Gagne sputters, but Brewers win in 10

31 03 2008

It was not how Eric Gagne imagined his Brewers debut would turn out, but the Milwaukee Brewers scraped out a win in extra frames today against NL Central rival, Chicago Cubs.

Up 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Eric Gagne gave up a lead-off single to Derrick Lee and a walk to Aramis Ramirez, before giving up a three run shot by Kosuke Fukudome that tied the game 3-3.  Gagne was able to work the rest of the ninth without surrendering a run, and the Crew held on to win in the 10th inning.

Ben Sheets looked superb today.  He worked on the black with his fastball, and his curveball had a late, sharp break that gave Chicago hitters fits at the plate.  Sheets went 6 and 1/3 scoreless innings, only giving up the two hits to Fukudome.  Yost pulled Sheets in the seventh after his pitch count got a little too high for the manager’s liking.  Still, Sheets (along with Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs) gave fantastic outings to start the regular season.

Tony Gwynn Jr. had a fine day at the plate, going 2-3 with a walk and two sacrifices.  He knocked in Craig Counsell with a sacrifice fly to center, and it put the Brewers ahead for good in the 10th inning.  David Riske finished off the game with a scoreless frame to get the save.

Guillermo Mota looked very sharp in his Brewers debut, striking out two Cubs in the bottom of the eighth inning.  He had a very live fastball and a good change-up working.  Salomon Torres struggled a bit with his command, but pulled off an interesting scoreless inning in the seventh.  That inning featured Mark DeRosa getting hit by a pitch and committing a huge baserunning gaff that cost the Cubs a run in the seventh.

Records: Brewers (1-0); Cubs (0-1)

Hero of the Game:  Craig Counsell

One could certainly make a case for Gwynn, but the award has to go to the veteran who came off the bench to lead-off the 10th inning with a double.  Later in the inning, Counsell scored on Gwynn’s sacrifice fly to Felix Pie.  The Brewers are paying Counsell to do exactly what he did today.

Goat of the Game:  Eric Gagne

I just about gave this award to Bill Hall after watching him get picked off at second in the seventh inning, but Gagne’s struggles in the ninth inning speak for themselves.  I do have to give Gagne credit for getting through the rest of the ninth inning unscathed, but his blown save cannot be forgotten.  He relied far too much on his fastball to Lee, Ramirez, and Fukudome, and it backfired on him.  It was too straight to be relied on today.  After Fukudome’s home run, he started to mix in his curveball and change-up much more.  He had greater success after that.

Oh, I almost forgot the other reason I picked Gagne for this.  When Pie hits a sharp grounder to Prince Fielder, Gagne did not take off for first base to cover the bag.  Instead, Prince was forced to try to outrun Pie to the bag, and we all know that Prince will lose at that battle.  The announcers said that Prince should have tagged the bag and not the runner, but Prince would have been plowed over by Pie.  We do not need Prince getting hurt on Opening Day.  You could see how pissed off Prince was at Gagne after that play.  You can bet Gagne heard about that in the clubhouse after the game.

On Tap:

Jeff Suppan will take on Chicago’s Ted Lilly on Wednesday at 1:20pm.  The Brewers have a day off tomorrow, but the series will continue on Wednesday with game two.  Let’s hope that Soup bounces back from his Spring Training struggles just like Sheets did today.  I’d take 6 innings worth of three run ball from Soup Wednesday.  That’s the goal.

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3 responses

31 03 2008
Kyle

I agree with the goat as Gagne, but gotta love baseball statistics, where he is credited with the win.

Any thoughts if Gagne’s struggles continue… is Riske in a good position for the closer role, or Turnbow? Riske looked good tonight… of course we are all dealing with small sample sizes, but with Gagne it seems he mentally is out of it and did not look comfortable at all today. I know it is more his style, but he was taking 45 seconds between pitches and trying to get him self into the game between jumping around/flattening out the dirt/tucking in shirt.

My heart is not going to be a able to take a full season of this!

1 04 2008
On Prince's play at first..

From what I saw, (I was watching on ESPN2) it was clear to me that Prince had won the race to the bag, but chose instead to attempt a tag instead of stepping on the bag. He had plenty of time to do that, and get out of the way of the runner, but instead tried to reach across the bag for a tag, and the runner beat it out.

Prince may have been confused/frustrated by Gagne’s tardiness in getting there, but he still had a reasonable chance to make the play himself, and did not.

1 04 2008
Admittedly trigger-happy

I may be overreacting, but I think it’s time to cut Gagne. I love Melvin, and I’ll support him even as he keeps Gagne around too long (which he most certainly will after forking over $10 million). But in a perfect world, the Brewers would send Gagne packing this morning. After the load of melt-downs last season, which literally cost us a division title, Gagne’s lack of effort, and total lack of intimidating pitching, will be a cancer as long as he’s around.

All great teams and general managers make mistakes, so it’s nothing against Melvin for trying on the Gagne idea. But it’s not going to work, and we should get rid of him before his presence and performance taints the team and season.

That wont happen for awhile, so I hope to God that I’m wrong about this.

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