Series Preview in Blog: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers did the Twins no favors, getting swept by the Tigers this weekend.  How are the Twins supposed to catch the Tigers if they keep staying above .500?

You say they could win enough games that they too will be above .500?  You mean more than one game above .500?  That sounds too scary, I’m cool with the Twins strategy this season – we’ll be at .500 and wait for the rest of the division to come to us.

–PROBABLE PITCHERS–

The Brewers starters have been really poor recently, almost across the board.  Luckily for the Twins, they will be missing Yovanni Gallardo (I think), the one hurler who’s actually been pitching well for the Crew.  Couple that with the fact that the Brewers are right near the top of the NL Central as trade speculation season begins and that the guys being called on to step into the lineup, like Casey McGehee and Mat Gamel, are doing remarkably well, and you’ve got a ton of posts about the potential starting pitchers Milwaukee could be interested in.  Not only that, apparently Erik Bedard and Doug Davis have stated their case as to why the Milwaukee front office should target them, the card that Bedard made is awfully persuasive.

Liriano v. J. Suppan

Suppan has been about what you would expect from him at this point – nothing spectacularly good or bad, but serviceable.

Blackburn v. B. Looper

Looper had a very good start to the year, but he has quickly regressed and become part of the rotation-wide struggles for the Brewers.

??? v. ???

It should be Slowey here for Minnesota but MLB.com has Baker.  For the Brewers, it’s Dave Bush’s turn in the rotation, but he’s been so bad lately that the word is he’s suffering from arm fatigue.  So, manager Ken Macha (who may be the best personality on the Brewers.  Really? The manager?) deciding whether or not to skip him this time around, a decision made harder by the struggles of the other starters to pitch effectively.

Series Preview in Blog: Milwaukee Brewers (Round 2)

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Minnesota Twins (33-31) v. Milwaukee Brewers (36-30)

After their previous series against the Brewers, the Twins left Milwaukee three games below .500, while the Brewers were a comfortable 10 games above .500. In the three-plus weeks since, the Twins have gone 13-8 while the Brewers have not fared as well, going 9-13. More recently, the Brewers have lost two of three in Texas and won two of three in Detroit (I always liked the Brewers) on their current road trip. Despite their struggles, the Brewers remain the only team with a record over .500 in the NL Central, and they maintain a 5.5 game lead over the second place Chicago Cubs.

In that last series the Twins won two of three from the Brewers. I was there (and I’ve got the lousy pictures to prove it), as were many others including Nick N. (of Nick & Nick), Cheesehead Craig (of Oracle of Cheese), Freealonzo (of Lost Forest After Dark), and Shane (of Greet Machine).

On to the Brew Crew:

The Brewers have outperformed their Pythagorean win total all year (36 actual compared to 33 Pythagorean). Is that sustainable? Some people seem to think the Brewers have the roster to continue that success.

One new face since the previous series is Ryan Braun at third base. Since being called up he has certainly impressed with an OPS of .937 and a line of .314/.351/.586. He has also been the subject of some mugshot hijinx.

Prince Fielder is still on the team, and he’s still hitting a ridiculous amount of home runs. All those home runs are good enough for Fielder to be ranked the 14th best player in MLB by ESPN’s new metric. There were a few Brewers who made the top 100.

Despite all that talent, the recent slide has begun to cause rumblings about the managerial stylings of Ned Yost. To make things short and sweet, they’re not in favor of it.

Friday night, Scott Baker pitches against Claudio Vargas. Both pitchers pitched in the previous series, Baker had his auspicious debut, while Vargas struggled a bit (4 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 6 BB). The Brewers were able to come back and save Vargas from a loss, and since then Vargas has pitched a little bit better. In his 3 starts since he’s pitched into the 6th and allowed 3 or 4 runs. Nonetheless his turn was skipped in the rotation the last time through so he hasn’t started in 10 days.

Saturday, Boof Bonser takes on Dave Bush, who also pitched in the two teams first meeting, in fact, he was Baker’s opponent (7.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 1 BB). Bush has a 6.07 ERA in his last 5 starts, and it always seems like the Twins offense struggles to score against scuffling pitchers like that, doesn’t it?

In the finale on Sunday the Twins youth movement continues when Kevin Slowey pitches against Jeff Suppan. Suppan has been absolutely average in his last 5 starts, going 6 IP and allowing 4 ER almost every time.

Suppan’s last outing was against Justin Verlander when Verlander tossed his no-hitter. This guy claims to be the first to post about it although it doesn’t seem like he has much to say.

The Brewers rotation seems to be in a state of flux right now. The Twins are just missing the Major League debut of hot prospect Yovanni Gallardo who will go on Monday. Needless to say, Brewers fans are excited to see what he can do.

Finally, plenty of baseball player have blogs, and I’ve pointed out some of them in other editions of this series. This is a first though, a baseball player who blogs about football. Specifically, Kevin Mench blogs about the Philadelphia Eagles (you have to log in to see his blog, so I just linked to the article about the blog).

On Assignment: Brewers 6, Twins 5

As I lounged about this weekend, an urgent message suddenly appeared in my inbox from the headquarters of the Minnesota Sports Guys conglomerate. I was chosen to attend a Twins game this weekend at Miller Park. Despite the fact that Ramon Ortiz would be pitching, and that I would be wading into hostile territory with which I was not familiar (my first visit to Miller Park), I felt duty-bound to do my best. Following is my report. (Keep in mind, I am not a professional picture taker, I’m barely an amateur, so there’s not much and it may not be high quality, but I’ll try to fill in with witty commentary where appropriate)

Yep, that’s the place. We (me and my wife) exited off the freeway and were pretty much right by the front gate, which we thought boded well. After another 20 minutes of driving we reached our parking spot and made the long trek back toward the field (which is essentially in the middle of an enormous parking lot).
Also, you may notice that the roof was closed. No outdoor baseball for us.

We found our seats pretty easily (after procuring some cheesy fries in a helmet). This was the view from section 430 (the MNSG budget apparently isn’t all that large). The place was pretty well packed with a reasonable representation of Twins fans. And I should point out that the Brewers fans that I met were very well behaved, before and after the game (I probably would have ranted about them if they weren’t, so I have to give them credit).

In the above picture, the Brewers had just walked Jason Bartlett to get to Ramon Ortiz in the big 4-run fourth.

At this point my wife pointed out that TC, the Twins mascot, was in attendance, hanging out with Bernie Brewer on the infamous slide. (Emphasis mine, there were no giant purple arrows at the game). Shortly after this half inning finished, Bernie and TC disappeared from the slide and TC wasn’t seen again. In an interesting parallel, the Brewers outscored the Twins 6 to 1 for the remainder of the game. Perhaps Bernie took matters into his own hands? I know the Twins policy is not to negotiate for hostages, but it had to be weighing on their minds.

Ramon Ortiz plots his next big inning (alternatively, he frets about the plight of TC).
It wouldn’t be Milwaukee without a Sausage Race. Here they come, around the homeplate area, I had the bratwurst in a friendly wager with my wife (that’s him in the green hat at the back of the pack. grrrrrrr)
It was Sunday, so it was a relay (as anyone who’s witnessed a sausage race knows). The “little weenies” ran the last leg and the bratwurst made a valiant comeback to finish second. Unfortunately the wife’s pick, the polish, won easily, so I lost that bet (and no, I won’t tell you what the wager was, it’s not important).
I had a picture of Ramon Ortiz, and here’s a picture of Pat Neshek. I didn’t get a picture of Dennys Reyes because I was covering my eyes in horror the whole time he was on the field. He trotted in from the bullpen and I was desperately trying to convince myself that Juan Rincon had become a lefty. But Dennys laughed at my pitiful attempts to deny him as he coughed up a run to give the Brewers the lead.
Neshek was awesome, after getting two outs on two pitches in the 7th, my wife predicted three strikeouts on 9 pitches in the 8th. She was pretty close, Neshek got two strikeouts and a pop-up on 10 pitches. Between this and the polish sausage thing (plus she got the attendance game right, too) I was getting a little freaked out.
Damn.

I had a good time, I always enjoy a baseball game, and this one was close enough to be entertaining throughout. I got to give Cuddyer a standing ovation for his home run, and I got to curse the offense for failing to capitalize on a leadoff double in a tie game. The whole range of emotions in one afternoon. I really felt the Twins should have pulled this one out, but I can be content with 2 of 3 on the road in a series. That’s it from me, I’m off to sharpen my photojournalism skills, thanks for reading!

Series Preview in Blog: Milwaukee Brewers

This post is also published at Stick and Ball Guy’s site. Stop by and check out what SBG Nation has to say.

After an extremely busy week, me and my better half are heading up to Milwaukee for the series finale with the Brewers. We have tickets in the upper deck, so no doubt we are entered into the Brewer’s fancy new database. It will be my first trip to Miller Park, although I’m beginning to wonder if going to watch the Twins is going to be all that cathartic. Ah well, it will be nice to get out to the ballpark anyway. I’m not sure that I know exactly what all this is about but I’ll try to behave myself so as not to raise the ire of the Brewers faithful.

Minnesota Twins (18-22) @ Milwaukee Brewers (26-15)

The Twins are happy to see the AL Central in their rearview mirror for now. In their last three series, all against AL Central opponents, the Twins are 2-7. The Brewers have been struggling a bit as of late after their hot start. They lost 5 of 7 on their recent road trip to New York and Philadelphia. The Brewers lead the NL Central by 5.5 games over Houston which is a lead that has actually shrunk from an impressive 8 games earlier in the week. The Twins remain in fourth place in the AL Central, 7 games back of Cleveland (let’s not talk about how close they were before this week). The Twins are 8-9 on the road (0-3 on this road trip) while the Brewers are a solid 16-5 at Miller Park.

On to the Brew Crew:

First off, the number of links to this site are staggering, so if the Brewers make the playoffs, you may want to stay away from any Brewers fans for a bit.

If you’re nostalgic for the old Brewers, here are a couple of petitions to bring back the old logo and Bernie’s beer mug to Miller Park. Although, the old Brewers weren’t all that good, in fact one of them, Dale Sveum, has earned the distinction of being named the captain of the Worst. Team. Ever.

This series marks the beginning of interleague play where the Twins and the Brewers have been designated as each other’s interleague “rival”. While the Twins may not necessarily be the most heated rival, Brewers fans still look forward to this series.

An interview with Rick Braun, the beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, about the Brewers hot start and what they need to due to sustain their success. The hot start has plenty of people debating whether they are for real or not. Here’s a pointcounterpoint argument on exactly that topic. Their hot start has them dreaming big though, no, not about the playoffs, about an SI cover. I don’t have the data on how long it’s been since the Brewers were on the cover, so no rehash of last entry’s trivia question. I do know that Milwaukee hasn’t won the World Series as the Brewers, the last time a Milwaukee team won the World Series was 1957 as the Braves. Since then Milwaukee has been laboring under the curse of the North Shore Line. (incidentally, this is the only post I’ve linked to thus far with a tag of “ferroequinology”)

Of course, just because they’re off to a good start doesn’t mean that Ned Yost gets a free pass as the manager. Plenty of people dislike his bullpen management, although you have to admit that he will defend his players.

Prince Fielder is chasing teammate J. J. Hardy for the lead on the Brewers (and the National League) in homeruns so far this year. Maybe a change in his theme song is all he needs to catch up. These two Brewers represent part of the future of the organization, but there are some very good prospects waiting in the wings. One of the better known prospects of the Brewer’s past was Brooks Kieschnick who tried to make a career as both a hitter and a pitcher. Here’s a look back at his career.

Gardenhire has been warning us that this day would come, but here’s an example where the emergency third catcher played a pivotal role in the outcome of the game.

Finally, maybe the Twins best hope for a victory is that the Brewers could be preoccupied by their upcoming brush with fame.