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The Bucky Channel is making a triumphant comeback. Stay tuned for the latest.


The Bucky Channel is making a triumphant comeback. Stay tuned for the latest.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another Craig Counsell Out, This Time FTW!

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.

Milwaukee Falls Apart in Extras

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.

Milwaukee bullpen
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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Kotsay it Ain't So!

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

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Retro Jerseys Bring Out Another Win

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

Women to Face Brazil

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.

Shit Just Got Real

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.

The NFL on the other hand is having positive talks again, but we have heard this song and dance before. The goal as of now is to get this figured out by the weekend, and announce the end of the lockout on Monday. That would be an ideal situation for the NFL, but who knows anymore what will happen. Also that one guy with grey hair that played for the Packers, Jets, and Vikings might come back if this lockout stuff messes up the Vikings chance of getting a QB this season. So it just seems to be a lot of talk, but Deron Williams looks to be the first person taking actions.

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. 

The Legacy of Bill Pullman

This is my new favorite anything.... ever.

Royal Pains Was a Pain to Watch (Hi-Yo!)

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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

McGehee Remembers Not to Suck For a Moment

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, 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

Deep Breath, Brewers Fans

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
Hart:  0-4

Saturday, July 2 vs. Twins
Gamel:  0-3

Sunday, July 3 vs. Twins
Gamel: 1-4, RBI

Monday, July 4 vs. Dbacks
Betancourt:  0-4

Tuesday, July 4 vs. Dbacks
Betancourt:  0-3.

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.

Brewers Bench:

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

Alright, Now I'm a Little Pissed

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

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Twins Flip the Script with Comeback

Unless you're celebrating how terrible you are on defense, Mark Kostay, you better pull back that fist. Only Mark Kotsay can start the game off with a home run and a triple and then turn into the goat of the Brewers 9-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. Actually, Kameron Loe did a pretty good job of blowing this one as well, courtesy of Ron Roenicke's decision to bring him in with runners on in the 7th. We all know that Loe doesn't pitch well when he needs to be clutch, all of us except for Roenicke that is. For how brilliant Roenicke managed Saturday's game, I can't believe those thoughts share the same brain with the thought that Kameron Loe deserves to be a big league pitcher. Sigh. For a team that shares a first place lead, we sure do have a lot of problems.

More Greinke struggles
Kotsay, Loe help lose game too
Goodbye momentum!

POTG: Rickie Weeks

Milwaukee Trio to Start in All-Star Game

If there was ever even an inkling of doubt before this weekend that Milwaukee knew how to grow and keep their own homegrown talent, this year's starting lineup for the National League in the All-Star game should help eliminate that. Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Braun all led the fan voting at their respective positions, and all will be starting in this year's Midsummer Classic. It's the first time in Brewers history that they'll be represented by three starters, but it's definitely deserving for this trio.

You won't be able to find any Brewers on the bench however, as the three starters are the only three that have been selected. I thought there was a chance that John Axford and maybe even Shaun Marcum could get nods, but for now both of them will remain at home and enjoy their extra days off. Still, no complaining from me as seeing three guys starting in the All-Star game is certainly something I never expected to see. Well done, gentlemen, and well done Brewers fans for making sure these guys got the recognition that they have earned.

Plush Leads Improbable Comeback

You had to be all kinds of frustrated when the Brewers had fallen behind 7-0 to the Twins on Saturday night, as not only did it mean that the team's road woes were continuing but their current losing streak was going to continue as well. Thank God, however, for Nyjer Morgan. The birthday boy nearly single-handily brought the Brewers back from the brink, collecting three hits and was just a single short of the cycle.

The man known as Tony Plush hit his third home run of the season (tying a career high) in the top of the sixth inning that scored Rickie Weeks and brought the Brewers to within four. Morgan would then score after tripling in the eighth inning, and then with two outs in the ninth inning he hit a double to deep right (which could have been caught) that scored two runs and tied the game. George Kottaras would then plate Morgan home, and the Brewers capped off their largest comeback on the road since 1983. Not bad for a team that has struggled mightily this season away from Miller Park (although a very pro-Brewers crowd might have neutralized the road environment just a bit).

Morgan is without question the POTG, but credit manager Ron Roenicke for making all the right moves to bring this team back from a seven nothing deficit. Roenicke was faced with a couple of speedbumps with a slight injury to Ryan Braun (which will keep him out of Sunday's game) and the disastrous performance of Chris Narveson, but he earned his paycheck on Saturday night. Check out the box score and notice position changes and lineup moves like I've never seen in a game that didn't go into extra innings. Nyjer Morgan started in center, moved to left, went back to center. Mark Kotsay started in right, then went to first, and later to left. And Corey Hart, Josh Wilson, and George Kottaras were all used to pinch hit and then spell someone at a different defensive position than the one they pinch hit for. He also plugged newly activated Takashi Saito into an 8th inning role and was rewarded with Saito picking up his first win of the year, followed by John Axford picking up his 21st save of 2011.

As a fan, you're going to write off the game when you see your team is down 7-0 by the 4th inning, but credit the Milwaukee Brewers and their staff for not doing the same. When you're on a losing streak, sometimes you need a game like the one the Brewers had to turn things around and get some of that momentum back. They're back in first place now with the win, and we'll see if they can hang on to that momentum today in the series finale against Minnesota.

Nyjer's 31st
Celebrates in grand fashion
Happy Birthday Plush

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Aaron Rodgers on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Dominant Performance Puts U.S. in Quarterfinals

If you missed Saturday's Women's World Cup game between the United States and Columbia, you missed what was actually one of the most dominating performances by a U.S. soccer side that I've ever seen. The Americans were only able to punch in three goals on 27 shots, but they definitely got the job done nonetheless. When they weren't ripping shots on the Columbian goalkeeper (who played quite brilliantly in the first half, and then very poorly in the second), the U.S. was dominating all over the rest of the field. Any time that Columbia tried to get on the offensive, the U.S. defense was there to either thwart the effort or draw them offsides. They won the 50/50 balls, maintained strong possession, and barely let Columbia put together a string of passes of three or more. It was a solid effort for a team that is, as announcer Ian Darke put it, "turning heads of the most neutral of observers".

Heather O'Reilly started the onslaught with what has to be the goal of the tournament so far, a shot from outside the right corner of the box that traveled to the upper left corner of the net in the 12th minute. Christie Rampone added her first WC goal in the 50th minutes and Carli Lloyd scored just seven minutes later. Abby Wambach and the worst haircut in sports was unable to score despite her many shots, although she did pick up a weak yellow card which may cause her to sit out the next game (two yellow cards in any two games equals a one-game suspension).

With the win, the U.S. have clinched a quarterfinals berth, but now play Sweden on Wednesday afternoon for a matchup that will basically decided who doesn't have to play Brazil in the first round of the knockout stage. Expect the U.S. to beat Sweden and then cruise through the quarters into the semis, where a matchup with Brazil seems almost inevitable. This is a strong U.S. side, and at this point anything less than that scenario would be a disaster. What they showed me today though was that this is a team that is capable of winning it all.

The Losing Streak Continues

When you get swept by a team that was beyond embarrassing, the first thing you like to do is hightail it out of that city and move on to the next series. That plan didn't seem to work so well though for the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night, who after getting destroyed for three games by the New York Yankees, now found themselves on the losing end of an 6-2 battle with the Twins. With the loss, the Brewers now also find themselves down a game in the NL Central, and just two in front of both the Reds and Pirates for second in that division. I spoke the other night about how I think we as fans have a tendency to overreact just a bit, but a win would be nice sometime soon.

Friday night's loss was similar to the previous losses of the week - the Brewers are struggling mightily on offense and they are giving up a good share of runs. Trends like that are going to lead to losses more often than not, that's just common sense. The Brewers did take a 1-0 lead early, but a three-run shot by Jim Thome in the bottom of the first inning was really all the Twins would need. They added on a few more runs for good measure, and the first game of this Border Battle goes to our neighbors to the West.

More AL action
Is not serving the Crew well
End Interleague Play!!!

POTG: Carlos Gomez

Milwaukee will try to get back on the right side of the box score tonight against the Twins with a 6:05, assuming there is not another rain delay at Target Field. Mat Gamel will be the DH and in the five hole, while McGehee will be on the bench as Counsell is starting at third (batting ninth). The Brewers will be able to go to Takashi Saito to the pen tonight, as he has been activated from the DL with Tim Dillard being sent back down to Nashville.

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