Did that just happen? Bullpen implodes in Arizona heat

3 07 2008

So much for a winning road trip.

The Brewers seemed to be on cruise control going into the ninth inning against Arizona.  They led the game 5-0.  The bottom of the D’Backs order was coming up.  There was one problem though…

Ned Yost called on Guillermo Mota to finish out the game.  Mota has struggled quite a bit in the last month, and that trend didn’t end today.  After an infield single to Robbie Hammock, a walk to Chris Burke, and another infield single to Augie Ojeda, Yost pulled the right-hander in favor of Brian Shouse.

Mota threw almost exclusively fastballs again today.  His location was awful, as most of his pitches were up in the zone.  With that said, he didn’t deserve the fate he left with.  Two infield singles is not his fault.  He even threw a change-up this afternoon.  It was an awful, hanging change-up, but at least he threw it.

Enter Shouse.  Before the game, everyone sang his praises – and rightfully so.  Not tonight, however.  On the first pitch he threw, Chad Tracy shot a 3 RBI double to the right-center field gap.  3-5 Brewers.

Enter Salomon Torres.  I actually felt very comfortable with Salomon on the mound.  He has been perfect since taking over the closers role.  I guess I shouldn’t have felt so comfortable.  Torres gave up three straight base hits, and the Brewers lost the game.

Seven batters came to the plate and not one out was recorded.  The Brewers blew a 5-0 lead in the ninth inning.  That takes any momentum Milwaukee gained over the past week out of the sails.  Sometimes you can make yourself feel better by saying, “These things happen.”  Not today.  You should never blow a 5 run lead in the ninth inning.  Pathetic.

The horrendous ninth inning did overshadow some good things that happened today though.

  • J.J. Hardy now has a 15-game hitting streak.  He looks fantastic at the plate, driving the ball to all fields with power.  The Brewers shortstop went 4-5 today with 2 doubles, a broken-bat home run, and a single to right field.  What’s more impressive is that he’s upped his batting average 32 points this road trip.  That’s hard to do in July.
  • The home run Mike Cameron hit in the sixth inning truly was a home run.  When they originally showed the replay, I thought it the ball clearly went foul.  Then I found out the third base umpire said it hit the foul poll.  After looking at the replay again, you can see the ball switch directions in midair.  The ball could not have moved like it did without hitting something.  Home run.

    Cam also showcased his Gold Glove defense in center field today.  He made many difficult plays look routine in the field.  Manny Parra actually should dedicate his shutout outing to Cam, as Milwaukee’s center fielder saved him a couple runs.  To top it off, Cam has been looking much more comfortable at the plate.  When he’s right, that short stroke is a joy to watch.

  • Manny Parra may have gone six innings of shutout ball, but he did not have his best stuff.  On one hand, it shows how much Manny has grown as a pitcher in the past couple months.  He is learning to limit the damage and keep the team in the game.  On the other hand, I would caution anyone from getting too excited about today’s outing.  The southpaw’s control was not there, and he started off too many innings with runners on base.  That will eventually come back to bite him.
  • MLB Trade Rumors says the Brewers are willing to shop either J.J. Hardy or Rickie Weeks before the trade deadline.  It suggests that the Crew could go after A.J. Burnett, as Toronto is yearning for a talented shortstop.  J.J.’s trade value is incredibly high at this point in the season.  It also shows how strongly the team feels about Alcides Escobar down in Huntsville.  It wouldn’t even be an option for the team if Alcides was not major league ready.
  • This may be a knee-jerk reaction on my part, but today’s game highlights the team’s need for pitching in the bullpen.  A top-flight starter would be nice, but Milwaukee needs someone to pitch the eighth inning.  Guillermo Mota certainly isn’t the answer at this point.  Eric Gagne pitched a 1-2-3 inning, but his velocity was down and looked uncomfortable on the mound.  I’m not ready to hand the ball to him.  David Riske should be the option down the road, but he’s still getting comfortable on the mound.

    Milwaukee need a quality arm in the back-end of the ‘pen that they can control for the next couple years.  The latest rumor is that Milwaukee has a trade in the works with Arizona.  That could be for someone like Tony Pena or Juan Cruz.  Either would be upgrades for the ‘pen.

Records: Brewers (46-39); Diamondbacks (43-43)

Hero of the Game: J.J. Hardy

Wow.  J.J. is scorching hot at the plate.  He was an over-the-shoulder catch away from a 5-5 game with 3 doubles, a home run, and an opposite-field single.  Hardy is showing why Milwaukee’s coaches rave so much about him.  The defense is still stellar – did you see that diving play and flip to Weeks? – and the bat can still produce.  Milwaukee’s shortstop may be pushing for a bench role in the All-Star Game.  It is unlikely, but he’s playing like an All-Star right now.

Goat of the Game: The bottom of the ninth inning.

Read above.  I’m too upset to recap it again.

On Tap

The Milwaukee Brewers return home for a long homestand before the All-Star break.  Ben Sheets will face the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Tom Gorzelanny, who looked much better in his last outing.  The Brewers ace will try to help fans forget about what happened this afternoon.  It will be hard to accomplish, however.





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.





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.





Round ’em Up: Friday

27 06 2008

Hi everyone!  After a week-plus off, I’m back in the saddle.  Dan did a great job while I was gone, and I very much appreciate it.  Kudos to you, sir!

Anyway, I have quite a bit of news for you today.  Here we go:

  • As you can all tell by the Minor League Boxscores from yesterday, Eric Gagne struggled quite a bit in his second rehab outing in Nashville.  That’s obviously not something you want to see.  Between the Green Pillars wonders what Ned Yost is going to do with Gagne.  Most likely, Gagne will be a seventh inning guy until he can prove himself capable of pitching in close games.  Either that, or Ned Yost will be stubborn and throw him out in a one-run game in the eighth inning just to prove something to the fans.  I hope its the former.
  • Tom Haudricourt also writes about Gagne’s struggles, but brings up a good point.  Randy Choate has been lights-out in his rehab outings thus far.  The Brewers have a decision to make.  They can put him on waivers and hope he can clear.  Choate would then be sent to Triple-A Nashville.  It seems unlikely that a veteran left-hander would make it through waivers, so the Crew may simply have to promote him to the bigs.  That would mean Mitch Stetter may be saying goodbye to Milwaukee once again.
  • Brew Crew Ball has a poll up about C.C. Sabathia.  Should the Brewers offer up stud prospects for a rental?  37% say the Brewers should trade for Sabathia, but only if no big name prospects were given up.  That’s obviously not going to be possible.  That leaves the 35% who say the Crew should trade for a lesser big name pitcher.  Like who?  Randy Wolf?  Please…
  • Bugs and Cranks lets Brewers fans see how C.C. would look as a Milwaukee Brewer.  I don’t even know what to say about that.  It’s quite hideous, in fact.
  • I wouldn’t be so quick to be so excited about a pending C.C. Sabathia acquisition.  NJ.com is reporting that the Cleveland Indians are attempting to sign the big left-hander to an extension.  This is most likely a token offer, however, as Sabathia has repeatedly stated that he does not wish to talk about his contract mid-season.

    Plus, MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Brewers most likely will not make a major acquisition before the trade deadline.  Starting pitching has been a major strength for the Brewers in the past month or so.  Why fix it if it ain’t broken?  If only it were that simple, right?

  • The Milwaukee JS has a piece up about Salomon Torres.  Where would the Brewers be without their veteran closer?  He’s been one of the most pleasant surprises this season.  I think we all knew Doug Melvin had a steal when he acquired Torres for two no-name prospects during the winter.
  • Here’s a Brewers-Twins series preview from SportsBubbler.com.  I wonder if a young man wrote the article.  I wouldn’t have guessed by the picture atop the article.
  • SportsBubbler also recognizes LHP Zach Braddock as the player of the week.  He must have that “invisi-ball” working once again.  It will be extremely interesting to see how he fairs the rest of the season.  His arm is fragile, so his pitch count will most likely be quite strict throughout the year.  There is also a Vinny Rottino sighting in the Three Up section.
  • Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta have both been invited to play in the the U.S. Futures game.  Congratulations to both of them.  It is much deserved.
  • Battlekow from Brew Crew Ball has been been quite proficient on the Minor League side of the game.  Today, he maps out the performances of some of the top prospects in the Brewers system.  Sure, the ranking is quite arbitrary, but it is still quite interesting to read.
  • Get to know Tim Dillard from the Nashville Sounds.  I now know that if Tim is approached with the option A or B, he will choose C.  Interesting.
  • Recently drafted RHP Trey Watten has been quite impressive in Helena thus far.  He only has two outings, but Trey has managed his nerves quite well in the beginning of his big league career.
  • The Charleston Daily Mail has a nice article on 1B Curt Rindal from the West Virginia Power.  He has struggled with consistency for most of the year, but the young man has heated up quite nicely in June.  Let’s hope he can sustain this production for more than just one month.
  • The Baseball Analysts have a list of the Best Players of Each Decade.  Both Hank Aaron and Robin Yount make the list.  Both very deserving.  Does anyone else from Milwaukee deserve to be mentioned?




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