I had this whole nice intro going about how well the Brewers have performed in 2011 against pitchers named after apple varieties. That was before I realized the Twins' starter today is named Blackburn, not Braeburn.
Before last night, the Brewers have had about as much luck over the last week as I've had writing game previews. Before yesterday's improbable, come-from-behind-by-seven win, the Brewers had been outscored over the last four games, all losses, by a combined total of 28-6. No team has lost more games on the road. For today, Braun will sit with a calf injury, Gamel is starting at third base, today's starter Zack Greinke's ERA sits at 5.65, our lineup will start Kotsay, Counsell AND Betancourt, and they're playing against a pitcher who is NOT named after an apple.
One the plus side, we're only coming off what will likely be the biggest win of the 2011 season. Plus, in his last start, Blackburn was lit up for 13 hits and 7 runs in 4 1/3 IP. And even if Ryan Braun sits, we'll still have two 2011 All Stars in the lineup in Weeks and Fielder. And perhaps most importantly, the Twins have Jim Thome in the lineup, the man who struck out last night to end the game. Thome, of course, is named for the Thome Empire apple, which colors to a deep burgundy three weeks earlier than standard Empire.
Here are the lineups:
Twins lineup: Revere 8, Casilla 4, Mauer 2, Cuddyer 9, Thome DH, Valencia 5, Tosoni 7, Hughes 3, Nishioka 6, Braeburn/Blackburn P
Brewers lineup: Weeks DH, Morgan CF, Hart RF, Fielder 1B, Gamel 3B, Betancourt SS, Kotsay LF, Lucroy C, Counsell 2B, Greinke P
In the bullpen, Saito and Axford each pitched an inning last night, and Estrada pitched 2 1/3. Braddock pitched 2/3 on Friday and Hawkins 1/3. Axford also pitched an inning on Thursday.
If you haven't checked these out yet, the Brewers' batting splits on the home and road make for interesting reading.