Thursday, April 7, 2011

Refuse[d] to lose

The Brewers shrugged off a tough 0-4 start and took the last three games (of a four game series) from the Atlanta Braves. Milwaukee is now 3-4 heading into a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.

While Yovani Gallardo pitched a complete game shut out on Tuesday, Milwaukee called on John Axford to shut down the Braves in the ninth inning of both Wednesday's and Thursday's games. The opportunity to close Wednesday's game not only gave Axford a chance to redeem himself after his opening day meltdown but also gave us fans an opportunity to hear his new entrance music. As I'm sure everyone knows by now, Axford allowed fans to vote for his entrance music. The options were:

1. Audioslave - Cochise
2. Ennio Morricone - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
3. Rage Against The Machine - Bulls on Parade
4. Refused - New Noise

On Wednesday, with the Brewers clinging to a 5-4 lead, Axford came out to New Noise by Refused. He promptly walked Jason Heyward, but then settled in to get the next three batters and preserve Milwaukee's second win of the season. After the game, Axford said that he was contemplating interchanging New Noise and Audioslave, but after the victory, he would probably stick with New Noise.

I've seen plenty of grumblings about this selection, but I think that it is a solid choice. Last year, Axford had the unenviable task of replacing Trevor Hoffman, who not only was the game's all-time saves leader but also had one of the all-time best entrance songs in Hells Bells. If Axford picked ANY classic heavy metal song, it would have seemed like he was trying to be Trevor 2.0. By selecting a song performed by a Swedish punk band, the Ax went in a different direction, and I can appreciate that--but only if they still play Livin' On a Prayer and Don't Stop Believing between innings--I'm a middle aged Wisconsinite after all. You can't argue with the results of entering to Refused. Axford closed the door on Atlanta on Thursday afternoon, as well.

Some other thoughts on the Brewers first home series.

Who is Tony Plush? Just days before the season began, Milwaukee traded minor leaguer Cutter Dykstra for Nyjer Morgan. Reactions were mixed. Morgan had a good 2009, followed by a 2010 campaign that saw his numbers drop and his suspensions rise. At least he isn't Mark Kotsay, was a common refrain. Tony Plush is Morgan's alter ego. He had some fun with the T-Plush thing but declared him dead in an interview this spring.  "It got to the point where it was time to grow up. It's time to turn into a true professional. It's time to kick some ass," Morgan said.

Morgan's been pretty kick ass this year for the Brewers. He's gone 6-13 with a .500 OBP and one stolen base. Plus (or should I say Plush?), he's a very solid defender. He nearly single handedly scored Milwaukee's third run on Thursday. He doubled with one out, stole third base, and scored on a grounder when he knocked the ball out of Brian McCann's glove. I hope Morgan feels like he has something to prove this whole season.

Payback. Did anyone else notice that Ryan Braun gave a little extra fist pump after he homered off Tommy Hanson in the first inning on Thursday? Hanson hit Braun on the elbow last May. It was widely speculated that Braun was more injured than he ever let on and this led to an extended slump.

Perspective. I had to watch two of the four games through Atlanta's feed so I got to experience the musings of Chip Caray and Joe Simpson. Having come off of several weeks of listening to Gus Johnson, I can honestly say that I appreciate understated analysis. But (yawn), these guys (yawn) may go too far in the other direction. After Morgan took out McCann trying to score, Simpson started to whine that the Brewers were "launching themselves at Brain." His voice didn't get louder, his pitch just got higher. After replays, Simpson admitted that McCann was blocking the plate so Morgan had to go at McCann. But then he complained that Morgan didn't really slide properly so as to make contact with McCann. And that's a problem?

Brewers 5, Braves 4
Game played 4-6-11

Brewers 4, Braves 2
Game played 4-7-11 

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