Pitchers’ Duel Goes Brewers Way

29 05 2008

If you were to tell me that we were in for a pitchers’ duel last night, frankly, I would have been very surprised.  It’s not that I don’t think that Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan can’t throw a good game, but Jo-Jo Reyes?  The Braves lefty walked into Miller Park with a 5.84 ERA after having just been shelled by Arizona last week.  Well, color me surprised as the Suppan and Reyes faced off over eight (almost) scoreless innings.  I’m pleased to write that the Brewers came out on top, 1-0.

I’ve said it before, but the Brewers plate discipline has made many pedestrian pitchers look like staff aces and last night was shaping up to be a dozy for the Crew.  Reyes handcuffed the Milwaukee bats, striking out eight and allowing only three hits over seven innings.

Suppan was equally masterful.  He gave up only four hits and while his walk count was higher than usually (five) he countered that with a season-high in strikeouts (seven).  Suppan was supported by some awesome defensive plays that help strand eight Braves batters on base.

Reyes was marching right along until the bottom of the eighth when he issued his third walk of the evening to JJ Hardy.  Braves manager Bobby Cox brought in Blaine Boyer and Jason Kendall bunted Hardy to second.  Things were looking a bit perilous when pitch hitter Joe Dillon struck out to leave next batter Rickie Weeks with two outs.

Weeks had other ideas as he laced a perfect shot that hugged the third base foul line to bring Hardy home with a RBI triple.

Weeks’ contribution was good enough as Salomon Torres came into to record a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.

Records: Brewers (26-27); Braves (28-25)

Hero of the Game: Jeff Suppan

I said it already, but Soup’s night was a masterstroke.  Finally, we’re getting some mileage out of our starting pitchers.  After struggling to make six innings for a lot of our guys, seeing Suppan and Sheets pull extended duties and get quality outings from McClung and Bush has to leave Brew Crew fans with some optimism and the bullpen a big sigh of relief.

Getting back to Suppan, I usually expect that he’ll give up a few hits and tally a few runs being the ground ball pitcher he is.  Suppan’s style requires a tight defense behind him and after Hall’s error in the second I thought this might be another night where the bats would have to be the major contributor.  The defense tightened up (in fact on the next play it was superb D by Kendall, Hall, and Weeks to turn a cross diamond double play) and was above average all night (finishing in style with Hardy’s layout snag to end the game).

Suppan, obviously, had no runs with seven strikeouts… a total that is very un-Suppan-like.  I felt like I was watching something special last night and I was willing to bet that Ned Yost would have walked him out for the ninth if his spot in the line up didn’t come in the crucial eighth.

Runner-Up Hero: Rickie Weeks. Knocks in the only run of the night… need I say more?  Sure? How about 2-4 (making up 2/3rds of the Brewers hits) and some solid DP turning on the defensive side.  That’s the Pretty Rickie we like to see.

Goat(s) of the Game: Mark Texiteira and Ryan McCann

I know Jim usually has to pick a Brewer for this part, but I didn’t want to do the whole wrap without commenting on a bit of drama that helped Suppan get out of the eighth innings thanks to a few PO’ed Braves.  Texiteira got all huffy about a called third strike (there were a TON of them last night… Reyes has six Ks on called third strikes) and spent a few moments belly aching about the call.  The real drama came when the next batter McCann had the same issues with home plate umpire Mark Wenger.  After a first called strike McCann refused to get back in the box and according to new rules set down at the owner’s meetings umps can charge a strike to stalling batters or have the pitcher throw even thought the batter isn’t in the box.

I’ve never seen a more uncomfortable pitch thrown in my life then the second called strike that Suppan threw with McCann half in the batter’s box.  Suppan subsequently struck out McCann who had more words for Wegner and Cox came out to argue his batter’s case.  No one was tossed, but a bit of stubbornness on the part of the Braves batters cost them some ABs when chances were few and far in-between in this game.

On Tap:

The Braves march out Jorge Campillo (1-0, 0.86 ERA) against Seth McClung (2-1, 3.55 ERA) this afternoon to try and steal one game of the series from the Brewers.  It will be the battle of the stretched out relievers as Campillo makes his third start of the season and McClung his second.  The game gets started at 12:05pm and is ON FSN (schedule change).  Good thing, too. I’m recovering from knee surgery and this is just what I need to get through a boring day on the couch.

By: Dan Wiersema

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5 responses

29 05 2008
Dan Wiersema

Just picked up a nice stat from “Right Field Bleachers.” The Brewers’ bullpen has a 0.98 ERA over the last six games. That’s solid numbers on top of a not-so-bad-season so far.

29 05 2008
gobrewers

Rickie has been quite solid the past week or two. He’s getting on base a ridiculous amount, and the hits are starting to come. He is still spinning off everything, but it’s getting a little better. Perhaps he’s coming around for the season.

29 05 2008
Aaron

Rickie has looked phenomenal the last three series, with the exception of two games against the Nationals. He is hitting the ball harder than any one else, and eventually it’s going to pay off. I never got off the Weeks train, no matter how many people think he’s awful. I don’t care if he hits .230, if his on-base is above .360 by the end of the season, it was right to have him in that lead off spot.

29 05 2008
bernie carbo

Is there a reason why the Brewers are not attempting to steal more bases?
Regarding Weeks, is he not running that much because Cameron swings and misses alot? And what about Braun being more of a threat to steal…disrupt the pitcher a little more and and maybe provoke him to make some mistakes when pitching to Fielder?

Since we’re not hitting that hot, wouldn’t it make some sense to shake things up a little and send Rickey and Hart and Braun alot more?

I don’t know much about stealing bases, but I would think it is a talent that needs to be practiced and executed often or else you run the risk of losing your timing and instinct as discussed on Aaron’s site yesterday.

To many times, we seem to get a leadoff man on base and he sits there for three straight outs.

What a double play yesterday on the Braves bunt attempt! I have a hard time remembering the last time I saw a double play turned that fast…..and what a game ending stab by Hardy.

29 05 2008
Jim Breen

I’m not completely sure why the Brewers haven’t been stealing more. One of the things everyone talked about coming into this season was the increased “team speed” with the addition of Mike Cameron in the outfield and Jason Kendall behind the plate. I sincerely thought the Brewers were going to run a lot more this season.

I think part of the reason is that some of the Brewers are just poor base stealers. They have plenty of speed, but they cannot time the jump, get a good lead, or whatever the reason may be. Bill Hall has under a 50% success rate when he tries to swipe a bag. Rickie Weeks was gunned down twice in two days when the Brewers were in Boston. Ryan Braun has tried to steal four times, but has been gunned down three of those attempts. It seems that some of the Brewers are just poor base stealers.

With that said, Mike Cameron and Corey Hart are a bit different. Both have proven they can swipe bags with regularity, yet they are not running as much as one would think. Corey has 12 attempts, 9 of which were successful, and Mike only has attempted 4 stolen bases all year. I can understand picking your spots, but it is interesting that Milwaukee doesn’t run more.

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