Let’s get this out of the way at the top. Thank you, San Francisco Giants! Thank you, NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner. Thank you, Hunter Pence. Thank you, Santiago Casilla. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. Thank you, Yusmeiro Petit. Thank you (and congrats), Tim Hudson. Thank you even to Buster Posey.
Thank you, Michael Morse for tying that one game.
Thank you, Travis Ishikawa for walking the birds off the field.
I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today without the efforts and success of the San Francisco Giants. You can drop the #EvenYear hashtag on social media. You can thank a blossomed ace in Bumgarner. You can shower praise on Bruce Bochy and his coaching staff. It’s all deserved. It’s all warranted. “THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS (WON) THE PENNANT!”
And as happy as I am today that the senior circuit representative in this year’s Fall Classic plays its home games outside the state of Missouri, my desire for Giant victories ended when that ball left Ishikawa’s bat.
So why am I rooting against them starting tonight? I like the Giants just fine. I like most of their players. Only Angel Pagan really gets my dander up, and he’ll miss this series with injury anyway. So this isn’t about the Giants.
As far as leagues go, I absolutely prefer the National League game to that of its younger brother. The Designated Hitter should be done away with (though I realize it never will be). The strategy and timing of the NL game makes for a beautiful, and sometimes sickening, dance where decisions feel like they loom larger. You can’t always just pitch a guy until he’s done. Maybe you have to lift a pitcher early because of a key offensive spot. Maybe you try to stretch a guy farther because his spot is due up next half inning. Et cetera. There is so much more that goes into it. It’s more interesting and more fun, in my ever so humble opinion.
I’m a stump for the NL way of life. My team plays in the National League, for what that’s worth.
So, again, I ask: Why am I rooting against the Giants?
Well, to be fair it’s about rooting for Kansas City more than it is about rooting against San Francisco.
Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Norichika Aoki. All former Brewers. All good guys who I enjoy watching succeed. But pulling for the Royals is deeper than just that connection. Doug Henry and Dale Sveum. Both former Brewers. Both members of KC’s coaching staff. I like that, and personally like Sveum as a coach, but certainly wouldn’t use that as a reason to cheer for one team over another. Ned? Not even a little bit.
So instead of continuing to tell you why I’m not rooting for them, even though they are fine reasons should you choose to use them, here’s why I am.
I look at the 2014 Kansas City Royals and I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers.
It’s not a perfect 1:1 on the field, of course, but the similarities even at that micro level are interesting. It’s more about how they go about their business on the field, the lights out bullpen, trading away young and controllable talent for a shot at the brass ring, the payoff of a long-term plan. You can take it one step farther and compare to 2008 in Milwaukee where the Brewers faltered down the stretch while trying to hold off other teams for the Wild Card. In 2008 there was only the one Wild Card spot available, but the Brewers held off the Mets to win it by just one game. In 2014, Kansas City got the home game by just one game over Oakland (who held off Seattle by just one game).
Kansas City rode years of awfulness to amass a bunch of young talent in their system. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon (drafted the same year as, and ahead of, Ryan Braun, by the way), Wil Myers, the list goes on. In fact, you could almost mark the 2005 draft which got the Brewers the final “homegrown” piece to their playoff runs in Braun as the start of the Royals turnaround. In that way, they’ve been a few years behind the Brewers’ blueprint. Get a bunch of young, talented guys in the system with a goal to hit the Majors at roughly the same time, supplement with free agents, and when the moment is right, make a big trade (or two) at the big league level by sending out minor leaguers to go for it.
Let’s break that down, in case you aren’t agreeing with me.
Milwaukee: Drafted Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun. Traded away Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley (and more)) for CC Sabathia in 2008. Traded away Cain, Escobar, Jake Odorizzi (and more) for Zack Greinke in 2011. Traded Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum in 2011. Supplemented with veterans: 2011 -Mark Kotsay, Craig Counsell, Jerry Hairston, Takashi Saito. 2008 – Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Ray Durham, (ironically) Counsell.
Kansas City: Drafted Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas, Billy Butler, Greg Holland. They scouted international amateurs like Salvador Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura. Traded away Zack Greinke to acquire several young pieces. Flipped Odorizzi with Wil Myers to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis. Supplemented with veterans like Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Josh Willingham, and Jason Frasor.
I think I’ve made my point.
Their offensive games differ, to be sure, as the Brewers hit home runs at a great pace in 2011 and the Royals are more about speed and getting hits that raise the ol’ BABIP. But the rotations were similarly solid from top to bottom, but the real crux of what sent me down this comparison exercise are the late inning relievers.
- Closer: John Axford (1.95 ERA / 2.41 FIP / 46 saves / 1.140 WHIP / 10.5 K/9)
- Setup man: Francisco Rodriguez (1.86 ERA / 2.23 FIP / 1.138 WHIP / 10.2 K/9)
- “7th inning guy”: LaTroy Hawkins / Takashi Saito (Combined: 2.28 ERA / 1.200 WHIP / 6.1 K/9)
- (the Brewers used two veterans so as to keep them fresh)
- Closer: Greg Holland (1.44 ERA / 1.83 FIP / 46 saves / 0.914 WHIP / 13.0 K/9)
- Setup man: Wade Davis (1.00 ERA / 1.19 FIP / 0.847 WHIP / 13.6 K/9)
- “7th inning guy”: Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA / 2.69 FIP / 1.143 WHIP / 7.6 K/9)
Six inning games are easier to win than nine inning games. Both of these teams had/have that game-shortening bullpen that general managers are yearning to cobble together each and every off-season.
I won’t lie to you though. The former Brewers being on the Royals certainly helps me root for them. In fact, it led to a series of tweets (@BrewerNation) with commentary how the team with the most former Brewers on it was winning every series (and even every game for a while) in the 2014 Postseason.
Market size, payroll relative to MLB’s elite, a fan base desperate for a winner after more than 25 years of missing the playoffs, that their last pennant was won in the 1980’s — these are all comparisons between the two franchises that help me see them in such a similar light.
But when it comes down to it, when all the dust has settled, at the end of the day, when all the clichés have been dropped…
I’m rooting for the 2014 Kansas City Royals because I see the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers and what might have been.
The comparisons can stop there, though, because this Kansas City team won the two games which that Milwaukee team didn’t. The Royals won their pennant and now have a chance to win another World Series, while the Brewers still seek their first championship.
But if these Royals can get the job done, it offers renewed hope that my team can one day get back and accomplish the same.
And that’s worth rooting for more than anything.
Wondering who wore a certain uniform number all-time for the Milwaukee Brewers?
The Brewer Nation has got you covered. If you found this list on its own, head back here for the full repository after checking out this one.
John Gelnar (’70-’71)
Bob Reynolds (’71)
Frank Linzy (’72-’73)
Bill Travers (’74-’80)
Reggie Cleveland (’81)
Bobby Clark (’84-’85)
Mark Clear (’86-’88)
Dave Engle (’89)
Ricky Bones (’92-’96)
Julio Franco (’97)
Jim Abbott (’99)
Raul Casanova (’00-’02)
Kevin Mench (’06)
David Bell (’06)
Mike Cameron (’08-’09)
Doug Davis (’10)
Mark Kotsay (’11)
Josh Prince (’13)
Juan Centeno (’15)
Michael Reed (’15)
By: Big Rygg
What a night for the Milwaukee Brewers…and I mean that in a negative way.
Save for back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches by Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee, the Milwaukee Brewers were unable to muster any offense on a night when they were once again playing against a National League Division’s worst team.
In the Brewers’ defense, the San Diego Padres had been playing quite well when Milwaukee came to town on Friday. That was evidenced by the fact that they were able to overcome a 7-1 deficit on Friday night. However, despite the Brewers scoring 7 runs with two outs in the 2nd inning of Friday’s game, the Brewers have been very quiet at the plate in this series.
What’s more, they got an acceptable start from journeyman Mike Burns in the game tonight but Burns may as well have given up three hundred runs as three since there Brewers were unable to put more than two on their own on the board in support.
Burns gave up those three runs over 5.2 IP, giving way to Mitch Stetter with men on in the inning and two away. Claudio Vargas, pitching in his first game since being reacquired by the Brewers prior to the non-waiver trading deadline, allowed one huge insurance run to score in the bottom of the 8th inning. Heath Bell came on, and after allowing a leadoff single to McGehee, struck out Cameron, got Frank Catalanotto to fly out to left and induced a pop out off the bat of Jason Kendall to end it.
Not everything is going wrong for Milwaukee lately, but enough things are going wrong at the same time so that the end result is a loss.
Last night we had a solid run total despite it all coming in one inning, but the pitching staff and defense couldn’t hold San Diego down. Tonight, we got good enough pitching to win most nights, but the offense decided to go to sleep for the most part.
Will the Crew be able to put it together tomorrow afternoon and salvage one win against the NL West’s worst? With Carlos Villanueva on the bump for the beermakers, there are no guarantees.
It doesn’t get easier by any stretch of the imagination on Monday night either as after the Brewers finish a three-game series against the last place Padres, they start a three-game series against the class of the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But it all boils down to the fact that the Brewers have been unable to put enough parts of the game together at the same time to win some ballgames at the most crucial stretch of the season.
Four hits tonight (two of them the aforementioned solo home runs) and while they accumulated nine hits on Friday night, only three of those came outside of that big 2nd inning. Throwing that inning out, that’s only 7 hits in 17 innings. That’s not going to get the job done unless the Padres start walking 10 hitters a night.
The Padres, owners of the league’s worst team batting average mind you, have amassed 17 hits and 12 hits in the two games thus far in this series. Yes, that’s 29 hits in 16 innings. You don’t have to look much farther to figure out why they’ve won these two games.
Bottom line, the Brewers need to get it figured out and fast if they’re going to keep it close into September this year.
I’m not in the mood for silver linings on this one, but perhaps a post in the coming days will focus on some positives that can be picked out of the dreck that’s being dumped on the field lately.
Until then, let’s just remember that tomorrow’s another day and that at 3pm tomorrow afternoon, the game is 0-0.
Let’s get one tomorrow and try to keep our head above water for a bit longer.
By South Side Rob
Just a Monday night contest in Pittsburgh. I worked and watched the game at the same time. The game went pretty fast for the first 7 innings. Gallardo pitched ok but the Brewers were playing short-handed without Braun and Bill Hall had went down with an injury to his hamstring in the 1st inning. The score was 3-1 Pittsburgh and I was ready to concede that the winning streak over the Pirates was going to end.
But then came the 8th inning.
Ryan Braun was in the dugout with a helmet on and a bat in his hand and I don’t think Pittsburgh even knew about it. We finally got Paul Maholm out of the game who effectively got ahead of hitters with a nice change of pace pitches. In comes a righty-specialist, then, a lefty-specialist to face Fielder which didn’t work when he lined a single to center. Their lefty John Grabow stays in to face Cameron who works a walk. With left-hander Chris Duffy on deck, the Pirates had nobody up in the bullpen. Grabow may have even worked around Cameron to get to Duffy.
Duffy is called back for Ryan Braun. The camera panned into the Pirate dugout and they looked stunned. Braun looked at the first two pitches for strikes, then, barely fouled off the next pitch before depositing a texas-league double down the right-field line to tie the game at 3. Then, Casey McGehee struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Pirates battled back to take the lead at 4-3 off Mark DiFelice who pitched well but the Pirate hitters just hit some good pitches.
9th inning and close Matt Capps comes in. He gets ahead of Jason Kendall 0-2 before Kendall smokes a single up the middle. Then, hitting for the pitcher, Craig Counsell hits the first pitch to right field for a single. Corey Hart tries to get a bunt down but Capps started to get wild and eventually walk Hart to load the bases with nobody out. J.J. Hardy picks out a Capps fastball and flies out to fairly deep center to tie the game and to have Counsell tag up and get to third.
Up comes Rickie Weeks. He battles Capps to a full count and with Hart attempting to steal 2nd, Rickie crushes a full-count sinker into the left-field seats for a 3-run blast to put the Brewers ahead for good at 7-4.
Hoffman comes in the 9th and closes the door. Brewers win. The streak over the Pirates is now at 16.
Fun game. I wish the Brewers could put up crooked numbers earlier than the 7th but lately, they have had a flair for the dramatic. Braun’s back must not be as bad as some thought. We still don’t know how serious Hall is injured. Chris Duffy and Mike Cameron both slammed hard into walls. It was wet and cold in Pittsburgh and early on, it looked like Cameron was going to come out of the game after slamming into the center field wall.
Now, on the post-game show, people are calling the show saying that Rickie Weeks should be our every-day 3rd hitter. Let the debate begin. I disagree with that thought but I do think that Ken Macha may try to keep Weeks in a run-producing part of the order instead of the leadoff hitter.
Any thoughts out there?
By: Big Rygg
For all of the talk about the last several games played at Citizens Bank Ballpark by the Milwaukeee Brewers, things have changed..
No longer have the Brewers lost their last seven games in a row in Philadelphia (including playoffs). No longer is the last Brewer win in the city of brotherly love May 17, 2007. No longer have we only one won game in our last 11 at Philadelphia.
The script, as they say, has flipped.
Could this be related to the comments Ryan Braun made to the media after yesterday’s mess of a game? Perhaps. More likely, though, it was directly related to the change that Manager Ken Macha made by flip-flopping J.J. Hardy and Mike Cameron in the lineup. Cameron has been red hot and came through with a two-RBI hit that pushed our lead to 3-0 at the time. Hardy also had a pair of hits (including a solo home run) and was on base three times. Necessary move by Macha and very nice that he actually made that move. Does anyone reading this honestly believe that move gets made last year?
A few notes on the pitching from this one:
First, good start by Braden Looper. 107 pitches, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 0 R. It would have been very nice to see him get into the 7th inning. But the guy did his work in this one. The biggest gripe is that with no strikeouts and no runs scoring, you’d think 107 pitches would get you a bit deeper.
Second, the bullpen picked up Looper for his second win of the season by twirling 3 innings of relief. Mark DiFelice still carries a 0.00 ERA, Carlos Villanueva actually held a team scoreless in an appearance (despite falling behind hitters again) and although Todd Coffey made it interesting in the 9th, he still recorded his second save in as many appearances by working the 9th inning (including a strike out of Ryan Howard).
The downstream affects of this game?
First, we have the chance to win a series. Albeit a small chance if Cole Hamels remembers how to pitch by tomorrow afternoon, but a chance. You can’t win three-game series with a win in game 3 if you lose games 1 & 2. That math doesn’t work.
Second, it appears that we’ve found our 8th inning guy once Hoffman returns from the disabled list. Coffey is getting it done by using a simple philosophy: Make them hit the ball to beat you.
Third, shutouts breed confidence. Granted, we did give up the one run in the 9th, but the shutouts I’m talking about are Looper’s, DiFelice’s and (most importantly) Villanueva’s. Great news for those guys, especially against the offensive lineup of this Philly team.
So, we move on to tomorrow. Dave Bush is on the bump against Hamels.
…with a chance at a series victory.
Yes, baby steps, but steps in the right direction for a change!
Today is the first full game of the spring. You might not recognize half the names after the 5th inning, but competitive baseball is about to be played again.