Any week that sees a series win over the St. Louis Cardinals will be rated a success by Brewer fans, and the Crew took two of three close tilts at Busch Stadium (with one rainout). Scoring one run in two games in Pittsburgh tempers enthusiasm, though, as those two losses dropped the Brewers back a game below .500 at 15-16, in fourth place in the NL Central - but just a game and a half behind the frontrunning Cubs and Reds (and also just a half game ahead of last place Pittsburgh).
TOP HITTING STORY: The Brewer bats have been hot all year, but disappointing starts by outfielders Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton have been a concern. However, Eric Thames has been cooling off, Ryan Braun’s right arm injury limited him to just four at bats this week, and the catching tandem of Manny Pina and Jett Bandy has regressed to the mean, so it’s not surprising that the Brewers’ run production fell to just 3.0 per game this past week.
But Santana and Broxton had good weeks. Teams never get everyone hitting at the same time (unless you are the Washington Nationals), so it’s a good thing the younger members of the outfield got things going. (Santana’s hot bat comes as no surprise to BCB readers, as they were alerted to a better approach at the plate for Domingo here.)
Santana slashed .421/.522/.842 for an OPS of 1.334, belting two doubles and two homers while scoring four and driving in four. Broxton hit .385/.421/.667, OPS’d at 1.088, and knocked out a homerun and two doubles. They accounted for 11 of the 18 runs this week. It looks like calls for one of the Sky Sox Three to be summoned to Milwaukee will be muted for a while...unless Braun’s injury causes a more lengthy absence.
Honorable Mention: Have to give a shout-out to Travis Shaw’s three-run, tenth-inning shot to help the Brewers top St. Louis on Monday. That was probably the high point of the week, viewer wise.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Hands down, the honors go to Matt Garza. The Count silenced his critics (and thrilled his fan) with two solid starts, beating the Cards last Sunday and leaving last night’s game with a 1-1 tie after seven solid innings. He worked 13.2 innings in the two outings, allowing 14 hits and striking out 11. He posted a 2.63 ERA for the week and didn’t walk anybody, so his WHIP was a solid 1.02. TVR, baby!
Honorable Mention: The Milwaukee bullpen has been inconsistent this season, and last week was no exception. The top two were Oliver Drake and Corey Knebel, who combined to appear in seven games, going 7.1 innings, allowing no runs on just two hits, walking two and fanning 10. A 0.55 WHIP will help you win some games.
IMHO: It’s weird how one tiny mistake can influence the outcome of a baseball game. Last night, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli doubled with one down in the second, but only advanced one base on a double to deep left center by John Jaso when he oddly decided to tag up on the play. Then, Jaso forgot how many outs there were and was doubled off of second on a liner to left by Jordy Mercer, costing the Pirates a run for the second time in the inning (Cervelli tagged and would have most likely scored on that play). In a close game that goes ten innings and ends 2-1, that could be a killer.
But it wasn’t. The killer came in the bottom of the fourth. Josh Bell doubled to deep left center (a ball that’s in the second bullpen at Miller Park), and Andrew McCutchen hit a medium flyball to left center. Keon Broxton easily got there, and was calling for it all the way. But left fielder Nick Franklin didn’t peel off and ran into Broxton as he caught the ball, knocking him off balance and allowing Bell to tag and go to third. Bell then scored on a groundball to first. Without that play (and assuming the rest of the game would go the same way, of course), the Brewers win 1-0 in nine.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: The Daily Prospect report, posted by Brad Ford and Kyle Lesniewski, is one of the most popular daily reports for loyal BCB readers. Last Thursday’s report continued to document the early season success at Carolina for prospect Jake Gatewood, and Brewer fans are getting excited for the success of the #25 prospect in the system. kstoff summed things up nicely:
I'm becoming irrationally excited about him right now.
On an unrelated note, our minor leagues have an overall winning record in May. This feels unheard of to me.
The Brewers finish their three-game set in Pittsburgh at noon today, and after an off day Monday they host the Boston Red Sox for three at Miller Park, then welcome in the New York Mets for three over next weekend.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference