Friday, July 29, 2011

Setting up the sweep

After Kam Loe pitched out of a bases loaded, no-outs jam in the sixth inning and LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless seventh inning, Francisco Rodriguez entered Tuesday night's game against the Cubs to pitch the eighth inning.  Our favorite Fox Sports Wisconsin broadcasters described the occasion as follows:

Brian Anderson: This has to be a huge adjustment for Francisco Rodriguez. He's used to coming into games in the ninth inning with the crowd on its feet, with the music blasting in anticipation of a save. And he enters this game in a set-up role with the cap shuffle on the scoreboard and the Benny Hill music. So it's a little bit different setting for K-Rod.

Bill Schroeder: So far he's OK with it. ...All is good in the mind of K-Rod.

Brian Anderson: You can almost see Francisco Rodriguez, he was yelling at himself on the mound. I don't know if he does that all of the time but whatever it takes.

Bill Schroeder: Are you sure that the Benny Hill music isn't what he likes to come into the game to?

Brian Anderson: Maybe it is. [Laughter.]

Tuesday night was the first of three consecutive nights where Milwaukee used K-Rod in the eighth inning and John Axford in the ninth inning. In each game, K-Rod got the hold and Axford the save. It was an important three-game sweep against the Cubs at Miller Park. The wins put Milwaukee back into first place in the division.

Since being acquired from the Mets at the All-Star break, Rodriguez has appeared in seven games and has collected five holds and one win. He has allowed two runs, both coming in a win against the Diamondbacks on July 20. After a shaky start to the season, Axford has been a solid closer. He has now successfully converted his last 27 consecutive save opportunities and has 30 total saves.

As the NL Central heads toward what is shaping up to be a down-to-the-wire finish, it will be interesting to see if Ron Roenicke deviates from the set-up and closer roles. For example, I wonder if Roenicke considered bringing in K-Rod in the sixth inning when the Cubs had loaded the bases and the Brewers had a one run lead. As it turned out, Loe did an amazing job getting out of the jam and preserving the one-run lead but it would seem that that was a golden opportunity to bring in K-Rod for a strikeout.

For now, I guess I'll just be happy that the Brewers have the bullpen to have those type of options.

Brewers 4, Cubs 2
Game played 7-28-11

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