Tag:Milwaukee Brewers
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Wolf huge as Brewers beat Cards, even NLCS

ST. LOUIS -- Numbers game? Here's one: Eight starting pitchers into this NL Championship Series, one finally produced a quality start. It came in Game 4 from the most unlikeliest of places: Soft-throwing veteran Randy Wolf.

And it could not have come at a more opportune time for manager Ron Roenicke's crew.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 2, and this series is dead even.

Which means one very important thing to both clubs:

Following Game 5 Friday night, this series is guaranteed to return to Milwaukee, where the Brewers practically have run the table this season.

That does not necessarily mean they'll do it again. But it does mean that if St. Louis has ideas of advancing to its first World Series since 2006, the Cardinals are going to need more out of their starting pitchers.

I know, that sounds like heresy when Tony La Russa has eight relievers on his playoff roster and, just a night before, folks couldn't heap enough praise on his hard-throwing pen. But asking them to be perfect every night is a tall order.

When Ryan Braun greeted reliever Mitchell Boggs with an RBI single in the fifth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and lift the Brewers into a lead they would not relinquish, you bet it was attention-grabbing: To that point, Cardinals relievers had retired 18 consecutive Brewers batters over the past two games.

But they've been pitching a lot of innings in a series marked by (marred by?) the brevity of innings from starters. Only Milwaukee's Zack Greinke and Wolf have lasted six or more innings. And only Wolf has surrendered three or fewer runs while doing so.

You would have predicted Chris Carpenter? Or Yovani Gallardo?

Wolf, tossing a riveting array of pitches from a slow curve (67, 68 mph) to a pedestrian fastball (90), kept St. Louis off-balance all evening. He left having allowed just two runs and six hits in seven innings. He whiffed six and walked just one.

Not that the Brewers were desperate for a performance like that after Gallardo's Game 3 clunker, but Bernie Brewer was seen pulling his winter sweaters out of storage up in Miller Park after that.

Now, it's a whole new series.

First team to get some decent starting pitching wins.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:18 pm
 

Brewers need pitching, quick, in NLCS

ST. LOUIS -- Are the Brewers now in as large a hole as the Tigers? No, they are not.

It only seems like it.

Following Wednesday's 4-3 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals, Milwaukee, still very much in this series, trails St. Louis only two games to one. But given the way the rest of their rotation is bumbling around, the Brewers are wounded badly when Yovani Gallardo starts and they don't win.

Starting pitchers named neither "Yovani" nor "Gallardo" in this postseason have compiled a 11.52 ERA while going 1-3 in five postseason starts.

Being that Milwaukee's Game 4 starter contains the names "Randy" and "Wolf, the Brewers can only hope that trend changes.

Gallardo, now 1-8 career against the Cardinals, did not pitch like the ace Milwaukee thinks he is. He was lit up for four runs in the first inning before calming down.

Part of that wasn't completely his fault: Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke gambled and lost by starting veteran Mark Kotsay, 35, in center field. He liked Kotsay's numbers against Chris Carpenter (4 for 11, .364 batting average). But Kotsay could not get to a fly ball smacked into the left-center gap two batters into the bottom of the first, a play that Carlos Gomez certainly would have made. That helped fuel St. Louis' early rally.

But Kotsay had nothing to do with Gallardo's back-to-back walks of Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman later in the inning. Those were critical, too.

Bottom line is, this series still should have a very long way to go. Milwaukee is facing nothing like its Midwestern (across Lake Michigan) neighbor. Detroit is down three games to one and on the verge of extinction for 2011.

The Brewers are just one win from evening things up against St. Louis. But with Wolf, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum rolling up next in the rotation, it sure looks as if the Cardinals were licking their beaks, er, chops as they left Busch Stadium late Wednesday night.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 6:20 pm
 

Struggling Brewers need Gallardo to step up

ST. LOUIS -- Yanked out of their comfy and productive home park, the Brewers at least have ace Yovani Gallardo starting Game 3 Wednesday as this National League Championship Series shifts scenes.

Lifesaver for them, right?

Um, maybe not.

Milwaukee's Misery Index in Missouri is uncomfortably high as the Brewers face the pivotal Game 3: Gallardo, lifetime against the Cardinals, is 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA in 11 starts. Extract a smaller sample size to just 2011, and it's 1-3 with a 5.70 ERA in four starts.

Amplifying the situation is this: Gallardo right now appears to be Milwaukee's best shot. He's 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two postseason starts for the Brewers, while those starters not named "Gallardo" -- Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf -- are 1-3 with an 11.52 ERA in five starts.

Milwaukee's first-year manager, Ron Roenicke, has only see Gallardo's 2011 starts against the Cardinals and has no explanation for the struggles.

"There's not a good reason why," Roenicke says. "You know they have a good offense. Sometimes an offense matches up better against a certain type of pitcher. If it's a power pitcher and you have an offense that really handles the fastball well, that could be a reason. And same on the other end. If an offense matches up really well against guys that have the off-speed, slower stuff. ...

"I don't know what the case is with this, but I know we expect him to pitch a good game."

Elementary as it sounds, it starts at the beginning for both Gallardo and the rest of the rotation. While St. Louis leadoff man Rafael Furcal is just 2 for 10 against Milwaukee in the first two games, No. 2 hitter Jon Jay has severely wounded them with a .500 on-base percentage in the two games (.444 batting average).

When these two reach base consistently, that means Albert Pujols -- and Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman behind him -- is even more dangerous. Jay has scored four runs in the first two games of this NLCS, three of which were included among Pujols' five RBI in Game 2.

"We're not too concerned with what we've done in the past," Jay said of the Cards' success against Gallardo. "We just try to have good at-bats. He's a great pitcher. You have to make him throw strikes. If we can have good at-bats and work the count, we'll be all right."

As for Pujols' Game 2 fireworks, it's hard to imagine the Brewers pitching to him any more than they have to from here on out. But when they do, Roenicke said, the key is simple.

"We have to make good pitches," the manager said. "Even Albert, as good a hitter as he is, if you put the pitch exactly where you want to, he's still, percentage-wise, going to have a tough time to continue to hurt us like he has."

Easier said than done. Especially given the current numbers of a rotation of which Roenicke said, "Our starters, that's why we are where we are today. Our starters have pitched great all year, and our relievers have been great, too. ... The playoffs, we have not pitched as well with our starters. But if we are going to win this thing, our starters need to pitch well.

"That's the four of them. We can't get by with just one or two pitchers."

Among other things, expecting a low-scoring pitcher's duel between Gallardo and Chris Carpenter on Wednesday night, Roenicke hinted that he my start Carlos Gomez over Nyjer Morgan in center field in a nod to Gomez's defense.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:42 pm
 

One Pujols tops Fielder and Braun in Game 2

MILWAUKEE -- Sledgehammer? Yeah, St. Louis can do sledgehammer. Very well, in fact. One Albert Pujols was more than equal to Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder for the Cardinals in Game 2.

Swinging like a man possessed, Pujols was a one-man wrecking (the Brew) crew. It was as impressive a postseason performance as you'll see as the Cardinals routed Milwaukee 12-3.

He clubbed a two-run homer in the first. Bashed a two-run double in the third. Drilled another RBI double in the fifth. Doubled and scored in the seventh.

He became only the fourth hitter ever with four extra-base hits in a postseason game, following the Yankees' Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS), the Pirates' Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS) and the White Sox's Frank Isbell (1906 World Series).

That's one way to quiet the Brewers: Send them scurrying to the history books to look up Frank Freakin' Isbell.

However this plays out for the Cardinals, they're down to the final few games of 2011 -- and what might be the final few games for Pujols in a Redbirds uniform. If he does head elsewhere, he's leaving one whale of a parting gift.

From third base in the fifth, he raced home on a Marco Estrada wild pitch that really didn't scoot that far behind catcher Jonathan Lucroy. No matter. The zeal and determination with which Pujols played Game 2 was breathtaking.

One of the rarest things in all of sports is to see one man completely take over a baseball game. Pujols didn't just take this one over, he devoured it whole.

Now the NLCS heads back to St. Louis tied at 1-1 with Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter in the blocks to start Game 3. Momentum swings dramatically with each postseason win or loss, and right now it's all St. Louis.

The Cardinals are no longer facing the Phillies' pitching staff. Milwaukee starter Shaun Marcum, again, was dreadful. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is going to have a dilemma if the Brewers find themselves in a must-win situation in Game 6.

Marcum now has served up 30 earned runs and 46 hits in 33 innings pitched over his past six starts. Once the calculater stops smoking, it reveals an 8.18 ERA. His location is not sharp, his fastball is dull, his command isn't there.

The Brewers lost only 24 games in Miller Park all season. Marcum started 11 of them. And by the time St. Louis finished batting in the first, it was clear the trend was going to continue.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 7:41 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 8:37 pm
 

Brewers too quick for Cards in Game 1 win

MILWAUKEE -- What would have happened had Cardinals manager Tony La Russa summoned reliever Octavio Dotel two batters earlier in the fifth inning?

We'll never know. But after the Brewers cracked open this NLCS with a 9-6 bruising of St. Louis, we do know this:

The manager who invented the modern day bullpen was a step too slow for Milwaukee's lighting-quick thunder. His team owned a three-run lead in that game-turning fifth, but Jamie Garcia had allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach base and Dotel was ready in the pen.

Up next: Ryan Braun, just 2-for-8 lifetime against Dotel (single, double) with six strikeouts.

Following Braun: Prince Fielder, also just 2-for-8 lifetime against Dotel (two singles) with six whiffs.

Yet La Russa made no move to the mound. Not even for a chat.

Quicker than you could scream "MVP!", as the sellout crowd chanted to near-deafening proportions, Braun sent the first pitch he saw from Garcia rocketing into the right-field corner for a two-run double.

Then, quicker than you could say "Beast Mode", Fielder sent the first pitch he saw screaming over the right-field fence for a two-run homer that lifted Milwaukee into a 6-5 lead.

It was as quick and brutal as a TKO.

How quick? Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled, Braun doubled and Prince homered on three consecutive pitches.

Not quick enough for you? Try this: As measured by ESPN Home Run Tracker, formerly Hit Tracker, the homer traveled at a speed of 119.2 m.p.h. off of Fielder's bat -- the highest speed for any homer hit in 2011.

So in their first League Championship Series game in 29 years, the Brewers set a land-speed record in leaping out to a lead over the Cardinals, in retaining their all-important home-field advantage and in convincing their fans that the World Series is just three victories from returning to Milwaukee for the first time since 1982.


Posted on: October 8, 2011 5:32 pm
 

Nyjer Morgan talks national TV F-bombs

The F-bomb Heard 'Round the Baseball World boomeranged back to Milwaukee outfielder Nyjer Morgan on Saturday as the Brewers and Cardinals prepared for Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday, and Morgan had one reaction: Sorry.

"Honestly, I didn't even realize the mic was right there on me," said Morgan, who dropped two very audible F-bombs on TBS field reporter Sam Ryan during Friday's postgame interview following Milwaukee's dramatic Game 5 win over Arizona. "I was sorry for the nation. You know, I am a role model out here."

With that thought, Morgan stopped and let out a big belly laugh.

"I'm serious, I am a role model and kids hear that and I don't condone it, but I was caught up in the moment, man," he continued. "That doesn't happen to everybody. So I'm sorry for that. Next time I'll think about it before I spit it out. Yeah."

What will he say next time?

"I don't know," he said. "'All right!' I'll give a Tiger Woods fist bump."

Meanwhile, someone asked Zack Greinke, Milwaukee's Game 1 starter, his impression of Morgan.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, he's great," Greinke said. "Everybody else probably likes him 100 percent of the time. But every now and then, he talks too much for me and gets annoying.

"But I tell him that. Everyone on the team loves him. He has a good heart, and he's fun."
Posted on: October 7, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Brewers thrill Milwaukee with 10-inning win

MILWAUKEE -- This might be a beer town, but they will take champagne. Oh yes they will. Especially when it's the first postseason champagne they've sprayed in 29 hard, lean years.

Especially when it's a team as free-spirited and beloved as this year's Brewers, who drew three million fans to Miller Park this summer and, with a scintillating 3-2, 10-inning Game 5 win over the Diamondbacks on Friday, earned the privilege to draw several thousand more over the next 10 or so days.

National League Championship Series, here they come.

First time ever.

Not since 1982 have the Brewers moved to within one step of the World Series, and back then, they were in the American League. And yes, they advanced to the Fall Classic, where they fell to St. Louis.

Since then, it's been 29 Octobers of raking the leaves and cheering for the Packers.

Until now.

What a game, what a season.

To hold on and win, Milwaukee's bullpen had to face down an Arizona team with 48 come-from-behind wins, most in the majors this year. But the Brewers' bullpen is so good, it hadn't blown a lead after the seventh inning since July 4.

There was tension, there was sweat, there was nail biting.

And for the first time since 1982, the result was a win in a postseason series.

The Brewers won this last winter, when they decided to keep Prince Fielder and swing for the fences in 2011. They won it when the acquired Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. Won it in July, when they landed closer-turned-setup-man Francisco Rodriguez from the New York Mets the night of the All-Star Games.

And they won it with one out in the 10th when Nyjer Morgan drove a 2-2 pitch against Arizona closer J.J. Putz up the middle, scoring Carlos Gomez from second.

Miller Park immediately went crazy, blue and gold confetti papering the place.

What a game, what a season. Next stop: NLCS.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Brewers' last playoff manager looks to go deeper

MILWAUKEE -- If Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke needs any sort of reference points for the last time the Brewers were in the postseason, back in 2008, he doesn't have to travel far to find the manager from back then.

In a testament to the family atmosphere that surrounds this fun bunch of Brewers, Dale Sveum continues his work with the organization as hitting coach, his time in charge largely forgotten in the dustbin of history.

When the Brewers nearly folded down the stretch in '08, they fired manager Ned Yost in a shocking move in mid-September, with just 12 games left in their season.

Sveum took over on an interim basis for those 12 games, then managed in the playoffs as the Brewers were eliminated in four games by the Phillies.

After that, Sveum was considered as full-time manager but didn't get the job. The Brewers instead hired Ken Macha, who ran the club in 2009 and 2010. When they didn't renew his contract, they plucked Roenicke off of Mike Scioscia's Angels staff.

So here we are, three years later, and there's Sveum, working behind the batting cage, offering this bit of advice to Prince Fielder, that bit of help to Ryan Braun.

Surely, he had to swallow some pride when he was passed over as manager. Why did he stay?

"It was a very unfortunate situation at the time," Sveum, 47, told me when we spoke here a couple of weeks ago. "I only managed for 12 days and then the playoffs. It wasn't like I was there for three months or something. It wasn't the norm where you think you deserve the job."

Given that feeling, the strange circumstances and his affinity for the young core group of players in '08 -- most of whom will play this afternoon in what could be Prince Fielder's final game as a Brewer -- Sveum never gave serious thought to leaving. Maybe others would have walked away in a huff, but not this guy.

"I've been with quite a few organizations, but the Brewers have been great," said Sveum, who played for the Brewers, Pirates, White Sox, Athletics, Mariners and Yankees during his 12-year major-league career. "I love it here. I love the city.

"There would be nothing more gratifying than winning one here. I played here. I coached here. We have a great owner [Mark Attanasio] who is not afraid to spend money and keep guys. We drew three million fans this year.

"This is not a bad place to be. And these jobs don't come around very often."

While Sveum said the run in '08 with CC Sabathia was a whole lot of fun, he said this year has been better because "we have a complete pitching staff, and whenever you have a complete pitching staff, you have a chance to go deep into the playoffs."

"The fans are not stupid," Sveum said. "They know there's a window here to go deep into the playoffs, and that's what brings electricity."

Those fans, on edge since Arizona evened this series 2-2 on Wednesday night in the desert, only hope the window to go deep into the playoffs doesn't slam shut prematurely later tonight.

Likes: Three Game 5s. How great is this? ... Fabulous Tigers-Yankees Game 5, and what a job of managing in that series by Jim Leyland. ... The folks who work for Southwest Airlines are some of the friendliest and most helpful in the business. The other day, a little portfolio-type thing I carry that has a ton for frequent-flier cards, numbers and receipts in it, fell out of my workbag on a flight. I didn't notice until I got to the baggage claim area, and a terrific lady for Southwest in the baggage claim area jumped on the case immediately, phoned the gate and had it back to me within 15 minutes. The folks cleaning the plane had found it and, phew, what a relief. ... Mo's steakhouse in downtown Milwaukee. The "McAlpine" Horseradish Crusted Prime Ribeye, white cheddar mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach ... now that's a meal. ... Culver's frozen custard, a Wisconsin staple.

Dislikes: Another week of great baseball, 75 degrees in Milwaukee today, beautiful sun, sailboats on Lake Michigan ... what's not to like?

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Reading departure signs in some big airport
"Reminds me of the places I've been.
"Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
"Makes me want to go back again.
"If it suddenly ended tomorrow,
"I could somehow adjust to the fall.
"Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
"I've seen more than I can recall
"These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
"Nothing remains quite the same.
"Through all of our running and all of our cunning
"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

 
 
 
 
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