Contrary to popular belief, Ryan Braun and the Brewers can't beat the Pirates with their eyes closed.
Some things to read while panic sets in.
Despite the fact that they lost a game against the Pirates for the first time all year last night, it's another pretty good day to be a Brewer fan. Here's a quick rundown of this morning's excitement:
- With yesterday's Cardinals loss and the Brewer doubleheader split, the team is nine games up in the Central for the first time in franchise history.
- John Autin of the B-Ref Blog says the NL Central race is over.
- The Brewers are on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
- The Washington Post says the Brewers' "win-now plan" is working.
It wasn't that long ago that the Brewers were looking up at the Pirates in the NL Central standings. @STATS_MLB has a pretty clear illustration of what's happened since:
|Team||OPS Against Before 7/25||OPS Against Since|
Ryan Braun hit his 25th home run in yesterday's first game, and now needs just five homers and four stolen bases to become the second 30/30 player in franchise history and the first since 1970. Tyler Lockman of FS Wisconsin has more on the pursuit.
If not for one awful inning yesterday the Brewers might have had a doubleheader sweep. Tom Haudricourt has a recap of the disaster in the seventh. Zack Greinke, to his credit, didn't blame luck for the bad frame. Here's what he told Adam McCalvy regarding Josh Harrison's bloop that drove in the winning run:
"Those hits happen. That's why strikeouts are the best thing to do."
Other notes from the field:
- Chris Narveson left yesterday's start after the nail on his left middle finger caught on a pitch and pulled away a bit. He seems to think he'll be fine but Tom Haudricourt noted that the Brewers could use off days to skip his turn in the rotation again if needed.
- Pirates third baseman Steve Pearce left yesterday's first game with an injury to the index finger on his right hand, forcing catcher Michael McKenry to make his first professional appearance at third.
- Josh Wilson is from Pittsburgh and his family bought out a section at PNC Park to watch him yesterday.
- Chris Narveson, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting for game one, and Brad Lincoln, Zack Greinke and Josh Harrison are leading the vote for game two.
- The Brewer magic number is now at 25.
The two teams play a more traditional single game tonight, and Spencer Fordin of MLB.com has the preview. We're coming down to the wire for the Prognostikeggers regular season, so don't forget to get your predictions in. The Pirates will need to make a roster move before the game to activate starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf from the DL.
Meanwhile, the Bucs will need another spot starter for tomorrow: Kevin Correia was scheduled to start but has been placed on the DL with an oblique strain.
Marco Estrada is making what will likely be his final start for a while today: With Chris Narveson healthy(ish) he'll return to the long relief role in the bullpen. To his credit, he said all the right things to Adam McCalvy about the transition.
Despite yesterday's rare loss, the Brewers are still 23-4 in their last 27 games. Trenni Kusnierek has a look at the question many of us have asked at one point or another recently: Is this team this hot, or this good?
At least once each day lately (and frequently more often) I see someone asking the same question: "What is that thing (insert Brewer here) is doing after hits?" In an effort to avoid having to explain it every single day for the rest of the year, here's a primer. It's called "Beast Mode." Ron Roenicke doesn't like it. Mitch Stetter's son does it.
Even after the Brewers' recent hot streak, they're still not getting much respect in one corner of the web: For Baseball Junkies says the Crew has the fourth best pitching staff among NL contenders.
Another day, another Prince Fielder story: MLB Trade Rumors has a look at the reasons why every MLB team might pass on the slugger in free agency.
In the minors:
- The affiliates went 2-3 last night and Mat Gamel had four hits (including a home run) in Nashville's 7-3, 11 inning win over Omaha. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
- Wily Peralta carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in that game.
- Nashville outfielder Caleb Gindl is Minor League Ball's prospect of the day, and John Sickels says he "strikes me as the kind of player who will sneak up on people and have some surprisingly impressive seasons at his peak."
- Sickels also saw Nashville starter Mike Fiers pitch this weekend, and says he "saw enough positive stuff out of him that I think he can contribute in the majors as a fifth starter or long relief type."
- Wisconsin pitcher Brooks Hall is the Prospect of the Week at Disciples of Uecker. Toby Harrmann says, "Hall will never be a huge strikeout guy, and probably never a top of the rotation pitcher, but he offers an enticing package of tools that stand a good chance of turning him into a solid Major League starter."
- Nashville's triple play from last week earned "Play of the Week" honors on SportsCenter.
In power rankings:
If you haven't yet, please take a moment today to vote in the BCB Tracking Poll. It'll be open through the end of the day today and results will go up sometime after that.
Indians: Placed DH Travis Hafner on the DL with a strained right foot.
Orioles: Placed reliever Jason Berken on the DL with a shoulder strain.
Phillies: Placed shortstop Jimmy Rollins on the DL with a strained groin.
Twins: Placed pitcher Nick Blackburn on the DL with a forearm strain.
Yankees: Designated pitcher Aaron Laffey for assignment.
This has already been mentioned in this morning's Around the NL Central and other places, but it's too good not to bring up again: Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday had to leave last night's game (an eventual loss) after a moth flew into his ear and got stuck. Jeff Sullivan of Baseball Nation has a look at the event in pictures. The moth was eventually extracted. Here's what I'd like to know: If removing a moth with tweezers is all that needed to be done, why did Holliday have to come out of the game? That seems like something the trainers should've been able to do on the field.
Last week I mentioned this day was coming, and now it's here. Late last night, the Astros became baseball's first mathematically eliminated team in 2011.
I'm not sure if it showed up on any of the highlight shows (I didn't watch them last night), but yesterday's best catch was made in the stands in Atlanta.
Elsewhere in impressive feats in other games: Mariners outfielder Wily Mo Pena hit a ball last night that will likely turn out to be the hardest hit home run of the MLB season. Hit Tracker estimates its speed off the bat at 117.5 miles per hour. Prince Fielder has the three hardest hit home runs by a Brewer this year, and they're all between 116 and 117.
I've been largely avoiding the daily coverage of the Frank McCourt mess in LA, but this note was too good to pass up: McCourt's lawyers are currently making more money than any Dodger player.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to send another package.