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.