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.)
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.
The Brewers just completed a 3-game sweep of the Rockies, after a strange 4-game roadie on the West Coast that left them with a win apiece against San Diego and LA.
Friday, I was up drinking at a bonfire anyway so I mostly caught game one. I say “mostly” because I can’t get AM radio at my house so we had the TV audio coming through the outdoor speakers. Um, Bill Schroeder? I’d kinda like to know what’s happening with the game. I understand you’re not broadcasting for audio-only purposes, but still. I little more info, please. So anyway, I ran to the window just in time to see Yuniesky Betancourt’s blast tie up the game for the second time. (Casey McGehee did it first.) Needless to say, when the game was in the 14th and Colorado was in the lead, yet again, I made it a point to settle in for the bottom of the frame. Soooooooo glad I did!
I love Prince Fielder! I love that he just watched that ball sail. I love that he had a classy celebration at home plate. I (sort of) love that Felipe Paulino was almost immediately DFA’d after giving up that homerun.
So Saturday’s game…..
What is the flipping deal with FOX? Sorry, but the Cubs-Red Sox is not my market. I do not want to watch the effing scrubs. I want to watch the Brewers and your stupid deal will make my Saturdays miserable for the next 6 seasons of baseball. Major League Baseball, why did you have to make this deal? Why did you have to make me so angry? As I said before, I can’t for the life of me get a radio to get AM at my house. I don’t enjoy using GameDay on my phone. I want to watch the Brewers play. I don’t want to watch whoever it is you think is closest to my team’s market that day. This deal sucks and I want to physically hurt someone because of it.
Grr. Sorry. So Milwaukee won 3-2. Jonathan Lucroy hit his 4th homer. John Axford got the save. I saw none of it.
Though, I saw none of it today, either.
I didn’t even check the score til the 6th inning because I was at a baby shower. But I did wear a yellow and white dress and had on a Brewers necklace, so I was still supporting my boys.
The Brewers closed it out with another win today, 3-1. They’re finally over .500 but just can’t seem to close the gap with Cinci and St. Louis.
Somehow, I did not have tickets for a single game this weekend and I don’t have tickets at all this week, either. I may try to make up for it with some light player stalking post-game Friday night, but the week is still young. I may make it to a game yet. I should probably try to go Saturday since I know I won’t be able to actually watch it otherwise…
But the Nationals are in town first and in order to avoid any further embarassment at the hands of Jim Riggleman and Co, the Brewers need to keep this hot streak alive. I mean, we all remember that sweep back in April. It was not pretty. Yovani Gallardo, Narv Dog and Zack Greinke are slated to face off against, well, Tom Gorzelanny so far. I’d like to think those 3 can handle the Nats, so I’m just gonna run with that.