By: Big Rygg
Now that was a pitching duel.
I know that there are a lot of baseball fans out there that love a game like that which took place today in New York at Yankee Stadium. That game featured a 14-run inning and total combined scoring of 26 runs!
But there are also baseball fans, though probably to a lesser extent, that love a game like that which took place today in New York…but at Citi Field.
The new home of the New York Mets saw it’s first real pitcher’s duel today between former Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana and hopefully a future one, Yovani Gallardo.
Santana went 7.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K
Gallardo’s line was: 6.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 7 K
Great stuff from both pitchers. In fact, the first 5 out Gallardo recorded were strikeouts including getting both Carloses (Delgado and Beltran) to strikeout with runners on first and third in the 1st inning.
Frustratingly, though perhaps fittingly in a game which featured such good pitching, the only run of the game on either side came literally off of the glove of another Carlos (Brewer reliever Villanueva). A runner scored from third after a bullet of a line drive glanced off the side of Villanueva’s glove for an infield single. The frustrating part, though, was that the only reason the runner was at third base to begin with was because of a 2008 special, that of course being an error on a routine play from Rickie Weeks.
Yes, Weeks has been doing much better this year so far than in years past, but not being able to catch a 15 foot lob from Prince Fielder is unacceptable.
But, enough complaining. Tomorrow is another day. A day when Nelson Figueroa squares off against Jeff Suppan in the series finale.
Let’s get one tomorrow. How about that?
By: Big Rygg
As I write this, the first game in New York is tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 7th inning. Mitch “Irish” Stetter (my own nickname for him, but feel free to adopt it) has just been removed from the game after allowing Mike Rivera to show why so many professional athletes over the years have taken ballet. I’m not saying Rivera takes or has ever taken ballet, but the spin move he just pulled off was a thing of beauty.
Moving, this post is mostly about the entirety of the upcoming road trip as opposed to the current game (though Hallelujah that Braun got his first home run out of the way a couple of innings ago!!).
The Brewers began the 2009 regular season on the road out in California for three games before hosting two teams for three games each at Miller Park. Beginning tonight, however, the Brewers take their first (of three) 9-game, 10-day road trip.
We start where we are tonight, brand-new Citi Field in Flushing, New York where the marquee matchup of the weekend comes tomorrow when Yovani Gallardo squares off against one of the best pitchers in all of the majors in Johan Santana. Tonight’s matchup, as I mentioned, is all square as I write this but the Metropolitans are threatening. Sunday is looking like a Met win already (hey, until Jeff Suppan shows me a glimmer of hope, I have to go with recent history), so finding a way to win tonight would be a plus.
After the Brewers first series ever at Citi Field (Todd Coffey just got out of a Mitch Stetter jam!), the Brewers head to their personal 2008 House of Horrors: Citizen’s Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia, PA. The Brewers were 0-6 in Philly last year, including those two lost games in the NLDS. Philadelphia’s resident ace left-hander Cole Hamels is pitching tonight, so we should see him in Game 3 of the series.
Then, in what on paper (and if you read this blog often enough, you should know how I feel about “on paper”) should be the easiest series of the trip, the Brewers travel to Houston, Texas to take on the Astros. The Crew avoids arguably the best pitcher in the NL Central Division in Roy Oswalt courtesy of the schedule makers. Even still, Houston is a tough place to play as a visitor and the Brewers have an all-time record well below .500 there.
(Todd Coffey just induced a David Wright ground out to escape his own bases-loaded jam in the 8th. Whew!)
Realistically, a team hopes to play at or near .500 ball on the road and over .500 ball at home. Therefore, the best you can fairly expect the team to do on this long road trip is 4-5. Hopefully the Brewers can pick up an extra one here and there and have a very successful trip.
Two notes before I let you all go here, Gary Sheffield hit his 500th career home run in the game this evening. Good for him, I guess, but a hard slap in the face that the team he broke into the Major Leagues with and dragged through the mud before leaving town (yes, he still gets booed mercilessly when he plays in Milwaukee) would give up the milestone.
Second, The Brewers finally have a second lefty in the bullpen due to the situation with David Riske’s elbow. R.J. Swindle was called up to the parent club in what really is fortunate timing. The Mets and Phillies have a lot of potent left-handed bats, and even a couple of switch-hitters that are much more dangerous when batting left-handed. For example, the Brewers used Mitch Stetter tonight in the 7th inning. Should a big situation come up in the 9th (or later should this go to extra innings), Ken Macha has the opportunity to bring in another left-hander. That allows Macha to manage the situation on its own, and not have to worry about a “what if” situation where your lefty might be more useful later in the ballgame. For example, Jerry Manuel used his only lefty in the 6th inning after Ryan Braun hit a 3-run home run with nobody out.
Anyway, it’s the bottom of the 9th, Seth McClung is on the bump and the heart of the Mets order is due up…ain’t baseball grand?
Come on boys! Let’s play some free baseball for the fans in NYC tonight!
By: Big Rygg
If you likes you some offense, was this ever a game for you. Pitching on both sides (for the most part) was shaky at best and (most of) the bats were nice and warm on both sides as well.
The Brewers jumped on Met starting pitcher Oliver Perez early, courtesy of a Gabe “Boom Boom” Kapler two-run home run. Perez set down the next three Brewers in order.
But therein lies the secondary story of this offensive outburst. That order was not as it had been all season prior to this game; Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Bill Hall. Instead, per their personal request, Fielder and Braun were swapped in the order to the configuration they hit during the majority of the 2007 season. Braun hit 3rd, Fielder cleaned up (poorly today) and Bill Hall and his 5 home runs still hit 5th in the order.
Prior to their personal request for the swap, Ned Yost had said that a switch of Braun and Fielder would simply be a “placebo”, implying that it would be completely a mental thing if it helped out. Obviously, it’s too early to tell what kind of effect it might have, but it was nice to see Ryan Braun with a couple of hits and RBI. Fielder, as I mentioned earlier, didn’t fair so well. He went 0/5 (with a walk). Ultimately, this has a chance to break both men out of their respective funks. That’s a good thing.
As for Brewer starting pitcher Jeff Suppan, he only last 4.0 innings and didn’t exactly do well in keeping the ball down. Salomon Torres pitched two innings, Brian Shouse and Guillermo Mota pitched dangerous innings, but Eric Gagne slammed the door in the 9th, recording the Brewers only 1-2-3 inning all night, for his third save overall, his second in as many nights.
Hopefully people have a little more faith in Gagne after this series.
What was noticeable was how Derrick Turnbow was not pitching in the 8th inning yet again. There was a two-run lead to protect and Yost called Mota out of the ‘pen. Mota got some help on defense highlighted by an excellent double play from Prince Fielder without which he might have given up the lead. Will Turnbow ever get the 8th inning gig back? I think it truly depends on others faltering first, to be honest, which is unfortunate in my opinion.
But, the Brewers won again, so does it really matter who pitches the 8th? Well, it does, but it didn’t tonight ultimately.
So some questions for all of you out there (if there are any of you left…):
- Is this a long-term switch with Braun and Fielder (and if so, what do you expect from it)?
- Was this just an off night for Suppan, or is his summer starting early?
- What’s your confidence level like in Eric Gagne now?
- Should Gabe Kapler start every game in centerfield (assuming Gwynn is still injured) until Mike Cameron comes off suspension?
Feel encouraged to answer any or all of these questions.