Monday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while hearing the call of the wild.

Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle may have called it an "Easter Sunday slogfest," but the Brewers were happy to call yesterday's game their seventh win in ten home games in 2011. They're back above .500 on the season at 11-10, and half a game back of the Cardinals in the Central.

Randy Wolf pitched another gem for the Brewers yesterday but was overshadowed in a pretty unlikely way: A large bird of prey (either a peregrine falcon or a young Northern Goshawk, depending on who you ask) flew into Miller Park yesterday, killed a pigeon and spent some time hanging out on the field enjoying its meal. The bird, as you might expect, already has its own Twitter feed.

Wolf, by the way, pitched 19.2 scoreless innings between the first inning on April 14 and the solo home run he allowed to Astros catcher J.R. Towles in the eighth yesterday. As best I can tell that's the fourth longest streak of his career:

Start Date End Date IP
8/11/2002 9/5/2002 27
9/26/2001 10/7/2001 24
4/18/2004 5/6/2004 21
4/14/2011 Yesterday 19.2

Brandon Boggs made his first start as a Brewer yesterday and rewarded the team with a solo home run. Adam McCalvy says Boggs is glad he decided to stick with the organization when presented with the possibility of free agency this spring.

Other notes from the field:

  • Randy Wolf, Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
  • Wolf had no problem retiring Bill Hall, who went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the game and how has 26 in 71 official at bats this season.
  • Meanwhile, Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez went 2-for-2 in the game, picking up two of the Astros' first three hits. Brian McTaggart noted that Astros pitchers are hitting .357 on the season.
  • The Brewers drew 31,907, 37,065 and 32,323 fans to Friday, Saturday and Sunday's games, respectively. They're averaging 33,347 through ten home dates, which puts them on pace to draw 2.7 million fans in 2011.
  • Before the game the Brewers were visited by a very creepy Easter Bunny.
  • The Chorizo won the sausage race for the second straight day.
  • Going back to Saturday, Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar set the eighth inning to music.
  • Looking back another day, Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch for the 89th time in his career on Friday. As you might expect, Plunk Everyone has more. Weeks missed Saturday's game with a sprained pinkie finger but was back in action Sunday.

The Astros have left town but the homestand continues tonight as the Brewers open a series against the Reds, who have beaten them in 18 of their last 21 meetings. Scott Segrin of In-Between Hops has a reminder that the Brewers have to find a way to beat the Reds if they're going to be a contending team. Nick Kosmider of MLB.com has a series preview.

The Reds will have to change up their rotation a bit for this week's series: Edinson Volquez was scheduled to start on Wednesday but pitched last night instead after his scheduled Friday start was wiped out by rain.

The Brewers also won't see Scott Rolen this week: The Reds placed him on the DL with a shoulder strain over the weekend and are hoping he'll be ready to return by early May.

As one might expect, there are still a fair number of people talking about Ryan Braun's new contract:

Braun, by the way, got a hit in every game this weekend to extend his streak to 21 straight games reaching base safely. The streak is still the fifth longest to start a season in Brewer history, behind Jeff Cirillo, Turner Ward, Jeromy Burnitz and Robin Yount. Braun could catch Yount for fourth place on Tuesday. He also has a nine game hitting streak.

His new contract will likely only encourage events like this: A female fan at Miller Park on Friday had a sign with "Marry me Ryan" and her phone number, and received over 200 calls and 600 texts after the sign was shown on FS Wisconsin. Braun also tried to call the number, but the voice mailbox was full.

I didn't see any marriage proposals, but Prince Fielder is drawing his fair share of attention too:

  • Ken Rosenthal has a video blog discussing Fielder's athleticism while wearing a ridiculous bow tie.
  • It's About The Money makes the case that Fielder's free agent deal could be better for his new team than the contract Albert Pujols ends up signing.

Jonathan Lucroy has provided a nice spark for the Brewers since his return off the DL, hitting .355/.412/.484 in his first eight games. He's also getting his number retired by his high school in Florida (Umatilla High).

Yovani Gallardo didn't pitch all that well on Friday night, but he did hit his first home run of the season. Matthew Carruth of FanGraphs credited Gallardo with .5 offensive wins in 2010 and listed him among the Pitcher Hitting Winners.

The Brewers took 2 of 3 in Philadelphia and 2 of 3 against the Astros at home for a 4-2 week. As it turns out, they also played in one of the week's five best games, according to Max Marchi of The Hardball Times. Monday's extra inning win over the Phillies received one star.

Zack Greinke pitched for Nashville yesterday in his second rehab start and didn't fare quite as well: He allowed two runs on three hits and a walk over 2.2 innings, striking out two. @SessileFielder has video of his postgame reaction. Greinke is expected to make one more start for the Sounds before joining the Brewers.

Manny Parra is also staying in Nashville for a while. Gord Ash said the Brewers are planning to leave him in AAA for "three or four more" outings to make sure he's fully healthy before he rejoins the team.

The news is a little better for Corey Hart: It looks like he'll rejoin the team this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

In the minors:

  • The York Dispatch is reporting the Brewers have signed shortstop Andy Gonzalez to a minor league deal. Gonzalez last played in the minors in 2009, hitting .259/.351/.358 in 404 plate appearances for AAA New Orleans. He was slated to play for the independent York Revolution this season.
  • The affiliates went 1-1 in an abbreviated Easter Sunday schedule yesterday, with Martin Maldonado going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run in Huntsville's 11-6 win over Birmingham. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
  • Maldonado was demoted from Nashville to Huntsville over the weekend to make room for George Kottaras.
  • Wisconsin Sports Tap has a look at the Brewer prospects spending the 2011 season in Nashville.
  • The Appleton Post Crescent has a profile of Wisconsin third baseman Mike Walker.
  • Keith Law confirmed the existence of Mat Gamel.
  • Meanwhile, no one has been able to confirm the existence of shortstop Michael Marseco, who never reported to camp this spring. The Brewer organization is assuming he plans to retire.

In power rankings:

  • USA Today has the Brewers 13th, down one spot.

Around baseball:

Angels: Placed reliever Scott Downs on the DL with a gastrointestinal virus.
Blue Jays:
Placed second baseman Aaron Hill on the DL with a hamstring strain.
Mariners: Reliever Justin Miller has opted out of his minor league contract.
Marlins: Signed outfielder Gabe Gross to a minor league deal and placed outfielder Logan Morrison on the DL with a strained ligament in his foot.
Mets: Placed outfielder Angel Pagan on the DL with an oblique strain.
Nationals: Designated pitcher Lee Hyde for assignment.
Phillies: Placed reliever Jose Contreras on the DL with a flexor pronator strain in his right shoulder.
Pirates: Claimed infielder Brandon Wood off waivers from the Angels and designated infielder Josh Rodriguez for assignment.
Rangers: Placed reliever Neftali Feliz on the DL with shoulder inflammation.
Rockies: Acquired infielder Brad Emaus from the Blue Jays for a minor league pitcher.
Yankees: Designated pitcher Jose Ortegano for assignment.

Pagan is the latest major leaguer to suffer an oblique injury this spring, and one doctor has a theory regarding the sudden epidemic. Dr. Lewis Maharam, a sports physician, says the growth of oblique injuries may be due to increased use of creatine, a legal supplement. 

"My theory is that drug testing in Major League Baseball is working and people are getting away from using illegal steroids," Maharam says. "They are moving to legal products such as creatine, but they don’t know how to use it in conjunction with their workouts."

Ben Badler of Baseball America is skeptical.

Around the NL Central:

  • The Cardinals beat the Reds 3-0 last night to take the NL Central lead.
  • The Dodgers beat the Cubs 7-3.
  • The Nationals beat the Pirates 6-3.

Here are today's updated standings:

Team W L GB
Cardinals 12 10 --
Brewers 11 10 .5
Reds 11 11 1
Cubs 10 11 1.5
Pirates 9 12 2.5
Astros 8 14 4

Today in former Brewers: PastKast has a great interview with Jim Paschke, the TV voice of the 1987 Brewers.

Through 21 contests the Brewers are averaging 4.67 runs per game, which puts them slightly above league average: Jim Caple of ESPN noted that teams are averaging 4.31 runs per game in March and April, the lowest that number has been since 1992.

Speaking of April stats, The Biz of Baseball is reporting that MLB teams have been rained out 15 times already in 2011, putting them on pace for the second most weather-impacted April of the last decade. 26 games were postponed in April 2007.

Weather was a factor in a couple of games this weekend, and in both cases the visiting team was unhappy with how the situation was handled: Dusty Baker accused the Cardinals of withholding information regarding the expected arrival of a storm on Friday, and Livan Hernandez of the Nationals accused the Pirates of failing to share information regarding a game's expected start time.

Everyone loves a freak pitch, right? If so, then everyone should read this story about the 55 mph floating strike that Jason Marquis threw while falling down over the weekend.

I've ranted before about MLB's blackout policies, but this one might be the most asinine: Hawaii is claimed as a "home market" by six teams, and Big League Stew notes that most residents cannot see the World Champion Giants.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to write a joke about this hat.

Drink up.

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