By: Big Rygg
The Brewers are finally back at home after starting the
season by playing 12 of their first 18 games on the road. Perhaps a little
surprisingly, the Brewers are 6-6 in those 12 games but only 2-4 at home during
that same stretch.
There is no way that anyone can deny that the Brewers
started playing their best baseball of the season on this road trip so
hopefully the first six (unfortunately all against NL Central competition) will
be the aberration.
Well, the Brewers are looking to prove that to be the case
and got off on the right foot toward that effort last night. The visiting
Pittsburgh Pirates came into Miller
Park sporting the best
staff ERA in all of baseball at a nifty 2.97 (which helps explain the 11-7
record they brought to town with them). By the time the first night of the
three-game series was over, however, that team ERA had jumped to 3.36 courtesy
of the 10 runs the Brewers put on the board over 8 innings (an 11.25 game ERA,
for those of you keeping score at home).
Braden Looper (2-0, 2.45 ERA) didn’t get the win in this one, but pitches well enough to have. While he didn’t produce another quality start in this one, his 101-pitch effort over 5.0 innings saw him leave with a 5-3 lead in the ball game. Only two of those runs against him were earned as well. Tough luck on the no-decision, but another solid if not spectacular outing from Loop.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens (1-0, 5.40 ERA) was spared
the blemish in his Loss column when his team rallied for two runs in the top of
the 8th inning off of Milwaukee reliever Carlos Villanueva, but his
personal ERA absorbed a 9.00 for the game which sent his figure up nearly a
full point from 4.50 to the resultant 5.40.
Something that won’t show up in his box score has the hit
that Karstens threw in the 3rd inning. That hit came when the first
pitch of an at-bat drilled Ryan Braun squarely in his back. When asked later if
he thought Karstens threw at him intentionally, Braun admitted that Karstens
probably had. The umpires immediately warned both benches after the HBP which
naturally drew the ire of Brewer Manager Ken Macha. I think the umpires
realized that there was a full three-game set to get through still so he was
trying to nip it in the bud because it was Game 1. As Braun alluded to,
however, even if another ball isn’t thrown inside the batter’s box all series,
the teams do play 11 more times this year after Pittsburgh leaves town on Wednesday
afternoon. This isn’t the type of thing that gets forgotten about, even if the
revenge isn’t immediate.
Otherwise, at the dish, the Brewers performed very well all
night long. They were consistently taking balls the other way, and the results
showed on the scoreboard. Rickie Weeks produced a lot of offense despite only getting one hit in the game. That one hit was a three-run home run, but Rickie drove in a total of four and scored twice.
Yes, the team hit three home runs in the game (all coming
with two outs in their respective innings, which is a good sign) that resulted
in five of their runs, but all five of the runs in the key 8th inning
came via alternative methods. It also showed the resiliency of the team to not
get down on itself after Freddy Sanchez’ two-out two-RBI two-bagger tied the ballgame.
The team came right back in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of
reach and allow for…
TREVOR TIME AT MILLER
For the first time all year, Trevor Hoffman entered Miller Park
as a member of the 25-man active roster. He began warming up in the 8th
and, according to Macha, would have pitched the 9th inning whether the
Brewers had taken the lead or not.
(SIDE NOTE: In a classy move, Fox Sports Network stayed with
the game during Hoffman’s entrance and subsequent warm up tosses from the
mound. Very nice that they realized the significance of that moment for fans
that weren’t able to make it to the game last night. Whoever produced that game
(SIDE SIDE NOTE: What the hell do we call our station? It
used to be FSN North, and I totally supported and understood the change to FSN
Wisconsin. Then it became FS Wisconsin and now, during Brewer games, it is
displayed on screen as FSBrewers. Anybody have any thoughts on that one?)
Anyway, in what was a non-save situation since the Brewers
opened the lead up to five runs the previous inning; Hoffman entered and shut
down the Pirates with a perfect 9th inning. The first of many games
that end in a victory for the Brewers with Hoffman on the mound is in the
books. It not only extended the Brewers winning streak against the Pirates to
13, but also increased the streak of Pirate futility at Miller Park
to 16 losses in a row.
Here’s hoping we add 14 and 15 (and thereby 17 and 18) to
the ledger this week.