Friday, October 22, 2010

Catching my breath

For the next nine weeks or so I'll have a regular feature on Today was my first post in the Forgotten Brewers series, so check it out.

Since the Brewers season ended, I've posted exactly once. It's like the episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta where Kim decides to start exercising so she will look better when she performs "Tardy for the Party" at the White Party. After jogging and walking for what seems like less than a mile, she and her assistant spot a beer truck across four lanes of traffic. They dodge traffic and catch the beer truck before it leaves the liquor store. The pair then stops exercising in favor of drinking a few beers while sitting on the bench in front of the liquor store.

I jogged through the season but then I needed to take a little break.

Hopefully I will have a regular posting schedule soon.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Waiting for Superman

The playoffs stared today. And Waiting for Manager opened in a theatre near you.

After sending me word that three University of Wisconsin students had been fined $86,000 for having a house party (really, this happened in Wisconsin?), my co-worker’s husband sent me a picture of Cubs announcer Bob Brenly.

Why would anyone send me a photo of this douche bag? I looked at the Journal Sentinel sports page. I looked at the front page of Nothing about Brenly.

Then I got the link. Sources say that Brenly will be the new Brewers manager. WHAT? How could this be possible? This is a man who heaped criticism on the Brewers and famously suggested that Ryan Braun would have additional problems with his rib muscles if he continued to act like he did after hitting a home run against the Cubs.

I freaked out. How could Doug Melvin do this? I might have thrown my pencil across the room. I was eyeing my stapler when I went back to and visited the comments section. People were abuzz with the rumor. I needed to know that it would be OK before I hurled the stapler at my book shelves. Another poster suggested that I calm down and that Brenly was denying meeting with the Brewers. I sipped water slowly from a coffee mug as I tried to calm down.

A few minutes later came news that Melvin had not offered the job to Brenly and was a “bit incredulous” about the rumor.

I don’t remember being this fired up about anything in awhile. The movie Waiting for Superman gets its title from a Harlem educator’s childhood belief that Superman would rescue him (and fix the problems of the ghetto). I guess I’m waiting for Superman, too. I want a new manger to swoop in and rescue the Brewers from a losing record. I want this manager to lead the Brewers to the post-season. (No need to achieve these feats in tights and a cape. This sort of fashion statement should be left to Rick Peterson.)

Bob Brenly is no Superman. Admittedly, I know that no manager is going to come in and do the things I want without some starting pitching but I feel relieved--for now--or at least until Melvin interviews Juan Samuel.   

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010-a barrel of fun

The Brewers wrapped up the 2010 season today with a 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Randy Wolf had a decent outing going seven innings and giving up the three runs on nine hits and one walk. Milwaukee fell behind early but tied the game at two on a double by Corey Hart in the third inning. Jay Bruce untied the game with a fourth inning home run. And that’s it. The Brewers didn’t give up any additional runs but were unable to score any either. Milwaukee’s best chance to score came in the seventh inning when Hart tried to steal home. He was nearly hit by Aroldis Chapman’s pitch and was easily tagged out by Corky Miller.

And then it was over. All over. As in no more games this year over.

Milwaukee finished the year at 77-85,and in third place in the NL Central. Despite my frequent writing and wishing to the contrary, the Brewers were never really in contention this year. Trevor Hoffman blew five of his first ten attempts before he was extricated from the closer role. There was also that little matter of losing nine in a row in May that sunk the 2010 ship.

Thank you for reading (Mom)! For now I am out of things to compare the games to. To recap, I’ve compared either the game or the Brewers to the U.S. men’s soccer team; the TV show Mall Cops; my favorite cashier at the grocery store; cheap foamy beer; a pee cup; drinking all day; Walgreen’s; Jersey Shore--at least twice; my softball team; parenthood; the Harlem Globetrotters; The Tell-Tale Heart; Smirnoff Wild Grape; Mariah Carey; and Natural Dog magazine. Well, Natural Dog was about a member of the Reds...

Reds 3, Brewers 2
Game played 10-3-10

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Game No. 161

Did you know that there is a magazine called Natural Dog? It claims to be the complete guide to holistic dog care. I discovered this while at Borders today. I was reading about Jennifer Grey’s comeback while my husband shopped for a new book to read.
Corky Miller

I bring this up because the Brewers lost today when Corky Miller hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning to break open a close game. It was Miller’s second home run of 2010 and the eleventh of his nine-year major league career. (To be fair, Miller has never been a full time catcher in the big leagues. He appeared in 31 games for Cincinnati this year with 77 plate appearances. Miller appeared in 39 games in 2002 for his most in a major league uniform.)

As they did on Friday night, the Brewers fell behind early against the Reds on Saturday afternoon. Chris Capuano was not sharp and gave up three runs on ten hits in 3.2 innings. He was relieved by Brandon Kintzler, who gave up a controversial home run to Jay Bruce in the fifth inning. The home run put the Brewers in a 4-1 hole. Bruce hit a long fly ball to center field that Lorenzo Cain had a beat on, but a fan appeared to reach over the fence (with his own glove) and hit Cain’s glove and bring the ball with him over the fence. The umpires reviewed the play and determined that it was a home run. Rock rarely argues with the umpires’ calls but he nearly jumped out of the booth over this ruling. It looked like Cain would have caught the ball, but even if he missed it, it would not have left the park. Not that I’m biased.

Milwaukee rallied in the seventh inning when Ryan Braun was hit by a pitch, Prince Fielder walked and Casey McGehee homered to left field. The Reds took the lead back in the bottom half of the inning and essentially clinched it on Miller’s home run off of Todd Coffey. Not that the Brewers didn’t have their chances but they would finish just 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

One more game to go! With his fifth inning double, Ryan Braun stands at 188 hits. He needs just 12 tomorrow to finish the year with 200.

Reds 7, Brewers 4
Game played 10-2-10

What about how the Brewers were able to come back tonight and really battle and eventually beat the Reds in 11 innings?

At the conclusion of the Brewers come-from-behind, extra-innings win against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night, Telly Hughes dropped one of his “what about how” questions on Casey McGehee. These are not really questions at all but rather statements that Telly would like the player to agree with and possibly expand upon.

“What about how you guys are just battling every at bat—this is game 160 and guys are still going up there and just giving it their all?” Telly asked/stated.

A befuddled look came over Casey’s face as he tried to find the question in that “question” and then determine whether Telly was really saying that he found it surprising—and great—that the Brewers were still trying at this point in the season. “I mean it’s still … You know it’s still a reflection of our team and, umm, what kind of character we have on our team and we’re going to keep doing it for the next two days and umm try to leave a good taste in our mouth for the off season,” Casey responded.

What about how Mark Rogers was able to pitch tonight? The rookie got his second end-of-the-year start and went five innings giving up two runs on two hits and one walk. He struck out six.  Rogers did not allow a hit until Jonny Gomes singled to center with one out in the fifth inning. (The run in the first inning came on a walk, stolen base, ground out and sac fly.) It was the first hit off of Rogers in 9.1 innings.

What about how Rickie Weeks was able to break up Travis Wood’s no hitter in the sixth inning? Entering the sixth inning, Wood had given up only a walk to Prince and hit Weeks with a pitch. With one out in the sixth inning, Weeks launched a shot to dead center to end the no-hit and shutout bids simultaneously. It was Weeks’ 29th home run of the year.

What about how the Brewers were able to come back against the NL Central champs? Cincinnati built leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before Milwaukee tied the game at three in the seventh inning. What? They were still battling? Someone better tell Telly. The rally started with a one-out double by McGehee. Lorenzo Cain and Craig Counsell followed with singles. The tying run scored on a sac fly from Jonathan Lucroy.

What about how the pitching staff held the potent Reds offense in check while the Brewers plated a run? After Jeremy Jeffress gave up one run in the sixth inning, the Brewers bullpen shut down the Reds. Todd Coffey gave up just a walk in the seventh, Kam Loe gave up two hits in the eighth and ninth innings, Mike McClendon pitched a perfect tenth inning and John Axford, always up for making a save an adventure, pitched around a single and walk to earn his 24th save of the year.

The Brewers got the go-ahead run in the top of the eleventh inning when Corey Hart singled and Ryan Braun walked to start the inning. Prince hit a fly ball that allowed Hart to advance to third. McGehee followed with a ground ball up the middle that looked to be a double play ball but gold-glover Brandon Phillips was unable to come up with the ball and everyone was safe. It scored Hart. It was originally scored as an error for Phillips but was then changed to a hit.

What about how the Brewers were able to win that game!

Brewers 4, Reds 3
Gamed played 10-1-10

Friday, October 1, 2010

Brewers take three of four from Mets

About a month and a half ago, I thought we should keep Yovanni Gallardo but otherwise gut the entire starting rotation. I had even come to terms with the idea of trading Prince Fielder and/or Corey Hart to get that pitching. (I know, I was slow to come on board with this whole idea of a Prince trade—it’s not that I didn’t/don’t think we should do it, it’s that I like Prince and have a hard time with change. I had to change my mindset: A winning Brewers team without Prince is better than a losing team with Prince. And he’s almost certainly gone after 2011 anyway …) 

Since that time, it FEELS like the pitching has been better, and the numbers reflect that. (See below for month-by-month breakdown. See also Disciples of Uecker analysis. Jack Moore’s pinky finger knows more about stats than I do. You should read it.)  

April       5.16 ERA; 1.54 WHIP; 33 HR; 206 IP
May       5.53 ERA; 1.71 WHIP; 22 HR; 249 IP
June      3.93 ERA; 1.33 WHIP; 23 HR; 240.1 IP
July        5.22 ERA; 1.45 WHIP; 37 HR; 236 IP
Aug        4.77 ERA; 1.45 WHIP; 37 HR; 243.1 IP
Sept       2.96 ERA; 1.13 WHIP; 17 HR; 237.1 IP

The pitching in September has been much better than during any other time during the season. I don’t think that this should deter Doug Melvin, however, from pursuing pitching with gusto in the off-season but I do hope that it prevents him from signing another pitcher like Doug Davis. Desperation never leads to good results. (Plus, a lot of the pitching has been against September call-ups.)

Chris Narveson capped off a strong September team pitching performance by giving up just one run in 6.2 innings of work on Thursday night. His outing dropped his ERA to 4.99 for the season.  Meanwhile, several Brewers hit individual milestones as the offense cranked out nine runs. The score stood at just 4-2 entering the ninth inning but Corey Hart would get his 100th RBI, Casey McGehee would get his 100th RBI, Ryan Braun would score his 100th run and Prince Fielder would get his 110th walk (to match his club record from 2009)—all in the ninth inning. 

Brewers 9, Mets 2
Game played 9-30-10