Some things to read while filing out.
A lot of credit is due to the Brewers at this point for doing what they needed to do. A week ago today there was an awful lot of gloom and doom being discussed as the Brewers returned home 0-3 after getting swept in Cincinnati. Since then, though, they've gone 5-2 on their opening homestand and returned to .500 by beating the Cubs yesterday on Casey McGehee's eighth inning pinch hit home run.
Yesterday's long ball was only the second pinch homer of McGehee's career, but Adam McCalvy notes that both were game-winners. If you missed it yesterday you can hear Bob Uecker's call of the play at the 3:30 mark in the postgame show. (h/t Brewerfan.net)
As you likely know, McGehee was a Cub briefly in 2008 and the Brewers claimed him off waivers following the season. It may seem like he's better than usual against his former team, but that's not necessarily true: McGehee is a career .286/.339/.466 hitter overall, and a .283/.330/.495 hitter in 29 games against the Cubs.
Yovani Gallardo had a rough day yesterday, allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings, and striking out just two. After pitching a complete game with 111 pitches on Tuesday, he needed 106 just to get through five yesterday. He'll need a pretty impressive bounce-back performance if he's going to repeat as Brewer of the Week.
There was apparently some tension in the Cubs clubhouse following yesterday's loss. Marlon Byrd was thrown out attempting to steal second in the ninth (the Cubs' first steal attempt of the season), and took exception when reporters asked him about the decision. Manager Mike Quade said the steal was not what he wanted in that situation.
Looking back another day, Chris Narveson pitched seven scoreless innings in Saturday's win to extend his season-opening streak to 13. That's the sixth longest season opening streak for a starting pitcher in Brewer history. In-Between Hops notes that it's also the longest streak of Narveson's career, and he's the MLB leader in innings pitched without a run allowed.
Worth noting: Narveson also didn't allow a run in his final 2.2 innings in 2010, so overall the scoreless streak is at 15.2.
With the Brewers leading 5-0 in the eighth inning Saturday, Carlos Gomez stole both second and third base. Carrie Muskat and Adam McCalvy asked around about the possibility of this being a violation of baseball's "unwritten rules."
Other notes from the field:
- Yesterday was the third time the Brewers have scored six runs this season. They have yet to score more.
- Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch yesterday for the first time in 2011. It was his 88th career HBP and the 13th time a Cub has hit him. As you might expect, Plunk Everyone has much more.
- Casey McGehee, Prince Fielder and John Axford are leading the FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
- The Hot Dog swept the series' sausage races.
- The roof was open at Miller Park yesterday for the first time this season.
- Elsewhere in long overdue events, someone finally won the match game on the new scoreboard over the weekend. I never would have guessed it'd take this long for someone to figure out what appears to be a simple game.
We're still living in the Tony Plush Golden Era, and we probably will be for as long as his OPS remains over 1.200. Michael Hunt of the JS profiled Nyjer Morgan, and talked about his love of hockey.
John Axford picked up the save yesterday and has closed out three of the five Brewer wins this season. He's still number one in Bernie's Crew's bullpen power rankings, although I think one could make a strong case for Kameron Loe. Sergio Mitre brings up the rear.
Marco Estrada didn't appear in the bullpen rankings, but he'll be out there with the relievers for the next couple of days. Ron Roenicke said Estrada won't start again until the team needs a fifth starter on Saturday.
After getting off to an 0-for-11 start in Cincinnati, Yuniesky Betancourt actually wasn't bad on the homestand. He hit .318/.375/.409 over six games with a pair of doubles and even drew two walks (one unintentional). Nonetheless, he's still hitting .212/.257/.273 on the season and Toby Harrmann of Brewerfan.net is counting down the days until his contract expires.
Ron Roenicke and the Brewers may have righted the ship, but not everyone is happy with the new Brewer manager: Keep Turnin' Up The Heat! has a list of grievances from the first ten games.
This weekend was a big one for several injured Brewers:
- Takashi Saito, who hasn't pitched since Monday due to a sore hamstring, is may be available on Tuesday.
- Manny Parra pitched two scoreless innings for Wisconsin on Saturday, and is expected to pitch for Nashville on Tuesday.
- Zack Greinke pitched a bullpen session last week and did very well. The team is still projecting his return around the first week in May, but they're considering moving it up.
- Jonathan Lucroy played in his fourth consecutive game for Huntsville yesterday, going 1-for-3 with a pair of walks. He's probably ready to come back anytime now, and is expected to rejoin the team on this road trip.
- LaTroy Hawkins pitched two innings for Brevard County on Saturday.
- Corey Hart is expected to join the team in Pittsburgh and take BP (FanShot). If that goes well, the next step would be a rehab assignment.
With Greinke, Hart, Lucroy, Parra and Hawkins all relatively close to returning, the Brewers have some interesting roster decisions to make. Breaking Down The Brewers predicts the Brewers will make room on their pitching staff by optioning Marco Estrada and Mitch Stetter and designating Sean Green for assignment.
Meanwhile, Lucroy's pending return means either Wil Nieves or George Kottaras is nearing the end of his time on the big league roster. Dennis Punzel of Madison.com has a look at the competition for the backup spot.
Jeremy Reed will likely be on his way out when Corey Hart returns, but for now he told Adam McCalvy he's just trying to contribute as a pinch hitter.
Brandon Kintzler has already been sent down, but before he left he talked to Brian Carriveau of PocketDoppler about his time in the big leagues.
Elsewhere in completed transactions: The Brewers and Blue Jays finally finished the trade that sent Carlos Villanueva to Toronto, with the Crew receiving cash instead of a PTBNL (FanShot).
The Brewers head to Pittsburgh today to open a three game series tomorrow, if the weather allows it. The Weather Channel is calling for a 70% chance of rain, however, so there's a chance the game could be delayed. Assuming the weather doesn't force a change, Shaun Marcum is expected to face Kevin Correia in the opener. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com has a preview.
Fox Sports South had the only telecast of Thursday's day game, so odds are some of you saw this: The broadcasters falsely attributed a fat joke about Prince Fielder to Ryan Braun. As it turns out, the actual quote came from the game thread at Talking Chop. The Brewers, of course, got the last laugh: They beat the Braves that day to take three of four in the series.
In the minors:
- The Brewers have taken an interesting step towards better nutrition for their prospects by banning junk food from the clubhouse across the minor leagues. The list of items that are no longer allowed is pretty substantial.
- Apparently Wily Peralta isn't missing the pizza: He allowed one run in six innings for Huntsville on Opening Day and made Ben Badler of Baseball America's list of notable performances.
- Caleb Gindl, meanwhile, joins the list of Brewers with oblique strains. His is expected to sideline him for about a month.
- Baseball America notes that Gindl is one of three top Brewer prospects on the DL at this point. Reliever Andre Lamontagne (shoulder) and outfielder Logan Schafer (broken thumb) are the others.
- On the field the affiliates went 0-4 yesterday with Nashville playing the game of the day: a 4-3, 14 inning loss to New Orleans. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
- Here are video highlights from Wisconsin's 9-5 loss.
- Brevard County's loss dropped them to 0-4 on the season.
Angels: Placed infielder Erick Aybar (oblique strain) and pitcher Scott Kazmir (back tightness) on the DL.
Dodgers: Placed catcher Hector Gimenez on the DL with pain in his right knee.
Mets: Placed catcher Ronny Paulino on the DL with anemia and designated pitcher Blaine Boyer for assignment.
Orioles: J.J. Hardy is expected to be out around six weeks with an oblique strain.
Pirates: Placed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf on the DL with a shoulder strain.
Rangers: Claimed pitcher Ramon Aguero off waivers from the Pirates and signed reliever Manny Corpas to a minor league deal.
Red Sox: Signed pitcher Clay Buchholz to a four year, $30.5 million contract extension and designated reliever Dennys Reyes for assignment.
Twins: Placed pitcher Kevin Slowey on the DL with a shoulder strain.
Yankees: Signed pitcher Carlos Silva to a minor league deal.
Last week I mentioned that Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday was expected to recover from an appendectomy in time to rejoin the team without a DL stint. Now this week I'm seeing that Adam Dunn of the White Sox is doing the same. This makes me wonder why it took Corey Hart over a month to return in 2009.
Looking around the NL Central: The Reds dropped two of three in Arizona over the weekend, losing the final game 10-8 yesterday after blowing a 5-0 lead. The Brewers and Pirates are now tied for second, 1.5 games back of Cincinnati. The Astros, meanwhile, improved to 2-7 by beating the Marlins.
Today in baseball economics: I've written a couple of times in the last week about record low attendances at various parks, but it's worth noting that Opening Day attendance was up 1.3% across baseball this season.
If that wasn't enough math for you, then you might also be interested in Gaslamp Ball's work to determine how much paint and how many baseballs will fit in a giant paint can in left field at Petco Park.
Each winter we spend a fair amount of time discussing rotation alignment and questions like "what makes a #2 starter?" Here's a reminder that those questions are largely irrelevant: Flip Flop Fly Ball has a visual representation of how a rotation gets shuffled around during the season.
In sad news this morning: An usher at PNC Park in Pittsburgh was found dead near the park Saturday morning, with his car and identification stolen. It's believed he was attacked as he left Friday night's Pirates-Rockies game.
In this morning's edition of Today in Brewer History I noted the 36th anniversary of Hank Aaron's return to Milwaukee. The @BrewersHistory Twitter feed notes that today is also the 41st anniversary of the Brewers' first win, an 8-4 victory over the White Sox at Comiskey Park.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to captioning.