Thursday's Frosty Mug

Some things to read while trying to get this image out of your head ...

Good morning, guys and dolls: your lovable pal Grover Rubie Q here with all the Brewer news that's fit to link on an overcast Thursday morning in the Brew City.  I've got the reins today because KL and Jordan have been tapped to serve as the fourteenth and fifteenth talking heads on "Baseball Tonight" after both were quoted warmly and accurately in ESPN's recent piece on the Miller Park experience (FanShot).  We thank them for their years of service to Brew Crew Ball and wish them well in Bristol.  (Watch out for Boomer, though.)

ANYWAY, following their mildly-distressing 0-4 slump to begin the year (which had Tom Haudricourt doing his best to talk OV-types off the ledge in his online chat yesterday), YOUR Milwaukee Brewers have secured back-to-back squeakers to climb to 2-4 on the young season.  Last night was a relative slugfest: after combining for four runs in the first two games of the series, the Brewers and Braves erupted for nine total runs last night, including six in the span of an inning, as the Crew scratched out three in the bottom of the fifth and survived a three-run bomb from Jason Heyward in the top of the sixth to win, 5-4.

A day after securing the first win on the new season, the firsts continued for the Crew on Wednesday:

  • After a somewhat puzzling delay, right-hander Marco Estrada was summoned from Nashville to make his first start in 2011, with lefty Dan Merklinger designated for assignment to clear a space on the 40-man roster (FanShot).  After skating on the edge of disaster in the opening innings, Estrada settled in, threw six effective innings, and picked up his first-ever major league win for his efforts.  And as Brewers PR maven Mike Vassallo noted after the game, the back-to-back wins by Yovani Gallardo and Estrada mark the first time an MLB team got consecutive wins from Mexican-born pitchers since Jose Silva and Francisco Cordova turned the trick for the Pirates in 1998 (h/t McCalvy).
  • Six days after gacking away his first save opportunity, closer John Axford worked around a leadoff walk to Heyward to secure Save No. 1 in 2011.  And with the Brewers clinging to the one-run margin in the top of the ninth, we got to hear the Ax Man's new entrance music for the first time -- something called "New Noise" by Refused.  (If you're like me and aren't familiar with Refused's work, here's the video for "New Noise."  To be frank: going from Trevor Hoffman's iconic "Hell's Bells" entrance to whatever this is supposed to be is like following The Who with Nickelback.  Sorry, Ax.)
  • What proved to be the winning run came in the fifth inning, when the much-maligned Mark Kotsay got his first hit and first RBI as a Brewer ... sort of.  The hit was legit, but the pictures showed that Prince Fielder was clearly tagged out at home plate as he tried to score from second base.  Of course, that play came on the heels of another questionable call, as GoGo appeared to score from third on a comebacker to the pitcher, but was ruled out.  In the end: it's a push.  Let's move on.
  • Speaking of Prince: after scuffling a bit to start the year, the big man put together a 3-4 effort and drove in his first runs of the year.

A couple of other notes from the diamond:

After walking a total of eleven (11) times in their first five games, the Brewers drew back-to-back-to-back walks to open the bottom of the first inning against Mike Minor, who was so wild to start the game that Carlos Gomez (no typo) drew on a walk on just four pitches.  (You need to take a moment to recover from that one?  I understand.  Join me after the ellipsis ...)

From the Small Sample Size Department: to the delight of small-ball lovin' folk everywhere, the Brewers are now 2-0 in games where they don't hit a home run.  On the other side of the coin, the Crew is 0-4 when a Brewer homers.

To close out yesterday's game, Ron Roenicke handed the ball to Zach Braddock, Kam Loe, and Axford.  MIA was setup man Takashi Saito, and Roenicke says the 41-year-old is again battling a hamstring issue and wasn't available last night.

One day later, the Internets are still agog over Gallardo's dominating performance Tuesday night against the Braves.  Will Carroll wondered if that game was Yo's "Roy Halladay moment, where he gets it, got efficient, and wont let anyone take his game."  At FanGraphs, Jack Moore lauded YoGa's curveball, which he threw 22 times in 111 pitches en route to a complete game and sixteen ground-outs.  While he was on the subject, Jack noted at Disciples of Uecker that Yovani's WPA for Tuesday's game -- a staggering .760, including his plate appearances -- was the highest in his time with the Brewers, surpassing his sublime, all-around effort against Pittsburgh two years ago.

Today's series finale vs. the Braves starts at the odd hour of 12:40 p.m. CDT, as Shawn Marcum makes his debut in front of the home crowd.  Evan Drellich has the preview at MLB.com.

Down on the farm:

  • It's Opening Day for the Timber Rattlers tonight (6:35 p.m. CDT start, if you're in the area), with righty Austin Ross on the bump for the T-Rats.  Mike Woods of the Appleton Post-Crescent has a feature on Ross, a Louisiana native who's pitching a long way from home today.
  • The news goes from bad to "Jesus, seriously?" for snakebitten right-hander Eric Arnett, who's been shut down indefinitely after developing rotator cuff tendinitis.  Gord Ash says that it will be at least a month until Arnett can resume throwing.
  • The start of the minor league season means that the Brewers' walking wounded will be dispatched around the country to begin rehab assignments: for Manny Parra, that means a quick trip to Appleton to pitch for the Rattlers on Saturday.  Meanwhile, LaTroy Hawkins is headed to Brevard County to pitch on Friday, while Jon Lucroy jets off for Huntsville to play ASAP (FanShot).

From the "It Could Be Worse" files around the league:

John Axford's save last night spared Brewer fans the agony suffered by the Angels, who have already demoted closer Fernando Rodney after he cratered in two appearances.

The Uptight Citizens of St. Louis have been stung by the injury bug and have stubbed their toes to start the year, and, in the least surprising news of the day, skipper Tony LaRussa is already taking out his frustrations on local reporters who had the audacity to try to do their jobs.  (In that same link, Rob Neyer's also got a note on Yankees' manager Joe Girardi's Yost-ian rationale behind his decision to use Rafael Soriano in the eighth inning of Tuesday's loss to the Twins: "Because he's my eighth-inning guy.")

Fingers are poised over panic buttons in Boston as the Sawx fell to 0-5 with an 8-4 seal-clubbing at the hands of moribund Cleveland Indians.  ESPN's Jayson Stark piggy-backed on the points made on BCB the other day about four-game losing streaks to observe that none of the 15 teams that started the year 0-4 between 2000 and 2010 ended up winning 90 games.

The early-season long-ball barrage has led to speculation that baseballs are being wound more tightly in an effort to spur attendance.  It makes some sense, I s'pose, but Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan says it's a load of hooey.

Now, if you'll forgive a bit of self-promotion, we need your help picking an adjective again.

Drink up.

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