Bats continue to tease in Brewers win

20 05 2008

UPDATE 05-20-08 11:55pm – I didn’t report on Eric Gagne leaving the game with the trainer, as no one seems to be worried about it.  More information is in, however.

Gagne is complaining of “stiffness” in his shoulder.  It is not pain.  It is not tightness.  It is stiffness, I guess.  I’m not sure if this is a cop-out on his part, or there is really something wrong.  I will know more tomorrow, and I, of course, will pass it your way.

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After pounding out 14 hits and scoring 7 runs, the Milwaukee Brewers look to be on the verge of breaking out of its offensive slump. This is one of the few games where multiple hitters put together good games. Let me show you:

Weeks – 2-4
Cameron – 3-4, HR (5), 2 RBI, BB
Braun – 2-5, RBI
Hart – 2-5, HR (3), RBI
Hardy – 2-4, BB
Hall – 2-3, 2B, RBI
Kendal – 1-4, RBI

Prince Fielder is the only Brewer to not record a hit today.

The most encouraging aspect of tonight’s game had to be the work of Rickie Weeks and Mike Cameron at the top of the order. When they are getting on base with consistency, the offense is completely different. Pitchers have to pitch Ryan Braun and Fielder differently. The middle of the lineup is like a firecracker waiting to go off and scatter hits in twenty different directions.

I’m not ready to declare the offense back on track tonight. Notice the “tease” in the title. The Crew needs to do a little more than string two games of solid offense together first. The offense has to put hits together on someone other than a left-handed pitcher who had a 5.02 ERA last season. They need to not squander runs on the basepaths. I realize I am being a little harsh and nitpicky, but I can definitely see the team reverting back to its sluggish ways tomorrow.

With that said, Bill Hall and JJ Hardy are looking better. Billy is shooting the ball up the middle (granted it was against a lefty) and drawing walks. Hardy is driving the ball a little more. It is certainly nice to see Corey Hart get the power back in his bat. He has hit two home runs in the past three games, and the opposite field power he flashed today proves he’s seeing the ball better.

Anyway, enough about the offense. I just haven’t had the opportunity to write good things about that subject lately. On to the pitching. Manny Parra pitched decently today. He almost got a quality start again for the Crew, but his pitch-count was far too high early in the game. The lefty only had one walk in his five and two-thirds innings, but he did not pound the strike zone. Again, that is simply getting picky in a well-pitched game by Manny.

Seth McClung, who will be in the starting rotation starting Saturday, relieved Manny and got out of a two-on, two-out jam. He then quickly dispatched of the Pirates in the seventh, sitting them down one-two-three. I’m not totally convinced Seth can flourish as a starter, but I am willing to give him a try. It is intriguing at least. He will need to develop a third pitch more consistently if he is going to succeed in the second or third time in the order. The announcers are claiming he’s working on a change-up, but that is still up in the air.

The success of Eric Gagne, on the other hand, is not up in the air. The closer came into the game in the ninth inning to get some work and looked utterly awful. The control was not there, he gave up a home run to Jason Bay, and he made another pitcher work in a blowout. I will not get too upset, as I am busy enjoying this win, but I am clearly not happy about it.

Records: Brewers (21-24); Pirates (21-24)

Hero of the Game: Corey Hart

As Dan pointed out today, Corey has been the most consistent Brewer in the lineup this season. People have been concerned with his lack of power, but his power stroke has been heating up the past few days. He socked another homer this evening, taking former Brewers-prospect Marino Salas to right with authority. Corey went 2-5 and is batting .303. Solid, solid, solid.

I considered Mike Cameron for the hero, but his baserunning gaffs were too much to overcome. You cannot get doubled off on a line drive to the right fielder. The caught stealing was not his fault, but it certainly killed the momentum the Brewers had in the fifth inning. Still, the Brewers would obviously benefit greatly if Cam got the stick working.

Goat of the Game: Eric Gagne

Really Eric? You felt it necessary to come in during the ninth inning and try to ruin the happiness that ran through me during the game? That is just cruel. He fell behind hitters. His fastball lacked the pop we have seen in the past couple weeks. It could just be because he has not pitched in a while. Either way, I am annoyed.

On Tap

Ben Sheets will face Ian Snell as the Brewers attempt to clinch the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road. The contest will start at 6:05pm CT. It should be a good one if you like pitching.

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7 responses

21 05 2008
BJ

Great to see the Crew light things up on the road last night! I was the guy out there last July on my honeymoon that was showcased in the ninth inning and to win in Pittsburg like that again brought back memories of Miller’s grand slam and the Brewers awesome win! Ok… Enough of that… On to a serious question.

What do you make of the LA Times article talking about the Padres being trading partners with the Brewers? A Randy Wolfe for Tony Gwynn Jr. trade would be pretty interesting if you ask me… I like the idea of Randy pitching in a Brewers uniform more than bringing up Weaver out of AAA. Do you think Melvin could/should make it happen?

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-spw-shaikin21-2008may21,0,7759612.story

21 05 2008
Aaron

No love for Manny Parra as the hero? I disagree sir. The Brewers can’t get one run through the first five innings and hope for the best. Parra kept them in this one and his DP toss on the bunt by the pitcher was huge. If they can take 6 of 7 here I’ll believe in them again. Until then… skepticism continues. Toss in my blog on the right there and i’ll toss you on mine if you’re interesting.

21 05 2008
Aaron

interested… not interesting.

21 05 2008
Dan Wiersema

It was nice to see both offense and pitching work in concert together last night. Amazing how those on ends up winning games. I told my fiance (a HUGe Brewers fans) last night while we were watching the game that it was almost weird last night how quality the team looked. Like this was the sort of thing that we were supposed to be doing all season. Here’s to hoping…

21 05 2008
Jim Breen

Manny Parra needs to get through six innings consistently before he can be counted as a hero for the game. He’s been one of the main reasons that the bullpen has been overworked already this season. He pitched fairly well, but he’s still nibbling at the plate and throwing too many pitches. I want to see the Manny we saw early in Spring Training. The one that attacked the strike zone. The one that trusted his stuff and his defense to get the outs. He cannot keep ducking out after five innings and expect to be labeled a “productive” Major League pitcher.

E-mail me about the blog stuff. Please don’t include that stuff in the comments.

22 05 2008
Aaron

Jim, you can’t blame Manny for only making it 5.2 innings in this one because there wasn’t the nibbling you think. Just because he tossed 116 pitches doesn’t mean you’re not aggressive. The Pirates were fighting off a ton of balls. Look at the line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 Ks. If he was nibbling there would have been quite a few more walks. Toss in his last start and it looks like that aggressiveness we expected out of the kid is showing up.

22 05 2008
Jim Breen

I don’t mean to be argumentative Aaron, but I disagree. Out of 21 batters Manny faced, he got stuck in a full count 8 times. That’s more than a third of the time, Manny threw at least 6 pitches in an at-bat. There were a couple long at bats because of the Pirates fouling it off though, so you’re right about that. It’s hard to say Manny is not nibbling when he gets ahead in the count 1-2 twice and 0-2 three times…yet still is pitching with a full count later in the at-bat. If that’s not nibbling, I don’t know what is.

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