Tag:Rickie Weeks
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:58 pm

Brewers' Corey Hart may miss opening day

Corey Hart

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Brewers right fielder Corey Hart could miss opening day for the second consecutive season.

Hart will have surgery on his right knee to repair a meniscus tear and will be out three-to-four weeks, Milwaukee assistant GM Gord Ash told reporters (via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

"The tough part is that he will miss the at-bats here," Ash said. "But it could have been worse."

Hart had an MRI on Sunday and Ash said Hart would have the surgery sometime this week.

Last season Hart started the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Hart, who will turn 30 later this month, didn't play his first game last season until April 26. He did play 130 games, hitting .285/.356/.510 with 26 home runs.

Hart was a late scratch for Sunday's exhibtion game with swelling on his knee. Second baseman Rickie Weeks was also held out with right-shoulder tightness, but his injury wasn't seen as serious.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:19 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:31 pm

Spring primer: Milwaukee Brewers

By Matt Snyder

The 2011 NL Central champions likely knew they were going to lose one of their superstars heading into the offseason, so it wasn't huge news to Milwaukee when Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers. But when news broke in December that Ryan Braun was facing a 50-game suspension, it was a disaster. And then just a few days ago, Braun was exonerated and Brewer Nation could breathe a sigh of collective relief. The net result has to be momentum heading into spring, so maybe the Braun test was a blessing in disguise? Otherwise they're just reeling from losing Prince. Anyway, let's dive in.

Scott Miller's camp report: Gamel to replace Prince? | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Norichika Aoki
Major departures: 1B Prince Fielder, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Takashi Saito, IF/OF Jerry Hairston

Probable lineup
1. Rickie Weeks, 2B
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Corey Hart, RF
6. Mat Gamel, 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Probable rotation
1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Greinke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

Back-end bullpen
Closer: John Axford
Set-up: Francisco Rodriguez

Important bench players

OF Aoki, OF Carlos Gomez, IF Brooks Conrad

Prospect to watch
It's gotta be Wily Peralta, a 22-year-old starting pitcher in Triple-A. He only made five Triple-A starts last season, but he was impressive -- going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 31 innings. Peralta will obviously begin the season in Triple-A, but if we get into June or July and Peralta is dominating while Narveson is struggling -- or, obviously, injury strikes to any member of the rotation -- we could well see the right-hander at the back-end of the rotation.

Fantasy sleeper: Mat Gamel
"Why isn't there more hype in Fantasy? For one thing, Gamel is already 26, so he doesn't exactly qualify as a prospect anymore. For another, he hasn't impressed in his brief major-league opportunities so far. To be fair, though, the Brewers haven't cared to give him the benefit of the doubt, unwilling to live through his defensive lapses at third base for no more than prospective production. With him at first that's not an issue anymore. He'll have all the time he needs to get comfortable and if his minor-league numbers are any indication he'll be an impact player as a result." - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Aramis Ramirez
"He turns 34 this year. A player that age with that injury history will get hurt at some point and if his numbers begin to decline along with it he could easily drop out of the top 12 at the position. It's coming sooner than later. Why take the risk when you can land a Pablo Sandoval at about the same point in the draft?" - Scott White [Full Brewers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ramirez and Gamel thrive in the lineup while Gonzalez is a marked upgrade over Betancourt. Greinke and Gallardo both pitch like aces throughout the season while Marcum holds strong as one of the better middle-of-the-rotation pitchers in baseball. K-Rod and Axford form the most dominant eighth and ninth inning combo in the league, too. All this would have the Brewers winning their second consecutive division title and making a run at their first World Series title in history.

Pessimistic outlook
Ramirez starts slow and never recovers, as he's booed consistently by the hometown fans who miss Fielder. Gamel flops at first base, too, leaving the Brewers with a very lackluster bottom-third of the lineup. Greinke falters, Wolf ages quickly and no one can really nail down the fifth spot in the rotation. The best the Brewers can do to overcome these woes is finish fourth, as the Reds and Cardinals compete for the NL Central while the Pirates move into third.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:35 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:00 pm

Homegrown Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans

What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Last offseason the Brewers made two huge moves that powered them to a National League Central title -- trading for Zack Greinke from the Royals and Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays. One look at roster of players the Brewers have drafted and signed out of Latin America tell you exactly why the Brewers had to reach outside the organization for starting pitching. While the team has consistently developed position players, its track record with pitchers -- both starters and relievers -- is not so good. So, check out one of the best lineups in this exercise, and worst pitching staffs.


1. Corey Hart, RF
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Prince Fielder, 1B
4. Ryan Braun, LF
5. Rickie Weeks, 2B
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Lorenzo Cain, CF
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C

Starting Rotation

1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Manny Parra
3. Dana Eveland
4. Mark Rogers
5. Tim Dillard


Closer - Mike Adams
Set up - Craig Breslow, Jeremy Jeffress, Zach Braddock, Tom Wilhelmsen, Michael Fiers, Mike McClendon

Notable Bench Players

The bench actually has a nice mixture of bats -- Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, along with two outstanding defensive replacements in Alcides Escobar in the infield and Tony Gwynn Jr. in the outfield. There's also a super-utility guy in Bill Hall.

What's Good?

The lineup is ridiculous. It's like the team's lineup from this year, but better. Lawrie at third base adds serious pop, while Hardy is an upgrade at shortstop (and really, who isn't an upgrade from Yuniesky Betancourt?) The core of the lineup is about the same, and shows the team knows how to spot bats that will play in the big leagues. This lineup is certainly one a manager would love to pencil in every, single day.

What's Not?

That pitching staff is ridiculous -- and not in a good way. Yovani Gallardo is a really good pitcher, but the rest ... woof. The fourth starter (Rogers) has 10 innings in the big leagues. The back of the bullpen with Adams, Breslow and Jeffress, well, it's better than the rest of the bullpen. Really, this is all a mess. There's no way this team could compete with this pitching staff. Just brutal.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, the pitching staff ensures this team wouldn't win the division or even sniff the playoffs. The staff is so bad, that even with all the runs they put up, there's likely no way this team wins 70 games. The Brewers tried to slug their way to titles in the past and it was proven it doesn't work. In the end, it's why the Brewers had to gut their minor league system to get Greinke, and trade away an impact bat to get Marcum -- pitching is vital to the success of a baseball team and this hypothetic team has next to none.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
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.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 15, 2011 6:28 pm

Roenicke: No chance of Gallardo in Game 6

Shaun Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke reiterated his confidence in Shaun Marcum, his starter in Game 6, during Saturday's workout day news conference -- but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a backup plan in case Marcum's start goes south quickly.

Roenicke, of course, wouldn't share his break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan, but it did say it would not including throwing right-hander Yovani Gallardo on short rest.

"Yo is not an option," Roenicke said Saturday. "You know, really you guys talk about Yo and coming back on three days' rest. We have to win (Sunday) and the next day. You know, I don't know why I would bring back Yo to win (Sunday) when it would hurt us then for the next day and not being able to win. I don't know if there's a difference there. I think it makes sense to keep Yo on his basic rest. 

"You know, he wasn't that sharp the other day either. So to bring him back, if we had a chance if we were even up (Sunday), I would say yeah, Yo has a chance to be in our bullpen. But unfortunately we're not in that position."

As for Marcum, he said he never doubted that he'd be the choice if the series went six games.

"No, not at all. I know they had a lot of confidence in me and just talking with Ron and (pitching coach) Rick (Kranitz), and even guys in the clubhouse, you know, I think they felt that they're comfortable with me going out there, and you know, it's nice to have that kind of support."

Now it's his turn to show he can deliver and give Gallardo another chance to pitch this year.

"You know, I think I'm on the bandwagon with everybody in here, probably everybody in the country that wants to see Yo versus (Chris Carpenter) in Game 7," Marcum said. "So I'm going to try to get the ball to Yo." 

Roenicke also said he would stick by struggling second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has four errors this postseason and three in this series. Weeks is also hitting just .211/.250/.421 in the NLCS.

"I think you stick with him. You know, Rickie's a guy that our lineup depends on," Roenicke said. "We depend on him swinging the bat well. He protects Prince (Fielder). He's got the ability to if you get a couple of guys on base to drive the ball out of a ballpark. And we felt like coming into the playoffs that we needed Rickie, we needed his presence in there behind Prince. And I know his swings have gotten better. But I know there's still some things that he's not locked in there, both offensively and defensively."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 6:06 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 4:15 pm

NLCS Game 6: Cardinals not eyeing Series yet

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Cardinals at Brewers, 8:05 p.m. ET, Miller Park, Milwaukee. Cardinals lead series 3-2.

MILWAUKEE -- For the first time in probably two months or so, the St. Louis Cardinals have some breathing room. For a team that needed every single victory (and every single Braves loss) to just make the playoffs, St. Louis also trailed 2-1 in the National League division series against the Phillies and now actually have a game up on the Brewers and aren't in a "must-win" situation for once. But don't tell that to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

"One of the neatest things about what's happened to our club from whenever we started smelling a chance to get into the eight-team playoffs, was we took the attitude that tomorrow is the last game of our lives, which means you don't think about anything beyond that," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "And that's really helpful. It's solved a lot of problems, therefore, have no thought about Game 7 and what happens, other than we're playing tomorrow. It's the last game we're ever going to play. And don't want to have any regrets when it's over. If the Brewers beat us, you tip your hat, hey, we did the best we could and you beat us. Not thinking about anything beyond our best shot tomorrow."

Game 6 on Sunday will be a rematch of the Game 2 blowout at Miller Park with Edwin Jackson taking the hill for the Cardinals and Shaun Marcum for the Brewers. Marcum and the Brewers bullpen were battered around a bit by the Cardinals in a 12-4 victory last Monday, while Jackson and the Cardinals bullpen did enough that there was little drama in the Brewers first home loss of the postseason.

A victory by the Cardinals would not only send them to the World Series, but avoiding a Game 7 would allow Chris Carpenter to start Game 1 of the World Series. Because of his heroics in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Phillies, Carpenter didn't get a chance to pitch until Game 3 of the NLDS.



By just about any mark, the Cardinals have the advantage with their pitching -- as Jackson has better stuff and has pitched better recently than Marcum. Several Milwaukee players said they felt Marcum was "due," but that's not exactly how baseball works.

Still, this series has proven nothing if not unpredictable, at least as far as starters go. No Cardinals' starter has pitched six innings and the Brewers' best starter was Randy Wolf, who was absolutely shelled in the NLDS. The St. Louis starters have a 6.04 ERA in the series and the Brewers are hitting .340 off of the St. Louis starters.

What does give the Cardinals another edge is not just their bullpen, but La Russa's ruthlessness to go to the bullpen and use the eight relievers he stockpiled on his postseason roster. This is October, La Russa doesn't care about his starters' feelings, he's just going for the throat of the Brewers, and so far it's worked.

Cardinals' Edwin Jackson: Jackson allowed two runs and picked up a no-decision in the Cardinals' 12-3 victory in Game 2, and despite joining the Cardinals at the trade deadline, he will be facing Milwaukee for the fifth time in a Cardinal uniform. In the regular season, he was 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three starts. 

"I don't think either team has an advantage -- there's neither advantage for a pitcher or the batters (with the familiarity)," Jackson said on Saturday. "I mean there's no secret what I have, there's no secret what they can do. It's just a matter of execution. Whether they hit pitches that you miss or whether you throw pitches where you want to and get outs, it's just one of those things where you're not going to change up the game. I'm not going to change up my game plan, go out and attack the strike zone and take my chances with them putting the ball in play."

The current Brewers are hitting .295/.346/.525 off of Jackson, but he's been good against Prince Fielder (2 for 13) and Ryan Braun (3 for 12). Casey McGehee had a three-home game off of Jackson in the regular season, but will not be starting.

Brewres' Shaun Marcum: Marcum is well aware of his recent failings -- Marcum hasn't gone five innings in any of his last three starts and he's allowed at least five earned runs in five of his last six starts.

"There was more than a couple rocky ones heading into, but feel good, arm feels good, body feels good. Just a matter of going out there, keeping the ball down, throwing strikes and trying to get ahead of these hitters," Marcum said. "They've swung the bats well all year long. They've got one of the best offenses obviously in the National League but in baseball, so gotta go out there and make pitches against them."

But it's not as if he's a total basket case, Marcum was one of the team's best starters during the regular season, winning 13 games and throwing 20 quality starts.

"I think the starting pitchers, for example, and the relievers, too, have all proven, including Marcum in Game 2," La Russa said. "When they're making their pitches, they're real good offense on both sides, they're not centering the ball, they're making outs. But these are two very dangerous offenses, and if you happen to get a pitch in the middle against either side, you get damaged quite often. So he's going to try to avoid the middle. He's a pitcher, not a thrower, so is Edwin. If he has good command, he's tough to deal with. Same with Edwin. There's within some skewed numbers, because we got to their bullpen in Game 2. But they got to ours in Game 1. If you look at when either team pitches good, start, our back end, hitters aren't having any fun. He can do that, but hope he doesn't."


Cardinals Brewers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Corey Hart RF
2 Jon Jay CF 2 Nyjer Morgan CF
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Ryan Braun LF
4 Lance Berkman RF 4 Prince Fielder 1B
5 Matt Holliday LF 5 Rickie Weeks 2B
6 David Freese 3B 6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
7 Yadier Molina C 7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
8 Nick Punto 2B 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Edwin Jackson RHP 9 Shaun Marcum RHP


  • The roof at Miller Park will be closed. It is expected to be 52 degrees at game time, and dropping into the 40s during the game. The roof was open for the first two games of the series at Miller Park.
  • St. Louis is 22-19 all-time in potential clinching games.
  • Before Yadier Molina's second-inning RBI double in Game 5, the Cardinals had gone hitless in their previous 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
  • Braun has no reached safely in the first inning of nine straight postseason games, the longest such streak in baseball history.
  • The Brewers' four errors in Game 5 were the most in an LCS game since Atlanta had four in Game 4 of the 2001 NLCS against the Diamondbacks. Second baseman Rickie Weeks has four errors this postseason, there have only been two other errors by second basemen in the postseason. The last second baseman to have five errors in a single postseason was Milwaukee's Jim Ganter in 1982.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 15, 2011 1:41 am

Errors didn't help, but neither did Greinke

Zack Greinke

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Among qualified starters during the regular season, no pitcher struck out more batters per nine innings than Zack Greinke, and just 11 pitchers had a higher percentage of swings and misses on their pitches than Greinke's 10.6 percent.

To say Greinke wasn't that pitcher in Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday is an understatement. He didn't record a strikeout and of the 89 pitches he threw, there were just two swings and misses by Cardinals batters. So instead of his season percentage that was better than Justin Verlander (10.2 percent), his 2.25 swing-and-miss percentage was closer to Elih Villanueva of the Marlins, and nearly a full percent less than the swing-and-miss rate recorded by Scott Kazmir. So as much as his fielders struggled behind him in the Cardinals' 7-1 victory, Greinke can shoulder plenty of blame himself.

NLCS Coverage

"Wasn’t a great game pitched for me," Greinke said afterward. "Made several mistakes that ended up costing us. They pitched a good game. Tough loss. Definitely could have done better and made it a better game. I made a couple tough mistakes."

Both of the swinging strikes came on fastballs, while his best out pitch, his slider went for 11 strikes, but none of them swings and misses. 

No batter swung and missed at a pitch until Greinke's 68th pitch of the night, a 1-1 fastball to Matt Holliday in the fifth inning. Holliday hit his next pitch to shortstop for a hit. Greinke's next swinging strike was on his 88th pitch of the night, a 1-1 fastball to Albert Pujols in the sixth. Pujols blasted Greinke's next pitch into left for an RBI single.

"I don't think his slider was biting as it usually was tonight," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He had velocity, but his movement wasn't there and it usually is on his slider. His best pitches are his slider and his fastball, and if his slider's not working, it takes away from his fastball."

Greinke's fastball averaged 93 mph and had a high of 95.4 mph, but the Cardinals weren't missing them. He still threw 18 sliders (20 percent), close to his usual percentage.

"The slider wasn’t very sharp at all today," Greinke said. "I kind of wanted to get it up a little more and get some weak contact with it. I did that pretty good. But whenever I needed to get it down, I had some trouble doing that. The last pitch to Albert (Pujols) was a hanging slider, and if I get it down, it’s probably a strikeout. You could say that several other times, where if I’d have gotten the slider down better, there’d have been better results."

In all, he allowed seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and five runs, although just two were earned. He actually lowered his postseason ERA to a pedestrian 6.48 -- hardly the type of production expected from a former Cy Young-winner who demanded out of Kansas City so he could pitch in playoff games. Now three games into his playoff career, he's not shown himself to be the level of Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, the top-line pitchers who also have proven themselves under baseball's brightest lights. And make no mistake, there were those who wondered how Greinke would fare under the glare of the postseason. While it's not appeared to be a mental block, his lack of production in the postseason will be an issue and concern until he proves he can pitch on this stage.

He didn't have help on Friday -- Jerry Hairston Jr. missed a grounder by Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia that allowed two runs to score, Corey Hart missed a ball in right field that produced St. Louis' first run, Rickie Weeks missed a tough over-the-shoulder catch in the fourth before commttin an error in the fifth and Yuniesky Betancourt's error in the sixth aided the Cardinals' final run off of Greinke. That's all true, but it's also true that Molina's double and Garcia's grounder in the second were both hit very hard. That's because Greinke wasn't fooling anybody, and like it or not, his reputation in the postseason will be based more on what he's done in his three starts this October than anything he's done in the past.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:25 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 2:15 am

Cardinals bullpen retires 12 Brewers in a row

Jason Motte

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Only the Nationals had more blown saves than the Cardinals this season, as 26 times the Cardinals had a save situation and then lost a lead. But Wednesday, Chris Carpenter left the game after just five innings in Game 3 of the NLCS and said he wasn't worried about the outcome.

"Typically, as a starting pitcher, you're concerned about that -- you don't want to leave 12 outs for your bullpen," Carpenter said. "I was OK with it. I worked as hard as I could. I had confidence in my guys down there. I had confidence in what they were going to do. And they did it again."

NLCS Coverage

Not only did the Cardinals relievers -- four in all -- get the 12 outs needed, they only needed to face 12 batters to do it. No Brewer reached base after Carpenter intentionally walked Prince Fielder with two outs in the fifth. Fernando Salas got three fly balls to get through the sixth, then Lance Lynn had three fly outs in the sixth and stayed in the seventh to get Ryan Braun to ground out for the first out before lefty Marc Rzepczynski came in to face Prince Fielder. Rzepczynski got Fielder to strike out on four pitches before giving way to Jason Motte -- the team's not-closer -- to strike out Rickie Weeks and then stay in for the ninth and get two strikeouts and a ground out, ending the game.

"Get 12 outs against that offense -- it's not going to work very often that you can put four zeroes against their offense," manager Tony La Russa said. "But each guy came in and really stepped up. I thought they were really aggressive, they threw good strikes and didn't fall behind."

There's been an on-going joke that La Russa still refuses to call Motte his closer -- but since recording his first save on Aug. 28, he's had one blown save a 2.91 ERA. In the playoffs, he's yet to surrender a run, recorded three saves and appeared in five games, all while allowing just one hit.

"Now we've got a guy that's throwing 100 mph, has a nasty slider, it's a presence out there, a force, and you just tip your hat to him because he's turned himself into a closer pretty quick," Berkman said, before he was reminded Motte's not been designated the "closer" by La Russa. "Well, he ends the games for us, whatever you want to call it."

There's talk that La Russa would like to get a big-name, veteran closer during the offseason, so if Motte's not the closer, he doesn't have to demote him. For this season, though, the Cardinals turned around their bullpen late in the season when they traded for right-hander Octavio Dotel, left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and starter Edwin Jackson. Jackson allowed the team to move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen to fortify the back end. 

Salas, Lynn, Dotel and Mitchell Boggs all recorded saves in the second half of the season, but Motte's seem to hold it down lately.

There's also the fact that the guy who more or less invented the modern bullpen usage is pulling the strings -- and for this series he has eight relievers to chose between.

"Tony is the most prepared person I've ever been around. He lives and dies by numbers, by match ups, by lineups," Carpenter said. "I mean, everyone questions at times why he throws different lineups up there. It's because there's reasons behind that. He's put his work into knowing why he's doing that.

"Why does he push the right buttons at the right times? Because he puts in work, he puts his time into knowing when to push the right buttons. There's a reason why he's won so many games he's won. There's a reason why his teams continue to win. There's a reason why he's a Hall of Fame manager and that's because he puts his work in, he's prepared more than any person I"ve ever see, and when he does push those buttons, he has no fear whatsoever, whether it's wrong or right, and he will answer to it if it's wrong and he will answer to it if it's right. And he's not scared about it, and that's what makes him great."

He also has little reason to be scared of his bullpen anymore. Now that fear should be in the opponent.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com