Some things to read while people forget your name.
It wasn't easy, but the Brewers snapped their five game losing streak and spoiled Chicago's home opener yesterday, beating the Cubs 7-4. Eric Nehm has the recap (his first as an official BCB contributor), if you missed it. Marco Estrada pitched seven innings in tough conditions and allowed two runs on five hits, and Howie Magner noted that he's the first Brewer starter to win a game in 2013. Afterwards Estrada talked to Todd Rosiak about his outing.
Yesterday's game also featured the return of Ryan Braun, who had three hits (including two doubles) and a walk in his first game back after missing the weekend series with neck spasms.
After the game the Brewers made a series of transactions, placing Chris Narveson on the DL with a sprained middle finger and purchasing catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli's contract from Nashville. Narveson says he sprained his finger while warming up on Saturday, although he still pitched in the game and threw a scoreless inning. Lalli, by the way, will stick with the #50 he wore in camp this spring.
The most important of yesterday's transactions may be the one it's easiest to forget: The Brewers made room on the 40-man roster for Lalli by putting Corey Hart on the 60-day DL effectively announcing that he won't rejoin the team before May 30. That's a few weeks past the doctors' initial estimate for him to be ready to return, and over a month past Hart's initial, more optimistic assessment.
The Brewer injury news doesn't end there, though: Ron Roenicke had to be taken to a Chicago emergency room early this morning to deal with a back issue, according to WTMJ. Roenicke later told the station he'll be fine and expects to be in uniform tonight.
Other notes from the field:
- Norichika Aoki had three hits yesterday and now leads the NL with 13 on the season. He also drew a pair of walks yesterday, and David Pinto of Baseball Musings notes that his OBP is all the way up to .486.
- Aoki was also thrown out between third and home, though, giving the Brewers eight TOOTBLANs on the season. Thanks to Baseball Nation for drawing my attention to that new site.
- CoolStandings has the Brewer playoff chances at 17.5%.
The series continues in Chicago tonight, where Wily Peralta is scheduled to take on Travis Wood at 7:05. Adam Berry has the MLB.com preview.
Meanwhile, one of yesterday's biggest stories is something that didn't happen in the game. When the Brewers backed their way into a save situation in the ninth yesterday Ron Roenicke called upon Jim Henderson instead of John Axford, giving the other Canadian reliever his first save of 2013. Henderson threw 30 pitches in the game and also pitched on Sunday, though, so it's unlikely he'll be available if another save opportunity comes up today.
As you might expect, Axford, his recent struggles and his demotion were a hot topic around the web yesterday:
- J.P. Breen of Disciples of Uecker noticed a change in Axford's release point and hypothesized that it may be impacting the effectiveness of his slider.
- Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looked at the same data and did not see any notable difference, concluding that Axford may just be getting unlucky.
- Nick Michalski of The Brewers Bar highlighted a BCB comment that captures the volatility of relief pitching.
- Tim Muma of Brewers Mix says Ron Roenicke deserves a share of the blame for allowing an eight-man bullpen to get to the point where using Axford for multiple innings on Sunday was his best option.
The Brewers got through their first game yesterday without Jean Segura, who was held out of action with a quad contusion and really did not appear to be moving well during Monday's introductions at Wrigley Field. Despite the fact that he had to leave Sunday's game early, The Book of Gorman named Segura the MVP of the Diamondbacks series.
With Segura out, Alex Gonzalez started at shortstop yesterday and has now started at three of the four infield positions already this season. The discussion about having "versatile" bench players was the inspiration for the latest edition of Cubie Rue at Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball.
Gonzalez, by the way, rounded the bases in 24.98 seconds following his home run on Sunday. That was the slowest time in the majors for the day.
The starting pitching question marks remain unresolved, but until we're told differently I guess the best practice is to assume Mike Fiers will remain as the #5 starter. Rob Neyer broke the last man in all 30 MLB rotations into seven groups, and filed Fiers among the "young veterans."
In the minors:
- The affiliates went 2-1 yesterday and one of the wins came from Nashville, as Frankie De La Cruz pitched six shutout innings in the Sounds' 1-0 win over Oklahoma City. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
- Yesterday's lone loss came from Wisconsin, where the Timber Rattlers fell behind early and never came back in a 10-2 home opener loss to Cedar Rapids. I there and have a full recap in the Timber Rattlers Notebook.
- Nashville broadcaster Jeff Hem posted audio from his Monday pregame interview with Sounds manager Mike Guerrero.
In power rankings: ESPN has the Brewers 24th, down five spots.
Astros: Placed pitcher Josh Fields on the DL with a forearm strain.
Blue Jays: Claimed infielder Mauro Gomez off waivers from the Red Sox and designated pitcher Dave Bush for assignment.
Rangers: Acquired catcher Robinson Chirinos from the Rays for a PTBNL and designated pitcher Jeff Beliveau for assignment.
Meanwhile, around the NL Central:
- The Reds scored nine runs in the ninth inning Monday to turn a 4-4 game with the Cardinals into a 13-4 blowout. (Red Reporter recap)
- Wandy Rodriguez left the game early with a hamstring strain, but the Pirates held on in his absence to beat the Diamondbacks 5-3 (Bucs Dugout recap)
- And, of course, the Brewers beat the Cubs 7-4.
Here are today's updated standings and probables:
|Reds||5||2||--||@ STL||7:15 pm||Bronson Arroyo v. Lance Lynn|
|Cardinals||3||4||2||v CIN||7:15 pm|
|Cubs||2||5||3||v. MIL||7:05 pm||Travis Wood v. Wily Peralta|
|Brewers||2||5||3||@ CHC||7:05 pm|
|Pirates||2||5||3||@ ARI||8:40 pm||James McDonald v. Brandon McCarthy|
Speaking of the Reds, they're the subject of today's baseball economics note: They drew 197,598 fans to their first six home games, setting a new Great American Ball Park record.
Today in former Brewers: Greg Vaughn is expected to throw out the first pitch at San Diego's home opener today.
This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History marks Australian reliever Graeme Lloyd's 46th birthday. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that it's also the anniversary of the Milwaukee Braves trading Bob Uecker to the Cardinals in 1964 and Doug Jones' major league debut as a Brewer in 1982, and it's been 8000 days since Paul Molitor hit for the cycle.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have somewhere to be...eventually.