Games like this are difficult to deal with. Everything looked great going into the fifth inning. Carlos Villanueva threw the ball beautifully to start the game, mixing speeds and striking out Astro batters. The Crew hitters jumped on Roy Oswalt early to take a 4-0 lead. I was incredibly happy at that point.
Even after the fifth inning, everything looked to be okay. Carlos did not allow a base-runner for 3 2/3 innings, but Hunter Pence ended Carlos’ shutout with a two-run bomb in the bottom of the fifth. The Crew entered the sixth inning with a 4-2 lead.
Then the proverbial sh…stuff hit the fan. Villanueva gave up back-to-back-to-back shots to Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee. Hunter Pence added his second home run of the game later in the 8th inning off David Riske. That’s a lot of home runs in the second half of the game. It’s tough to handle.
There is some good news in the carnage, however. The big boppers, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, look to be getting hot at the plate. Braun hit a two-run homer in the first inning. You know Ryan is starting to feel it at the dish when he begins to take pitches to the opposite field with power. He’s a special hitter like that. Prince went 3-4 with a double off Oswalt. Prince is also starting to take outside pitches to the opposite field. I know the Brewers lost today, but the offense appears to be getting on track.
More evidence for that comes from Corey Hart and Bill Hall. Between the two of them, they had five walks. If Corey and Bill can get on base with regularity like this, the team will naturally score more runs. That is, they will score more runs in that situation if J.J. Hardy can actually knock in some runs with any consistency. I do not mean to single him out, but this has been a little ridiculous lately. He needs to take the ball to the opposite field more. He needs to drive the ball more. It’s easier said than done though.
Records: Brewers (16-13); Astros (14-16)
Hero of the Game: Ryan Braun
Ryan continues to heat up at the plate, as he has raised his average up to .283 in the past week or so. I said it before, but he is starting to drive the ball to all fields. Pitchers cannot pitch around Braun when he gets this hot because Prince Fielder is still behind him. Braun is returning to his Rookie of the Year form, and the Brewers need that on this road trip. The Crew needs to hit a little better with a runners in scoring position. By a little better, I mean a lot better.
Goat of the Game: Carlos Villanueva
Carlos was throwing the ball well early in the game, but it did not last. He gave up the lead on back-to-back-to-back jacks. That classifies as a Goat of the Game if I have ever seen it. Carlos has thrown the ball well in the past couple starts before this, so I would tend to think that his breakdown is an aberration rather than the rule. His fastball-changeup combination begins to get less effective as the game wears on, but it should not lead to that many home runs. He simply let the ball get up in the zone. Carlos will bounce back. He proved that last season.
Manny Parra will battle Brandon Backe in Game 2 of the series tomorrow night at 6:05pm CT. Manny needs to step it up tomorrow. The Crew needs a win.