Some things to read while a Vatican assassin springs you from the pokey ...
Last night's game was one for the "Baseball is a Funny Game" files: having dropped 19 of the last 22 matchups with Cincinnati, employing a lineup that featured Craig Counsell hitting second and Mark Kotsay hitting fifth, and with a Spring Training non-roster invitee on the mound, YOUR Milwaukee Brewers nevertheless bested the Reds, 3-2, on the strength of three solo homers and a magnificent pitching performance from Marco Estrada. Estrada was the man of the hour, limiting the Reds to two hits over seven innings, with the only runs scoring on a preposterous, crouching tiger homer off the bat of Brandon Phillips.
The day's other big news was the somewhat unexpected return of Corey Hart, who took early BP yesterday but wasn't expected to be activated from the disabled list until Wednesday (FanShot). Hart was pressed into emergency duty when Erick Almonte took a ball off the noggin during BP and was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Hart didn't start but pinch hit for Estrada in the seventh inning, tapping out to short.
Other notes from the field:
- Estrada's strong work so far this year is causing some welcome consternation amongst the Brewer brass, who need to figure out what to do with six capable starting pitchers once Zack Greinke returns from the DL.
- On that topic: Ron Roenicke said in his post-game comments that Estrada will get at least one more start.
- Rickie Weeks, Estrada, and John Axford -- who put together a tidy 1-2-3 ninth to close out the win -- are leading the FanGraphs Star of the Game voting.
- Yuniesky Betancourt had a productive night at the dish, singling twice in three trips to the plate. Before the game, Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew noted that Yuni swings at 57.8% of the pitches he sees, which is somehow only good for fifth in the Majors.
With Hart activated from the DL and Casey McGehee returning from a one-game hiatus thanks to a sprained thumb, the Brewers are deploying their fully operational lineup for the first time this season. We'll have more on the lineups and pitching matchup at 11 (CDT) this morning. If you can't wait that long, Doug Miller has a preview of today's contest on MLB.com.
Elsewhere in the Brewers blogosphere:
Yesterday was a busy day for webchatters everywhere: Jack Moore of FanGraphs and Disciples of Uecker held a chat on FanGraphs yesterday morning. Later on, Doug Melvin chatted -- or, probably more accurately, dictated while an underling typed -- during the Brewers - Reds game, and nullacct grabbed the highlights for you in this FanPost before they were destroyed by the marauding Old Vegas hordes.
At Disciples of Uecker, Jack's got a post on the recent improvement shown by Randy Wolf, who's using his slider more often with good -- but perhaps unsustainable -- results.
Beyond the Box Score has a look at the best first basemen of the last five years, as judged by runs above replacement level. The top of the list is no surprise, of course, but I was surprised to see Prince Fielder comfortably in the middle of the rankings. BtBS says it's because his defense, even by the low standards of first basemen, is pretty awful.
While we're on SBN blogs, Baseball Nation asked yesterday if the 2005 MLB draft, which featured Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, and
Joey Votto Ryan Zimmerman, among others, was the best draft class ever. And Jeff Sullivan noted that the Brewers are enjoying a relatively stress-free season at the dish, as judged by average leverage per plate appearance.
The Official Site published the list of at-bat and pitcher entrance music yesterday, which always makes for an entertaining read. For some reason, though, they omitted YunE6's use (probably not by his choice, but whatever) of 311, which qualifies as the most delightful and ridiculous of the songs on the list.
Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel writes that the Brewers have sold over two million tickets already this season, which exceeds the pace set last year, when the team sold its two millionth ticket on April 29.
The uncertain situation with the Dodgers' ownership in Los Angeles has caused some concern from Chicken Littles who fear that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio might jump at the opportunity to purchase his hometown team. (If you click on that last link, don't read past the headline and introductory paragraph. Trust me; your brain will thank me later.) Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar says that those concerns are ill-founded in this exhaustive, excellent post.
Down on the farm:
- Rain showers thwarted the Timber Rattlers' scheduled game vs. Quad Cities on Tuesday, the seventh weather-delayed game that the T-Rats have suffered this year. The teams will play a pair of seven-inning contests today, weather permitting.
- In other T-Rats news: Cameron Garfield was activated from the disabled list and Damon Krestalude was transferred to Wisconsin from Helena.
- Down in Tennessee, Nyjer Morgan and Takashi Saito are being dispatched to AAA Nashville to begin rehab assignments this week.
- Marc Hulet of FanGraphs has a look at the early returns from the top prospects in the NL Central.
We're still experimenting with the NL Central news and notes as its own morning post. Today, we've got notes on Lance Berkman's return to Houston and the injury bug that's vexing the Uptight Citizens of St. Louis, plus brief recaps of the action around the Central last night.
Nationals: placed SS Ian Desmond on the paternity list.
If you've been paying attention, you saw that former Brewer Gabe Gross retired yesterday after signing a minor-league deal with the Mariners in the offseason. Jeff Sullivan noted that Gross is the second former Brewer to join the M's organization only to retire because of a waning passion for the game. (Jody Gerut is the other, BTW.) Maybe it's something in the water in Seattle.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to re-read my history books.