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Tag:NLCS
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:34 am
 

Low hopes for World Series ratings

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Game 6 of the NLCS was tuned in by fewer people than the season premiere of the Walking Dead on AMC. It could have been the fact that the game was on TBS or that it was decided pretty quickly as Shaun Marcum gave up four first-inning runs, but either way it's not a good omen for the World Series ratings.

Another bad sign for the World Series ratings is that it's the Rangers and Cardinals playing -- neither of which really back in the viewers like the Yankees or Red Sox. Here's a look at the ratings for the last 10 World Series from our buddy David Fung.

 

Check out more of David's work at fungraphs.tumbler.com or on Twitter (@cobradave).

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:45 am
 

Fielder's time in Milwaukee likely over



By C. Trent Rosecrans

There was a Fielder crying in the clubhouse after the Brewers' season was ended on Sunday night in Game 6 of the NLCS, but it wasn't the biggest Fielder. No, Prince Fielder had a bemused smile on his face and was telling his son, Jadyn, that everything would be OK.

In the eyes of a 6-year-old, you can understand. His favorite team just lost and everyone tells him his dad is leaving the only home he's known. He's going to go to some different team, play in a different city and Jadyn will have to find new friends and live in a new world. That's big stuff when you're 6.

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Fielder comforted his son, keeping his own eyes dry -- something not all of his teammates could claim. This was more than likely Fielder's last game at Miller Park in a Brewers uniform. The 27-year-old will be one of the game's most sought-after free agents this season and will sign a contract that should make him an even richer young man.

Fielder, at times, has said he's "probably" going to play somewhere else next season and the Brewers are saying all the right things about trying to keep him ("We're planning on participating in the sweepstakes," principle owner Mark Attanasio said after the game). But nobody really expects Milwaukee, which has already ponied up $141.5 million through 2020 from Braun, to keep Fielder in Milwaukee.

The Brewer fans gave him a standing ovation when he came to the plate a final time at Miller Park in the eighth inning -- and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (who will receive a pay bump of his own after this season is done), called time out right before Lance Lynn's first pitch so that the fans could have a little longer to pay their respects for Fielder.

"It was awesome, just because… playing here was awesome," Fielder said. "I'm just glad I was able to have the amount of fun I had. It was cool. It was cool."

During his postgame news conference, a reporter did follow-up and ask him about his choice of tenses when talking about his time in Milwaukee.

"No, as far as this year, it's over," he clarified. "This year is over. Why are you trying to do that?"

He did add, on a subsequent question -- "Hopefully I'm here for more years to come, but if not, it's been cool."

His teammates -- or soon-to-be-former teammates -- know the score. The small-market Brewers can't afford the large-ticket price Prince. The Brewers picked their prince in Braun, so Fielder will need to move on and a squire will take his place.

"Everybody recognizes the situation, everybody understands circumstances and we'll see what happens," Braun said. "Regardless of what happens, what he's been able to accomplish here in the last six years is incredible. He's one of the greatest players in franchise history, one of the best teammates in the league, an incredible competitor and I'm proud to say I was able to be teammates with him for five years."

Fielder said all the right things -- he's thinking about returning, he loved Milwaukee -- all that. But free agency and big dollars speak other things, they'll likely lead the player the Brewers drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft to another organization. No matter what's said, actions mean more.

Haven, Fielder's other son, though, probably had the more fitting symbolic act than his older brother, as he took a giant stuffed Sully from the movie Monster's Inc. and the inspiration for the "Beast Mode" celebration decked out in a Brewers jersey out the clubhouse door.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:38 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 6



By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- You always see the images of the winning team's clubhouses at the end of a series, but never the losing side. What flows like the champagne on the other side is hugs. Players hug each other, at times going down a receiving line of hugs. Each of the Brewers on Sunday hugged it out as the team realized its 2011 season was over.

There were kids -- from Prince Fielder's sons, to Jerry Hairston's -- they got hugs too. There were tears, from players, from sons. And there were hugs.

But still, there are smiles. A group of players realize their season is done, but there are worse ways to end a season than in the playoffs. 

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"Ultimately we fell short of our goal, which is disappointing, but in due time we'll be able to look back and appreciate our accomplishments," Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun said.

There was little bitterness, just acceptance that defeat was earned and the other team will be moving on to the World Series.

"Really, no knock on our defense, no knock on our pitching, but they flat-out beat us -- period," Hairston said. "We ran into a hot team, a great team. They deserve to be in the World Series, no question about it. They deserve it, they won it. Once you get to the final four, just about anybody can kick in and win the whole thing. They deserved to represent the National League in the World Series."

Also overheard after Game 6:

• Robin Yount, Brewers Hall of Famer, on losing to the Cardinals: "I was hoping to get a little playback for '82, but we didn't get it. I'm still bitter about that series."

• Tony La Russa on allowing himself to digest this incredible run the Cardinals have put together: "No. Because one of the keys is you can never allow yourself to look back because that's a distraction. We remind ourselves, even today we went around different players, it's always about maintain your edge the next game you play. Even if you for a minute do either one, look ahead or look back, you lose an edge. The guys were just absolutely relentless about today, today, today, last game of our lives."

• Albert Pujols on advancing to the World Series:  "It's awesome but your goal is to win it. Nobody talks about second place. Everybody talks about who wins it. That's going to be our main goal."

• Cardinals closer Jason Motte on Adam Wainwright's injury this spring: "It was a terrible loss. But as a team, we knew someone had to step up and do the job, get us some innings. It was an up and down season, but it wasn't just when Adam went down. Albert was hurt, Berkman, Holliday ... you name it, guys have been hurt."

• Shaun Marcum in the team's pitching in the playoffs: "One of the things that got us here was consistency, we were able to be consistent almost all year long and hand the ball over to the bullpen all year long. And aside from the starts by Yovani (Gallardo) and the one by Randy (Wolf), we didn't do a very good job of that. But we've got to give those guys credit, they're not the top-scoring offense in the league for no reason."

• Nyjer Morgan on the postseason: "It sucks when you get down and then when we swing the bats and then they put more (runs) up. Sometimes the game's going to go like that. Dr. Freeze came along at the wrong time and started chilling people's bats out, man. We've just got to keep our heads up, but looking back at it all, 101 wins, a franchise record, and a bunch of men in here that went to battle every night for the last eight months, you can't say enough about that. Everybody did what they were supposed to do, but they fell short."

• Morgan on Prince Fielder returning: "I'm hoping so, mang. Plush can't spit on that one, I'll leave that for the agents and everybody else to talk about that one. Of course I want the big man to come back, but I hope he does, but that's not for me to speculate on that, but, you know, T Plush wants my boy back."

• Brewers owner Mark Attanasio: "You can see the way Tony La Russa managed against us with a lot of urgency, you know, I'm going to view that as a sign of respect. If he brings his closer in with a six-run lead, he realizes we've scored six runs against them before. I think he's showing us respect for that. It's bitter-sweet part -- the bitter part is it's very, very hard to lose when you get this far with a team this good, but as bitter as that is, I'm proud of these guys."

• Attanasio on the Cardinals: "We and the Cardinals compete very hard, there's a lot of extraneous commentary, but I think you saw a very toughly played series -- what did we play 24 times? I guess 13 times we were on the wrong side of it -- 13-11. You give them credit, they played great."

• Attanasio on missing their shot at a World Series: "(General manager) Doug (Melvin) and I don't look at it that way. My goal has always been to build a long-term winning tradition here. I think we're off to a great start, especially being in the playoffs two times in the last four years. I'm not looking at 1982, I'm looking at right now. We've been in the playoffs the last two years and that's what we're trying to build in Milwaukee. And importantly, the whole country, including other athletes, are seeing what we're trying to do here. This is a great place to play. I think this is going to help us recruit ballplayers and we're not looking at this as our last shot."

• Brewers utility man Craig Counsell on his future: "I want to get away from it a little bit and then we'll sit down and make a decision. I've always said I'll play until they say no. You question when you're hitting .170 and you're 41 years old, you question yourself, there's no doubt. There's still that tug that you've got a great job and you love coming to work every day, so we'll think about it a little more in the winter."

• Ryan Braun on watching the World Series: "I doubt it. I'll probably get away from baseball for a while."

• Braun on the being called out on a play at first in the fifth inning of Game 6: "I don't know if it was necessarily a turning point our not. It's a tough play for an umpire -- I was safe -- but I'm going to give Albert credit, he made a great play on that. I don't think it was a turning point, but it seemed indicative of everything that happened this series -- they clearly played better than us, but every play went their way, every call went their way and I think when you end up winning games and winning a series, you look back and there are always things that go your way. When you lose, you look back and feel like everything went against you. That's just how the game works sometimes."

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:21 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 3:06 am
 

NLCS Grades: La Russa made all the right moves

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans


MILWAUKEE -- In a series that provided plenty of hits and seemingly as many pitching changes, the St. Louis Cardinals hit their way to their 18th National League pennant, defeating the Brewers four games to two onthe heels of a 12-6 victory in Game 6 on Sunday.

Tony La Russa: The Cardinals manager is sometimes maddening to watch and worse to listen to -- but he's darn good at his job, and that's not making bloggers happy. Seemingly every move he made in this series worked, especially working a trail from the dugout to the mound, using 28 pitching changes and getting 28 2/3 innings out of his bullpen while limiting his starters to 24 1/3 innings. La Russa carried eight relievers on his postseason roster to make sure he always had enough arms that he could play matchup with the right-handed Ryan Braun and left-handed Prince Fielder. La Russa gambled that the rest of the Brewers wouldn't hurt him as much as those two, so he tried to limit their effect on the series. The thinking being that the other Brewers could hurt him and cost him a game, but only Braun and Fielder would cost him the series.

Ryan Braun: Braun hit .333/.385/.583 in the series and knocked in five runs -- it's hard to say that's not good. He also got on base in the first inning in each of the first five games, something that's huge when you have a run producer like Fielder hitting behind you. However, Braun was held hitless in the final game and had just one homer in the series, making him a B player for the series. That's not exactly what anyone in Milwaukee was hoping for a guy that should collect an MVP trophy for his regular-season work.

St. Louis starters: The Cardinals' starters didn't do much -- but they weren't asked to do much. No starter went more than five innings -- the first time in postseason history a team has won a series with that bizarre statistic. Chris Carpenter's Game 2 start was the longest, at just five innings. The starters had a 7.06 ERA in the series, nothing to crow about -- but they were just good enough, especially with the potent Cardinal offense. That's why it's hard to give them anything but a passing grade, but it's not going to come without a talk to the teacher and a stern warning that they aren't living up to their potential.

Milwaukee starters: If it weren't for Randy Wolf, this would be an easy F. But Wolf pitched fantastically -- much better than any other starters in the series -- in Game 4, but the rest of his mates let him down. Zack Greinke, who whined his way out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the postseason, laid an egg -- twice. And then there's Shaun Marcum, who couldn't make it to the second inning in the season's biggest game. Marcum took the loss in Game 6, and amazingly he started half of all of the Brewers' home losses this season, including the postseason (13 of 26). Even Yovani Gallardo, who pitched so well in his two starts against the Diamondbacks was ineffective against the Cardinals, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings in his one start. Overall, the team had a 7.24 ERA in the series.

Milwaukee's defense: Somehow, some way, Yuniesky Betancourt wasn't the Brewers' worst defensive player. And when you're saying that… well, you're saying quite a bit. The Brewers committed 10 errors in the NLCS, tying the record for an LCS set by the 1999 Red Sox. In Game 6, the Brewers committed three errors -- two of them by Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play. He had a costly error in Game 5, as well. Rickie Weeks also had three errors in the series -- and four in the postseason. The rest of the postseason games featured just two errors by second basemen other than Weeks. The Brewers pitchers weren't great, but their fielding wasn't doing them any favors, either.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:39 am
 

Eye on Photos: Cardinals take out Brewers in NLCS



By Matt Snyder


The St. Louis Cardinals have continued their Cinderella story, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS, four games to two. Let's take a look at the series that was, in pictures.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Prince Fielder came through with a huge home run in Game 1, a Milwaukee victory. (Getty Images)
Despite the loss, Game 1 was when David Freese set the tone for a huge series, here with a three-run homer. (Getty Images)
After a lackluster Game 1, Albert Pujols broke through with a monster Game 2, pictured here with a two-run shot in the first inning. (Getty Images)
All kinds of awesome here, but my favorite part is that the umpire looks like he's shoving Yadier Molina out of the way. Pujols was safe, and the Cardinals went on to win 12-3. (Getty Images)
In Game 3, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke decided to go with Mark Kotsay in center. It did not go well in the first inning. (Getty Images)
In a matchup of aces, Yovani Gallardo coughed up four runs in the first inning of Game 3. The Brewers would lose 4-3. (Getty Images)
Chris Carpenter, on the other hand, did just enough to get the game to the bullpen with a lead. (Getty Images)
Yadier Molina with what appears to be his answer to the Brewers' "Beast Mode." (Getty Images)
Jerry Hairston's incredible slide helped propel the Brewers to victory in Game 4. (Getty Images)
St. Louis loves this one, right? (Getty Images)
Maybe they're talking about how much money combined they're gonna haul in this offseason. (Getty Images)
The Brewers' needed a huge performance out of starting pitcher Randy Wolf in Game 4 and he provided it, even gathering a double with his bat. (Getty Images)
Matt Holliday had struggled this postseason until this swing resulted in a wind-aided homer in Game 4. He'd start swinging the bat well after that. (Getty Images)
It wasn't necessarily why the Brewers lost the series, but there were far too many pictures like this. (Getty Images)
Octavio Dotel has been a major piece for the Cardinals this postseason. (Getty Images)
The squirrel. Nothing more needs to be said. (Getty Images)
An underrated piece for the Cardinals was Marc Rzepczynski, who twice came on to strikeout Prince Fielder in big spots, like here in Game 5. (Getty Images)
Jaime Garcia got what many thought was an early hook in Game 5, but the Cardinals bullpen would throw 4 1/3 shutout innings. (Getty Images)
Rough NLCS for Zack Greinke. (Getty Images)
Huge out here, as the Brewers had two on and nobody out for Ryan Braun, who grounded into this fielder's choice. It was close, too. (Getty Images)
This guy again? Freese's first-inning, three-run home run gave the Cardinals a big lead early in Game 6. (Getty Images)
Yes, that's Jonathan Lucroy on a home run trot. He cut the lead to 5-4 in the second. (Getty Images)
Things got so weird in Game 6, Lance Berkman made a diving catch. (Getty Images)
The Brewers had a big chance to carve into the Cardinals' lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Corey Hart struck out to end the threat. (Getty Images)
That sound you heard was a collective gasp from the entire city of St. Louis. Pujols did stay in the game, though. (Getty Images)
Rafael Furcal gets a beer shower from teammates after the win. (Getty Images)


Up next for the Cardinals: The Texas Rangers in the World Series. The Cardinals are playing for their 11th World Series title, while the Rangers are playing for their first. St. Louis has homefield advantage despite having a worse regular-season record by virtue of the NL winning the All-Star Game. It's funny, too, that the deciding play in that game was a three-run homer by Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Freese leads Cardinals to World Series

David Freese

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The Cardinals won their 18th National League pennant on the heels of a 12-6 pounding of the Brewers in Game 6 of the NLCS.

Hero: St. Louis third baseman David Freese wasn't exactly a household name coming into the NLCS, but he certainly made his mark in this series. Sunday he was 3-for-4 with a homer, three RBI and three runs scored. He batted .545/.600/1.091 for the series. His three-run homer in the first set the tone for the Cardinals. 

Goat: There are plenty of goats to go around in Milwaukee after Game 6, but the goat that started it all was Shaun Marcum, the Brewers starter who allowed four runs and was lifted after facing eight Cardinals in the first inning. Marcum, the first piece of Milwaukee's pitching makeover last offseason, made three starts in the postseason, allowing 16 earned runs and 17 hits in just 9 2/3 innings while recording an 0-3 record.

Turning point: Just when the Brewers gathered some momentum, scoring three runs in the second to pull within a run, Albert Pujols answered with a long homer to left off of Chris Narveson. It was the start of a four-run inning and Milwaukee would hardly challenge again.

It was over when … First base umpire Gary Darling called a sliding Ryan Braun out at first base for the first out of the fifth inning. Carlos Gomez scored on the play, making it 11-6, but the Brewers' shot at a big inning was dashed when Prince Fielder grounded out and Rickie Weeks struck out to end the inning. If Braun is correctly called safe, maybe things change there. But he wasn't, and what was already assumed to be over really was.

Next: The Cardinals will be searching or their 11th World Series title, taking yet another "happy flight" to St. Louis to prepare for the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers. Game 1 is Wednesday in St. Louis.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Marcum exits early in Game 6

Shaun Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Before Game 6 of the NLCS on Sunday, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the decision to start a struggling Shaun Marcum was "the right decision."

And it was. For the Cardinals.

Marcum was booed as he walked off the mound in the first inning, giving up four runs before his team took a single swing of the bat.

Even before David Freese hit a three-run homer, Roenicke had LaTroy Hawkins warming up in the bullpen. It took two very good defensive plays (and a questionable call by home plate umpire Mike Winters) to get the first two outs of the inning, as Marcum gave up a single to Jon Jay, a walk to Albert Pujols, an RBI single to Lance Berkman and Freese's homer in a four-run first. Marcum needed 27 pitches to get out of the inning.

Yuniesky Betancourt made a good running play on a popup by leadoff man Rafael Furcal in short left to start the inning before giving up a single to Jay. Jay stole second, and then after Pujols walked, Berkman singled and took second when Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan overthrew his cutoff man in a futile attempt to get Pujols at third.

The Brewers seemed to get the break they needed when Holliday hit a weak grounder back to the mound and Marcum scooped the ball to catcher Jonathan Lucroy to get Pujols at the plate. While the throw beat Pujols (barely), Lucroy tagged his back leg after his front leg had crossed the plate.

There wasn't much time to dwell on that, as Freese hit the first pitch he saw from Marcum over the fence in left. To give St. Louis a 4-0 lead.

Left-hander Chris Narveson started the second with the Brewers trailing 4-1 (Milwaukee's run came on a Corey Hart leadoff homer).

In three postseason starts, Marcum is on the hook for his third loss and pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing 17 hits and 16 earned runs, good for a 14.90 ERA. 

"I really feel good about this decision," Roenicke said before the game. "Whether he pitches well tonight or whether he gets hit a little bit, this is the right decision. For this ball club, it's the right decision. And I've had many conversations with a lot of people in this organization that have been with us all year. This is definitely the right decision.

"It doesn't mean that he's going to go out and have a great game. I expect him to. I think he's definitely capable of doing it. He has not liked the way he's pitched the last couple of games. And I think he's going to have a good game today."

Roenicke was wrong, but his reasoning in sticking with Marcum was that he didn't want to go with Yovani Gallardo on short rest, and if he did, he had few other choices for a starter in Game 7.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Morgan's been 'Tony Hush' in NLCS

Nyjer MorganBy C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The beginning of the NLCS featured quite a bit of talk about Nyjer Morgan -- but once the games have startered, the most noise around him is the booing he got from Cardianls fans in St. Louis.

Morgan is hitting just .200/.333/.300 in the NLCS and .192/..300/.269 in the playoffs. The spark plug of the Brewers offense has misfired as much as he's sparked.

"He's been pressing a little bit," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's trying to do too much. And I try to remind him that what he's done for us all year is what we need. We don't need him to be more than what he's been. We need him to be what he's done for us."

Morgan has been quiet in the press since the series moved to St. Louis, and hasn't Tweeted since Tuesday and hasn't had more than one tweet in a day since the Brewers finished off the Diamondbacks.

"I didn't tell him (to stay quiet)," Roenicke said. "We talked about it after we got into the series just a little bit. He needs to stay focused on what he is doing and not worry about all the outside stuff that goes on once in a while with him."

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