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Tag:Yuniesky Betancourt
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 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.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:50 am
 

Hairston's perfect slide highlights Game 4

Jerry Hairston

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- The one thing Jerry Hairston Jr. knew as he rounded third base was that there was no way he was going to bowl over Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina -- and if he wasn't going to go through him, he had to go around him.

It's not easy when you're running full speed, trying to figure out when the ball is going to get to the plate and then trying to figure out a way around perhaps baseball's best defensive catcher. Not only did Hairston manage to do all three -- he did it in a huge situation, tying Game 4 of the National League Championship Series with his fourth-inning slide, as Milwaukee went on to beat St. Louis 4-2 to even the best-of-seven series at two games each.

NLCS Coverage

Hairston started on second base when Yuniesky Betancourt laced a single up the middle -- "I wish Yuni would have hit like a 35-hopper through any hole just so it would be a lot easier for me to score," Hairston said. "He hit a bullet right at Jon Jay, and I had kind of a late jump because you want to freeze on a line drive. And I took off and thought I might get held up, but I was still running hard and I just found out that Albert (Pujols) had cut the ball off."

Jay fielded the ball on the second hop and let his throw go just as Hairston's left foot hit third base. Pujols caught Jay's throw on the short hop before making the relay throw to Molina. All the while, Hairston is hustling home and looking for a place to get the plate.

"If you see a guy blocking the plate, sometimes you have to run over the guy, but Yadier does a really good job of blocking the plate and not giving the runner a chance -- it's textbook, he does a great job," Hairston said. "I saw him blocking the plate, so I knew I had to find a place to get in there. He had it (covered), I had to do some dancing. I can dance a little bit, do a little Michael Jackson."

But getting around the catcher is one part, the next is finding the plate and tagging it -- while not getting tagged, either.

"I could sense it, that he was about to get the ball, so I had to get in there," Hairston said. "I was able to get in there without getting tagged -- I had to bend my back and get in there."

Replays showed Hairston got his fingers on the edge of the plate, while Molina's tag missed his target.

"He never touched me," Hairston said. "You feel when you get tagged -- trust me. He never touched me."

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:30 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 12:32 am
 

Wolf gives Brewers a boost

Randy Wolf

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- There's still one more game in St. Louis, but the Brewers' 4-2 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday guaranteed the NLCS would return to Milwaukee this weekend.

Hero: Not much was expected of Randy Wolf -- so his allowing just two runs in seven innings, allowing the Brewers to hand the ball over to Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford to close the game out was huge -- and that may be an understatement. In a postseason where the Brewers starters not named Yovani Gallardo have struggled, Ron Roenicke has had to use his bullpen liberally -- and to not have to every make the trek to the mound in Game 4 could be a boost for the rest of Milwaukee's series.

Goat: Cardinals second baseman Ryan Theriot made a great play to start a double play ending the fifth inning, but in the next inning his error allowed he Brewers' fourth run to score. He also struck out with a runner on third and one out in the sixth inning.

Turning point: Jerry Hairston Jr.'s slide to score on Yuniesky Betancourt's fourth-inning was a thing of beauty -- and it tied the game. Hairston took off from second on Betancourt's grounder up the middle and was waved home as Jon Jay came up with the ball. Albert Pujols made a great relay after picking the ball up on the short hop and Yadier Molina had the plate blocked, but Hairston took a great angle to get around Molina and get one hand out to tag the plate just before the tag from Molina. 

It was over when … Yadier Molina swung over a curveball from Rodriguez to end the eighth inning. David Freese had singled with one out in the inning and advanced to second on Matt Holliday's groundout to second. Molina battled Rodriguez, fouling off four pitches, but couldn't get a piece of the seventh pitch of the at-bat, leaving the bottom of the Cardinals' order for Axford.

Next: Zack Greinke takes the mound for the Brewers against St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia at 8:05 p.m. ET in the last game of the series at Busch Stadium, but it won't be the last of the series as the Brewers' victory guaranteed the series would return to Milwaukee.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 2:20 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 4:47 pm
 

NLCS Game 2: Miller Time is good to Brewers



By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- It's been beat into the ground by this time in the playoffs, but it's only because it's held true -- every game at Miller Park is crucial to the Brewers, who held baseball's best home record and struggled on the road this season. So far, the Miller Park faithful has seen four postseason victories and no losses. The Brewers also lost both of their road games in Arizona in the first round, furthering the storyline.

Sunday, the Brewers came back from an early deficit to beat the Cardinals, giving Milwaukee the early lead in the series and keeping the momentum alive at home.

NLCS

"The atmosphere here is something that we really feed off of, I think it's one o fate big reasons we've been so successful here at home," Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said. "Obviously the fans are very passionate. And they're excited. I think they're enjoying it as much as we are, playing meaningful baseball games on Oct. 10. And they're embracing the opportunity, just like we are, and trying to make the most of it."

For St. Louis, getting a win in Milwaukee would mean a chance at clinching a trip to the World Series at home. For a team that came back from 8 1/2 games in the wild card in the last three-and-half weeks of the season and lost the first game of the NL division series, St. Louis is used to performing under pressure.

"Just look at how we've played over the last six weeks -- we've lost some tough games and bounced back, we did it against Philly, we did it in the last two weeks of the season when we needed wins, we're too good of a ball club," St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols said. "This is too long of a series  and whoever wins four games is going to the World Series. Just because they won one game -- you can go to the (Brewers) side and ask them -- it's not over."

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Cardinals' Edwin Jackson: The right-hander's last outing came in Game 4 of the NLDS with the Cardinals facing elimination and he rebounded from giving up two first-inning runs, he allowed just three more base runners in his six innings as St. Louis forced a Game 5 with a victory over Roy Oswalt and the Cardinals. 

The start was Jackson's first postseason start of his career, but not his first appearance, having pitched in three games of the 2008 postseason with the Rays. The oft-traded Jackson has gone 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts and 13 games since coming to the Cardinals, and take out one start and his ERA's down to 2.92. But there's the rub -- that one start you'd need to take out was against the Brewers, at Mlller Park. In just his second start for the Cardinals, Jackson surrendered 10 runs (but just eight earned) in seven innings on 14 hits. The Brewers tagged him for four homers -- three by Casey McGehee and one from Corey Hart to lead off the first inning. 

On Sunday, Jackson was asked about that start -- "What start? It's that simple. I mean, I'm a competitor. I mean, I can take my beatings and I can handle that. It's not my first one and it probably won't be my last."

Jackson followed that start with another against the Brewers -- losing but in better fashion, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings on Aug. 9. In his next start in Milwaukee he allowed just one run in seven innings, earning the win.

Brewers' Shaun Marcum: The Brewer right-hander wasn't able to get through the fifth inning in his one start in the NLDS, going up seven runs in just 4 2/3 innings in Game 3. During the season, he flashed moments of brilliance, but also struggled -- evening out to a 13-7 record with a 3.54 ERA.

Marcum's Game 3 start will best be remembered for his flip of his glove after giving up a grand slam to Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.

"I didn't really see the replay, and I didn't realize I did it until afterwards," Marcum said. "I was like, what the heck did I just do? It reminded me of Ted Lilly a couple of years ago in Arizona, but he slammed his glove down on the ground. It's just a reaction thing. Definitely I didn't realize I did it until afterwards."

Like just about every other pitcher in this series, he's seen plenty of his NLCS opponents -- facing the Cardinals three times in August, going 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in those three starts and 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four total starts against St. Louis.

"They know what I'm going to do; I know what approach they're going to take for me," Marcum said. "For me it's a matter of going out and locating, keeping the ball down. I do know what they're going to try to do. They know what they're going to try to do against me. We're going to go back and forth."

Starting pitching advantage for Game 2:

Both starters are so unpredictable that it's hard to give anyone an edge -- it depends on the night.

LINEUPS

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 Matt Holliday LF 4 Prince Fielder 1B
5 Lance Berkman RF 5 Rickie Weeks 2B
6 Yadier Molina C 6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
7 David Freese 3B 7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
8 Nick Punto 2B 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Edwin Jackson RHP 9 Shaun Marcum RHP

NOTES

  • With his 62nd postseason game in a Cardinals' uniform, Albert Pujols passed Jim Edmonds for most in franchise history. With his single in the first inning, Pujols has now hit safely in 21 of the 26 LCS games in his career, hitting .354 (34 for 96) in the LCS with eight homers and 18 RBI.
  • Based on history, the Brewers' victory in Game 1 puts them in the driver's seat -- in the last 19 NLCS, winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 16 times (84.2 percent).
  • Rafael Furcal hsas a hit in each of the nine games he's played at Miller Park this season, with eight of those coming as a Cardinal. He's hitting .323 (10 for 31) here this season and .295 (26 for 88) in his career.
  • Despite the Brewers' prodigious power, Sunday was just the second time in team history Milwaukee hit multiple homers in one playoff game. The only other time came exactly 30 years before, when Pal Molitor and Ted Simmons hit home runs against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS on Oct. 9, 1981. It was the 37th time Braun and Fielder homered in the same game.
  • Marcum may not have the most success with the Cardinals this season, but he has had success against Pujols and Lance Berkman. Berkman is just 1 for 15 in his career against Marcum and Pujols is 1 for 9.
  • Likewise, Jackson's been good against Braun and Fielder. Braun is 2 for 12 against Jackson and Fielder is 2 for 13. McGehee's three homers are his only three hits against Jackson in his career.
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Posted on: October 9, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 10:37 pm
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 1

Yuniesky Betancourt

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder's fifth-inning homer had people at Miller Park buzzing -- both during the game and after. Fielder's homer was measured at 119.2 mph off his bat, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, making it the fastest ball off a bat this season.

But that's not all they were talking about at the stadium following Milwaukee's 9-6 victory in Game 1, here's more:

Ryan Braun on Fielder's homer: "That was one of the hardest hit balls I've ever seen. I'm always worried when I'm on first base and Princeis up that he's going to top spin one at me. I had a good view of it. It got out in a hurry."

Yuniesky Betancourt (above) on the criticism he get: "I don't really understand English very well, so that being said, I don't really pay attention to what the critics say. Since I don't understand, I don't get mad. I just try and do my job."

• Albert Pujols on fouling off a pitch in the seventh before grounding into a double play: "I had a good pitch, but I just missed it -- seven out of 10 times, I put it in the seats. That's baseball, next time I get that opportunity, hopefully I'll come through."

• Zack Greinke on the Brewers' 17-0 record when he starts at Miller Park: "I don't know. We've got a good record. I answer this question after every start -- and before every start. We feel like we're going to win."

• Jonathan Lucroy on Greinke: "I think the key with Zack, as it was with his last start, he kept us close. Not letting the game get out of hand. ... He's very strong. He's very stoic. He's not Cy Young out there [right now]. He's going to execute, and he's going to make mistakes like all pitchers do."

Tony La Russa on leaving Garcia in to face Braun and Fielder: "The guy is cruising -- there's a ground ball, he makes one mistake. How many hits does he have at that point? I mean, maybe (he should have pulled Garcia), because that's strategy. But no, he was not ready (to be taken out). Only when I saw him throw a ball down the middle to Braun, I said that's enough.  And he tried to make a pitch to Fielder and it's a two-run homer. No, I wouldn't have made move to (face) Braun. I He was throwing the ball better than that. He made one mistake. It's a tough league, but it's not that tough."

• Braun on the Cardinals keeping Garcia in: "I thought Garcia was really cruising and throwing the ball well. I think the first inning he obviously didn't have great command. After that, I thought he was really throwing well. We had a couple of great at-bats by Corey (Hart) and Jerry (Hairston), and Prince and I each swung at the first pitch. I don't think he had an opportunity to really come in the game."

Ron Roenicke on the Miller Park crowd: "I don't even know if I heard the ball come off Prince's bat. I knew it was a good swing and came off nice, but when you can't hear the ball the sound of it, because of all the people yelling -- I wasn't sure what was going to happen there until I saw the ball's flight."

Fielder on his homer: "It felt good. I thought it might be off the wall or a double in the gap, and it kind of kept going, so that was good."

More NLCS coverage 

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 5:16 pm
 

Betancourt bails out Garcia early in Game 1

Jaime GarciaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals stareter Jaime Garcia was on the ropes in the first inning of Game 1 of the NLCS, but survived thanks to Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Milwaukee took a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals in the first inning of Game 1 on a Ryan Braun homer -- but thanks to the bottom of the Brewers lineup, the damage was limited, as the Cardinals left-hander got out of the inning without further damage, even though he threw just two pitches in the strike zone of the 13 pitches he threw in the inning after the home run.

With Jerry Hairston Jr. on first after a walk, Braun crushed a ball to left-center that traveled an estimated 463 feet. Garcia then hit Prince Fielder with his next pitch, causing home plate umpire Gary Darling to warn both benches. The St. Louis lefty then walked Rickie Weeks on four pitches -- but that could have been strategy to get to Betancourt. With Lance Lynn already warming up in the bullpen for St. Louis, Betancourt took the first pitch for a ball before he swung at five consecutive pitches out of the zone, fouling off the first four before swinging at change up that was high and wide for the second out of the inning.

Here's a look at Betancourt's at-bat from MLB.com's iPad app:

Yuniesky Betancourt 

Carlos Gomez followed by doing his best Betancourt impression, taking a ball and then fouling off two pitches out of the zone before fouling off an honest-to-God strike. He then struck out swinging at another pitch in the zone to end the inning.

Milwaukee had a chance to not only get to Garcia and build a lead, but also make a dent in the Cardinals' bullpen in the first game of the series, running up pitch counts. Instead, Betancourt let them off the hook.

More Eye On Baseball NLCS coverage 

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:15 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Gomez in, Morgan out for Game 1 of NLCS

Carlos Gomez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Nyjer Morgan was the hero of the game that got the Brewers to the National League Championship Series, but he's not in the Game 1 lineup against Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia. Morgan and Gomez have platooned this season, with Gomez getting the start against left-handed pitchers.

However, Gomez was moved up in the batting order from his usual eighth to seventh in hopes of utilizing his speed more.

"I think it allows Gomey to do some more things when he's on base versus in the eighth spot," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Sometimes you can't run as much. It frees up Gomey a little bit."

The Cardinals are keeping their lineup more or less intact, although that could change at the leadoff spot when Milwaukee uses lefty Randy Wolf. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he may flip-flop Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday against Wolf -- but he may not.

"I don't think there's a big difference," La Russa said. "Berk's been in there every day. As long as you've got Yadi, you've got protection and he's one of the toughst hitters on our club."

Cardinals Brewers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Corey Hart RF
2 Jon Jay CF 2 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
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 Yadier Molina C 6 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
7 David Freese 3B 7 Carlos Gomez CF
8 Ryan Theriot 2B 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Jaime Garcia LHP 9 Zack Greinke RHP

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Pictured: Carlos Gomez
 
 
 
 
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