Well, that was quick. Actually almost a little too quick. Quick as in, now we now exactly why the United States fired Bob Bradley in the first place. I had said that if we replace Bradley with anyone other than former German soccer star and coach Jurgen Klinsmann it would be a disappointment, but apparently the United States Soccer Federation was already in contact with Klinsmann which is why they went ahead and made the move. They had to have been, or else I don't think a move would have been made this quickly if at all. Klinsmann should be a good fit with the American team, and I'm happy to see the guy I wanted to be the coach five years ago finally get the job.
While the Milwaukee Brewers fanbase was still trying to cope with the news that Rickie Weeks will miss a minimum of a few weeks with an ankle sprain, the Brewers team was focused on assembling a squad that could go out and sweep the Cubs at Miller Park for the first time since 2005 (I still can't believe that). Back by solid pitching as they have been all series, the Brewers were able to do just that and pick up a 4-2 win to get that sweep. It was another game where you have to give major kudos to the pitching staff, including starting pitcher Shaun Marcum who went six innings allowing two runs and striking out four. LaTroy Hawkins, Francisco Rodriguez, and John Axford paved the way to a win from there, and the Brewers take three from the Cubs in a series where they allowed just four runs.
It was good to see the Brewers come out and get a win, actually all three of these wins, as they kick off an 18-game stretch against all NL Central teams. This could be a crucial part of the schedule where they either start to pull away a bit or begin to fall back. With the Rickie Weeks injury, you'd be nervous that they might do the latter, but they'll obviously need some guys to step up in his absence. One such guy who does not appear to be ready for that role is Craig Counsell, who went 0-for-3 today and is now hitting just .150 on the season. It pains me to write those words, but even Craig Counsell knows he is garbage at the plate, you could see the "how much longer are they going to let me do this shit" look of his he had after the plate after he hit a ball directly into the ground in front of home plate and was tagged out.
Apparently not too long, as the wheels are in motion to get a guy to not only replace Rickie Weeks in the interim, but to be his backup come September. As mentioned previously, the Brewers are looking at both Rafael Furcal and Jamey Carroll of the Dodgers, but it sounds like the Dodgers aren't willing to get rid of both guys. Keep in mind, I'm not really sure what the Brewers have in terms of prospects to give away, so trading for a need is going to be that much more difficult. One move that the Brewers did make on Thursday was reacquiring Felipe Lopez from the Tampa Bay Rays organization for cash. Lopez had a stint with Milwaukee in 2009 after a previous Weeks injury, but as of now he's been assigned to Nashville. We may never even see him with the big league club, but I don't have a problem with Doug Melvin for making sure that he has options down the road.
So we'll see what happens on the trade front, but in the meantime the Brewers have some games to play, 15 straight more against NL Central clubs. As of this posting, the Brewers are a game ahead of the Cardinals and two ahead of the Pirates for the division lead. They're also 22 games ahead of the Houston Astros, the team they'll matchup against next.
Time to cut Counsell
Please please please cut Craig Counsell
Seriously, cut him
POTG: Ryan Braun (triple away from the cycle)
It certainly has been a busy couple of days in the NFL, hasn't it? Donovan McNabb to the Vikings. Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals. Reggie Bush to the Dolphins. Matt Hasselbeck to the Titans. It's like someone started a new season of Madden and started a season using the fantasy draft mode. But one team that won't change too much is that of your Green Bay Packers. Ted Thompson is watching players fly from team to team, but he's yet to really make any big moves besides letting a few people go and resigning Mason Crosby. And I don't see a problem with that, and why would you? I actually saw a message board where fans were upset that Thompson wasn't being active in free agency. Um, hello! This guy just won you a fucking Super Bowl! Let's chill out a little bit, sound good? Let the man do his job!
Breathe, Winks, breathe.
With that out of the way, let's catch up and do some quick hits on guys whose days as Packers seem to be over.
Brady Poppinga - Set to be released. Unfortunately, hosting "Breakfast with the Boys" doesn't guarantee a roster spot, and with how many linebackers contributed last season, releasing Poppinga has been nothing but a formality for a long time coming now.
Justin Harrell - Harrell is a great kid, and without those injuries I think he would have been a solid first round pick for Ted Thompson. But the injuries just couldn't be avoided, and now with all the guys that are returning from the IR of last season, there is no longer a spot on the roster to keep a "project player" such as Harrell.
James Jones - Aaron Rodgers has said that the Packers number one priority should be resigning James Jones. Instead, Jones may be catching passes from Donovan McNabb as a member of the Vikings, which would be super lame. Sounds like it's between him and Braylon Edwards as to who replaces Sidney Rice (now a Seahawk), but either way Jones looks to be long gone.
John Kuhn - Wants to remain a Packer. Will likely remain a Packer. I really can't see him playing anywhere else.
Daryn Colledge - He's signed on with the Arizona Cardinals. He would have probably been one of the last linemen on the depth chart, and Thompson usually goes with youth anyway so if not now, he would have probably been cut later. Best of luck to him.
Cullen Jenkins - Washington is the rumored target, as his Dallas. Other teams may be in the mix as well. He's a guy that I would have liked to keep, but that's clearly not going to happen.
Of those six, it looks like only Kuhn is likely to stick around. I'm not too upset about anyone leaving, although I'll have a fit if Jones goes to the Vikings.
Honestly, I feel as if this was a move that was inevitable, but Bob Bradley has now been officially fired as coach of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team. Bradley has been the coach of the team since the winter of 2007, and for the most part you'd have to consider his run with the team a success. He had a record of 43-25-12 and under him the team performed quite well in the World Cup of 2010 and the Confederations Cup of 2009. Put the team struggled quite frequently throughout the Gold Cup, including being routed 4-2 against Mexico in the tournament final after they had lead 2-0 in the early stages of the game. It was becoming quite clear that the team had reached it's full potential under Bradley, and that improvement was going to have to come from a different leader.
Bradley was extended after the 2010 World Cup, which was a bit of a surprise in my opinion. While the National Team did perform well last summer, I thought it was quite apparent then that the level of soccer they played in the World Cup was the best that they were going to achieve. But with really no better option to spearhead this team through another summer, Bradley was retained. Since the World Cup, the United States soccer program seems to have plateaued. Whether he wasn't getting through to the guys on the club anymore I don't know, but this was not a team that looked poised to get better any time soon. For that reason, Bradley has been let go and the search is on for a replacement.
The popular choice among American soccer fans would be to see Jurgen Klinsmann take the reigns. Klinsmann is a former soccer star for Germany, and he was the nation's coach during the 2006 World Cup. After resigning shortly thereafter, Klinsmann began a life in America which now includes him serving as a consultant for the MLS club Toronto FC and living in California. You've probably been familiar with him in some regard as well, as he was one of the studio analysts during the 2010 World Cup for ESPN. Sure, there are other options out there, but I think anyone besides Klinsmann would be a disappointment. Just as it was in 2006.
Kudos to Bradley for his time well served, but the United States program had no where left to improve under his tutelage. Let's now go out and find someone who can make that happen.
And let that someone be Jurgen Klinsmann. Ja Wohl!
Overshadowing the Brewers magnificent 2-0 win against the Cubs in which both the start Zack Greinke and the bullpen were near flawless was the injury to Rickie Weeks. The circumstance of a Brewers player going down near first base while playing the Cubs is a scene we've already unfortunately seen before, but hopefully this injury won't be as bad. At first glance, I thought that it was nothing more than an ankle sprain, although now the injury is being labeled as a "severe ankle sprain". But beat writer Tom Haudricourt thinks it might be worse than that.
"He has a number of issues in the ankle," said assistant general manager Gord Ash in an article published by Haudricourt. "I can't get into those things. There are so many moving parts in there. It's tough to put an exact timetable on it."
Yikes, that does sound iffy. Still, Ash did mention that Weeks could be out anywhere from three to six weeks, which is a lot better than what some may have initally thought in that this injury may cost him his season. But while we do expect Weeks to come back eventually, we still have to navigate these murky waters without him. Weeks was finally giving us some competent in the five-hole, and Casey Mac will be back in that slot on Thursday in the series finale. But Craig Counsell is not the long-term option, or anything close to a short-term option for that matter, as proved by his recent 0-for-36 slide.
The Brewers will try to put a bandaid on the situation by calling up Eric Farris from Triple-A Nashville, and I'm not even going to pretend like I know who that is (I try to stay current with the guys down on the farm, but Farris must have slipped past me). He doesn't seem to be a long term solution either. Jamey Carroll of the Dodgers, who the Brewers have previously looked into, may be an option. He isn't the greatest, but he's serviceable. However, now that they know we need a guy like him, the asking price may increase. Then again, the Dodgers are a team that is in fianancial ruin, so we could get another deal like we had with K-Rod and the Mets. Adam Kennedy from Seattle could be another option. We'll see though, maybe this Farris kid can impress us, and with the way Counsell has been playing/sucking I'd rather see Farris get a shot sooner rather than later.
Brewers win again
In the end, they lose as well
Come back soon Rickie
POTG: Zack Greinke
I'm really not trying to pull a Bill Simmons here and go from mostly print to mostly audio, but with the long hours being put in at the job coupled with the fact that the job is at a radio station, audio is winning the battle of how my opinions are being shared. That being said, I had the chance to jump on The Breakfast Club with Wade Bates on KFIZ-AM Tuesday morning to talk a little Packers. We chatted Mason Crosby, James Jones, and Wade came down on me for referring to the Packers as "we". Here it is for your listening displeasure.
Three two after one
Score stays that way for whole game
Thanks Kameron Loe?
POTG: At the recommendation of Tom Haudricourt, Kameron Loe it is. Rough.
With the win over those Cubbies, the Brewers are now a 1/2 game out of first place behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The redbirds made a pretty significant move today too, trading for Edwin Jackson and a couple of serviceable relievers (let's not forget Bear's boy Corey Patterson).
The writing has been on the wall for a long, long time, but Nick Barnett is finally driving out of the Lambeau Field parking lot for the last time. One of Ted Thompson's first items on his agenda was to meet with the linebacker, and basically tell him that he is either going to be traded or get cut. Teams can't actually cut players until Thursday afternoon, so expect the news to come down then. Guys don't get traded when it's a known fact that the team wants them gone.
Other than that, it's been kind of quiet on the Packers front as the new NFL season gets underway, as all that they have really done is sign a few undrafted free agents. And while we're on the topic, we can share that former Badgers QB Scott Tolzien is the newest member of the San Diego Chargers (more Badgers news can be found at JSOnline).
So those are the few tidbits to report on for now, although I would like to continue this blog's latest trend of choosing audio over print. During my morning show on K107.1 Tuesday morning, I had Brian Carriveau of Cheesehead TV on the program to talk about what the end of the lockout means for the Packers and what to expect from the team in the next couple of days. Enjoy my sweet radio pipes.
Haven't really commented yet about this NFL lockout. Don't feel the need to start now. Except I would like to say one thing.
Thank God this shit is done with.
At 54-49, the Milwaukee Brewers are so far having a pretty fine season. They have their best pitching staff in recent memory, and their offense has the same firepower that we're used to. But they've been unable to pull away in the NL Central, and they continue to find themselves in the middle of an NL Central logjam. After Sunday, the Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Pittsburgh Pirates are all tied atop the division. Eventually, one of these teams will pull away, and I still think that it will be the Brewers, but the longer that the teams stay huddled together the more I become concerned that it could go a different direction.
You can't be upset (at least, not too upset) for the Brewers losing to the San Francisco Giants by a 2-1 score on Sunday. The offense was a bit weak on this afternoon and they did waste a solid performance by Yovani Gallardo, but they are now returning to Milwaukee after a 5-6 road trip which is fantastic for this team. They've struggled all season on the road, obviously, but to pull out this clip after dropping the first two on the road trip says a lot about the resiliency of this team. On a road trip that could have crippled this team for a long time, I couldn't be more satisfied to see the Brewers return to Miller Park on top of the NL Central.
It should be a welcome homecoming for the Milwaukee Brewers, as they face the bottom rung of the division over the next weeks in the Cubs and the Astros. The Cardinals have basically the same schedule, however, beginning with for against Houston and then three against Chicago. The Pirates have the toughest draw of all in the next seven days, traveling to both Atlanta and Philadelphia. Any logical man would guess that the Brewers and Cardinals should be able to separate themselves from Pittsburgh a little bit, but that's why they play the game.
We'll see how things shake out this time next week.
Gallardo sharp again
Bats quiet, yet Braun homers
Time to go home boys
POTG: Yovani Gallardo
Giants 4, Brewers 2
Wolf pitches decent
Prince stays cold, rest of team too
Giants 'pen seals it
POTG: Ryan Braun
The Brewers picked up three runs in the second inning off of the Giants Matt Cain and then found a way to hold on from there, as Milwaukee knocked off San Francisco 4-2 on Friday Night. Couple that with the Cardinals 6-4 over the Pirates, and the Milwaukee Brewers are back in first place, a game ahead of both Pittsburgh and St. Louis. I still think that these three teams might continue to play a game of carousel atop the NL Central standings for the next few weeks before one team eventually breaks through. And if Milwaukee really has at least sort of been able to figure it out on the road, then you have to like the Brewers chances to be that team.
Shaun Marcum pitched another solid game, proving again why he and he alone is the ace of this Brewers team. Marcum went seven innings, gave up just the pair of runs off four hits, and struck out five along the way. After his seven innings were in the books, it was time for the K-Rod/Axford duo to do some work, and work they did. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a clean 8th inning picking up two strikeouts, and then John Axford earned his 27th save of the season.
Decent on the road
Winning games on the West Coast
POTG: Yuniesky Betancourt, why not?
I came to the realization this week that for as much as I love the Brewers, the Packers, the Bucks, the Badgers, and sports for that matter, if I need to be able to go 30 minutes on a single topic without hesitation, that topic would probably be wrestling. And I did just that on Thursday night when I joined the guys from the Brew Town Beat for the latest edition of their podcast. We also reminisce about the days of the Sports Bubbler and Winks Thinks, and make sure to slam Dan Walsh as much as possible. I join the guys around the 28:30 mark.
Diamondbacks 4, Brewers 0
Not much to say about this one that we haven't already said the other nine times Milwaukee has been shutout on the road.
D'Backs blank Brewers
Tenth time shutout on the road
Glad I fell asleep
POTG: Yuniesky Betancourt
While the fact that I'm dropping Inception references like the Black Eyed Peas may make me appear chipper, I'm actually a little upset that I missed another incredible Brewers victory last night. The thing is, the early bed time fairy struck me again as it's done all week with this West Coast trip, because of the new shift. The West Coast weeks used to be my favorite of the year, but now I'm desperate for Eastern road trips and even more so for day games. But enough about me, let's talk about another thrilling road win (yes, road win) that the Milwaukee Brewers were able to pick up on Wednesday night.
Ryan Braun appeared more than comfortable again on Wednesday as he started the contest off with a first inning home run, although the scoring slowed down a bit from there. The Brewers added another run off of a tired Joe Saunders to go up 2-0 come the 7th inning. Good enough for me, I thought. Now let's get some beauty sleep and get ready to wake up at 430 the next morning.
Oh but then what I missed. Francisco Rodriguez gave up a couple of runs. Takashi Saito let Chris Young get to third with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but then (with the help of the five infield defense) was able to lock it down and get the Brewers to extras. Nyjer Morgan, Braun, and Rickie Weeks were able to put the Brewers back on top and then John Axford picked up the save. It was one hell of a game, and unfortunately I missed the best parts.
But I did see Chris Narveson pitch one hell of a game and Carlos Gomez is most likely out for the season after making an incredible catch (meet his call up replacement Brett Carroll everyone). Going to bed before an exciting conclusion is tough, but waking up to a first-place team that currently has a winning record on a road trip isn't so bad.
Bullpen blows the win for him
But then recover
POTG: Chris Narveson
Well, that definitely went off script. I thought we were resigned to the fact that the Brewers were going to be dominant at home, but for that to happen they would have to sacrifice and suck on the road. Suck they did not on Tuesday night, as they sent a message early that this was a game that they were going to win. Corey Hart, a returning Ryan Braun, and even Yuniesky Betancourt all hit first inning home runs to put the Brewers up early, 5-0. The Diamondbacks got a couple of runs off Yovani Gallardo, but for the most part the pitching staff was locked in after that and the Brewers cruised their way to an 11-3 victory. Yes, that's right. They won 11-3. On the road. The Brewers. I think you get the point.
Betancourt actually had a pair of home runs, and is now batting .245 on the season. That's .017 points better than Casey McGehee, by the way. Yuni B was 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBI, which isn't bad for a guy who was seemingly losing his job to Josh Wilson and/or whoever the Brewers may or may not trade for. I've kind of had a soft spot for Betancourt this season, even though I realize defensively he can be a black hole. He's someone who the Brewers could definitely find an upgrade for, but I think there are a few other people in line to be booted off of this team before Betancourt (read: Craig Counsell).
So by the long ball and some terrible Diamondbacks pitching, the Brewers were able to get an impressive road win. That puts them at 3-3 on this current road trip, which again is something to be proud of considering this is a team that is 19-32 away from Brew City. It's Chris Narveson against Joe Saunders tonight in the third game of the four same series. Let's see if the Brewers will be the team that can put up 11 runs or if they'll be the team they were on Monday and get shutout.
Betancourt blasts two
Get this man a new contract!
Just kidding, trade up!
* Bosh, James, Wade will come to the Bradley Center for the first time in February.
* On December 17th the Champion Mavs will come to town.
* The Bucks last 8 games will be played against teams from the East, and six of which are at home.
* Milwaukee doesn't play Christmas day, and I don't know if they every will get scheduled for that day.
The NBA season starts November 1st. Maybe.
Diamondbacks 3, Brewers 0
Collmenter owns Crew
Just three hits wastes Wolf's outing
Such a joke on road
As a quick aside, Craig Counsell hasn't earned himself a hit in 32 at bats now, and I've been saying all year that he will not be a member of this team come September. Yeah, he's a great clubhouse guy and all, but he's a waste of a roster space. Still, he's not why Milwaukee lost on Monday night. You can blame the entire offense for that one.
POTG: Randy Wolf
I could take a few paragraphs to explain the significance of this event, and how insane is that CM Punk beating John Cena on his final night under a WWE contract actually happened, but if you're still reading at this point then you likely already knew of the stakes (but in case you dont....). Take the fact that yes, someone finally did knock off superhero Cena, mix it in with how it all went down (if this video is still up by the time I post this article I'll be shocked), and take in to account the fact that the Chicago crowd could not have been better in rooting for their hometown boy in Punk, and you have yourself one of the greatest moments in WWE history. You also have the moment where becoming a wrestling fan has actually seemed to pay off, because for all the disappointment and all the abuse I've taken, it was worth it to capture a moment like that.
This is an activity (or sport, or entertainment event, or whatever) that I have previously pleaded with you to help me quit, but as of now I am glad that did not occur. From the wrestling, to the story telling, to the atmosphere and to the outcome, this was entertainment at it's finest. And it's only going to get better tonight at Raw. What will become of the WWE Championship now that it's sitting in CM Punk's fridge? Will Punk show up in Green Bay tonight? Is John Cena really fired? How will Vince McMahon react? Is Dolph Ziggler and the United States Championship now really the top belt on Monday nights? Will my girlfriend still love me after she reads this article and after I tell her that I'm going to Raw tonight? All of that remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure - I am proud to be a wrestling fan, and I can not wait until I'm at the Resch Center later this evening.
Back to first place go the Milwaukee Brewers, who earned a victory in a somewhat similar fashion that they did on Saturday, with K-Rod and Axford bringing home the win. Sure, Francisco Rodriguez got in a bit of a jam and yeah, John Axford struggled a bit and gave up a run but the two guys were able to get the job done en route to a 4-3 Milwaukee Brewers victory. Believe it or not friends, but the Brewers just won back to back games on the road.
The series split now puts Milwaukee back in first place, a half game over both the Cardinals and the Pirates, two teams they will still see plenty of the rest of the way. At this point, I really think that each of these teams are going to lead the division at least once in a given week, and that the NL Central won't be decided until the season's final week. Then again, the Brewers do have a whopping 12 games left against the Cardinals alone, and if they can distance themselves a bit in those contests and their upcoming matchups against Pittsburgh, maybe a trip to the postseason will be back in the Brewers future (Don't have your hopes up for the Wild Card birth either, because as of now second place in the NL Central is six games back of the wildcard).
As far as the Brewers victory on Sunday, the game moved at a little bit of a slower pace than normal, even though not too many runs were scored. Shaun Marcum did a good job on the hill while he was out there, but left in the sixth inning after he roughed up his neck a little bit fielding a bunt (one hell of a play by the way). The lineup changed seemed to work enough for the second day, and Casey McGehee had two of the club's RBI, which is something we haven't been able to say in a long while. By far not the prettiest win of the season, but it is so nice to see the Brewers do some damage on the road, in back the back games nonetheless.
Marcum goes just five
Great on the mound and with glove
He better be fine!
POTG: Shaun Marcum
We were supposed to be the team that overcame the odds. We were supposed to be the team that came back from adversity. We were supposed to be the team that capped off this incredible run through the tournament with a World Cup Finals victory. Instead, Japan flipped the script on the Americans and won the Women's World Cup for the first time ever.
The way that Japan won was exactly the same way that the Americans had been winning up to this point. Despite getting outplayed at times, the Japanese were able to answer each of the Americans two goals, including a game saving shot off of a corner kick in the 117th minute. Despite being outplayed for most of the game (the United States had 27 shots to Japan's 14), Japan kept finding ways to stay in the game. Much of the reason that they were able to do so is that in the first 20 minutes when the U.S. attack was the strongest, the Americans were not able to put any shots on the actual net. Abby Wambach did hit a bullet but unfortunately it went off the woodwork instead of into the back of the net. Had the Americans been able to score in the first 20 minutes, this game would have been completely different. But they weren't able to, and that gave Japan the confidence to stick around and eventually win this thing.
Watching this game, I never really had a doubt that the United States wasn't going to win this thing. They had the better side, and everything that had happened in this tournament up to this point was going in the American's favor. They were the crowd favorite for two reasons as well - 1) the Japanese were the ones that knocked the home Germans out of the World Cup and 2) fans were becoming quite enamored with the way that the States were playing. All of those things, in the Americans favor. But when the Japanese were lining up for a corner kick with three minutes to spare in the extra period, I got a bit nervous. Hope Solo had just gone down with some sort of injury, and while I wasn't worried about her physically, I did get a bit worried about her mental state. As a former goalkeeper myself, I know that you have to be 100 percent locked in to any game if you are going to perform at your best. Even being 99.99% focused won't cut it, and I think Solo lost a little something in the games later stages, which would eventually carry on the the penalty kicks. Just some speculation from a former player.
As for those penalty kicks, that was maybe the most disappointing performance all night by the Americans, as they missed their first three kicks and basically gave Japan an open path to glory. Japan took that opportunity, and won the game and the title by a 2-2 tie, with a 3-1 victory in penalty kicks. It's a tough loss to swallow considering the entire country seemed to get behind this U.S. Women's team. I took in the game at a bar Sunday afternoon, and there was a pretty good crowd there considering we were watching a women's soccer game on a Sunday afternoon in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, so that pleased me. The thing that I am worried about is that whenever the nation finally does decide to back a soccer team like this one, the end result is always disappointing. It would have been nice to see the ladies make their new and existing fanbase satisfied with a victory, but hopefully they've done enough in this tournament to have us ready to back them the next time they take the pitch.
Nice run, ladies. Win or lose, we're more than proud of you.
The Brewers 8-7 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night was about as wild as a baseball game gets, but it may be just the kind of spark that the Brewers needed to make sure they don't completely shoot themselves in the foot on this extended road trip. You knew things were going to be a bit different from the start when Corey Hart was in the leadoff role and Rickie Weeks was taking his turn as the number five batter. It was a shake-em-up type move from Ron Roenicke, one that frankly paid off, as both Weeks and Hart homered in the contest. Weeks' shot came in the 9th inning, and put the Brewers on top for good.
A lot of crazy stuff happened to get to that final 8-7 score, some things we've seen before and some we haven't. For instance, Kameron Loe blew a Brewers lead, again. His demotion has to be coming sooner rather than later, doesn't it? Thankfully the Brewers did get the lead back after that, courtesy of some solid baserunning by Yuniesky Betancourt, who pinch ran in the 8th inning for Casey McGehee. Betancourt was involved at a close play at the plate, as was Corey Hart a bit earlier in the night which didn't please the Rockies all that well, as it was actually a minor league umpire that was calling balls and strikes. Interesting. But things did work out in Milwaukee's favor, which was nice to see happen on the road for once.
One thing that didn't go the Brewers way was another injury to Ryan Braun, who just can't seem to stay healthy lately. Braun will be out of the lineup again on Sunday, meaning Mark Kotsay has to take over the three hole duties. After the game on Saturday, it didn't really seem like Braun would be ready to go for the series finale, as he left the affair with more calf and hamstring tightness. If this is something that is going to persist, I'd rather just see him take a 15-day DL stint and make sure he gets healthy for the rest of the season. I guess the determining factor will be if he can go on Monday night against the Diamondbacks.
It was a good win for the Brewers, obviously, and picking up that win was Francisco Rodriguez in his Brewers debut. K-Rod looked "filthy" as they say, allowing no hits and picking up a strikeout. I absolutely love having this guy on the team, there is no question about that and there really shouldn't be. But again, a great win for this team and here's hoping they can keep up the momentum on Sunday.
K-Rod makes debut
The winner in crazy game
Now, send down Loe please
POTG: Rickie Weeks
It's been 14 years since the standings have looked like this at this point in the season, but lo and behold the Pittsburgh Pirates are back atop the NL Central standings. There's a couple of reasons why the standings look like this today. First, the Pirates are a quality baseball team. I've really been a fan of what that organization has been doing the last few years, and if Zach Greinke could pitch half as well as guys like Jeff Karstens and Paul Maholm the Brewers would be in much better shape. Second, the Cardinals have a terrible bullpen, as evidenced by Brandon Phillips' walk-off home run for the Reds on Saturday night to beat St. Louis and hold them back in the divisional race. Third, the NL Central is going to be topsy-turvy the rest of the way out, and while I truly believe the Brewers have the most talent and the best ballclub, they just have not been able to find a way to win on the road and it's costing them dearly.
With their 4-0 loss to the Rockies on Friday night, the Brewers have now fallen to a 16-31 road record, better than only the A's, Royals, and Orioles - all teams that are at the bottom of their divisions by the way. To even be where they are it's clear that the Brewers have played excellent at home, but you only get 81 games and Miller Park during a given season. It should be fairly obvious that the Brewers will need to pick it up on the road if they are going to make the playoffs, but with their consistent struggles I'm not sure if that fact is even clear to members of the Brewers team.
They are just a different team on the road it seems. They can't hit, as they were limited to just four base knocks on Friday against the up-and-coming Juan Nicasio. In fact, the only two guys to get hits off Nicasio where lefties - Prince Fielder and Nyjer Morgan. Their pitching seems to struggle away from Miller Park as well. Chris Narveson didn't have the worst game (6 IP, 3 ER, 5K) however on Friday, but as a whole the sample size has not been positive.
Yeah, the NL Central is a logjam right now, and probably will be for awhile. And at other times when the Brewers have struggled, their other divisional opponents have struggled even worse to keep the Brewers in the race. But with the Cardinals, Reds, and now Pirates all giving chase with a legitimate shot at this thing, the Brewers have to find a way to be the team that is going to separate themselves from the pack. They'd win this division tomorrow if they played every game in Milwaukee, but with 9 games remaining on this 11 game road trip, waiting until they get back to Milwaukee could cost them their season.
POTG: John Axford? He pitched a scoreless frame. Let's give him some recognition for this season so far.
The NL Central
Each day, there's a new leader
Reclaim it, Brewers
Daniel Tosh does a segment every now and then - "Is it Racist?" So I'm going to ask, okay, is the game "Black College Football: The Xperience" racist or not? I never heard of this game, but it was brought to my attention recently. I didn't know how to react, so I will need some help. This game is about Black College Football, and at halftime the scenes emulate the movie Drumline. Someone please help me out, and let me know if this is racist or not. I will have my response in a week a so, but still in shock this game has been out for a long time. I have never heard of it till today. If you have X-Box 360 you can buy it here, if you're so inclined.
How do the Milwaukee Brewers follow up on a day which brought them an All-Star MVP performance and the first big trade prize of the season? They lose to the Rockies by a score of 12-3, of course. Yovani Gallardo lasted just four innings and the Brewers gave up 20 hits, and now sit a half of a game behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. Not a great way to kick of the second half, but let's see what they can do tonight.
In better news, the Brewers and K-Rod have agreed to waive his $17.5 million option if he finishes a certain number of games. To me, that news is more shocking than the trade in the first place. I still hope to Axford in the closer role, but it's nice to know the Brewers have that flexibility if needed.
The break is over
Let's come out swinging, win games!
But losing works too.
POTG: Ryan Braun
With 101 bunkers to pick from, odds are you are going to find yourself in one or two per round. Wisconsin's Steve Stricker found himself in one on the sixth hole, but overall played well for the day. Steve did have two bogey's on the day, and one of them was at the sixth hole pictured above. He was able to recover, and throw in three birdies to fire a 1 under 69 on the first 18 holes of the weekend, so not a bad start for the hometown kid.
Stricker did get out later in the day where the higher scores were seen, so he may have cost himself a little. Still, he's sitting at 1 under, and no one knows what type of weather will come the rest of the weekend. I'd say he is still in this. With both Thomas Bjorn and Tom Lewis (look Tom Lewis up, because he is an amateur, and I have never heard of him until today) leading the way at 5 under, this tournament is still wide open.
Since I have one of my picks at under par lets check out how the other two guys did. Jason Day was all over the board today with birdies and bogey's. He was able to finish the day at +1 tied with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald. Paul Casey on the other hand went out early, and couldn't handle the wind. He shot +4 in the first round, and will need an amazing Friday to have a chance in this Open. With 35 players under par after 18 holes it looks like this won't be a walk away win for anyone like the U.S. Open was.
While last summer it was the U.S. Men's Soccer team that seemingly captivated a nation, this summer the Women's squad has taken over that role and so far done very well with it. One thing the U.S. Men weren't able to do however was capitalize on that momentum, as they lost to Ghana in the knockout round almost as quickly as they had won their group. The U.S. Women didn't want to make the same mistake after their incredible, team-defining win against Brazil last weekend. It was a game that if you didn't watch live, you certainly ended up hearing about, and the support for this team here in America multiplied exponentially after the match. Now on Wednesday, they had to see what they would do with that kind of support.
The women were considered favorites over an up-and-coming French squad, and took charge early when Lauren Cheney scored in the ninth minute. But France wasn't going to give up quickly, and pressured the keeper Hope Solo with shot after terrifying shot. The French had more than twice the number of shots than the Americans, many of which just misses either over the crossbar or wide of the goal, including one that did hit woodwork late in the first half. They were finally awarded for their efforts in the 55th minute with a score, and this game was tied at 1-1. From that point on, France looked the better team. They had better ball control, better play on defense, and were taking more of the shots. It was starting to look like the United States team was going to exit the World Cup in heartbreaking fashion once again.
But determined to make the World Cup Final for the first time since 1999, and desperate to make an identity separate from that iconic team, Abby Wambach went back to the well and did the same thing she did on Sunday - a brilliant header into the back of the net. The beautiful Alex Morgan added the dagger just three minutes later, and soon sent search engines afire as men across the 50 states tried to get a look at the 22-year old. After losing to Sweden in group play, then needing all 120 plus minutes to come back to beat Brazil after some controversial officiating, the United States beat the odds again and knocked off a French side that is every bit as deserving to be in the Final as the U.S. is. This team is defining it's self by overcoming adversity, and doing it in spectacular fashion.
A date with Japan now looms, as the Japanese were also 3-1 winners on Wednesday in their game against Sweden. You want to assume that the Americans will be the favorites, but you really can't assume anything when it comes to this World Cup. The one thing we do know is that this United States team is hungry for a title, and they've proven they have the confidence, the guts, and the skill to get it done. Come Sunday, the whole nation will be watching to see if they can accomplish the task.
About to go to bed, dozing off, and then I saw the news that the Brewers traded for K-Rod. Quick thoughts - love it. It's a rental. We're in it to win it this year, and K-Rod will be a great 8th inning guy, and good for extra innings if necessary. Much better than Kameron Loe or the other options. He was traded for two players to be named later. But it doesn't sound like those PTBNL will be from the 2011 draft class. I saw some people already compare this to the Scott Linebrink for three relievers trade. To that I say, slow down. The traded happened ten minutes ago and we're already negative about it? He's not going to close, so don't worry about the option. Let's savor the Prince MVP award, welcome K-Rod to town, and see what happens.
We're all in, folks.
If it may seem like Major League Baseball has made an effort the past few days to give Prince Fielder as much exposure as possible, the big man certainly came through on his audition to owners and fans as to which team will earn his services next year. After toning his home run stroke on Monday night, Fielder went deep in the bottom of the fourth inning during the 2011 All-Star game, scoring Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp for the three-run blast. The National League was down 1-0 at the time thanks to an Adrian Gonzalez home run, but Fielder's home run - the first ever by a Brewer in an All-Star Game - gave the NL a two-run lead.
Rickie Weeks added to that lead in the fourth inning, although it was a fielder's choice that got him on base in the first place. Weeks was looking to score Starlin Castro from third, but hit a terrible chopper back to the pitcher, Jordan Walden, and Castro was out at home. Weeks went to first though and eventually stole second, which was another Brewers first as no Brewer had ever swiped a bag in the ASG before. Andre Ethier brought him home, and the NL went up 4-1.
The National League went on to win the game 5-1, and Prince Fielder was named the game's MVP. Another Brewers first. Now it's on to the second half, and the quest to use that World Series home-field advantage that Fielder earned.
Paul Pierce thought it would be a good idea to enter the World Series of Poker. Hell, if he isn't going to be making money this year why not try right? (or in his case he felt like he could just throw away money).He did well on the first day of the tournament, doubling up on his total, but day two he went all in on a pair of 2's. That didn't work out well for him, since the other guy had pocket Jacks.
Nate Robinson on the other hand says he might try football if the NBA lockout continues. I hope he didn't think too hard on this, because the NFL is also in a lockout. If you got time check out here why he feels he would be good for a football team, kind of a funny read. Good luck to him as he tries to bring publicity to an organization.
In other news, it was announced recently that Kelvin Sampson will move up the charts a little bit, and become the lead assistant coach for the Houston Rockets. Kind of a sad day for the Bucks, because we really did lose a good coach. I'm not sure what the Bucks will do with the opening they have, but with the lockout I'm sure they have plenty of time to figure it out.
Why it take me so long to chime in on the Home Run Derby? Frankly, I didn't want to bore you even more if you sat through the snoozefest that was last night. Maybe it was because Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks didn't last too long, maybe it was because the final ended up being between a Red Sox and Yankee, or maybe it was because I'm just tired of the shtick that is Chris Berman (on second thought, it might have been the fact that David Ortiz feels the need to either drink Gatorade or give out Gatorade in the middle of every turn), but I was just bored with the Derby on Monday. This, coming from someone who is going to go nuts for the All-Star game tonight even though it's usually what bores everyone else.
I think the Brewers quick departures played a fact in that more than I'm letting on, even though you could kind of tell that Rickie Weeks wasn't going to last too long. The Brewers second baseman hit just three home runs, although each of them were pretty impressive. Prince Fielder on the other on hit five home runs in the first round, then went five home runs on five swings in the swing-off round before hitting just four in the second round. Fielder couldn't match the power of Adrian Gonzalez and Robinson Cano on Monday night, as Cano ended up the winner with his dad throwing him the batting practice.
It was a great story for Cano, and another successful night for Major League Baseball, but it wasn't the best night for the Brewers and actually left me a little bored.
Now, let the All-Star Game begin!
If you can't tell...my team sucked goat dong in the first half (9 of 10) and there's no reason to believe they won't continue blowing those goats for the remainder of the season. I meant to have more updates but was waiting for my team to turn it around which obviously never happened.
Anyway, here you heathens. Bask in my misery and my apologies to James...the only one worse than myself.
- Rochester, MN BADGERS_XII (Ray Richetta)
- NFDL Gweeds (Gweedo)
- Winks Drinks (NL)
- Straight Brims (Tony Brown)
- Madison Boats 'n Ho's (Anonymous a.k.a. The Smart One)
- Team Darkshner (Eddie Sheppard)
- YouGotThePoison IGotTheRemetee (Chad)
- A.M. Lumber (Tony Meidl)
- Turtle's Trollops (Turtle)
- The High Road (James)
Enjoy the All-Star Game...and the second half of your 2011 MLB season.
I promise more updates as the playoff chase heats up.
This is going to be tough, because conditions are so much harder at the British with wind, and sometime they get rain. Also you have to hit it straight, because you can get in a lot of trouble on this course. My first player is a guy who played awesome Sunday at the U.S. Open, and is looking to be another young guy that could make a name for himself soon. Jason Day plays well, but the only thing that might hurt him are his risks he takes. This course could either hurt him, or he could play aggressive enough to win it all. Second choice is Paul Casey. I have to take this guy, because he plays over in England a lot for the European tour, so he knows the lay of the land. Third, I feel the need to go with an American even though I don't see any of them winning it. The American I'm going to go with is Steve Stricker again. I know you have to be saying this is a homer pick, but what other American is playing as well as he is right now? Stricker may be the only hope we have to end this drought of Americans not winning majors.
Since this his hard to pick and I was forced to take an American keep an eye out for Luke Donald too. Good luck to both Jerry Kelly, and Steve Stricker as they try to win a Major. I hope the United States can bring the Claret Jug across the Atlantic Ocean. In the meantime, check out the list of group pairings for Thursday and Friday. I'll see you this Thursday at 3:00am.
I was ready to do it. I was ready to come on here and start talking about how much I hate soccer. Ready to go into a rant about how crooked FIFA is, ready to start criticizing the game for how much power the referees really do have. Ready to talk about how unfair it was that this United States team wouldn't get a crack at a title. Ready to go on and on about how lame soccer can be in regards to people faking injuries and the horrible gamesmanship that is somehow allowed.
I was ready to do all of that, and more, but the American soccer side did something that will go down in the history books as one of the greatest wins in women's soccer history. Hell, maybe even all of soccer history. After going up 1-0 early, the American women were put in a terrible situation when Rachel Buehler was ejected with a red card due to a controversial penalty in the box. That set up a PK for Marta, and even though American goalkeeper was able to save the shot, the dumb box of a referee proclaimed that Solo came off of her line early, something that is rarely if ever called in soccer, especially on a stage like this. The shot was retaken, the goal was scored, and Brazil and the United States were soon headed to 30 minutes of extra time with the U.S. playing a woman down.
Within minutes, Marta notched her second goal and it began to look like that the United States would be ejected from the World Cup earlier than ever before. They fought and fought for an equalizer, but it was not to be. Not until two minutes of extra time during the 120nd minute that is, when Megan Rapinoe hit a beautiful cross to Abby Wambach who then buried the shot into the back of the night with the toughest of headers. The United States had tied the game, and to penalty kicks they went.
With the momentum on their side and the once-neutral crowd now fully invested in an American team who they recognized had wrongly been served, the United States put Brazil away in PKs 5-3. The impossible became possible, and the new reputation that the American soccer side is never out of a game until the final whistle (in both men's and women's soccer) only strengthened with this win.
Now I know that not everyone was into this game today, but a lot more people watched the game today than you would have thought. People that don't even like the sport came up to me today to talk about the game, and Facebook and Twitter definitely blew up with posts and tweets during the crucial moments of Sunday's match. It doesn't matter if you like soccer, Americans like to root for a winner, no matter what the competition. With a game now on the horizon against France and a potential finals match against either Japan or Sweden, the chances for this American side to become that winner has never looked better.
The beautiful game indeed, even though I was fully ready to swear the sport off for good.
USA! USA! USA!
Brewers 4, Reds 3
A Sunday Funday
Capped off with a Brewers win
Now, time for bed please
Sorry for just the haiku, but I'm desperate for sleep. Good night all!
POTG: Craig Counsell had the sac fly win, but for two scoreless innings, believe it or not, I'm giving this to Kameron Loe.
You can say that you can't win them all, you can say that it's hard to beat a team three straight games, you can even say that the Brewers lost their mojo because they switched the jerseys that they were wearing for the night. Or you can be honest, and say that the Cincinnati Reds just destroyed Marco Estrada on Saturday. Estrada came in for the 10th inning with a 3-3 tie on the scoreboard, and then gave up five runs to give the Reds a very nice cushion in extra innings (only two of the runs were earned, so blame the defense as well). The Brewers tried to mount a comeback, but the lead was too strong to overcome and Milwaukee lost 8-4. The loss, couple with a Cardinals win, puts the Brewers back in a first place tie with St. Louis atop the NL Central. Pittsburgh remains a game behind, and the Reds now trail by just three.
It's going to be a logjam in the NL Central likely for the rest of the way, so the Brewers need to figure out their mistakes and try to pull away a bit. Ryan Braun needs to come back healthy - he's now going to miss the All-Star game, the bullpen needs to shore up, and we need to at least pretend like we know how to play defense on occasion. We have a lot of time to figure all that out though, in the meantime I think Milwaukee needs to just make sure we go into he break still on top on the division, and then make a run from there.
Should be good, they just are not
Who can be trusted?
POTG: Nyjer Morgan had a nice catch, let's give it to him. I don't know.
Sometimes, you have to put up with the bad to enjoy the good, and nobody has been a better example of that lately than Brewers outfielder Mark Kotsay. Kotsay, who somehow has stayed on the big league roster throughout the entire season so far, has had a very interesting week in a Brewers uniform. There was the game where he hit a home run, only to spoil that by giving up a crucial error which led to runs for the opponent while he was playing in left field spelling Ryan Braun. Actually, that's happened twice already now, including the game on Friday night. But Kotsay made everyone forget about his error quickly when he hit a two-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the 9th to give Milwaukee an 8-7 walkoff win against the Cincinnati Reds.
Name a Brewers blog, and you've seen an article talking about how Kotsay should have been DFA'd by now. But even without his game winning hit on Friday, it's going to take quite a lot to happen for him not to be on this roster anymore. Mat Gamel is a position that would probably get sent back down before Kotsay was given the ax, just so he can get more regular playing time at first. Craig Counsell may be a great clubhouse guy and an average defender, but he's lost it at the plate and if something better comes along, Counsell could be put on the "Jeff Suppan DL" (putting a guy on the injured list as an alternative to cutting him). So Kotsay definitely isn't going anywhere, no matter how bad he is on defense. Suck on defense, win it back with offense. It's the Brewers strategy this season and the focus of a good article over on Grantland, penned by Rany Jazayerli.
Kotsay's heroics were just one ingredient in what really was a wild game at Miller Park. For the second time in as many seasons, Rickie Weeks used the outfield wall to collect an inside-the-park home run, one of the most hilarious and awesome things that can ever happen in sports. I love the inside-the-park home run, and was able to see him do it in person the first time around (hey Bart, good for you, just finish the damn article). Nyjer Morgan had a nice night, going 2-for-5 with 2 RBI, and you could point to Zack Greinke for getting the whole offensive rally started in the 5th inning, as he had a hit to go along with his ten strikeouts (6 IP, 4 runs allowed, two earned). An all around fun night for the Brewers, who have found a bit of magic in those retro uniforms of theirs. They'll be going even more retro tonight as they wear the Milwaukee Bears kits from the Negro Leagues.
I don't like Kotsay
Bad with bat and with glove, but
last night I loved him!
POTG: Mark Kotsay
I don't know if it's the fact the Brewers decided to wear their retro jerseys each of the last two days, or if it's because they were fueled by James' article, but Milwaukee has now won two games in a row for the first time in what seems like forever. Losing stretches really do make the season feel slower, but the Brewers appear to be back on the right track after a 5-4 victory against the Reds. And just as it was in their game against Arizona on Wednesday, it was a three-run home run that helped put Milwaukee in the lead and give them the win.
Chris Narveson was pitching pretty well in this one as he was looking for his first career victory against the Red, but the Crew found themselves down 2-1 come the bottom of the 5th. Rickie Weeks was having none of that though, blasting a three run shot in the inning and showing everyone why he's starting in the All-Star game for the National League. The Brewers added another run on a Mark Kotsay RBI, and then were able to fight off a couple of attempts by the Reds to rally, ultimately winning the game after John Axford collected his 23rd save of the season. Weeks, who out of his 16 home runs on the season now has five of them against the Reds, celebrated by bringing back the "untuckem" after the game. For that alone, he gets our POTG nomination, but his day at the plate was deserving of it as well.
Crew going retro
Weeks feeling good in the kits
Please wear them again
So the dust has settled after a tough 2-1 loss to Sweden by the United States women in the 2011 World Cup, and it was not a pretty outing. The ladies went down two before getting a weak goal by Abby Wambach late in the game, but it would not be enough. You would have hoped that the women would have come out and delivered the same kind of impressive performance that they did against Columbia the other day, but Sweden definitely looked the stronger side on Wednesday. The loss doesn't knock the U.S. out of the tournament - both teams were already qualified for the quarterfinals - but it does set up a matchup against Brazil on Saturday.
That's all that the U.S. and Sweden were really playing for in their group stage finale, the opportunity to not have to face Brazil. Sweden will now take on Australia on Sunday morning, while the U.S. will take on Brazil at 10:30am CST on ESPN. Immediately after the game, I saw an article talking about how grim the USA's title chances are after this loss because we have to face Brazil. That theory doesn't really make sense to me, since we were going to have to face them in one of the next two games anyway. Yeah, the loss hurts as far as momentum, but here's hoping that the women can learn from their mistakes and avoid another game like this the rest of the way.
The title is one of my favorite lines of any movie. This is the part in Bad Boys 2 when they get ready to go save Gabriel Union from Cuba. Before I get to far off track lets get back to what this is really about. With both the NFL/NBA in lockouts, the NBA lockout is already starting to look real bad. Sources are saying that Deron Williams has signed a deal with Turkey if the NBA doesn't hold a season. Now I could see if this was a guy like Chris Douglas-Roberts, but we are talking about a top 10 guy in the league. I wouldn't be surprised if you start seeing this stuff pop up more and more as we move on with the lockout. The NBA is hurting bad, and I could see this thing dragging out into the season. Who knows, maybe Williams and Allen Iverson will end up on the same team.
Being a fan of both these sports I hope this is figured out soon. If I had to pick I would have to say that the NFL having a season is more important to me. We have to defend our Super Bowl Championship, and I think we have the squad to do it. The Bucks did make some great moves on draft day, but I don't see a title run in Milwaukee's future. If all goes well Monday we will be planing a trip to San Diego for our annual Packer trip, and still wondering if we will watch a NBA game this season. But as it stands now, it looks like fantasy NHL is going to become very popular this winter.
Did anyone make it through the entire episode of Royal Pains last night? Me neither. Nice cameo appearance from Greg Jennings though, who did much more in this episode than he did in his CSI appearance a few years back. But in case you missed Jennings putting the show on his back last night, here's the clip (courtesy of Cheesehead TV):
Can I go out on a limb and say that Greg Jennings is a much better actor than that dreadful chick? I don't know what she's bitching about, and you don't bench Greg Jennings.
It's been a tough year for Casey McGehee. Batting around the .222 mark, McGehee has struggled to find any sort of consistency at the plate, unless you count being bad all the time consistent. One of the guys expected to carry the load offensively, McGehee just had four home runs on the season one week before the All-Star break, despite hitting 23 last season. He's been a black hole of sorts on defense as well, and really he's just kind of been there, contributing very little to the productivity of this Brewers team.
Until Wednesday, that is.
When Casey McGehee was pinch hit for Mat Gamel in the seventh inning, I had very little confidence that anything good would come of this. Jonathan Lucroy was on first while Mark Kotsay was on second, but they seemed a lot further away from home plate when McGehee had a bat in hand. Casey Mac just hasn't been good at all this season, but he took out all that frustration on one Sam Demel pitch and hit a three run pinch-hit homer to give the Brewers the 3-1 lead, and eventually the 3-1 victory. Casey McGehee, you son of a bitch.
I'm still about four to five weeks of solid play from McGehee to say that "he's back", but it was a refreshing sign to see the poster boy of the Brewers struggles this season get to have a moment. Actually, the only way you saw it was if you were at the game or in the Arizona TV market, because not every game is yet televised in Wisconsin. But hey, Brewers.com was advertising you could watch the game for free on their site. Oh wait, that's only if you didn't have a Wisconsin IP address. Thanks anyway.
But a non sarcastic thank you to Casey McGehee. Instead of looking back at this game as the one where Yovani made a mistake to the first batter and pitched brilliantly the rest of the way, we'll now remember this as the game where for one moment, Casey McGehee remembered he didn't suck.
Casey at the bat
Popular headline - for once....
It has good meaning
POTG: Casey McGehee
Tuesdays loss was the seventh out of the last eight, two of which being back to back at home, an unsettling sign for Brewers fans. After reading a lot of comments across social media, Brewers fans are ready to jump ship. But really, hold on guys, we'll get through this.
The Brewers currently sit at 45-42, third place in the NL Central, two games behind St. Louis and half a game behind Pittsburgh (yes, that Pittsburgh). Over the last week they have seen their three game Central lead turn into a two game deficit. Much thanks to some horrible starting pitching (0-5, 6+ ERA), an inconsistent bullpen, and the left calf of Ryan Braun.
Lets highlight the last few starts by Brewers pitchers:
Tuesday, June 28 vs. Yankees
Greinke: 2IP, 5H, 7ER, 3BB, 0K
Greinke has shown signs of great command, walking only 14 so far this year in 12 starts, but come low walks, comes always being around the plate... Maybe too much of it. Greinke lasted only two innings against New York last Tuesday, he went on to say "It was just a real bad game, I wasn't executing anything, and when I did just a couple of times, they took some good pitches, and I wasn't able to make another good pitch after that. I couldn't pitch any worse than I did.".
It really comes without saying that Greinke's 5.66 ERA is nothing the Brewers expected when they sent Cain, Escobar, and some young arms to Kansas City this winter, but nearing the All Star break, the second half could render different results.
Wednesday, June 29 vs. Yankees
Marcum: 5IP, 5H, 4ER, 3BB, 6K
One of the Brewer starters better outings of the last week, which was still highlighted by four earned runs allowed, including a big three-run home run by the Yankees Russel Martin. The only 'close' game of the Yankees series which still saw the Crew lose by a final of 5-2.
Thursday, June 30 vs. Yankees
Wolf: 7IP, 7H, 4ER, 3BB, 3K
The Yankees grabbed runs in the first and third, riding a 4-0 lead behind the arm of CC Sabathia to a series sweep over the Brewers. Wolf struggled all day, though he managed to scratch out seven innings. He gave up seven hits and four runs, hit a batter with a pitch and even dropped the ball on the mound once while trying to transfer it from his glove hand. It was Wolfs first loss in his last eight starts.
Friday, July 1 vs. Twins
Gallardo: 7IP, 5H, 4ER, 4BB, 4K
Like a few of the previous games, Gallardo fell victim to the first inning bug, allowing three in the first. Gallardo blamed the rain delay as a bit of a distraction going into his start, saying "You have a mindset for a certain time, and the delay comes in and you get off your routine a little bit, You have the adrenaline for a certain time of day and the next thing you know it's raining. You've just got to figure out how to stay relaxed."
Saturday, July 2 vs. Twins
Narveson: 4.2IP, 14H, 7ER, 2BB, 1K
That is not a typo, Narveson allowed 14 hits across 4 and 2/3 innings Saturday, easily one of his worst outings of the season. In retrospect the Brewers scored four runs in the ninth to rip this one out of the chest of the Twins, a much needed win as it's the only one in the last eight.
Sunday, July 3 vs. Twins
Greinke: 6IP, 5H, 4ER, 2BB, 9K
What appeared to be cruise control to an easy win Sunday disappeared after Braddock allowed two runs and Loe one earned. The Twins scored four in the seventh to take the series, and season finale against the Brewers 9-7. Greinke, who gave up seven earned runs in two innings at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, allowed four earned runs on five hits in six innings. He struck out nine.
Monday, July 4 vs. Diamondbacks
Marcum: 6IP, 7H, 4ER, 2BB, 5K
Marcum didn't have his best stuff on Monday, but when he left after the sixth he had a 6-4 lead over the Diamondbacks. A lead that he saw disappear after the Dbacks scored one off of Hawkins in the seventh, one off of Low in the eighth, and two off of Axford in the ninth, leading to a 8-6 Dbacks win.
Tuesday, July 5 vs. Diamondbacks
Wolf: 6IP, 10H, 7ER, 4BB, 4K
Wolf struggled right out of the gates, allowing four runs in the top of the first and three more in the top of the third. He settled down for the most part the rest of the way, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth.
As you can see by the lines listed above, none of these starts are quality starts, the best being last Friday when Gallardo went 7IP, 5H, 4ER, 4BB, 4K. A game that still ended in a Brewers loss.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though the starters are struggling, lets take a look at their season numbers just as a refresher.
July 6, 2011
Gallardo: 9-5, 3.92 ERA, 98/43 K/BB
Marcum: 7-3, 3.32 ERA, 97/30 K/BB
Wolf: 6-6, 3.72 ERA, 80/37 K/BB
Narveson: 5-5. 4.86 ERA, 84/38 K/BB
Greinke: 7-3, 5.66 ERA, 89/14 K/BB
For reference, lets compare to how our starters were sitting July 6th of 2010.
July 6, 2010
Gallardo: 8-4, 2.58 ERA
Wolf: 6-8, 4.49 ERA
Bush: 3-5, 4.23 ERA
Parra: 3-6, 4.65 ERA
Narveson: 7-6, 6.02 ERA
With the top three in your rotation providing a less than four ERA and the bottom of your rotation posting .500 or above winning percentages, you can't be that angry. Having a number five starter in Narveson, though his recent struggles, still has an ERA under five. Point being, they've done it all year, lets not crash the bandwagon over one tough week.
Another crippling blow has been the absence of Ryan Braun over the last three and the continued struggles from Third base. McGehee has seen his spot in the batting order drop from fifth to seventh and with the absence of Braun, Hart has moved into the three hole. So who does that leave backing up Prince Fielder? Yuniesky Betancourt. Nothing screams "Intentional Walk!" more than a guy hitting .240 with little to no pop and an over-aggressive bat behind one of the NL best hitters in Fielder.
Lets check out the last weeks worth of games and the 5 hole production.
Tuesday, June 28 vs. Yankees
McGehee: 1-4, 2K
Wednesday, June 29 vs. Yankees
Hart: 1-4, 1K
Thursday, June 30 vs. Yankees
Hart: 0-3, BB, 1K
Friday, July 1 vs. Twins
Saturday, July 2 vs. Twins
Sunday, July 3 vs. Twins
Gamel: 1-4, RBI
Monday, July 4 vs. Dbacks
Tuesday, July 4 vs. Dbacks
Brewers 5 spot hitter totals: 3-29, 4K, 1BB, 1RBI
Clearly the lack of production is there, making Fielder a lot easier to work around, virtually taking the best two hitters out of your lineup with Braun currently down with an injury. McGehee's scuffles don't seem to be coming to any near end, but with Roenicke and his man crush (see Kotsay) McGehee doesn't seem to be going anywhere, which doesn't help this team at all. It's easy to say how bad the Brewers need a healthy Braun back, so I won't say it, but beside Braun, the Brewers need to rework more than just their 3B production and five hole hitter.
Mark Kotsay: .252 AVG, 1HR, 12RBI
Craig Counsell: .181 AVG, 0HR, 3RBI
Josh Wilson: .241 AVG, 2HR, 3RBI
George Kottaras: .256 AVG, 2HR, 8RBI
Carlos Gomez: .224 AVG, 6HR, 17RBI
Mat Gamel: .143 AVG, 0HR, 2RBI (7 games)
It's pretty clear there is no real power threat coming off of the bench, hell there is no actual player that should be in the Major Leagues (exception Kottaras, Gamel) on the Brewers bench. With the recent injuries, these players are forced into an already shotty lineup.
If Roenicke or Melvin doesn't go out and get a solid power threat, or call up a few Nashville possibilities, these struggles will continue. Brandon Boggs had some success in Milwaukee on a short clip. Taylor Green continues to play well and awaits a possible call up. And Betancourt just gets worse and worse every time I see him play. The trade deadline is looming, I'll get into that in an article next week.
To start wrapping up a hodgepodge of numbers, the Brewers starters will be fine. A few recent woes do not take away from what they have done all season. But the Brewers bench will continue to be a weakness. Here are some possible moves:
DFA Betancourt, add bullpen arm
DFA Kotsay, Call up Boggs
Option McGehee, Call up Taylor Green
The Brewers would then see a lineup of
Bench of: Morgan/Gomez, Boggs, Gamel, Kottaras, Wilson/Counsell.
Boggs and Gamel would provide some power off of the bench with Taylor Green getting a look in the Majors. Green currently in Triple A Nashville has a line of .309/12 HR/42 RBI and is another lefty to add to the lineup. He has some struggles against left handed pitching, but how worse could he do than McGehee? This would also give the Brewers a chance to add an extra arm to the bullpen in the likes of Dillard, McClendon, or DiFelice.
To finish, Brewers fans, just relax. It's so easy to get down on your team after some early struggles, hell we started the year 0-4. We got to taste sweetness with a three game lead, and now its turned bitter sitting 2 games back. Think back to 2010 at this time and you would see the Brewers 10.5 games back of first place. The Crew clearly need to add some pieces/shift some current pieces around to lock down the top spot as the Cardinals play a much more consistent brand of baseball. Once Braun is back and healthy and the starting pitching gets back into form the bandwagon will once again re-open for all you current haters.
Questions, Comments, Concerns? Twitter is the Answer @JamesSmizek
Throughout this losing streak (six out of the last seven games - which could easily be a seven game losing streak instead), I have been going out of my way to try and stay positive regarding the play of the Milwaukee Brewers. Sure, they struggled against the Yankees, but the way that they were able to come back against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night earned a lot of good faith with me. However, Milwaukee used that good faith up very quickly, as in their game on Sunday and now in their Monday game against the Diamondbacks, the Brewers blew a 6-1 lead and were the losers in both. At the end of the night the Brewers will still either be in first place or a game behind, which is incredible to me with how bad they've been playing lately (update: St. Louis won 1-0 over Cincinnati, so the Brewers fall one game behind).
The thing that bothers me the most about Monday's 8-6 loss to the Diamondbacks is that this was a game where Shaun Marcum of all people hit a grand slam, and you absolutely can not waste performances like that. Anytime anyone hits a grand slam, especially your pitcher, that really should be a game that you win. Marcum actually gave back all the runs he drove in, giving up four runs in six innings. He did leave with the lead however, so it was up to the bullpen to bring this game home.
Clearly, that did not happen, as the Diamondbacks scored at least one run in every inning from the fourth until the end of the game. The bullpen was an absolute mess on Monday, including (no surprise) Kameron Loe who really does need to be sent down to Nashville or beyond. I feel there are way too many times in recent memory where Brewers fans can notice when a guy is done, but the team themselves can't. I'd be happy to be wrong about Kameron Loe, but there have been no indications from his performances this season that I will be.
If you're the Brewers, you just have to keep taking the field and putting your best foot forward, but there has been enough going on during this recent stretch of games to concern me. The bullpen is losing game after game (we've seen this before, all too many times), Mark Kotsay isn't a big league ballplayer, Casey McGehee has been struggling for so long that it can no longer be considered a slump, we're not getting any production out of the five hole, and we are making too many errors in both the infield and the outfield.
Panic button? Far from. But concerned about the direction of this team? A little bit, yeah.
Marcum hits Grand Slam!
Celebrate good times come on!
Oops, forgot we suck.
POTG: Shaun Marcum
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