Some things to read while making a quick diagnosis.
It's amazing how fast things can change sometimes. A few days ago in this space we were talking about a Brewer 1-0 series lead and the likelihood they would win the NLCS, but this morning they've fallen behind 2-1 and their backs are getting pretty close to the wall. Jordan Schelling estimates their World Series chances at around 30%.
A lot of the heat for last night's loss is falling on Ron Roenicke, who made the somewhat inexplicable decision to start Mark Kotsay in center field over both Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan. Kotsay hit a home run in the game, but also cost the team runs both on the basepaths and in the field in the first inning. Here are some reactions from around the web:
- Trenni Kusnierek says she's not giving Roenicke the benefit of the doubt on this one.
- Scott Miller of CBS questioned the decision, but also got quotes from Craig Counsell and Prince Fielder supporting it.
- Even though they're saying the right things publicly I have to second this note from TheJay: You have to wonder if last night's massive backfire is going to have an impact on the clubhouse.
- Last night's Stat of the Night notes that Kotsay only made five starts in center field in 2009-10, but has now made eleven in 2011.
- Ron Roenicke had previously implied that Carlos Gomez could get a start in center, but said after the game last night that he never considered Gomez an option.
Of course, as Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker points out, Kotsay wasn't the only reason the Brewers lost last night. They also got a relatively poor performance from Yovani Gallardo, who was only the second player in postseason history to walk five and throw three wild pitches in a game in St. Louis. Rick Ankiel was the other. Two of Gallardo's walks were intentional.
One of those intentional walks was given to Albert Pujols, who was given two free passes in the game. Jordan Schelling of MLB.com has a look at Ron Roenicke's decision to break from his normal routine and hand out the IBBs.
The Brewers actually looked pretty good against Chris Carpenter last night, scoring three runs over five innings, but the Cardinal bullpen retired the 12 batters they faced in order.
Other notes from the field:
- Mark Kotsay's home run was the second of his playoff career, and his first non-inside the parker.
- Ryan Braun's first inning HBP was the 60th thrown by a Cardinal in postseason play. Plunk Everyone has much more.
- Chris Narveson was warming in the first inning, then sat down and eventually warmed again to come in for the eighth.
- If you went to bed early last night, you might have missed Ron Roenicke's postgame comments and video highlights of the game's turning points.
- Jason Motte, Albert Pujols and Kotsay are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
- Jeff Suppan threw out last night's first pitch.
- The Brewers wore "GV" patches on their jerseys last night to honor longtime groundskeeper Gary Vanden Berg, who recently lost his battle with cancer.
The Brewers' World Series chances have taken a serious hit over the last two days, but this series is still far from over. As Howie Magner notes, all they have to do to even the series tonight is beat Kyle Lohse. He matches up against Randy Wolf, who talked to Tom Haudricourt about his rough NLDS start and his preparations for this outing.
There was a pretty significant amount of conversation yesterday regarding tickets given to the families of Brewer players. They weren't in their usual spot behind home plate, but were moved up to a few party suites down the first base line. The incident is now being called a misunderstanding.
You know you've doing well when a 1-for-3 drops your batting average: Jayson Stark notes that Braun is no longer hitting .500 this postseason. Jonathan Scippa of Baseball Analytics says pitchers are throwing to Braun's strengths this October, and he's making them pay for it.
Braun's baserunning is also a frequently underappreciated part of his game: ACTA Sports notes that he's been worth 50 additional runs over the last three seasons on the bases, tied for the sixth best mark in all of baseball.
In the minors:
- Scooter Gennett and Kentrail Davis combined for five hits in Peoria's 6-2 win yesterday. You can read about that and more in today's AFL Notes.
- Caleb Gindl went 1-for-4 yesterday in his debut for Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League.
- The Brewers have just five prospects who made one of Baseball America's top 20 lists in their league, tied for 27th in baseball. The Padres and Rays tied for first with 18.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball is working on his 2012 Prospect Book and has opened a discussion on the Brewer farm system.
Cubs: Are expected to sign former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to a five year deal (FanShot).
Pirates: Are expected to decline pitcher Paul Maholm's contract option for 2012.
Rockies: Claimed first baseman/outfielder Andrew Brown off waivers from the Cardinals.
Over in the other league, there's a potential elimination game this afternoon: Nelson Cruz and the Ranges picked up another 7-3, 11 inning victory last night and could put the series away with a win in Game 5 today. You know that and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the MLB Playoffs.
Everyone loves a good graphic, right? Eric Simon of Amazin' Avenue has created a tool that lets you pull batter heat maps from ESPN's database.
I must admit I'm amused by the silliness of all the "Rally Squirrel" nonsense going around. And I definitely laughed out loud when I saw the squirrel's "Legends are born in October" commercial.
Elsewhere in things that make me laugh, here are today's Postseason Puns.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to second base.