Friday, April 15, 2011

Pitching is what's new

The other day I was on the phone with a senior vice president from my Company. He asked, “what’s new?”  I never know how to answer this question with a co-worker. Should I say, “not too much; just keepin’ it real”? Should I explain that my brother got engaged and I’m trying to diet so I don’t look fat in the wedding pictures (but am failing miserably)?

I rejected all of these options and instead went with: “Well, I’m excited that it’s finally baseball season.” It turned out to be the right way to answer this question as we were able to: a) discuss the weather in the Midwest (which people who live in warmer climates always like to do); and b) discuss baseball. I think he appreciated my helpful insight regarding the Seattle Mariners lack of offense.  Man, Justin Smoak needs to start hitting. Baseball might be the best thing that’s happened to my career in a while.

I like to imagine that if Ron Roenicke were asked, “what’s new?” at his post-game press conference on Thursday night, he’d have answered, “Well, our starting pitching doesn’t suck this year.” [And then immediately found some wood to strike with his knuckles so as to not jinx the 2011 season.]

After a rainout on Tuesday, Shaun Marcum took the mound on Wednesday night against Pittsburgh. Marcum went seven innings and gave up only four hits and one walk. In fact, both Marcum and Pirates pitcher Kevin Correia took no-hitters into the fifth inning. The Pirates led off the fifth inning with two singles but were unable to score. Milwaukee’s first hit came in the sixth inning when Jonathan Lucroy made a triumphant return from the DL with a lead-off double. Marcum bunted him to third and was safe on the play. Lucroy scored on a Carlos Gomez sacrifice fly. Braun then singled and both Braun and Marcum scored when Prince Fielder hit a home run to center field.  Zach Braddock, Kam Loe and Mitch Stetter held the Pirates scoreless over the last two innings to preserve the shut out.

Thursday night was Randy Wolf’s turn to shine. Prior to his most recent start, Wolf had struggled. He gave up six earned runs in four innings against Cincinnati and two earned runs in six innings against the Cubs (although he pitched worse than the numbers actually indicate against the Cubs).  Against the Pirates, Wolf went 6.2 innings and gave up just three hits and two walks, while striking out ten batters. The Brewers, meanwhile, jumped on Pittsburgh early taking a 2-0 first inning lead. The Brewers tacked on two more runs in the ninth inning. John Axford made things a little interesting in the ninth, loading the bases and allowing a run to score, before striking out Josh Rodriguez to end the game.

The two wins against the Pirates put the Brewers at 7-5. Through 12 games, the team ERA is 2.98. Brewer pitching has given up 35 earned runs (44 runs total), 13 home runs and 40 walks in 105.2 innings pitched.  They have stuck out 86 and pitched three shutouts. In March and April of last year (206 innings), Milwaukee posted a 5.16 ERA. The team ERA had dropped to 4.58 by the end of the season.

I know it’s early in the season, so I hope when the 2011 season is over, I can say the pitching didn’t suck this year.

Brewers 6, Pirates 0
Game played 4-13-11

Brewers 4, Pirates 1
Game played 4-14-11

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