Lack of defense and control dooms Brewers

14 06 2008

This morning I was feeling rather calm concerning the Brewers.  After tonight’s game, however, I have been reminded about what this team lacks.

You simply cannot win games with stupid mental errors.  Ryan Braun needs to learn to hit the cut-off man.  I understand he’s trying to preserve the lead, but the margin for error is so small.  You have to play the percentages at that point.  He did show off his arm on that play, however.  Corey Hart has got to stay in front of the ball in the outfield.  The cardinal rule in the outfield is to keep the ball in front of you at all costs.  He cost the Brewers a run in the ninth inning.  Bill Hall needs to get out in the field further when Mike Cameron is up against the wall.  He cost the Brewers another run.  A lack of concentration on the defensive side of the ball cost the Brewers tonight.

What to do about it?  Bill Hall cannot play second base.  Three errors in two games at the position is not going to cut it.  With that said, Joe Dillon looked solid at second today.  I can forgive Ryan Braun for making an aggressive play.  He’s inexperienced in the field, and he let his emotions get the better of him.  The coaches will sit him down and explain the situation.  He will make the right choice the next time.  Corey Hart, on the other hand, has no excuse.  Overrunning the ball and then trying to lazily reach down to pick up the ball is inexcusable.

Jeff Suppan threw the ball quite well today.  His solid outing was overshadowed by the length of the game and the dramatics near the end, but seven innings of two-run ball is impressive.  Soup has been a rock in the rotation this season.  He’s truly earning his money thus far in 2008.

The relievers, however, struggled mightily.  Carlos Villanueva did not have his usual control on the mound, leaving the ball up in the strike zone for the Twins to slap all over the field.  He just hasn’t had his “A” stuff in his last couple outings.  Fans shouldn’t be worried, however.  The young right-hander has been the model of consistency in the bullpen the last couple seasons.  He will bounce back.

Julian Tavarez, on the other hand, hasn’t shown any consistency since being signed.  The movement on his pitches is phenomenal, but the control has been notably absent.  In his 1.1 innings of work, he gave up four hits and three walks.  The veteran worked from behind the whole night.  He’s not cutting it on the mound.  If he wants to get the ball in important situations, throwing strikes is key.

Amidst all the frustration that ended the night, fans at the ballpark tonight were treated to a dandy.  In the ninth inning, the Brewers trailed by one with two outs.  Russell Branyan gets the call to pinch hit.  He has one job at the plate: Tie the game.  On a fastball middle-in from Twins closer Joe Nathan, Russell absolutely clobbered a solo home run to tie the game at four a piece.  All looked right for the Crew going into extra innings.

Things even looked better when Prince Fielder connected on a high fastball in the bottom of the 11th.  The towering shot appeared to clear the wall just over the fingertips of Carlos Gomez, but the umps ruled it a triple.  Boos rained in from around Miller Park, and Ned Yost came out on the field to argue the call.  After seeing the replay, however, it was clear the ball bounced off the inside corner of the wall and back into the field of play.  The umpires made the right call.  A game of inches indeed.

Yost went back into the dugout and play resumed, but Milwaukee was unable to plate Prince home from third.  Mike Cameron swung at a ball way off the plate and hit a dribbler to the pitcher’s mound.  The momentum shifted to the Minnesota Twins, and they never looked back.  A rough, rough game for the Crew tonight.  They should have won the game multiple times.

Records: Brewers (35-33); Twins (34-35)

Hero of the Game: Russell Branyan

Russell had the touch for late-inning heroics today.  After sitting on the bench the entire game, the Brewers’ skipper called on him with two-outs in the bottom of the ninth against Joe Nathan.  Russell didn’t get cheated in his at-bat.  He absolutely killed a Nathan fastball into right-center field.  How clutch can you be?

This will be immensely unpopular, I’m sure, but Russell needs more playing time.  He has been better than advertised defensively at third base, and he’s seeing the ball incredibly well.  I understand he has not hit lefties well this year in the big leagues, but he had pretty good success in the minors.  You can say it was the minors all you want, but everyone said that before he got called up too.  Look how that turned out.  Give the guy a chance.  Bill Hall has sure proven he doesn’t deserve regular playing time.

Goat of the Game: Corey Hart

Yes, Julian Tavarez pitched horrendously.  This “award” has to go to Corey this evening though.  Besides the costly error in the ninth inning that made everyone’s collective heart sink in their stomachs, the Brewers lead-off hitter went 0-6 with two strikeouts.  Corey has been one of the most consistent players this season, so I will cut him some slack.  The young right-fielder should take this loss personally, however.  That error in right was pathetic and just a lack of concentration.

On Tap

Brewers right-hander Seth McClung will battle fellow right-hander Scott Baker tomorrow at Miller Park.  The Crew will hope not to get swept by the Minnesota Twins.  The contest will begin at 1:05pm CT.

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4 responses

14 06 2008
Tony

What was wrong with Guillermo Mota? Why couldn’t he come in the game?

15 06 2008
Adam

I have two insights on last nights game as I finally got a chance to watch a good chunk of it.

While I agree with your claim of Corey Hart losing the game, I think Yost deserves a little credit as well. He stretched the bullpen for a long time and let the pitchers get in big problems. Granted Corey needs to make that play, but Yost needs to have a quicker hook. And why wasn’t Mota in the game, I thought he was our “eight inning guy.” Plus we were at home so any run we would have scored would have been a walk-off, we wouldn’t have needed a closer.

Secondly, I think Bill Hall is just as useless as the next guy, however I think he is still a plus in the clubhouse. After Branyan hit an absolute bomb, Hall was the first guy to greet him. Hall was entirely enthusiastic, and looked sincerely happy that the Brewers were back in the game. This is towards the guy who is responsible for stealing his playing time. I think the bad press towards Billy is due to his agent not so much Hall himself.

Also because it needs to be said, while he made a bad defensive play himself, Braun hit an absolute bomb. One of the longest I’ve seen at Miller Park.

15 06 2008
Dan Wiersema

I just don’t understand how Tavarez stayed in that game for so long. It was clear in his first inning of work, when he loaded the bases and then got out of it, that his slider was not on. He pitched from behind the whole first inning too Why send him out for another inning?

It was embarassing to see all of those defensive errors… that’s the player’s faults, but in the end we were still in the game until a pitcher was left in by a poor managerial decision. I don’t care that he got out of one inning, because from batter one in the second it was clear he was having the same problems that got him into trouble the inning before.

15 06 2008
Aaron

Dan, you hit it right on the head. While the players’ defense today was more terrible than normal, Yost needs to keep his team in the game by giving them the best opportunity to win. Instead they’re another game down in the Central and the WC and they have absolutely zero confidence going into today with a guy on a short pitch count. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a roster move to have some people available this afternoon. Thank god for the day off tomorrow.

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