Some things to read while getting an expert diagnosis.
As they've done a handful of times this year, the Brewers managed to overcome a tough start from Zack Greinke to pick up a win at Miller Park yesterday. His -.334 WPA and 36 Game Score were the fourth and fifth worst ever for a winning starting pitcher in postseason history, respectively. Greinke hasn't lost a home game since July of 2010, but this was only the second time in his career he's won a game after allowing six runs or more.
If you watched yesterday's game or have seen the highlights, you've probably seen the 73 mph hanging curveball to David Freese that got Greinke in trouble. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar notes that Greinke's curveball usage this season has climbed pretty steadily, making it easier for teams to watch for it. Joe Posnanski said he's surprised to see Greinke struggling in the postseason.
Greinke was bailed out, though, by a franchise record-tying six run fifth inning by the Brewer offense. The Brewers put together five extra base hits in the inning, which is as many as the Phillies managed in the final 34 innings of their series against the Cardinals. Despite the fact that the Brewers put six runs on the board, Tony LaRussa said he was comfortable with the decision to leave Jaime Garcia in to face Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
Despite everything else that happened yesterday, though, one event seems to have taken over the conversation surrounding this series. Just look at all the stuff that's been written about Yuniesky Betancourt's home run:
- It's Miller Park Drunk's lasting memory from the game.
- David Schoenfield of ESPN wrote about it.
- I think it might have broken You Can't Predict Baseball.
- Jim Breen of FanGraphs used it as a jumping off point for a reminder of Yuni's poor season.
- Tyler Lockman of FS Wisconsin said it might have been his best AB of the season.
- Yuni is one of several reasons Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing can't climb on the Brewer bandwagon.
- Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation would like to redirect your attention to Betancourt's awful AB in the first inning.
- David Brown of Yahoo was one of many to note Betancourt's postgame quote regarding not hearing criticism of his game due to the language barrier.
- TheJay noted that Betancourt is the first Brewer to hit for the postseason cycle this year.
- Betancourt and Jerry Hairston Jr are the subject of Brewers in 11's latest edition of Around the Infield.
Betancourt's home run yesterday netted a fair amount of conversation, but it shouldn't draw attention away from the shot that preceded it: Prince Fielder's go-ahead two-run shot was clocked at 119.2 mph coming off the bat, the fastest speed recorded in the majors this season. David Brown of Big League Stew found the spot where it left a mark in the concrete at the back of the Cardinal bullpen. Afterwards, Fielder almost punched out Ryan Braun.
John Axford recorded the final three outs to nail down the save yesterday, but the better news is this: He says he's fine after taking a line drive off his elbow while recording the game's final out.
Yesterday's win lured a few more new friends onto the Brewer bandwagon, but even before the game Lew Freedman of Call to the Pen said the Crew could win it all, and J-Doug of Beyond the Box Score gave them a 56.5% chance to win the NLCS. That number will likely go up today: 16 of the last 19 teams to win Game 1 of the NLCs have gone on to reach the World Series.
Other notes from the field:
- Ryan Braun is the first Brewer ever with four RBI in a playoff contest, and was MLB.com's Performer of the Game.
- Braun and Fielder both homered in the game for the 37th time in their careers. The Brewers have now won 16 straight games when that happens.
- Both benches were warned but the game was played without further incident after Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch in the first inning. It was Fielder's second career postseason HBP, and Plunk Everyone has much more.
Tom Haudricourt noted that the HBP was likely unintentional, but wondered what the reaction would have been if the tables had been turned and it had happened to Albert Pujols. Both sides said the warning was not an issue.
- Zack Greinke told reporters after the game that the Cardinals were yelling at him from the dugout, but it wasn't a big deal
- Before yesterday's game the Cardinals added pitchers Kyle McClellan and Lance Lynn to their NLCS roster. Both appeared in the game.
- The roof was open for yesterday's game, and I'd be surprised if it's not open again tonight.
- Braun, Fielder and David Freese are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
- Here's a transcript of Ron Roenicke's postgame comments, and links to highlights from yesterday's turning points.
- Several Brewer players' families were seated behind home plate yesterday, while is why players frequently pointed to them after scoring runs.
- Lori Nickel of the JS talked to Jerry Hairston Jr after the game, but had to wait until he was done checking his fantasy football scores.
- The Chorizo won the Sausage Race.
- Paid attendance for yesterday's game was 43,613. Attendances for playoff games have been lower than usual because the right field bleachers are blocked off for auxiliary press use.
Here are yesterday's home run trot times, via Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus:
|Yuniesky Betancourt||17.83 seconds|
|Prince Fielder||19.33 seconds|
|Ryan Braun||20.5 seconds|
|David Freese||24.73 seconds|
The series continues tonight, with Shaun Marcum taking the mound against Edwin Jackson at 7:07 (FanShot). Mike Bauman of MLB.com has the preview, and Adam McCalvy has a guide for fans headed out to the park.
Hopefully we won't see a repeat of this: Todd Rosiak talked to Shaun Marcum about his glove flip following Ryan Roberts' NLDS Game 3 grand slam, and he said he didn't even realize he'd done it until seeing the highlight after the game. Marcum, by the way, had some strong praise for former teammate (now Cardinal reliever) Marc Rzepczynski.
If you watched yesterday's game you know that Craig Sager and his lavender suit were closer to being a "sideline distraction" than "sideline reporter." You probably also heard him refer to the Brewers' leading MVP candidate as "Ryan Brown." Braun, by the way, reached some relatively rare territory yesterday: His home run to the back of the Harley Davidson Deck in right center traveled an estimated 463 feet.
Here's something to keep an eye on in the coming days: Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday started in left and went 2-for-4 yesterday, but there are still some questions about his ability to throw the ball as he deals with a tendon issue in his hand.
The Brewers and Cardinals are enemies this week, but they do have a fair amount of shared history: The B-Ref Blog made a pretty strong All-Time team of players that have played for both franchises.
Remembering how far this team has come makes their current success even sweeter. Scott Miller of CBS remembers 2002, when the biggest attraction at Miller Park was the Sausage Race.
Looking ahead, Francisco Rodriguez is a few weeks away from becoming a free agent. He told reporters yesterday he's open to returning to the Mets, and sounds like he'll go anywhere as long as he's promised an opportunity to close. If they haven't promised they won't, the Brewers really should offer him arbitration so they'll get compensation picks when he signs elsewhere.
In the minors:
- Baseball America ranked Logan Schafer as the 18th best prospect in the Pacific Coast League this season. Brett Lawrie was #1.
- It's a good thing playoff teams aren't chosen this way: Flip Flop Fly Ball notes that the Brewer organization went 451-472 this season, the fifth best record in the NL Central.
- The AFL was off yesterday, but 2011 Huntsville Star Brock Kjeldgaard hit a home run and drove in four runs in Canada's victory in the Baseball World Cup.
If you missed this weekend, you missed a lot. For the second straight week Sunday's Special Frosty Mug covered a weekend's worth of events and news.
Cardinals: Designated first baseman/outfielder Andrew Brown for assignment.
There will be an LCS doubleheader today, as the Rangers and Tigers play an afternoon game to make up last night's rained out Game 2. You can read about that and more in today's edition of Around the MLB Playoffs.
There's another interesting element in play, though: Last night's rainout was announced pretty early and turned out to be premature, as by game time it was clear the contest could have been played without interruption. Meanwhile, the postponement means three ALCS games, scheduled to be broadcast on Fox, will be played on weekday afternoons. Baseball Time in Arlington is none too happy about it, and Halos Heaven points out that the situation almost certainly would have been handled differently if the Red Sox or Yankees had been involved.
This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History celebrates the 53rd anniversary of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves' World Series victory. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the 40th anniversary of a trade that sent Tommy Harper and two others to Boston for George Scott, Jim Lonborg and Ken Brett. Scott was the first Brewer ever to lead the AL in home runs and was eventually traded for Cecil Cooper, while Lonborg and Brett spent one season in Milwaukee before being part of a trade that netted Don Money.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to remain aware.