We're exactly 1/6 of the way into the season, and what an adventure it has been: the ace on the shelf, a 7-game losing streak sending the Crew into the basement, and a 7-game winning streak propelling Milwaukee into second place.
Nothing that's happened so far, though, is as surprising as what happened today: we put together a win on the basis of clutch hitting from Wes Helms and Chad Moeller. Yes, yes, they're still on the team. Clutch hitting in any form is unfamiliar territory for the Crew, but today they scored one run in each of six separate innings, including the bottom of each inning in which the Cubs had scored. The game was tied in the middle of the 6th, 8th, and 9th, and all three times the Brewers pushed the go-ahead run across in the following half-inning.
What excites me the most at this point is that everyone is contributing. True--some people aren't contributing as much as they ought to be <cough--Spivey--cough>, nor are some people <cough--Obie--cough> as valuable as a certain two-way player whose roster spot they may be occupying, but today's win was a great example of what can happen when things go right for the crew.
- 6 solid innings, a quality start, from Gary Glover, who had been distinctly unimpressive up to this point. Most encouraging was his 6 K's--a rate that, if he keeps it up, would suggest he belongs in this rotation.
- A credible job from a variety of bullpen contributors, despite some rough spots. We got a nice performance from Julio Santana, and Turnbow didn't melt down after giving up the tying run. Matt Wise sure wasn't on his game today, giving up a walk and hitting a guy, but Bottalico kept the damage down in a potentially nasty situation. I couldn't help but think that the 8th inning tonight illustrates the difference between this Brewer team and squads of old: in 2003, Vizcaino would've come in and given up six runs--game over, winning streak over, let's head back to the basement.
- Offense from all comers: 5 Brewers got RBIs today, including Moeller and Helms for their solo shots. Even with Branyan, Spivey, and Hall quiet, a mix of production from everywhere else in the lineup kept things going. And as I mentioned before, it was nothing if not timely. The Cubs were never permitted to gain any momentum.
- Ned Yost managed well. He recognized that he had the bullpen arms available to save Matt Wise from a disaster, and he did it right away. He didn't press his luck with Glover. He--somewhat due to luck--pressed the right buttons at the right times, bringing Helms in to homer. He chose small-ball with Clark on first and none out in the ninth, which with Jenkins and Lee coming up, makes some sense. I didn't see the Spivey SB attempt, but perhaps miraculously, it worked. It's easy to look like a good manager when your team is producing, but a close analysis of Ned's moves this afternoon make him look pretty good, even if the result had been different.
And if that weren't enough happy news, try this: Victor Zambrano, tomorrow's slated starter for the Mets, is 1-3 with a 5.81 ERA.