Wednesday's Frosty Mug: Brewer News, Links and Notes Clawing Their Way Back To Relevance

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 11: Brandon Kintzler #53 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with Jonathan Lucroy after the 5-0 win over the Atlanta Braves during the game at Miller Park on September 11, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Some things to read while dusting off your guitar.

It took over four months but the Brewers are finally back to even, beating the Braves 5-0 last night to push their record to 71-71. Nicole has the recap, if you missed it.

A lot of the credit for last night's win belongs to Marco Estrada, who pitched 6.2 shutout innings and earned a position as one of Head & Shoulders' Mane Men. He was also The Platoon Advantage's pitcher of the night.

Norichika Aoki only had one hit last night but it was a big one, as his double drove home a run as the Brewers expanded their lead in the seventh. Aoki is now the second Brewer rookie ever to collect 30 doubles in a season, joining Pedro Garcia. J.P. Breen of Disciples of Uecker has a look at Aoki's recent hot streak, while Howie Magner wonders how the Brewers were the only team interested in signing him last offseason.

Meanwhile, can we talk for a second about Aoki's defense? MLB.com has video of his leaping catch to preserve a 1-0 lead last night, and BrewGIFs has a gif of his throw to nail Martin Prado at third base on Monday.

Aramis Ramirez had two hits last night, including a 445 foot home run to the Club Goodwill section in left. For the second straight day a Brewer event elicited a mug-worthy tweet from Rubie Q:

Mark Simon of ESPN has a heatmap showing Ramirez's performance in the second half.

Other notes from the field:

The series wraps up tonight with a sweep on the line as Yovani Gallardo takes on Paul Maholm at 7:10. Teddy Cahill has the MLB.com preview and noted leisured gentleman Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs gave tonight's matchup a four out of ten on his NERD scale. Joe Block notes that Gallardo is the MLB leader in innings pitched without a hit batsman in 2012.

As the Brewers look to beat the Braves again tonight they'll have their good luck charm behind the plate: Mike Vassallo notes that the Crew is 32-21 when Martin Maldonado starts at catcher, which is even more impressive when you consider he spent most of a month as Randy Wolf's personal backstop.

Yesterday's win pushed the Brewers one step closer to the near impossible: A returned-from-the-dead playoff appearance. Nate Petrashek pointed out that Coolstandings had the Brewer playoff chances below one tenth of a percent on August 25, but they're now back up to 4%. Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com is calling a Brewer playoff run "unlikely, but not impossible." Meanwhile, Joe Block posted a link to this set of postseason tiebreaker rules. David Pinto of Baseball Musings has the Brewers as one of five NL teams in his massive tie scenario.

I think this Adam McCalvy tweet says everything you need to know about the Brewers' recent change in relevance:

A Brewer playoff run probably becomes slightly more unlikely if Corey Hart needs to miss extended time. Hart was unavailable again last night with his foot injury and is being fitted for a special shoe to help ease the pain, which he described as "a ten." @Mass_Haas notes that Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz recently missed a month with a similar injury.

A month ago, before this Brewer team got hot, we all couldn't wait for 2013. The Brewers' recent play has lessened the urgency a bit, but I'll still be curious to see it when MLB unveils the 2013 schedule at noon today. Elsewhere in looks ahead, the Brewers have started selling tickets to this winter's "Brewers On Deck" event.

Brewers On Deck and the 2013 season may also be the next times we see Tyler Thornburg, as he's been called up for a week now but still hasn't appeared in a game. Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs has Thornburg among this season's Pacific Coast League leaders in his SCOUT stat.

In the minors:

Finally, congratulations are due out this morning to Badger Boy In Vail, yesterday's winner in our SB Nation Pick 6 contest. Here's the full leaderboard:

Rank Player Points
1 Badger Boy in Vail 95.3
2 kruejoe 59.5
3 5toolz 59.5
4 Foul Tip 53.2
5 Saberilliterate 52.6
6 Kid19 51.6
7 icecreamman 42.4
8 coachseibel 42.1
9 gobrew23 36.0
10 sjlee 33.4

Today's first game starts at 3:05, so there's still some time to get your picks in.

Around baseball:

Astros: Assistant GM David Gottfried will not return to the team next season.
Orioles: Designated pitcher Kevin Gregg and infielder Ryan Adams for assignment.

The Brewers could be one of dozens of teams looking to make a splash in free agency this winter with several question marks in their starting rotation, but Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk notes that we probably shouldn't expect too much from the market this winter, saying "there's a lot more money to be spent than quality players to spend it on."

Here's today's most interesting statistical note: The bottom four teams in the majors in strikeouts this season are the Royals, Twins, Indians and Phillies, and they're a combined 61 games under .500.

Today in former Brewers: Derek Jeter leads all of baseball with 192 hits this season, and has a chance to pass Paul Molitor for the most hits ever by a player age 38 or older. Molitor had 225 hits as a 39-year-old Twin in 1996.

This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History marks 1992 AL Rookie of the Year Pat Listach's 45th birthday. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the 47th anniversary of Warren Spahn's 363rd and final major league win. Today also would have been Milwaukee native Fred Luderus' 127th birthday, and Plunk Everyone notes that his 45 career HBP are the most ever for a player born on September 12.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find my tag partner.

Drink up.

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