Round ’em Up: Thursday

10 07 2008

UPDATE 07-10-08 1:55pm – Ned Yost says Milwaukee has no interest in releasing Guillermo Mota.  Oh good.

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Well, ladies and gentlemen. The Milwaukee Brewers pretended Glendon Rusch was the second coming of CC Sabathia last night. All the Brewers hitters (perhaps with the exception of Bill Hall) looked utterly lost against the left-hander. It’s not like he had an ERA of over 6 and a half coming into the game…

  • Last night, Pete from Brewers Fanatics ran the first installment of The Brewers Blog Roundtable. Jared from Right Field Bleachers and myself took most of the questions, and we have a podcast for you all to listen to. As of right now, the Roundtable is going to be a sort of question-and-answer format. We are very open to making it a live call-in show if the audience is big enough. Until then, I will simply post the podcasts here for you to listen to.

    The first installment is a little rough, as Pete is getting used to the software. It was also our first run at the program, so it will get smoother down the line. It’s a pretty good product for the first try though. Enjoy.

    Brewers Blog Roundtable

  • Tom Haudricourt says enough is enough with Guillermo Mota. He fully expects Mota to be designated for assignment today. I completely agree that he will be DFA’d, but it will probably not come until after today’s game. What if the Crew needs someone to handle mop-up time? Might as well get a few more innings out of Mota before cutting him loose.

    TH thinks Luis Pena will get the call to the big leagues. He struggled with his stuff to start the season, but has really turned it on as of late. Nashville’s closer has a 1.78 ERA in his last 30 1/3 innings. Not bad at all.

    I think that Doug Melvin and Ned Yost will go with big league experience at this point in the season, however. He may not have much, but Tim Dillard showed that he’s capable of handling himself on a big stage. It’s true that he lost his command a bit, but has been throwing the ball much better with the Sounds lately.

  • In-Between Hops believes it may only take a trip to the DL to get Mota back on track. If only things were just that simple…
  • The Brew Town Beat is absolutely ecstatic that Haudricourt is calling for Guillermo Mota’s head. Mota has been exceptionally awful over the past month and a half, and it is about time for Milwaukee to cut their losses and DFA the big guy.

    I also notice that Brew Town mentions me in their post when they criticize people for saying Mota has thrown good pitches like the pitch against Joe Mauer. I don’t shy away from criticism. That was a good pitch, and Mauer simply beat him. The problem is that Mota has not thrown many good pitches since that point. I did not defend him in the least bit against Arizona or last night. It was one game, and I stick by it. With that said, Mota’s time in Milwaukee has drawn to a close.

  • Brew Crew Pub says something is missing from the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers. It is patience and a high on-base percentage. Agreed. I’m not sure Kenny Lofton is the best choice here. I would much rather send Rickie Weeks away from a high OBP second baseman like you’re suggesting. To my knowledge, Huntsville has not tried Alcides Escobar at second base.

    What would I suggest? This is clearly me in a dreamworld, but how about a package that sends Rickie Weeks, Brad Nelson, and Zach Braddock for Brian Roberts and George Sherrill? Both Roberts and Sherrill will be under Milwaukee’s control past the 2008 season, and it would provide the Brewers with a very solid arm in the bullpen and a bona fide lead-off hitter. The package would probably need another prospect though. Perhaps someone like a Alexandre Periard.

  • Ned Yost does not want Ryan Braun to participate in the Home Run Derby. Milwaukee’s manager does not want Braun messing up his swing for the second half. I’m more worried about his sore hand at this point…
  • Between the Green Pillars takes an excellent look at the Manny Parra situation. He is on pace to throw more innings than the Brewers organization originally wanted him to. History has shown that pitchers are at a higher risk for injury if they make a big jump in innings pitched like Parra is on pace to do. The author believes Milwaukee will not hold him back, as the CC Sabathia trade signifies that the team is all in for this season.

    I would agree with that, but I also do not fall in the camp that believes Parra’s innings should be limited this season. Younger pitchers coming out of high school do need to watch their innings, but Parra does not have a young arm. He has been slowed by injuries, yes, but he is not new to throwing on the mound. Older relievers that have never thrown many innings do just fine when stretching out their arms. In my opinion, Parra is certainly capable of going more than 163 innings. If he starts to experience a bit of “dead arm,” then Ned Yost should worry about it.

  • Something tells me that Jason Kendall was a good pick-up this off-season.
  • The Junkball Blues takes a look at what Chicago gave up to get Rich Harden compared to what Milwaukee gave up to get CC Sabathia. He concludes that Harden did cost a bit more than Sabathia, as he should.

    People keep overlooking the fact that Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, and Eric Patterson have all spent time in the big leagues. The Cleveland Indians did not get that from a single player from Milwaukee. Matt LaPorta may fizzle out before getting to the big leagues. After all, Nelson Cruz is still raking in Triple-A…

  • The Cub Reporter says that Rich Harden may not be under Chicago’s control through the 2009 season like everyone believes. That would certainly change the dynamics of the trade completely. (Tip of the cap to Right Field Bleachers for this one.)
  • Dugout Central says that Billy Beane is a dangerous GM to be making a deal with. He never loses a big trade. Most of the pitchers he loses end up fizzling out due to some sort of injury (Mark Mulder) or ineffectiveness (Barry Zito). I don’t know if I agree with the article when it says Tim Hudson has been mostly ineffective for two seasons. I definitely wouldn’t want that 3.16 ERA from this season or that 3.33 ERA from 2007. What a poor performance…
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Brewers come from behind to bite the D’Backs

2 07 2008

Milwaukee has secured at least a split in the road series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The way almost all of the major leagues has played on the road this season, that is a victory in itself.  When you consider Brandon Webb will be on the hill tomorrow afternoon, the magnitude of this win is augmented greatly.

In one of the brightest stories of the 2008 season thus far for the Milwaukee Brewers, Seth McClung continued to impress on the mound as a starter.  I will be the first to admit that he did not have his A-stuff tonight.  The big guy may not have even had his B-stuff, but he battled and scraped together 5.1 innings while only giving up two runs.  The main thing: He gave the Crew a chance to win the game.  That’s what a starting pitcher must do.

Finishing with six strikeouts and only one walk, Seth excited the game in the sixth inning.  He scattered 8 hits and limited the damage.  Five of those hits, however, came in the first two innings.  His fastball had lots of life this evening, and McClung was dialing it up on the radar gun.  The big right-hander kept the team in the game and gave them a chance for a comeback.

And come back they did.

After Mike Cameron laced a two-out double in the seventh inning, Ned Yost called on Rickie Weeks to pinch hit.  Rickie has been out with a stomach virus the past two games, so it was a risky call on the part of the skipper.  Beware of the weary, however.  Weeks absolutely crushed an 0-2 pitch out of the park to left field.  3-2 Brewers.

The lead was short-lived though.  David Riske – who did throw more than fastballs today, by the way – gave up a first pitch bomb to Justin Upton.  It was almost a carbon copy of the Weeks home run.  3-3 Brewers.

For all the flak Mike Cameron has been getting from Brewers fans the past couple weeks, he came through in a big way tonight.  After Russell Branyan led off the inning with a single that ricocheted off Arizona first-baseman Mike Reynolds, Cam fought off a couple tough pitches before depositing the eventual game-winning single to left-center field.  That’s clutch hitting from the veteran center fielder.  That is why Doug Melvin signed him in the off-season.

Salomon Torres converted his 14th save after Branyan tagged third and threw a bullet to first base to end the game on a double play.  It was a big play by Russell, as Salomon worked himself in a spot of trouble after Orlando Hudson led off with a single and got to second after a deep fly ball to left.  All was for naught, however, as the Crew pulled out another one-run victory.

A couple other things to note after tonight’s game.  Did anyone else think that Stephen Drew’s cleat shot to Jason Kendall in the eighth was a cheap shot?  I understand he was trying to knock the ball loose from Kendall’s glove, but he risked seriously injuring Milwaukee’s catcher by spiking him in the gut.  I thought Kendall showed his true veteran mentality when he simply walked away from the situation.  Whether or not the Brewers catcher pursued the matter, I’m a little surprised a fine player like Stephen Drew would do that.  It was in the heat of the moment, but those metal spikes are no joke.

Joe Dillon pinch hit this evening and continued his fine approach at the plate.  He hit an absolute rocket out into deep left-center.  It looked to have a chance to get out of the park.  It certainly was going to give Milwaukee some insurance on the scoreboard.  That is, until Chris Young came out of nowhere to make a spectacular play, jumping into the wall and hanging on to the ball.  Fine play, Mr. Young.

Big Prince Fielder is still struggling at the plate.  He is going to very much welcome a little home cooking starting this weekend.  I’m not so sure Miller Park is going to help much unless he changes his approach at the plate, however.  He has a natural upper cut on his swing, which is why he hits so many home runs.  The upper cut is so pronounced right now though, that it is getting to Jim Edmonds territory right now.  Flatten out the swing, big boy.  That and don’t try to hit every ball out of the park.  That may help too.

This may be jinxing him, but J.J. Hardy continued his hit streak.  It is now at 14 games after a 2-4 performance with a clutch RBI in the sixth inning to start off the scoring for the Crew.  His bat is staying through the hitting area much longer right now, and he’s naturally getting better wood on the ball as a result.  That two-spot fits J.J. well, I think.

I have been unable to confirm this, but Arizona commentator Darron Sutton apparently said there is a deal going on between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers.  I did find it a little strange that Doug Melvin and Gord Ash have been attending this series, but there has been no confirmation.  The words were that the deal was going to come through “very, very soon.”

The only thing I can think of is a little help in the bullpen.  Arizona has some expendable arms with the likes of Tony Pena, Juan Cruz, and Chad Qualls.  They would almost certainly be looking for a bat in return.  Could Mike Cameron find himself on a plane to Arizona soon?  It could make some sense, as Gabe Kapler has been terrific.  Perhaps Gabe is the one in question.  Or perhaps this is completely unsubstantiated and nothing will happen.  Only time will tell.

Records: Brewers (46-38); Diamondbacks (42-43)

Hero of the Game: Mike Cameron

Mike came through today in a big way at the plate.  He almost hit one out of the park in the second inning, but it hit a little too far down on the trademark.  That at-bat was a sign of things to come for Mike, as he finished the game going 2-4 with two huge RBI.  His single in the ninth inning proved to be the difference in the game.  This is the type of player Mike Cameron can be on a daily basis.  Hopefully he can get on a hot streak sometime soon.

Goat of the Game: Prince Fielder

I understand Prince is an incredibly streaky hitter, but that swing needs to get a little flatter.  The plate discipline needs to improve.  He’s far too talented to fall into huge funks like he has this season.  Prince sorely needs to see Miller Park again.

On Tap

Manny Parra will take on Brandon Webb tomorrow afternoon in the series finale.  Parra has looked much better on the mound lately, and he’ll have to pitch effectively for Milwaukee to stand a chance against the fantastic Brandon Webb.





Prince’s Power Hour Propels

22 06 2008

The big boys came out to play in the Milwaukee Brewers’ final game against American League opposition, the Baltimore Orioles. Home runs from Corey Hart, Bill Hall, and a pair from Prince Fielder bailed out an out-of-sorts Manny Parra. Sprinkle in some nice defensive plays and a season-tying high for double plays and the result was good 7-3 victory finishing off a 6-3 homestand for the Crew.

From the get-go it looked like Parra might set up Milwaukee for a long afternoon. His pitch locations were off and a tight zone from the home plate umpire wasn’t helping his cause. Parra walked six guys including four in the first three innings. Two of Baltimore’s three runs were walks that came around to score.

Rickie Weeks was back in the lineup today (and in the lead off spot in the order) and looked shaky early on. Jason Kendall caught Jay Payton off of first, but Weeks, attempting to get Payton out, dropped Kendall’s throw.

Fielder has also looked shoddy on defense recently (something that he had looked to improve this season. He misplayed a bunt single in the second inning failing to pick up the ball and get it to Parra at first base. Earlier in the season is looked as though Fielder was making big strides in his defensive play, but in the last few series he has made several mistakes on plays that should be outs.

If the defense has fallen, the offensive game of Fielder has shown brightly. Prince belted a double and two home runs today. Fielder was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. His monster, two run blast in the seventh gave the Crew some breathing room heading into the closing frames.

The secondary storyline of the game is the positive defensive plays that the Brewers made to back up the struggling Parra. Ryan Braun made two outstanding sliding catches (the one in the sixth was ESPN’s #5 “Web Gem” today) to rob Baltimore of base hits. The infield also turned five double plays on an Oriole team that has the grounded into the least amount of double plays in the American League (45). Weeks was strong on his DP turns (something that has been troubling… low throws to first) and made a fantastic play to end the seventh inning.

Guillermo Mota and David Riske both continue to struggle in relief appearances this afternoon issuing two walks apiece. A strikeout for Riske and two nice defensive plays by JJ Hardy and the already mentioned Weeks grab bailed out David. It took an appearance by Salomon Torres and a double play to get Mota off the hook in the ninth. Mark DiFelice had a good outing, going 1-2-3 in the sixth, but otherwise this bullpen is starting to worry. There are a bunch of bright spots (DiFelice, Torres, Shouse), but they can’t pitch everyday and allow the inconsistent guys to shake down games.

Records: Brewers (41-34), Orioles (38-36)

Hero of the Game: Prince Fielder

The Prince has been going on a power binge of late. He’s got five home runs in the last six games. For June all of his vitals are skyrocketing. Take a look at his May/June comparisons:

Stat May June

On Base Percentage .358 .432

Average .294 .343

Slugging: .450 .757

Promising stuff from the kid.

Goat of the Game: Davillermo RiskMota

What’s up with these guys? I know the zone was tight, Parra struggle with his stuff all night, but Riske and Mota’s inability to find a strike lately is looking Gagnesqe. I guess I’m particularly worried about Riske because I never was that high up on him since the beginning of the season. For the money we paid for him I feel like the Brewers haven’t gotten a lot of relief security.

A few good outings early in the season was marred by several rough outings before going on the DL. Since being activated from the DL two days ago, Riske has participated in the almost-loss on Thursday against Toronto and stunk it up today. These sorts of trouble should be worked out with a player before he comes back from his rehab stint in the minors. I know he blew threw the opposition in his one inning of work in Nashville, but there’s nothing wrong with playing it safe and seeing he’s all there.

On Tap:

The Crew hits the road to take on the Atlanta Braves. Jo-Jo Reyes (3-4, 4.05 ERA) is on the mound versus Ben Sheets (8-1, 2.74 ERA). Game time: 6:05 CT.

By: Dan Wiersema





Small Ball, Sheets Win the Night

19 06 2008

The polar opposite of the night before where all seven of the Brewers’ runs came courtesy of the home run ball, the Brewers put their faith in timely hitting, smart base running, and another solid, albeit short, outing from Ben Sheets. The victory last night, 5-4, guaranteed another series win for the Crew and the win over the Blue Jays meant the Brewers are sitting on a three game win streak.

Sheets, who threw six innings, was relieved by Carlos Villanueva, who quickly gave up two hits and a run in 2/3 of an inning of work. The relief pitching was more troubling when Guillermo Mota came in to work the eight. Showing a troubling pattern of alternating strong appearances with downright scary appearances, Mota brought out his Halloween game allowing three hits, a walk, and a run in only 23 pitches.

Salomon Torres to the rescue. Torres showed up in the eight inning with two outs, escaped unscathed and proceeded to record his ninth save of the season the next inning.

Besides a little solo home run love from Russell Branyan in the second and Mike Cameron in the sixth it was the small ball that propelled the Crew to the win. The key inning was the bottom of the fourth, with the game tied at ones, when Corey Hart lead of with a ground rule double. Hart would then be put over to third by Branyan’s sac fly. On the ensuing play Cameron rolled what amounted to a swing bunt back to the Jay’s pitcher Shaun Marcum. Hart, on a dead sprint from third, beat the fielder’s choice throw at home and Cam was safe at first (he should have made it to second as the catcher spiked the ball after Hart was safe).

Cam stole second, advanced to third on Jason Kendall‘s single, and scored on a squeeze play. Squeeze plays have been notoriously bad for the Brewers this year with either the batter or runner missing the calls on multiple occasions leaving runners for dead, but this one played out perfectly, if not a bit unmethodically (if that’s a word). Sheets put down a great bunt, catcher Gregg Zaun looked Cameron back to third and threw Sheets out at first. That was when Cam broke for home scoring without even having to slide.

Sheets working from the mound look good in the opening frame striking out two, but unraveled a bit as the game went on. Sheets walked for batters, tossed two wild pitches, and gave up several hard hits. Yost lifted Sheets for a pinch hitter in the sixth, a call that I second guess.

Records: Brewers (38-33), Blue Jays (35-38 )

Hero of the Game: Mike Cameron

I’ve been harping on Cameron a bit lately, but last night he epitomized an all around solid baseball player. He mixed small ball with the powerball scoring Hart on his (very) small ball and scoring himself with a solo homer later in the game. But it was his smart base running to sneak a run in from third in the fourth that gets the big kudos. The box score 1-for-4 doesn’t show how intelligent one is on the base paths to try to take home plate on a bunt, hold, then break for the base, and beat the tag with some great speed. Good work, Cam.

Goat(s) of the Game: Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder

Both the big men in the line up had “oh fer” nights. RB and PF came to the plate and left empty all four times and racked up two Ks each. The plate discipline is looking a bit shaky guys… work it out.

On Tap:

David Bush (2-7, 5.37) takes on AJ Burnett (6-6, 4.90) in the matinée wrap up of this Interleague series. Which Bush will show up? Game time 1:05 CT on FSN.

By: Dan Wiersema





Round ’em Up: Tuesday

17 06 2008

The Milwaukee Brewers enjoyed an off-day yesterday, but they will get back on the horse this evening against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Anyone see Tiger Woods win yesterday?  Fantastic golf tournament.

  • Bill Hall admits that the game wasn’t much fun for him a few weeks ago.  He had been sidelined by the emergence of Russell Branyan, and the fans were and are booing him relentlessly.  The long-time Brewer has turned over a new leaf in his game, however.  Hall is focused on enjoying the game of baseball and hoping everything else simply works out on its own.  That’s finally the right attitude.
  • After receiving mountains of flack for signing Jason Kendall during the off-season, Doug Melvin is looking pretty smart these days.  Jason has been a fine addition to the Milwaukee Brewers, and he seems to have made an impact on the starting rotation as a whole (Dave Bush excluded).  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Brewers pick up Kendall’s option for next season.
  • The Junkball Blues notes that the starting pitching has been pulling its weight lately.  Manny Parra has been serviceable the past couple weeks, and Seth McClung has become extremely reliable at the back-end of the rotation.  Perhaps the biggest news is the play of Jeff Suppan.  He’s finally pitching like the $40M man he’s supposed to be.  Oh yeah, Ben Sheets is a stud too.
  • Brew Crew Pub has a Brewers preview for the Brewers-Blue Jays series.  Give it a look.
  • Adam McCalvy writes a piece on North Carolina reliever, Rob Wooten.  The Brewers drafted the Tar Heel in the 13th-round of the 2008 MLB Draft, and the team is excited to see what they have in the young man.  He projects to be a solid reliever, but that is still up in the air.  Wooten is presumably waiting until after the College World Series to sign with the Crew.
  • Brewers Locker notes that Brad Nelson is blocked by Prince Fielder in the big leagues.  He could become a very valuable trading chip at the deadline.  I suspect he stays though.  The Brewers are reportedly open to trading Prince in the off-season, and Brad Nelson would be an optimal candidate to step in at first.  If Nelson is traded, the Brewers are keeping Prince through next season.
  • The Nashville Sounds played the Iowa Cubs, but no one was at the park.  No, not because the Sounds have been terrible this year.  The devastating flooding caused the ballpark to not allow any fans into the ballpark.  I hope things get better down in Iowa in a hurry.




Round ’em Up: Thursday

12 06 2008

It’s getaway day in Houston, and the Brewers will have Ben Sheets on the mound.  If the Crew can pull one out today, it will be a .500 road series.  That would certainly be a moral victory for Milwaukee after their performances on the road lately.

Unfortunately, the Astros have a history of being a Sheets-killer in Houston.  Lance Berkman has had Benny’s number his whole career, and so has the lowly Brad Ausmus.  We’ll see how it goes today.  After calling the Brewers would pounce on Brandon Backe last night, I’m feeling lucky again today.  Ben Sheets is due to have a dominating outing.  He’s been good the last couple outings, yes, but not dominate.  I have a feeling Ben’s going to come out with his A-game today.

  • J.J. Hardy tweaked his surgically-repaired left shoulder during last night’s game.  It has been an ongoing problem throughout the year for J.J., but he says he can play through it.  I wonder if another surgery will be in order this off-season…
  • Some of the readers here at BrewersNation have been wondering why the Crew hasn’t been running more often.  Look for that to change with Corey Hart at the top of the batting order.  Corey is looking forward to running more often.  Ned Yost, however, says the law of averages will cause the same number of runners to be on base ahead of Corey in the leadoff spot as when he batted fifth.  Yes, Ned.  Those averages that say Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder get on-base much more often than say…the pitcher.  Goodness…
  • In-Between Hops says its time for Milwaukee to make its move.  Alfonso Soriano is injured for Chicago.  Albert Pujols is injured in St. Louis.  The Crew is just about to start a 9-game homestand, while Chicago goes on the road.  The time is now, Scott says.
  • The Brew Town Beat is pleasantly surprised after last night’s game.  Something that has been overlooked is Jason Kendall’s monster home run.  It was not a cheap shot, either.  It would have gotten out in almost any park.  The article says that Corey Hart should stay at the lead-off spot after Rickie Weeks returns from injury.  Corey is the best protection behind Prince Fielder that Milwaukee has.  He is a run-producer that just happens to be fast.  We’ll have to see, but I’m not sold on the idea.
  • Between the Green Pillars writes about the Brewers starting to sign their draft picks.  It is reported that second-round pick RHP Seth Lintz will sign today with a $900,000 signing bonus.  That’s about $300,000 more than he’s slotted by Major League Baseball to receive.  I agree with the article when it says it’s nice to see the Brewers get their priorities straight and ante up the cash to get quality prospects in the system quickly.
  • Alex Eisenberg from The Hardball Times breaks down the swings of some of the top position players chosen in the first round.  He says that he likes the swing of Brett Lawrie more and more every time he sees it.  Lawrie loads his hands beautifully, which generates a lot of raw power.  Alex gave Brett a B+.  That tied for the highest grade given to a prospect on the list.
  • The Brewers plan on leaving Mat Gamel down in Double-A Huntsville throughout the year.  It is traditionally known as a pitcher’s league, but Gamel has absolutely dominated pitching this season.  The Brewers want to bring Gamel along slowly through the top echelons of the system.  I personally think its more because they want Gamel to work with manager Don Money on his defense more.  His throwing motion and his footwork has improved dramatically over the past year, and Don Money is a big part of that.  Doug Melvin and Gord Ash want to keep Gamel where he will flourish this season.  It will be interesting to see whether or not Gamel can make a run for a big league job in 2009.
  • CF Lee Haydel is the fastest Brewer in the farm system, hands down.  The Charleston Daily Mail reports that Lee is working on harnessing his speed and learning the fine points of the game.  He needs to hit the ball on the ground more and let his speed work for him.  The skills are very raw, but remember…you can’t teach speed.

Post of the Day

Jacksonville.com has a great article on Mat Gamel.  I did not know this, but Mat was cut from his first Junior College team.  He was stuck behind a star in the Junior College ranks, and apparently thought about quitting baseball all together.  The article gives a nice behind-the-scenes look at what almost never happened for Mat.  He almost never stuck with baseball, and Brewers fans would be without Milwaukee’s best minor league prospect right now.  It’s funny how things work out for the best sometimes.





Bullpen blows up as Brewers fall to struggling Rockies

7 06 2008

This loss stings a little more than the rest of them.

The Milwaukee Brewers continued their losing ways on the road yesterday, dropping the opening game of the series with Colorado 6-4. All looked fantastic for the majority of the game, too.

Right-hander Ben Sheets was not dominate by any stretch of the imagination. He did, however, get through six innings with only one run allowed. That’s what an ace does for his team. Even when he does not have his best stuff, Benny still puts zeros up on the board to keep Milwaukee in the game.

Milwaukee was more than in the game though. In fact, going into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Crew was up 4-1. Russell Branyan and J.J. Hardy both hit home runs in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie at the time, and Jason Kendall snuck a triple down the right field line to score Hardy in the seventh to stretch the lead to 4-1.

Carlos Villanueva looked brilliant in the bottom of the seventh, and I waited for Villy to trot out the mound in the eighth to shut down the Rockies again. That was not the case, however. Ned Yost called on Guillermo Mota for the eighth inning.

That backfired on Ned extremely fast. Mota fell behind in the count early and often to the Colorado hitters. He gave up back-to-back singles to Jonathan Herrera and Ryan Spilborghs. The hot-hitting Todd Helton then smoked a double off the center field wall. Mota then falls behind in the count again and serves up a game-tying triple to Garrett Atkins. Needless to say, Brewers fans were falling all over themselves they were so upset.

Brian Shouse then came in the game to try and escape the jam. It didn’t work so well for Brian. On the first pitch he through, Brad Hawpe tattooed a curveball for a two-run homer. Rockies up 6-4.

After getting the wind knocked out of their sails in the bottom of the eighth, the Crew was unable to put anything together in the ninth inning. Brewers dropped their first game in their last seven, and not surprisingly came on the road. Tough, tough way to lose a game.

I don’t normally question Ned’s pitching changes, as hindsight is an unfair and unprofessional way to criticize a manager. Ned’s management of the bullpen needs to be addressed, however. After last night’s game, the Brewers manager said that he went to Mota in the eighth because he’s been Milwaukee’s eighth inning pitcher for the majority of the year. Why change now?

Besides the closer’s position, do relievers really need to have assigned roles? Did Ned not specifically say at the beginning of the year that the bullpen was stacked with quality arms, so he would mix-and-match roles with who was throwing the ball well? There has not been a reliever pitching any better than Carlos Villanueva. Using that philosophy, it would have been a no-brainer to leave Carlos in the game.

Ned’s response is that he would have left Carlos in the game, but it was a save situation. Therefore, Ned must follow his prescribed plan that has Guillermo Mota pitching in the eighth and Salomon Torres in the ninth. I don’t know why it needs to be that way, but apparently it does.

I understand that relievers want to know their roles. I understand that if Mota cruised through the eighth, we wouldn’t be having this conversation this morning. You know what though? Mota did blow up. The Brewers did lose the momentum they gained at home this past week and a half. This is a loss that can really take the wind out of a team’s sails.

It is true that Carlos could have done the exact same thing as Mota. All signs pointed to an easy bottom of the eighth for the former starter, however. You stick with the hot hand in the bullpen, Ned. I thought Yost was beginning to understand that concept when he started Gabe Kapler in center (who had an RBI single in the first, by the way). Apparently not. Save the closer’s role, relievers do not need assigned roles in the bullpen. A win does not need to be formulaic. Why go to an unknown entity in Mota when you have visual proof that Carlos is throwing the ball exceedingly well? I just don’t understand.

Records: Brewers (32-29); Rockies (23-38 )

Hero of the Game: J.J. Hardy

J.J. had a solid game all around today. He scored two of the Brewers four runs yesterday. The power has returned a bit for the Brewers shortstop, as Hardy hit another home run. He also scored on Jason Kendall’s triple in the seventh inning. The Brewers need J.J. to keep hitting if they want to be more consistent on offense. With that said, Milwaukee didn’t lose last night’s game because of a lack of hitting.

Goat of the Game: Guillermo Mota

In the eighth inning of a road game, with a 4-1 lead, Mota gave up four earned runs without recording an out. You have to pound the strike zone when leading a close game. The former Met failed to do that the entire inning. He fell behind hitters consistently, and the Rockies made him pay. Throw strikes, Guillermo.

On Tap

After yesterday’s brutal loss, Milwaukee will trot RHP Dave Bush to the mound to take on LHP Greg Reynolds. Game two of the series will start at 7:05pm CT. The Brewers need to win this game. They do not want to start another losing trend on this road series.