Some things to read while sticking your foot into Kermy's neck ...
It's been three days since KL decided to share my private irrational exuberance with the masses, and, as luck would have it, the Brewers haven't won a game since, tallying four meager runs in three straight defeats. Last night's loss was particularly gruesome, as Chris Narveson (and, to be fair, Carlos Gomez) turned a 1-0, sixth-inning lead into a 6-1, sixth-inning deficit in the span of seven batters as the Phillies curbstomped the Crew, 7-2. Add in the facts that our magic number remains stuck on 11, that the Diamondbacks are about to overtake the Crew in the race not to face the Phils in the first round of the playoffs, and that Ron Roenicke made another confounding (though not game-altering) decision last night (more on that below), and you've got a recipe for disaster.
And a very cranky Rubie.
Welcome to the Tinderbox. Let's light some matches.
The story on the field yesterday was Narveson's latest bout with a blow-up inning: after cruising through five innings against the Philllies' jayvee squad (Ryan Howard was held out against a lefty, and Chase Utley is sidelined with a mild concussion) and retiring the first two batters in the sixth, NarvDog hit an oil slick: he allowed the next seven hitters he faced to reach base, including doubles to Shane Victorino and Wilson Valdez, a walk to Placido Polanco, and a GoGo-aided triple to Hunter Pence. Ron Roenicke couldn't come up with an explanation for Narveson's pratfall, but Jaymes Langrehr reminds us that we've seen this episode before -- and against the Phillies, no less -- and provides a straightforward (and accurate) summary of the issue:
[I]t's not a coincidence that things started to go awry the third time through the order. He's a good fifth starter by league standards, but he's still a fifth starter. Those guys tend to get figured out over the course of a game.
The other story from the diamond was the return of Rickie Weeks. Sort of. As expected, Weeks was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game, but he didn't see any action yesterday. There seemed to be a golden opportunity to get Weeks his first at-bat since July 27 when the pitcher's spot came up in the bottom of the seventh inning with two men on and two down, but Ron Roenicke instead opted to let glass-batted Josh Wilson take the turn at the dish, and Wilson tapped out weakly to third to end the Brewers' last real threat.
The decision to bypass Rickie left a lot of people scratching their heads, but Roenicke told Adam McCalvy after the game that he didn't feel comfortable using Weeks in that spot because Weeks hasn't seen live pitching in more than a month.
Color me baffled. Had I been the one questioning RRR about this move after the game, the exchange probably would have gone something like this:
YOUR INTREPID BLOGGER: You said before the game that you activated Weeks because you wanted to give him some pinch hitting opportunities before he comes back full time. Even though he's not fully healthy, Rickie Weeks at 64% is a much, much better baseball player than Josh Wilson. Why didn't you use Weeks in seventh?
RUNNIN' RON ROENICKE: He hasn't seen live pitching yet.
YIB: So he's not ready?
YIB: Then why did you activate him from the DL?
RRR: It doesn't hurt us to add him to the active roster at this point. It's after September 1. We don't lose anything by activating him now.
YIB: Then why didn't you activate him on September 1?
RRR: Because he wasn't ready.
YIB: But ... he's still not ready.
And from there, it devolves into some kind of weird "Who's on first?" type nonsense.
Lookit: like I said on Twitter during the game, if Rickie is healthy enough to pinch hit, then he has to be the choice there. If he's not healthy enough to pinch hit, what were the public comments about "we're bringing him back to get his feet wet by pinch hitting" all about? And you can't give me the: "Well, Roenicke wants to keep the Phils guessing, because they have to keep in the back of their mind that Weeks is available" argument, because RRR told anyone who's got the Internet that he's not going to use Rickie in a high-leverage situation.
To put a bow on this sundae: what's the big concern with using Rickie right there? That it's somehow unfair to him to ask him to take an at-bat against a really good pitcher with two on and two out? What's the worst that can happen? He makes an out. He's made thousands of outs in his career. I think he'll be OK.
A few other notes from the field:
- Jerry Hairston, Jr., made his return to the Brewers lineup after missing a couple of games with a pain in the neck. He was 0-for-3 with a walk.
- Paid attendance for last night's game was announced at over 41,000, but @BrewerNation estimates that the actual number was more like 35,000 -- and less than 10,000 when the game got out of hand in the later innings.
- Hunter Pence, Cole Hamels, and Chris Narveson are leading the Star of the Game voting at FanGraphs.
The task doesn't get any easier for the local nine tonight: the Crew has to tango with Cy Young frontrunner Roy Halladay in tonight's contest. Jon Star has the preview of tonight's clash at MLB.com. And while we're talking about upcoming games: at FanGraphs, Eric Seidman takes a look at Sunday's probable starter, Vance Worley.
Nyjer Morgan wasn't in the Brewers starting lineup yesterday, but that decision had everything to do with Cole Hamels' presence on the mound and nothing to do with Tony Plush's run in with the Uptight Citizens Brigade in St. Louis on Wednesday night. Still, Nyjer's latest imbroglio was drawing a lot of attention the next day: Tom Haudricourt says that Morgan's added a new persona in the wake of skirmish -- Tony Hush -- and, at Disciples of Uecker, Tim Schaefer says that the potshots being taken at T. Plush strike him "as incredibly condescending, unfair, and possibly more than a little racist."
Reviewing the Brew is conducting a countdown of the best mustaches in Brewer history, and No. 3 on the list is closer John Axford. Personally, since this is the 19th anniversary of Robin Yount's 3,000th hit, I would've tabbed No. 19's ginger 'stache today, but apparently Robin was No. 4 on the list.
Down on the Farm:
- morinek0's got the final Minor League Notes of the season, as the Helena Baby Brewers wrapped up their year with a 13-inning loss to Billings last night.
Around the Show:
- Phillies: activated shortstop Jimmy Rollins from the 15-day disabled list.
- Giants: released outfielder Aaron Rowand and infielder Miguel Tejada, both of whom had been DFA'd ten days earlier.
That about wraps things up for me, so I should probably apologize for being such a Sour Sally this morning: I'm sorry. Things aren't nearly as bad as I'm making them out to be. The Crew has the lowest magic number remaining in the major leagues (we're tied with Philly, actually, but whatevs). After Sunday, we won't see another winning team for the rest of the year. Chris Narveson will be banished to the bullpen, and pretty soon Rickie Weeks is going to get to swing at a baseball again.
And apparently a football team won a football game last night. But this is a Brewers site, and I don't want SgtClueless to mess up my grill.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to crushin' on Dave Grohl.