. Not me, silly.
But there have been some guys getting criticized in the past few of weeks for attending their children’s births.
Geez. Is it really that big of a deal?
First, it was the Rangers’ Colby Lewis. More recently, Kurt Suzuki and Jason Bay.
Seriously, people. I understand that we all take professional baseball pretty seriously. But slamming a guy for wanting to see his own flesh and blood brought into the world? Cut them some slack.
I think Major League Baseball did a good thing implementing paternity leave. If a guy wants to be a good father in addition to being a good player, he should have the right to be with his family. They let guys go to funerals. Why not births? I mean, if the Phillies can part with Roy Oswalt while he deals with tornadoes for a week, why can’t the A’s part with Suzuki a day or two?
Okay, I get the big game scenarios. Your team is on the verge of winning a pennant, game 7 of the World Series is on the line, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I’d probably be upset if a player opted to skip out on his paid duties in a situation like that. Should he have the choice, though? Absolutely.
I don’t get what people are getting so uproarious about. Do their jobs not offer paternity leave? Are they just jealous that someone can still make thousands of dollars while not actually doing their job for a couple days? If their team loses, is it all the new dad’s fault? I don’t know. The whole argument seems absolutely ridiculous to me.
Let these players be good fathers and husbands for a couple days. B effing D. There are 24 other guys out there that can pick up the slack. Seriously, out of 162 games, what’s 1 or 2 missed? Count it as a regular day off and leave it at that.
Now, on the off-chance that someday I’m giving birth to George Kottaras’ gorgeous, tan baby, maybe I’ll change my tune.
And speaking of missing games…
It seems the Brewers have collectively missed their last 6.
They’ve been outscored 31-7 and while they did have a couple of good starts at the hands of Yovani Gallardo (who then lost it) and Shaun Marcum (who didn’t factor, but K-Loe lost it for him), they’re just not doing enough.
Zack Greinke finally made his first start and it was a doozie. And not in a good way. He was on a limited pitch count as it was, so he only went 4 innings, but gave up 5 runs, 4 earned. Since the rest of the team failed to show up offensively (Tim Hudson all-out dominated in a one-hit, CG shutout), the 6 Ks Greinke mustered up literally meant nothing.
Oh, and what could possibly be the cherry on top of this heaping scoop of crap? How about Nyjer Morgan breaking his finger and going back on the DL? Yay! More Carlos Gomez! (Grrr)
I mean, super duper, boys. You’re really living up to the expectations. I’m so proud of all of you.
I guess I have to say it.