Parra stops Minnesota’s win streak at 10

28 06 2008

The winning formula this evening was early offense and Manny Parra on the mound.

The top of the order got it going early for the Crew against right-hander Livan HernandezRickie Weeks walked to start the game, J.J. Hardy drove a single up the middle, and Ryan Braun delivered an opposite field single to score Rickie for the first run of the game.

Livan Hernandez doesn’t throw hard, but he nibbles around the strike zone and understands how to pitch.  After Bill Hall smoked a double to the right-center gap off Livan – yes, a right-hander – the veteran pitcher shut down the Brewers.  His off-speed repertoire is immense, and he will throw any of those pitches on any count.  After giving up five runs in the first three innings, Livan settled down nicely.

The damage was done, however.

Manny Parra held the red-hot Minnesota Twins to zero runs on two hits in seven innings of solid work.  The rookie struggled with his command again today – see the four walks.  He did keep the Twins off-balance though.  He began to pound the zone much more after the third innings, and his pitch count benefited because of it.

While Manny couldn’t find the strike zone early in the game, his stuff impressed everyone.  His fastball came in at about 94-95 mph this evening, and his curveball had a pretty big bite to it.  Did I even see a slider/cut fastball too?  Perhaps he’s been working on that with Mike Maddux during his throwing sessions.

The play-by-play announcers for the Crew did hammer home an aspect of Manny’s wildness.  He always misses low in the zone, which limits his vulnerability to the long ball.  While that is a good point, walks do not benefit a pitcher.  Neither does a high pitch count.  His lack of control…even if it is down in the zone…has given Manny some fits this season.  I will admit that he has limited the damage though.  A guy with great stuff can do that.  If he can combine that great arsenal of pitches with the confidence to pound the strike zone, he and Yovani Gallardo could make a stellar top of the rotation.  That is too premature to think about that though.

I may simply be reading too much into one performance, but I’m a little concerned about David Riske.  Yes, he pitched a one-two-three inning this evening.  Part of that can be attributed to Mike Cameron’s fine sliding catch in the outfield, however.

What I am concerned with is that Riske’s unwillingness to throw anything but fastballs.  In the 12 pitches he threw against the Twins tonight, 11 of them were fastballs.  He did throw one change-up to Carlos Gomez, but that is it.  Why is this?  Isn’t his split finger pitch supposed to be his best pitch?  In fact, he has two split finger fastballs that he throws.  Where are they?  Is he saving them for a closer situation?

There are two possibilities.  One, tonight is a small sample size and David simply chose to throw fastballs tonight against the patient Twins lineup.  He was able to get ahead of the hitters this evening because most of the Twins will take a pitch or two before swing.  That, of course, excludes Delmon Young.  He swings at everything.  He actually makes Ryan Braun look patient at the plate.  A statistical anomaly could be the answer.

The other possibility is that Riske’s elbow is not 100%.  The split finger fastball would put the most strain on his elbow, which is why he could be avoiding the pitch.  Most pitchers are a little gun shy when coming back from an injury.  This could be something more, however.  Wait until David throws again, but keep an eye on his pitch selection.  If it is mostly fastballs again, something could be up.

Records: Brewers (44-36); Twins (44-37)

Hero of the Game: Manny Parra

Any time a Brewers pitcher goes seven innings of shutout ball, he will get the hero of the game.  Even though he fought his command a bit in the early going, Milwaukee’s rookie pitcher showed his plus stuff again and again.  He handcuffed Twins hitters all game, striking out six and only giving up two hits before leaving because of a high pitch count.  Ned Yost and Mike Maddux stuck with Manny through the growing pains early in the season, and Manny is making their patience well worth it.  The young left-hander is proving himself to be a bona fide major league pitcher.

Goat of the Game: Russell Branyan

Sorry Russell.  You went 0-3.  No other Brewers hitter did that today.  The walk doesn’t count either, as it was an intentional walk early in the game.  Shrug it off, big man.  Come back tomorrow and hit a bomb.

On Tap

Ben Sheets looks to secure a series victory tomorrow against RHP Kevin Slowey for the Minnesota Twins.  The Brewers ace has pitched brilliantly all season thus far.  Slowey will not make it easy for Milwaukee, however.  In their last meeting, the right-hander confused Brewers hitters all day.  Let’s hope the Crew can figure him out tomorrow.  The game starts at 1:10pm CT.

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2 responses

29 06 2008
Dan Wiersema

In his other outings since coming back from the DL Riske was throwing a lot of fastballs, too. The Toronto game where we almost lost our six run lead with Riske on the mound he was throwing all FBs and I’m pretty sure that’s all I saw from him the other night too.

29 06 2008
Bernie Carbo

This discussion on Riske and his relying on fastballs is something I totally overlooked. Now that you bring it up, I do remember the Twins TV announcers commenting on his split finger specialties and the camera shot of his split fingered hand seemed to confirm that he was throwing it last night.

Maybe, he’s not going all out since he only returned from the DL a few days ago…The game wasn’t a blow out, but I think Riske entered when it was already 5-0 which seems like a good score to get him some innings.

As this pennant race heats up and hopefully we wil stay stuck to the Cardinals and Cubs in July-August, Riske is gonna be called on during some very sticky situations. I have the impression that he and Villanueva will be critical to our success as our starting pitchers innings totals reach 150.

Let’s hope that Riske is geering up for a scoreless streak in July and August and September….I’m not a huge fan of career splits, but they are fun and interesting when a player has played near 10 seasons. The month of April for Riske resulted in an ERA over 5 and every other month he is in the low 3’s…
and he always allows an impressive fewer number of hits per innings pitched, so I don’t think we’ve seen a healthy Riske this year…Now it would be a good time.

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