Bush fantasti-K against the Rox

10 07 2008

Obviously, the game was not on TV today, so I was not able to watch it.  I did listen to it and see the highlights, however.  Here is the extended boxscore, if you are curious.

With all the attention on CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets (and rightly so), Dave Bush went out and gave a performance to remember.  It’s too bad that the game was not televised for anyone to see it.  The right-hander went 8 innings strong and struck out 13 batters.  And you thought Big Ben was impressive yesterday.

I was surprised Yost let Bush go 120+ pitches, but with the All-Star Break coming up, it should not be a problem.  Bushie had fantastic control this afternoon.  For the second start in a row, he did not walk a batter.  That is absolutely key for someone like Bush.  The strikeouts are just an added plus.  He has made an extremely strong push for the final spot in the rotation once Jeff Suppan comes back from the DL.  In his last two outings combined, Bush has gone 16 innings and only given up one earned run.

Dave Bush is notoriously a slow starter.  In his career, he has had an ERA above 5.00 in April and May.  When the weather heats up, however, so does Bush.  That is what we have seen this season as well.  He had a 3.65 ERA last month, and those numbers have only improved in July.  It looks as if the best option for Milwaukee is to move Seth McClung to the bullpen and give the ball to Bush every fifth day.  The ‘pen sure could use some help, considering how well Guillermo Mota has been pitching.

Speaking of Mota, Ned Yost says his mechanics are off.  He is “collapsing his back side,” which is causing his pitches to have little or no movement.  Mota and Mike Maddux are working extremely hard on correcting this fault.  Apparently, they corrected this before the season started, and Mota simply reverted back to his old ways.  I may simply be hard-headed, but I believe a part of it has to do with his reluctance to throw his change-up.  I will not beat that comment to death again though.  Hopefully, Maddux and Yost can get that situation worked out quickly because Mota has been absolutely brutal in the past two months.  The only question I have is: Why did it take 2 months for Maddux and Yost to notice this if they corrected it before?

Back to the game.  The offense came out to play today after getting embarrassed last night by Glendon Rusch.  Perhaps they all read everything being said about them last night, as the Crew walked four times today.  Not great, but certainly not bad.  J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart both hit home runs this afternoon.  Hart made the All-Star Game, by the way.  If you all have not seen the team mob him during the press conference, you should check it out.  Hart’s daughter got a good part of it too.  Congratulations, Corey.  You definitely deserve it!

Someone that deserves some ink is Gabe Kapler.  He produced again this afternoon, going 3-4 with three doubles and two RBI.  The comeback story is never-ending it seems.  I would love for Ned Yost to give Kapler more at-bats, but those at-bats are difficult to find.  Mike Cameron has been swinging the bat better as of late, and his defense is top-notch.  Did you see a couple of the plays he made last night?  He rarely makes a false step in center field and almost always takes a direct path to the ball.  It is an joy to watch him in the field.  Gabe provides the team with a more than capable fourth outfielder though, and that is extremely valuable.

Records: Brewers (51-41); Rockies (39-54)

Hero of the Game: Dave Bush

How can you go eight innings, give up only three hits, surrender zero earned runs, strike out 13, not walk a batter, and not get the Hero of the Game?  The only thing I would like to see is Dave have one of these performances on the road.  He always has been lights out at home, but has consistently struggled on the road.  He will need to deliver in his first road start after the All-Star Break to cement his status as Milwaukee’s #5 starter.

Goat of the Game: FSN North

Why was this game not on TV?  I understand the team does not have a contract to televise every game, but a game like this should never be only shown on tape delay.  Mark Attanasio should get a deal to televise all 162 games in the works.

On Tap

LHP Manny Parra will look to get the Brewers on a winning streak before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers will go up against RHP Josh Fogg, which is slightly concerning.  Yes, Josh Fogg is terrible, but he also went five innings and only gave up one earned run earlier in 2008 against the Brewers.  As Aaron said, the Crew has a way of making soft-tossing control pitchers look like aces.  Let’s hope the Brewers are patient at the plate and take their walks.  The game will start at 7:05pm CT.


Round ’em Up: Wednesday

2 07 2008

Last night was a little frustrating to watch down the stretch, but the Brewers were able to pull out a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2008 Brewers certainly have a knack for making their wins tough at the end of the game. They need a few blow-out wins. My heart gets a little stressed out after wins like last night.

  • Brew Crew Pub has a recap of the game from last night. Make sure you show BN reader Aaron a little love.
  • Jim Powell has an interview with Ryan Braun about the All-Star Game and a mailbag from last night’s game. He has a little token recap of the game, but nothing in-depth.
  • In case you were confused last night, Rickie Weeks missed the game because of a stomach virus. I’m not sure how long he will be out, but stomach viruses can last for a few days. At least Joe Dillon has looked incredibly solid in his past couple games. It might be good for him to get a few more at-bats.
  • Before last night, Milwaukee had not scored in 22 and 1/3 innings against relief pitchers. It is amazing that they have won as many games on this road trip as they have with those numbers. Part of the struggles have been due to the lack of patience at the plate. The streak ended last night when Mike Rivera it that ridiculous opposite-field double at his eyes.
  • FOX Sports Fantasy Baseball says that Salomon Torres appears to have secured the closer’s role in Milwaukee. Really? Perhaps the fact that Ned Yost said Torres is Milwaukee’s closer was a little too subtle. Sheesh. Salomon has been 13 for 13 in save situations since Eric Gagne went on the DL. Of course he’s staying put.
  • Al’s Ramblings has a quote from Peter Gammons on his blog today. It says that scouts believe there are at least five legitimate major league players on that roster. Another scout says that Huntsville has the best prospects he has ever seen in a minor league system. Jack Zuriencik, I thank you on behalf of all Brewers fans.
  • Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports says that the Brewers are interested in RHP Vicente Padilla. Rosenthal says that it would take quality young pitching to get Padilla out of Texas, however. The 30-year old right-hander has a 4.06 ERA playing in the tight Texas ballpark. Let me put it this way, Vicente Padilla is not my first, second, or third choice for a starting pitcher acquisition. In fact, he was not on my radar. Doug can do better than that.
  • Dugout Central has a nice look at the year thus far, giving a bunch of stats on every team in every division.
  • The Baseball Analysts has a Triple-A All-Star team on its site. Today, the site selected its starting rotation and bullpen. Mark DiFelice is coming out of the ‘pen. His walk-to-strike out ratio is ridiculous. I very much like DiFelice and think he can be a productive member of Milwaukee’s bullpen in September and into next season.
  • Diamond Hoggers gives Ben Sheets the NL Comeback Player of the Year award. I understand the logic, but Gabe Kapler deserves a look for that award. He was completely out of baseball last season and is now hitting north of .300 in the major leagues. That’s a comeback.Oh, and I utterly disagree with Joey Votto being the NL Rookie of the Year. I’ll excuse it though, as the site has an obvious Cincinnati bias. Not that it’s a bad thing. This site may or may not have a pro-Milwaukee bias.
  • C Michael Roberts made quite the debut last night for the Helena Brewers. He homered in his first professional at-bat, and also had a two-run triple later in the game. Not bad, young man.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies demoted Brett Myers to the minors yesterday, and he surprisingly accepted the move. This all but cements Philadelphia’s inclusion in the starting rotation market. They are said to covet Erik Bedard, but C.C. Sabathia could become a real possibility in a couple weeks.

Crew holds off D’Back rally

1 07 2008

It’s not often that a Brewers fan says this, but Ned Yost played his cards right today.

Milwaukee’s starting lineup did not include the likes of Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, or Mike Cameron.  Prince certainly needed a day off after his struggles this road trip.  Their replacements, however.  Did more than hold their own against Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks.

Joe Dillon swung a good bat tonight, hitting a two-run bomb off Johnson in the second inning.  The veteran utility man hit the ball hard in every at-bat, but only had one hit to show for it.  It’s okay though, Joe.  We all know how well you handled the stick tonight.

In for Prince at first base, the seldom-used Mike Rivera played his heart out tonight.  The opposite-field, two-out double to score Corey Hart was definitely a highlight of the game.  That ball was at his eyes and off the outside part of the plate.  There is no good reason he should have gotten any wood on that ball.  No matter.  Mike Rivera continues to produce at the plate without many opportunities to get in a groove.

To round out the subs for the day, Gabe Kapler roamed center Monday night.  Gabe didn’t do anything overly impressive tonight, going 1-4.  He continues to play defense though, which makes him invaluable coming of the bench.  Let’s not forget he’s hitting over .300.  Not bad for someone who was managing a minor league team last season.

Speaking of days off, one player that sorely needs a day off is Ryan Braun.  The announcers keep saying he has an injured muscle in his right thumb, but he’s in the lineup day in and day out.  If he’s truly hurt, give him a day off.  Even if he’s not hurt, the young man looks awful at the plate.  Ryan is getting over-aggressive again, trying to pull everything.  We all know he doesn’t want to take a walk, either.  Take a day off tomorrow, Ryan.  Come back Thursday afternoon and start tearing the cover off the ball again.

There is one more player that seems completely lost at the plate.  Want to take a guess?  Bill Hall.  Bill Schroeder hit the nail right on the head (if you will excuse the cliche).  The Brewers third baseman is swinging at balls off the plate, and taking strikes.  He is so frustrated at the plate that I could hear him yelling obscenities after fouling a ball off at the plate this evening.  That’s never a good sign.  I’m almost inclined to say Billy could use a little time in Triple-A to get his feet back under him.  Too bad that’s not an option at this point.

As far as pitching goes, Jeff Suppan was very unimpressive against the D’Backs.  The veteran right-hander could not find the plate to save his life in the fourth and fifth innings, and when he did, it split the heart of the plate.  Soup does not have the stuff to consistently fall behind hitters and get away with it.  His performance was utterly underwhelming, as have most of his starts lately.  Milwaukee needs Jeff to pick it up and be the leader he came here to be.  It’s easier said than done, but now is the time.

I want to follow up on something I mentioned a couple games ago.  David Riske again pitched an entire inning without straying from his fastball.  It ranged from 88-90 mph according to MLB Gameday.  He pitched extremely effectively with it tonight, but I am a little concerned about Mr. Riske.  He’s not throwing his best pitch.  Milwaukee signed him over the off-season because he has two outstanding split-finger fastballs.  One acts much like a change-up and dips into the high-70s, but the other is a true split.  It comes in to hitters in the mid-80s and falls off the table when it reaches home plate.  Those two pitches are non-existent right now.  I truly hope his elbow is okay.

I realize I’m going a little more in-depth about individual players this evening, but I have a couple things to note about Guillermo Mota.  As the play-by-play announcers said tonight, Mota is catching far too much of the plate with his fastball.  That is obvious.  All four balls were smoked by the D’Backs tonight, and the Crew could have been in big trouble had Mike Rivera not made a fantastic diving play at first to double off Chris Young.  The control problem is obvious.

Another thing I noticed about Guillermo is the complete absence of his change-up.  The big guy threw exclusively fastball-slider the entire inning, until getting Miguel Montero on a change to end the inning.  The change-up is arguably Mota’s best pitch.  It complements his 95-96 mph fastball very well, and it dives away from lefties when it reaches the plate.  He has not been throwing the change with any regularity, and the result has been more hard hit balls and more runs scored.  If Guillermo uses that change-up more often, it won’t matter if his 96 mph fastball is right down the middle.  Hitters will be off-balance and unable to catch up.  Sometimes it can be that simple.  Put the third finger around the ball, choke the ball back in your grip, and let it fly, Guillermo.  It would benefit you and the Brewers greatly.

I also must admit that Salomon Torres pitched very well to get the save tonight.  He had not pitched in a week, but he mowed down Arizona hitters after hitting Augie Ojeda to start the inning.  A tip of the hat to you, Senor Torres.  You have been a hero for the Crew the entire year.

Records: Brewers (45-38 ); Diamondbacks (42-42)

Hero of the Game: J.J. Hardy and Mike Rivera

I’m not one to give out multiple Heroes of the Game, but tonight is an exception.  J.J. Hardy looks like a completely different hitter at the plate over the past couple weeks.  He has been more patient and is driving the ball all over the field.  The hitting streak is now at 13 games after he hit two home runs this evening.  Perhaps he’s going to get on a two month streak like he did to start last season.  That would be dangerous for opposing teams.

Mike Rivera has quickly become one of my favorites on the team.  He plays maybe once a week.  He never complains about a lack of playing time, yet produces more than some of the regulars – I’m talking about you, Bill Hall.  That ridiculous two-out double that was at his eyes and off the outside part of the plate not withstanding, the back-up catcher flashed some fancy glovework at first base.  He made a couple nice flips to the pitcher, fielded the bunt rather nicely, and made an absolutely sick diving stab that turned into an unassisted double play.  That may have saved the game for Milwaukee.  I cannot say enough about Mike Rivera tonight.  Well done, sir.

Goat of the Game: Ryan Braun

Ryan and Prince Fielder have both fallen into a funk at the same time.  Braun, however, is still in the lineup while Prince gets the day off.  All signs point to Braun’s injury being worse than the team is saying.  Give him a day off to clear his head and heal his thumb.  Seeing such a talented player struggle at the plate as much as he has the past week or so is difficult to watch.  He’s in an 0-18 streak now.  A day off is sorely needed.

On Tap

Seth McClung will look to bounce back after a rough outing last week against Micah Owings and the D’Backs in Game 3 of the series.  The game starts at 8:40pm CT at Chase Field.  The Crew needs a win tomorrow night, as Brandon Webb is slated to pitch the finale.  Enough said.

Bats Support Sheets’ Outing

12 06 2008

An up-and-down afternoon for Ben Sheets was held up by another home run barrage from the Milwaukee Brewers bats. Corey Hart, feeling right at home in the lead-off spot, Prince Fielder, Mike Cameron all connected for long balls in a monster second inning to lift Ben through his start.

From early on Sheets was having trouble with his curveball. The power curve that usually slams down on opposing hitters was hanging up in the zone allowing the Astros to feast on some early chances. With the curveball looking shaky Miguel Tejeda launched a fastball into the stands for a early Houston lead. Fielder evened the match with a solo shot of his own. Cameron put the Brewers ahead with a solo home run of his own; a lead the Crew would not surrender. Hart continued his power binge smashing a three-run home run.

Sheets struggled over the next two innings giving up an RBI single to Michael Bourn in the second and a solo home run to Darin Erstad in the third. Sheets looked out of sorts. His curveball wasn’t dropping and he seemed to be taking much longer in between pitches. Normally, Sheets works very quickly from the stretch, but this afternoon he was pacing about the mound instead of setting and pitching right away.

Whatever problems he had early on, Sheets put the Astros on lock-down like a prison warden after a riot. He retired Houston in order in the fourth and fifth innings. In the sixth and seventh innings, Sheets found his payoff pitch curveball. He dropped the hammer on Hunter Pence in the sixth and Tejeda and Lance Berkman in the seventh. Sheets finished the afternoon with a season-high nine strikeouts, with six of those coming in his last four innings of work.

Some poor glove work by Fielder in the eight made the game interesting, setting up a two-run Mark Loretta home run, but the gap between the Brewers and Houston was restored in the ninth with super-sub Gabe Kapler solo shot and an RBI single from Ryan Braun.

Records: Brewers (35-31), Astros (33-34)

Hero of the Game: Corey Hart

I LOVE this guy. I wrote yesterday that his two home runs should silence any critics of a previously soft bat and another home run today, one that put the Crew on top and gave Sheets the breathing room he needed to get comfortable, should put those critics six feet under. Hart even managed to make improvements on his defense with a great foul ball catch in the I-can’t-remember-inning.

Another point I wanted to make is that Hart’s success with the long ball has been parallel to the Brewers success as a team in the home run category. The Crew launched 10 home runs in the Houston series, including nine in the last two games. Over the last 12 games the Brewers have put 25 ball into the stands.

Goat of the Game: Lance Berkman

Its nice to put Jerk-man in this spot after his performance from Friday night. Berkman was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Ben Sheets, including the one in the seventh where he looked like a total chump going after Sheets’ dirt ball. Not to mention he playfully hugged Fielder when trying to run out the third strike in said dirt. No one touches Princey.

On Tap: Dave Bush (2-6, 5.85 ERA) hits the mound against Minnesota’s Kevin Slowley (2-6, 5.26 ERA) in the opener of the Brewers’ nine-game homestand against the Twins, Blue Jays, and Orioles.

By: Dan Wiersema

Parra Perfect, Bats Bash in Sweep

4 06 2008

I’m working really hard on my alliteration so look out for more tongue-twisting headlines on the site. Moving on… the Brewers pulled out the brooms for the second consecutive home series and swept away the NL West leading Arizona Diamondback, 10-1. Manny Parra went seven innings (his longest outing of the season thus far) and the offense banged out 14 hits to cap what has been an amazing homestand for the Mil-town side.

Gabe Kapler started the game in centerfield and I can say that this was both a surprising move, yet totally appropriate. Mike Cameron, while solid defensively, has been a disaster at the plate. I saw the numbers before the game and he strikes out on average every 2.95 ABs (swear to God that it seems higher than that lately though). Manager Ned Yost, ever the loyal dog, usually sticks with his strugglers because he’s “not concerned with that,” but instead through us a welcome curve ball (which Cameron would have missed.. ha!) and put the ridiculously hot Kapler in the starting line-up.

Kapler started the scoring for the Brew Crew with a RBI double in the first and Parra would give up his only run in the third, but the scoring binge was reserved for the third and fourth innings when the Brewers smashed out nine hits and nine runs.

Corey Hart produced an in-the-park home run to score three (en route to a four RBI night)and Kapler was 4-for-5 (hit total tying a career high) on the evening. Parra was sharp as ever striking out eight, tying his career high. Oh, and Russell Branyan hit another homer run… big surprise there

Records: Brewers (32-28), Diamondbacks (32-28 )

Hero of the Game: Jim Skaalen

Let me paste the box score first, then I’ll comment.

Weeks, 2B 5 1 1 0 0 2 2 .209
Kapler, CF 5 2 4 1 0 0 0 .330
Braun, LF 4 2 2 2 1 0 2 .299
Fielder, 1B 3 2 1 1 1 2 2 .280
Hall, 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .228
Hart, C, RF 4 1 2 4 0 0 2 .290
Branyan, 3B-1B 4 1 2 1 0 1 0 .321
Kendall, C 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 .244
Counsell, SS 4 0 1 0 0 2 2 .236
Parra, P 3 1 1 0 0 1 1 .208
a-Dillon, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .286
Tavarez, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Villanueva, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .143
Totals 36 10 14 10 2 8 11

If I were Skaalen I’d been pretty darn pleased with this. Every regular Brewer, with the exception of Jason Kendall dropped a hit on Arizona… even Parra got a double! This Brewers team has found something special recently, picking up 12 of their last 16 games winning five series and sweeping two since the disastrous Boston roadie.

Despite being near the top of the NL in strikeouts, looking like chumps at times to Randy Johnson last night, and registering 8 Ks this afternoon, the Brewers are benefiting from some awesome offensive production. Players like Hart and Ryan Braun have been on target for sometime, but Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy are now coming online. Add to the fact that guy like Kapler can pretty much produce automatically as a pinch hitter, sub fielder, or as a starting has to put a smile (or whatever he does) on Skaalen’s face.

Goat of the Game: Jason Kendall

Sorry, dude. You got the collar, you get the goat. Shhh…. I don’t want to hear anything about you getting that nice RBI sac fly to score Princey. Shhh… I don’t want to hear anything about your 42% caught-stealing percent. Shhh… no excuses that Cameron wasn’t in the line-up to strike out a lot and take the goat. It’s all yours tonight. Just don’t let it happen again.

On Tap: The Brewers hit ye ol’ dusty trail to Colorado where Ben Sheets (6-1, 2.71 ERA) will face off against the Rockies’ Ublado Jimenez (1-6. 5.37 ERA). Game time: 8.05 CT.

By: Dan Wiersema

Subs sparkle against ‘Stros

1 06 2008

Fans at sold out Miller Park were a little disappointed when arriving at their seats in the ballpark.  Every person received a Ryan Braun bobblehead at today’s game, but the excitement may have faded away rather quickly after reading the starting lineup for Milwaukee.

After securing the series win last night, Ned Yost chose to give five starters a day off this afternoon.  Players that usually warm the bench during the week got to start together.  Russell Branyan, Mike Rivera, Craig Counsell, Joe Dillon, and Gabe Kapler got the start for the suddenly surging Brewers.  They did not disappoint the fans.

The excitement quickly returned to Miller Park after Houston starter Shawn Chacon got chased out of the game after only completing one inning.  The right-hander struck out Joe Dillon and Gabe Kapler to start the game.  Things got ugly for the Astros after that.

Chacon hit Ryan Braun and walked Prince FielderCorey Hart then beat out a broken-bat single to short.  While Lance Berkman couldn’t believe Corey was called safe on the play (Corey should have been out, by the way), Braun never stopped running from second base and scored without a throw.  1-1 tie.

Russell Branyan coaxed another walk out of Chacon, and the bases were loaded for Mike Rivera.  The seldom-used backstop then got a fastball right on the wrist.  Trainers checked Rivera’s wrist as he walked to first base, and Prince Fielder walked across home plate.  2-1 Brewers.

Fans have been cooling on Craig Counsell for his lack of offense, but the veteran shortstop put it into another gear today.  Counsell took the first pitch he saw and roped it into the right field gap for a two-RBI double.  4-1 Brewers.

That first inning opened the floodgates for the Brewers offense.  In the fourth inning, the Crew put up six runs, and it easily could have been many more.  Ryan Braun, who hit a laser over the right field wall earlier in the inning, came up with the bases loaded and two outs.  He got a little overanxious at the plate and bounced an easy ground ball to Miguel Tejada at short.

Russell Branyan continued his fine play for the Brewers.  He clobbered a two-run home run to the opposite field in the fourth inning.  Getting on base has not been a problem for Russell since his call-up a week ago.  In today’s game, the third baseman homered and walked, while striking out once.  He did hit a laser-like line drive to center his final at-bat, but it was right at Michael Bourn.  The offense looked goooood today.

After pitching seven innings of two-run baseball in his last outing, Dave Bush looked for a little consistency on the mound.  He gave up a solo home run to Mark Loretta in the first inning, and things weren’t looking up for Bush early in the game.

The offense must have sparked a fire in Bush after the first inning, as he settled in nicely to pitch another seven innings of solid, one-run baseball.  Ned Yost had to have been pleased with Bush’s outing today.  We all know that the Brewers manager loves Bush’s “bulldog mentality” on the mound, but fans love it when that turns into production during games.  Dave is pounding the strike zone more often in his last two starts, and he’s utilizing his cut fastball more.  His curveball is not nearly as slow and loopy, but has developed into a sharper curve.  That mechanical adjustment has turned into better command of the pitch.

Break out the brooms, Brewers fans!  The Milwaukee Brewers successfully repaid the favor to the Houston Astros and swept the slumping ‘Stros.  This has turned into a fine homestand for the Crew.

I would also like to point out that the Brewers hitters looked extremely good at the plate tonight.  I don’t mean they pounded out 10 hits and scored 10 runs.  They played with much better plate discipline tonight.  Shawn Chacon threw 40 pitches in the first inning.  Jack Cassel followed with 26 pitches in the second inning.  Brewers hitters were battling back from 0-2 and 1-2 counts to get it to 3-2.  I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the Brewers scored 10 runs through four innings when the Brewers were taking a lot of pitches.  The plate discipline was lost later in the game as players lost their focus a bit.  I hope that doesn’t translate to tomorrow’s game.

Records: Brewers (29-28 ); Astros (30-28 )

Hero of the Game: Milwaukee’s bench players

If you include Russell Branyan in this group, Milwaukee’s bench players went 8-19.  That’s a cool .500 batting average for this afternoon’s game.  The group also accounted for one home run and seven RBIs in the game.  It gets better.  They were hit by two pitches and drew four walks during the game.  Ned Yost couldn’t have drawn it up any better before the game.  A good team can be made a great team because of it’s bench.  The Brewers are not a great team, but they are playing like it at the moment.

Goat of the Game: Shawn Chacon

Shawn struck out the first two batters of the game.  He then hit Ryan Braun and absolutely imploded on the mound.  His final line: 1.0 IP, 2 hits, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K and an error trying to pickoff Braun at first.  Chacon lost his composure on the mound, and the Brewers hitters capitalized in a big way.

On Tap

RHP Jeff Suppan will take on ex-Brewer LHP Doug Davis, as the Brewers welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks to town tomorrow.  The first pitch will be at 7:05pm CT.  This series will be difficult for the Crew, as Arizona is a very fine baseball team.  The team cannot get comfortable after sweeping the Astros.  Momentum can turn very quickly in baseball.

Brewers eke out a win in extra innings

26 05 2008

Prince Fielder, Gabe Kapler, Carlos Villanueva, and Salomon Torres may have saved Ned Yost his job for the time being.  They were the instrumental players in the extra frames and led the Brewers to a victory over the Washington Nationals 4-3.

Prince served an opposite-field double over the head of Ryan Langerhans.  I wasn’t completely sure what happened next was the correct move, as Corey Hart sacrifice bunted Prince to third.  If he would have done this earlier in the count, it would have made plenty of sense.  A 3-1 count though?  You have to let the best clutch hitter on the Brewers do some damage there.

The move appeared to be the incorrect one, as big Russell Branyan struck out for the fourth time of the game to follow Corey.  Gabe Kapler picked up his teammates, however, and laced the first pitch he saw into center to score Prince.  Milwaukee had a chance to add to that one run lead, but Rickie Weeks grounded out to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Salomon Torres then came in and shut the door relatively easily on the Nats.  It was very nice to see a Brewers closer breeze through in inning.  Perhaps Ned has found someone he can trust at the back-end of the bullpen.  Torres sure looked good this afternoon.

I cannot tell you how impressed I was with Carlos Villanueva today.  After struggling in the rotation and getting flak from every Brewers fan and their mother, Carlos came into the game in the ninth inning and struck out the side to send the game into extras.  He then set the Nats down 1-2-3 again in the bottom of the 10th to prolong the game.  In that inning, the young man struck out the first two batters before getting Christian Guzman to ground out to Craig Counsell.  Carlos was sharp today.  Perhaps there is something to the closing idea that The Brew Town Beat has thrown out for the past couple weeks.

The Brewers were down early after Ben Sheets gave up a first inning home run to Christian Guzman on a hanging curveball.  Benny pitched fairly well today, going six innings and striking out six.  He could have gone more, as the Brewers’ ace only had 86 pitches.  The Brewers needed offense though, so Ned pulled Benny in the top of the seventh in favor of Joe Dillon.  Joe reached on an error.

Overall, this was a good win for the Brewers.  They split the series with the Nationals, and the team went 4-6 on the road trip.  After getting swept by the Boston Red Sox, I cannot complain.  I have no way of proving this, but my gut tells me that the Brewers saved Ned’s job today with this extra innings win.  Gord Ash, Doug Melvin, and Mark Attanasio were on hand today.  They were no doubt scouting the skipper to see how he handled himself.  So far, so good for Ned.

Records: Brewers (24-27); Nationals (22-30)

Hero of the Game: Gabe Kapler

Gabe saved the Brewers today with his RBI-single in the top of the 11th.  After sitting on the bench all day, he steps into the batters box and lines a first-pitch fastball into center to score Prince Fielder.  It turned out to be the winning run.  One of the most difficult aspects of baseball is being a pinch-hitter, and most batters take a pitch or two to get comfortable in the box.  Not Gabe.  Not today.  He manned up and roped one to center.  I’ll consider today’s win a Memorial Day present.

Goat of the Game: Russell Branyan

It’s tough to give Russell the Goat after being so excited about his being called up yesterday, but he definitely deserves the award.  After a very nice performance in yesterday’s game, Russell struck out four times tonight.  The big one came in the top of the eleventh, as he only needed a sacrifice fly to get Prince home.  Instead, Russell swung at the first three pitches and quickly got sent back to the dugout.  Rough outing for Branyan today.

On Tap

Milwaukee will head home tonight and start a tough homestand tomorrow against the Atlanta Braves.  The struggling Dave Bush will looked to straighten himself out against the veteran Tim Hudson.  The game will start at 6:05pm CT.