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Spring training Game Preview and Thread #-7: Brewers (11-13) v Angels (12-10)

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In between the first two games of the regular season, we have a little detour back into Cactus League baseball.

In case you missed it, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened the 2014 regular season in Australia early this morning with a 3-1 LA win. They'll play the second game of the season tonight. That makes this game seem about as small and insignificant as I usually feel after watching Cosmos.

Nonetheless, the Brewers are back home for one of their final games in Maryvale today with Kyle Lohse (7.27 ERA this spring, 3.35/4.08 ERA/FIP in 2013) on the mound against the Angels at 3:05 Central time. Lohse is making his fourth Cactus League start of the spring and his first since getting roughed up against the White Sox on Monday and allowing five runs on seven hits over 3.2 innings.

We've long established that most spring training results are no big deal, but the way Lohse struggled on Monday was curious, at the very least. Lohse's calling card has always been his control (his 1.63 walks per nine innings last season was actually up a little from 2012), but he walked two batters and hit another during his rough fourth inning Monday. The sudden loss of control was a little jarring, and hopefully we won't see it again today.

Lohse last faced the Angels on September 1 of last season, holding them to a single run on seven hits over six innings in a game the Brewers went on to lose 5-3. Four current Angels have seen him ten times or more:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Raul Ibanez 44 39 10 0 0 4 11 4 6 .256 .318 .564 .882
Albert Pujols 16 12 5 2 0 0 0 4 0 .417 .563 .583 1.146
Chris Iannetta 13 8 3 1 0 0 2 4 1 .375 .615 .500 1.115
David Freese 12 12 5 1 0 0 2 0 1 .417 .417 .500 .917
Total 113 96 29 5 1 4 16 14 12 .302 .393 .500 .893
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/22/2014.

He'll face 33-year-old right hander Joe Blanton (6.75 ERA this spring, 6.04/5.12 ERA/FIP in 2013), who is following up a rough 2013 season with a rough spring training. 2013 was Blanton's first year with the Angels and he posted a 6.04 ERA over 132.2 innings, finishing with a 2-14 record and a full two home runs allowed per nine innings. He pitched 5.1 innings against the Cubs on Monday and allowed three runs on four hits, walking two and striking out one.

Blanton has a 5.23 ERA in 70 appearances over the last three seasons, which he's split between three organizations. He's been very good at limiting walks during that time (1.9 BB/9), but has negated that fact by giving up a ton of home runs (1.6 HR/9). He finished fifth in the AL with 29 long balls allowed last season despite only pitching about two thirds of a season.

Blanton has faced the Brewers five times in his career, but not since 2011. Two current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Ryan Braun 18 16 6 0 0 0 1 2 5 .375 .444 .375 .819
Rickie Weeks 10 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 52 49 12 1 0 0 2 2 14 .245 .288 .265 .554
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/22/2014.

Both Braun and Weeks are in the lineup today:

The weather is nice in Phoenix again today. I'm getting to the point where I'd like to see it rain or something just for variety.