Tag:Ryan Braun
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 5:06 pm
 

Braun: Reyes more likely for Brewers than Prince

By Matt Snyder

The thought of Prince Fielder leaving the Brewers after this season via free agency is certainly secondary at this point in time, as the Brewers square off against the Cardinals in the NLCS. But when the Brewers season does eventually end, all the focus will shift to Fielder's status. And it's very likely the Brewers just don't have enough money to keep him. But that doesn't mean they're out of options. It's entirely possible the Brewers could afford Jose Reyes, and star left fielder Ryan Braun believes he's the more likely target.

"I think there's a better chance we sign [Reyes] than we re-sign Prince," Braun said (New York Post).

Brewers in NLCS
Braun then gushed about the Mets' speedy shortstop.

"[Reyes] is dynamic, man -- he is one of the most exciting players in the game," Braun said (New York Post). "He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion and I enjoy watching him play. He's one of my favorite players to watch. Whenever their games are on, I love watching him, man. He always plays the game the right way. He always plays hard. He runs everything out."

Now, Braun isn't the GM, so this is merely him thinking out loud, but it makes a ton of sense. Yuniesky Betancourt is currently playing shortstop for the Brewers and he can be bought up for $2 million after this season. While Corey Hart has had a good season in the leadoff spot, he's not exactly the prototypical leadoff hitter. If Fielder walks and the Brewers ink Reyes, the top of the order could look something like: Reyes, Hart, Braun, Rickie Weeks. That's a lot of speed and power, and it would certainly help fill the void left by Fielder.

But, again, this is all idle speculation for the time being. Now go enjoy Game 1 of the NLCS.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 3:41 pm
 

Shadows could be an issue in NLCS Game 1

Ryan Braun

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Once again, the shadows at Miller Park will be an issue, as Game 1 of the NLDS begins at 4:07 p.m. ET (3:07 p.m. local), an hour before the Game 5 of the NLDS start that caused problems for left fielder Ryan Braun and just about everyone else.

"Three o'clock game here, tough start -- 4 p.m., not too bad when we had i the other day," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We had two or three innings there at the beginning, and then it was really good. But the 3 p.m., there's going to be some shadows."

NLCS

Most of the playing surface will be in the shadows, but left field will be covered in sunlight for much of the game.  The roof can be closed somewhat to use as a shade, but it can't cover it entirely. There's also the clear panels at Miller Park that let light in and can cover the plate with sunshine, even if the roof is closed..

"The games that we usually player here, a 1 p.m. game or a 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., it's not an issue," Roenicke said. "I think he 1 p.m., when we have that roof partially closed so they don't have the shadows between the home plate and the pitcher, I think it plays just great. So it's just the postseason. And hopefully we're in this for a long time in the postseason, and maybe they can do something then. But during the season, it's not an issue."

Game 6 of the NLCS will be held at 3 p.m. if there's a Game 7 in the ALCS.

St. Louis complained about the shadows at their own Busch Stadium because of the playoff start times as well -- plus they dealt with it in several nationally televised games during the season. The team even talked to the players' association about the issue. The way TV works, these problems are going to continue to arise, because that's what matters. Of course, they're bat for both teams -- and could be an issue on any ball hit to left during the game.

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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

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

Pictured: Carlos Gomez
Posted on: October 8, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 2:17 am
 

Cardinals vs. Brewers NLCS preview

NLCS

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The National League Central is often overlooked or looked down upon -- but not this year, as the NL Central champs have to fight off their divisional rival with the winner headed to the World Series. What makes this matchup even more fun is that these two clubs don't like each other one bit.

There was a dust up late in the season between Milwaukee's Nyjer Morgan and the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter. There was also an accusation by the Cardinals that the Brewers were using different graphics on the Miller Park scoreboards to create an advantage while the Cardinals were batting. And even Saturday, Zack Greinke got the ball rolling by making comments about Carpenter, which got Cardinals manager Tony La Russa upset.

It's a contrast in style -- if only in the surface style. The Brewers are young, brash and loud. The Cardinals sit on their porch and tell them to get off their lawn.

On the field, both teams have some impressive individual pitchers, but got to the playoffs on the strength of their bats. While the Brewers won the National League Central, the two teams split their 18-game series during the regular season. While it won't bring in the ratings like some bigger markets might, it should appeal to true baseball fans.

TEAM INFORMATION

St. Louis Cardinals (host games 3, 4, 5*)
90-72, NL wild card winner
ALDS
: Defeated Phillies in 5 games -- View coverage of NLDS Phillies-Cardinals
Manager
: Tony La Russa
Regular-season batting statistics: .273 batting average (1st in NL), .341 on-base percentage (1st), .425 slugging percentage (1st)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.78 ERA (8th), 1.31 WHIP (10th), 2.45 K/BB (5th)
Star player: 1B Albert Pujols -- .299/.366/.541, 651 plate appearances, 37 HR 99 RBI

Miwaukee Brewers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, NL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Diamondbacks in 5 games -- View coverage of NLDS Brewers-Diamondbacks
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Regular-season batting statistics: .261 batting average (3rd), .325 on-base percentage (5th), .425 slugging percentage (1st)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.63 ERA (7th), 1.24 WHIP (3rd), 2.86 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: LF Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597, 629 plate appearances, 33 HR, 111 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge…

Catcher: Yadier Molina vs. Jonathan Lucroy
 
Perhaps the best defensive catcher in the game also hit .305/.349/.465 this season … that's Molina if you weren't sure, or weren't watching Game 5 of the NLDS when he threw out Chase Utley at second. Molina seemingly does it all. Lucroy may be best known as the "guy who can't really hit," even if he hit a pretty respectable .265/.313/.391 with 12 homers.

First base: Albert Pujols vs. Prince Fielder
 

You want to talk about a heavyweight battle? You have perhaps baseball's best player versus a guy who had an MVP-worthy season. You also have two of the offseason's premier free agents. Fielder's 27, so who knows exactly who is going to get the bigger contract between him and the 31-year-old Pujols, but there's no question as to who is the better all-around player. Pujols is not only the most feared hitter in the league, he's also a guy who can beat you with his glove and his base running in addition to his bat.

Second base: Ryan Theriot vs. Rickie Weeks
 

Theriot's a much better second baseman than he his shortstop, so the good news is that he's at second base, although he's still not exactly a Gold Glover -- of course, neither is Weeks. Both garner their value with their bats, not their gloves. When healthy, Weeks is probably the better player. But he hasn't looked healthy and he was just 1 for 18 in the NLDS against the Cardinals. At the beginning of the year, this was an easy choice. Today it is, too, but it's the other way.

Shortstop: Rafael Furcal vs. Yuniesky Betancourt
 

Once the Cardinals got Furcal from the Dodgers and he returned healthy, the Cardinals were a much better team. St. Louis has gone 30-20 in games which Furcal has played. Even though his stats are a less-than-impressive .255/.316/.418 with the Cardinals, the threat he brings at the top of the lineup coupled with how much he improves the team's defense, St. Louis is better because of him. The Brewers have Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop.

Third base: David Freese vs. Jerry Hairston Jr.
 

Freese may be one of the more underrated players the Cardinals have. While we all know about Pujols and Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman and even the likes of Molina and Theriot, Freese is a guy you have to watch in that lineup. He hit .297/.350/.441 this season, but injuries have been a problem in his career. When healthy, he's a vital part of the the team's offense after the big boppers. Hairston is a journeyman utility player -- and those are great to have. He's a fantastic role player that has been in some winning situations the last few years, but there's a reason he's moved around both on the field and to different clubhouses. He's always in demand, but he's no longer an everyday player.

Left field: Matt Holliday vs. Ryan Braun
 

If the first base matchup weren't so good, this one would be getting the headlines. Braun would be my choice for the MVP in the National League, and Holliday is one of the more underrated players in the game. Cardinals fans love to hate the guy because of what he hasn't done, while ignoring the production he has put up in a Cardinals uniform. The guy is an absolute monster. However, he's hurt right now -- and like the Theriot vs. Weeks argument, that looms large in this matchup.

Center field: John Jay vs. Nyjer Morgan/Chris Gomez
 

Morgan's the hot name right now for his outrageous and engaging personality. His Game 5 heroics even overshadowed the fact that he hit .188 in the NLDS. As bad as that is, it was better than Jay's .162. Morgan brings enough to the team to give Milwaukee the slight edge. 

Right field: Lance Berkman vs. Corey Hart
 

Hart's another one of those players who gets lost among all the other good players in this series. He hit .285/.356/.510 with 26 homers this season, much of it out of the leadoff spot. But as good of a season as he's had, it pales in comparison to the season Berkman put together. A year after it seemed like he had nothing left in the tank, he was refueled with premium, hitting .301/.412/.547 with 31 homers.

Starting pitching: Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse vs. Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf
 

Both teams needed to use their best playoff pitchers on Friday, meaning the Game 3 matchup in St. Louis of Carpenter-Gallardo should be a good one. Garcia's been a different pitcher on the road (the 3.33 ERA vs. 2.92 isn't so bad, but batters are hitting a robust .313 against him away from Busch Stadium and .230 in the shadow of the arch). Lohse and Wolf are wild cards, while Greinke should pitch better than he did against the Diamondbacks. Both have their solid points and their question marks. In the end, it may be too close to call.

Relief pitching: Jason Motte and co. vs. John Axford and co.
 

Give credit to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak for going out and improving the team's bullpen at the break. For much of the season, the bullpen was a weak point, but Mozeliak strengthened it during the season and the bullpen has become a strength. Milwaukee also went out and made a bold move for a setup man, picking up Francisco Rodriguez. Both teams have to feel good when their manager goes out to the mound to make a change.

Defense
 

Neither team is going to put on a clinic, but the addition of Furcal has improved St. Louis' defense to the acceptable level. Almost. With Pujols and Furcal they have players who can field the ball, so there's that. The Brewers have Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop

PREDICTION

While these may not be the two best teams in the National Leauge, they certainly make for an intriguing matchup. No matter how many times each team says its letting bygones be bygones, they don't really like each other -- and the national spotlight could turn up the heat. The two teams split their 18-game season series, with each team going 5-4 on their home field. The way the Brewers play at home, they could be tough to beat here. In the end, I see it going the distance and the fact that four of the games are at Miller Park being the biggest difference. Brewers in 7.


For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 2:17 am
 

Cardinals vs. Brewers NLCS preview

NLCS

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- The National League Central is often overlooked or looked down upon -- but not this year, as the NL Central champs have to fight off their divisional rival with the winner headed to the World Series. What makes this matchup even more fun is that these two clubs don't like each other one bit.

There was a dust up late in the season between Milwaukee's Nyjer Morgan and the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter. There was also an accusation by the Cardinals that the Brewers were using different graphics on the Miller Park scoreboards to create an advantage while the Cardinals were batting. And even Saturday, Zack Greinke got the ball rolling by making comments about Carpenter, which got Cardinals manager Tony La Russa upset.

It's a contrast in style -- if only in the surface style. The Brewers are young, brash and loud. The Cardinals sit on their porch and tell them to get off their lawn.

On the field, both teams have some impressive individual pitchers, but got to the playoffs on the strength of their bats. While the Brewers won the National League Central, the two teams split their 18-game series during the regular season. While it won't bring in the ratings like some bigger markets might, it should appeal to true baseball fans.

TEAM INFORMATION

St. Louis Cardinals (host games 3, 4, 5*)
90-72, NL wild card winner
ALDS
: Defeated Phillies in 5 games -- View coverage of NLDS Phillies-Cardinals
Manager
: Tony La Russa
Regular-season batting statistics: .273 batting average (1st in NL), .341 on-base percentage (1st), .425 slugging percentage (1st)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.78 ERA (8th), 1.31 WHIP (10th), 2.45 K/BB (5th)
Star player: 1B Albert Pujols -- .299/.366/.541, 651 plate appearances, 37 HR 99 RBI

Miwaukee Brewers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, NL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Diamondbacks in 5 games -- View coverage of NLDS Brewers-Diamondbacks
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Regular-season batting statistics: .261 batting average (3rd), .325 on-base percentage (5th), .425 slugging percentage (1st)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.63 ERA (7th), 1.24 WHIP (3rd), 2.86 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: LF Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597, 629 plate appearances, 33 HR, 111 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge…

Catcher: Yadier Molina vs. Jonathan Lucroy
 
Perhaps the best defensive catcher in the game also hit .305/.349/.465 this season … that's Molina if you weren't sure, or weren't watching Game 5 of the NLDS when he threw out Chase Utley at second. Molina seemingly does it all. Lucroy may be best known as the "guy who can't really hit," even if he hit a pretty respectable .265/.313/.391 with 12 homers.

First base: Albert Pujols vs. Prince Fielder
 

You want to talk about a heavyweight battle? You have perhaps baseball's best player versus a guy who had an MVP-worthy season. You also have two of the offseason's premier free agents. Fielder's 27, so who knows exactly who is going to get the bigger contract between him and the 31-year-old Pujols, but there's no question as to who is the better all-around player. Pujols is not only the most feared hitter in the league, he's also a guy who can beat you with his glove and his base running in addition to his bat.

Second base: Ryan Theriot vs. Rickie Weeks
 

Theriot's a much better second baseman than he his shortstop, so the good news is that he's at second base, although he's still not exactly a Gold Glover -- of course, neither is Weeks. Both garner their value with their bats, not their gloves. When healthy, Weeks is probably the better player. But he hasn't looked healthy and he was just 1 for 18 in the NLDS against the Cardinals. At the beginning of the year, this was an easy choice. Today it is, too, but it's the other way.

Shortstop: Rafael Furcal vs. Yuniesky Betancourt
 

Once the Cardinals got Furcal from the Dodgers and he returned healthy, the Cardinals were a much better team. St. Louis has gone 30-20 in games which Furcal has played. Even though his stats are a less-than-impressive .255/.316/.418 with the Cardinals, the threat he brings at the top of the lineup coupled with how much he improves the team's defense, St. Louis is better because of him. The Brewers have Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop.

Third base: David Freese vs. Jerry Hairston Jr.
 

Freese may be one of the more underrated players the Cardinals have. While we all know about Pujols and Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman and even the likes of Molina and Theriot, Freese is a guy you have to watch in that lineup. He hit .297/.350/.441 this season, but injuries have been a problem in his career. When healthy, he's a vital part of the the team's offense after the big boppers. Hairston is a journeyman utility player -- and those are great to have. He's a fantastic role player that has been in some winning situations the last few years, but there's a reason he's moved around both on the field and to different clubhouses. He's always in demand, but he's no longer an everyday player.

Left field: Matt Holliday vs. Ryan Braun
 

If the first base matchup weren't so good, this one would be getting the headlines. Braun would be my choice for the MVP in the National League, and Holliday is one of the more underrated players in the game. Cardinals fans love to hate the guy because of what he hasn't done, while ignoring the production he has put up in a Cardinals uniform. The guy is an absolute monster. However, he's hurt right now -- and like the Theriot vs. Weeks argument, that looms large in this matchup.

Center field: John Jay vs. Nyjer Morgan/Chris Gomez
 

Morgan's the hot name right now for his outrageous and engaging personality. His Game 5 heroics even overshadowed the fact that he hit .188 in the NLDS. As bad as that is, it was better than Jay's .162. Morgan brings enough to the team to give Milwaukee the slight edge. 

Right field: Lance Berkman vs. Corey Hart
 

Hart's another one of those players who gets lost among all the other good players in this series. He hit .285/.356/.510 with 26 homers this season, much of it out of the leadoff spot. But as good of a season as he's had, it pales in comparison to the season Berkman put together. A year after it seemed like he had nothing left in the tank, he was refueled with premium, hitting .301/.412/.547 with 31 homers.

Starting pitching: Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse vs. Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf
 

Both teams needed to use their best playoff pitchers on Friday, meaning the Game 3 matchup in St. Louis of Carpenter-Gallardo should be a good one. Garcia's been a different pitcher on the road (the 3.33 ERA vs. 2.92 isn't so bad, but batters are hitting a robust .313 against him away from Busch Stadium and .230 in the shadow of the arch). Lohse and Wolf are wild cards, while Greinke should pitch better than he did against the Diamondbacks. Both have their solid points and their question marks. In the end, it may be too close to call.

Relief pitching: Jason Motte and co. vs. John Axford and co.
 

Give credit to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak for going out and improving the team's bullpen at the break. For much of the season, the bullpen was a weak point, but Mozeliak strengthened it during the season and the bullpen has become a strength. Milwaukee also went out and made a bold move for a setup man, picking up Francisco Rodriguez. Both teams have to feel good when their manager goes out to the mound to make a change.

Defense
 

Neither team is going to put on a clinic, but the addition of Furcal has improved St. Louis' defense to the acceptable level. Almost. With Pujols and Furcal they have players who can field the ball, so there's that. The Brewers have Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop

PREDICTION

While these may not be the two best teams in the National Leauge, they certainly make for an intriguing matchup. No matter how many times each team says its letting bygones be bygones, they don't really like each other -- and the national spotlight could turn up the heat. The two teams split their 18-game season series, with each team going 5-4 on their home field. The way the Brewers play at home, they could be tough to beat here. In the end, I see it going the distance and the fact that four of the games are at Miller Park being the biggest difference. Brewers in 7.


For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 6:17 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Upton continues Diamondbacks' homer barrage

Justin Upton

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Brewers have the reputation as a big, lumbering slugging team -- and much of that probably comes from the image of Prince Fielder and his bombastic blasts. But Arizona has counted on the long ball more than Milwaukee in the National League division series -- at least so far.

NLDS Game 5

After Justin Upton's solo shot in the top of the third of Game 5 off of Yovani Gallardo, the Diamondbacks have tagged Brewer pitchers for 10 homers in the series, with homers accounting for 17 of the team's 24 runs so far in the series.

All six of the Diamondbacks' runs at Miller Park have come on home runs.

Milwaukee led the National League with 185 homers in the regular season, with Arizona's 172 homers the fourth-most in the league.

Friday's homer was Upton's second of the series, he also homered in Game 2. Five different Diamondbacks have homered in the series and of those five, all but Aaron Hill have more than one homer in the series. Chris Young has three -- including two in Game 3 -- with Paul Goldschmidt, Ryan Roberts and Upton all hitting two.

No Brewer, on the other hand, has hit more than one homer in the series, as Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart and Fielder have all homered.

Follow the action live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 1:35 pm
 

NLDS Game 5 preview: Braun to play on holiday

Ryan Braun
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers, Miller Park, 5:07 p.m. ET on TBS

Diamondbacks Brewers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Willie Bloomquist SS 1 Corey Hart RF
2 Aaron Hill 2B 2 Nyjer Morgan CF
3 Justin Upton RF 3 Ryan Braun LF
4 Miguel Montero C 4 Prince Fielder 1B
5 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 5 Rickie Weeks 2B
6 Chris Young CF 6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
7 Ryan Roberts 3B 7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
8 Gerardo Parra LF 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Ian Kennedy RHP 9 Yovani Gallardo RHP

One of the more famous stories in American sports history is that of Sandy Koufax refusing to play on Yom Kippur. Koufax, who is Jewish, decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on the Jewish holiday, which is also known as Day of Atonement and is the holiest of day of the year in the religion. It is traditionally observed by a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer.

Yom Kippur begins tonight at sundown and perhaps the most visible Jewish athlete in American sports has what could be the biggest game of his life, as Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun prepares for Game 5 of the National League division series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. A win, and Braun will advance in the playoffs for the first time in his career. Braun is a big part of the Brewers' lineup, he's a potential MVP and is hitting .467/.529/.867 with three doubles and a homer, driving in four in the series. 

The game is scheduled to being at 4:07 p.m. local time in Milwaukee, so the game could finish before the scheduled 6:23 p.m. setting of the sun. But that is unlikely to be an issue anyway. The Brewers faced a similar situation in 2007 and the then-rookie Braun said he would play regardless.

"I am half Jewish, and I am not Orthodox," Braun told MLB.com in 2007. "So I never grew up celebrating the holidays. I'm going to play."

In addition to Koufax, another famous Jewish baseball player chose not to play on Yom Kippur, when Hank Greenberg played on Rosh Hashanah, but not on Yom Kippur during a Tigers pennant race in 1934.

What's interesting to me is the reactions -- in 1934 Greenberg was bashed by the Detroit press for putting himself over the team. In 1965 Koufax was praised for sticking to his ideals and being true to himself. In 2011, it's not really an issue for Braun -- and that's OK. I think the interesting thing is the different reactions based on the different times.

I don't for a moment want it to be interpreted as me judging Braun for playing -- it's his decision and his alone to judge. He's doing what he feels is right, and as a non-practicing Jew, why should he step aside? I'm sure someone in the comments will say I'm judging him -- and I'm the last person who can judge another man's religious convictions -- good, bad or indifferent. I've worked on every holiday known to man, from Christmas Day to Arbor Day -- and I usually volunteer. To me, it's just interesting to see the changes we've made in a society as far as this issue is concerned, and use Braun as a way of looking back at Greenberg and Koufax and admiring what they did in their own time.

LINEUPS

Lineups have yet to be released

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Kennedy vs. Brewers: Kennedy was a little worse than average in Game 1, allowing four earned runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings in the Diamondbacks' loss. The big blow was Prince Fielder's two-run, two-out homer that chased Kennedy in the seventh inning. Fielder is 4 for 12 in his career against Kennedy with a double and two homers and six strikeouts.

Gallardo vs. Diamondbacks: Game 1 came down to Gallardo's mastery of the Diamondbacks, as Gallardo held Arizona to four hits and one run, striking out nine over eight innings. Arizona threatened in the first inning of Game 1, but Willie Bloomquist was thrown out at the plate by Ryan Braun for the inning's second out and then Gallardo retired the next seven batters he faced. After asking his only batter of the game in the fourth, he retired his next eight. By the time Ryan Roberts homered in the eighth, Milwaukee led 4-1 and the Brewers were in control. Counting his Game 1 performance, Gallardo is 6-0 with a 1.18 ERA in his career against Arizona.  

NOTES

NLDS Game 5
  • Like the first four games of the series, the roof will be closed for Friday's Game 5 at Miller Park. The Brewers are 29-12 with the roof closed this season (including the first two games of the series) and 30-12 with it open.
  • The home team has won every game in this series, making it the only series in the division series dominated by home teams. The Brewers, of course, had baseball's best home record in the regular season, going 57-24.
  • Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is just 1 for 15 in the series, tripling in the Brewers' Game 2 victory at Miller Park.
  • Brewers closer John Axford saved both Brewers wins and hasn't allowed a hit in his two innings, walking two.
  • Zack Greinke will be available out of the bullpen if Gallardo struggles, manager Ron Roenicke said during Thursday's news conference.
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