The heart of rock and roll...the heart of rock and roll is still beatin’...
Our Milwaukee Brewers split their two game series with the Houston Astros, their last regularly scheduled interleague set, and then took three of four from the Cubs to close out a 4-2 week. That pulled them within two games of Chicago for the second wild card spot. The Crew is tied with the Phillies and trails the Arizona Diamondbacks by a half game in the race for that final NL playoff spot.
Milwaukee lost the first game of each series, falling 3-2 in ten innings to the ‘Stros and 10-5 to the Cubbies on Thursday. But they came back both times with solid pitching, good defense, and enough hitting to win games both close and not. On the week, they outscored the once and current NL Central teams 29-23.
Newly acquired Tyler Austin had the big blow to lead the Brewers to the win Sunday with a pinch three run homer, which deserves a mention (hence this sentence), but the hitting was largely led by two of the team’s regular contributors all season:
TOP HITTING STORY: I probably should have just titled this the Christian Yelich section all season, and highlighted his accomplishments. Yeli had two doubles, three homers, four runs scored, and eight ribbies in the six games, and why teams aren’t just walking him when it matters I don’t know. His 1.309 OPS isn’t that much above his total season numbers. He homered in the ninth inning Monday to send the game to extras, hit a three run homer to erase a 1-0 deficit on Friday and kick-start the Crew’s 7-1 win, and then reached base five times, stole three bases, and walked off the Cubs on a two-out double on Saturday. Manager Craig Counsell called that game the best that he has seen Yelich play since he’s come to Milwaukee. Probably just recency bias.
Honorable Mention: Yasmani Grandal has made the absense of Mike Moustakas the past week (more or less) easier to take with a most excellent return to his first-half form. Yas’s OPS of 1.304 trailed Yeli by just a skosh, as he had a double with four long balls, scored six times (mostly by getting on in front of Yelich) and drove in five of his own. Well, he drove himself in for four of those five, but so what.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Josh Hader’s addition of an effective slider to his magical disappearing fastball has made him, once again, more or less unhittable. It has been so good that he doesn’t even have to throw it to have it affect hitters. Anyways, Josh appeared in three games, winning one and saving two. He limited the Cubs to one run (not charged to Josh) on Saturday after coming into a bases loaded, no out eighth inning mess, then got the three ninth inning outs before Yelich drove in the winner in the bottom half of the inning. He came back for a two-out save Sunday when the Cubs threatened late. One walk, no hits, eight K’s in 3.2 innings on the week. Nicely done.
Honorable Mention: Welcome back, Brent Suter! Brent also worked three games, all in relief, and picked up a win in his return from Tommy John surgery last September. In 6.1 innings he gave up four hits without a walk, struck out five, and gave up one run. He seems bigger, and I figure he used his time off while rehabilitating to his advantage. And he still works faster than any other pitcher in baseball. That seemed to effect Cubs hitters quite a bit.
Former Brewers’ broadcaster Len Kasper now works for the Cubs TV team, and asked Brian Anderson which Brewer he should interview before the series opener. BA said Suter, absolutely. Lenny followed his advice, and later told Brian that it was so good that they split it into two parts to use for the next game, too. I sure hope Brent gets a spot in next years rotation and has a great year.
IMHO: This end of the season schedule isn’t exactly doing the Crew any favors. They have now played four games of eighteen in a row without an off day. Then they get one day of rest before their final six game road trip. With Ryan Braun and his back acting their age, Lo Cain barely able to run on his bum knee (but still playing when he can, and it’s painful to watch), and Mike Moustakas and his bruised wrist barely able to hold a bat, the stretch is tough. Add Manny Pina’s concussion to that mix, too.
The good news is that it’s September, and there are no shortages of players for Craig Counsell to call on. They aren’t all guys that have much in the way of credentials, but hopefully they can establish some bona fides in the next three weeks. And Counse is not afraid to let these guys play in clutch situations. (Probably not Corbin Burnes...)
Next year teams won’t be able to have more than 28 on the roster for September games. That would have led to some very tough decisions this year.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Bill Hall officially retired from baseball on Thursday, as a Brewer, which puzzled many as he hadn’t played since 2012. Turns out there was a reason; he probably had to be officially retired to take a broadcasting job with the team, as he joined Craig Coshun on the pre and post game shows over the weekend. I liked his contributions, and think he’s going to do well. Most commentors had positive remarks on Billy’s time as a Brewer, but magoo had a different reason for remembering Hall fondly:
Best thing I ever overheard at a Brewers game
was a guy telling his buddy: “Two words: Bill Hall Clutch.”
Sports fans. Gotta love ‘em.
Any lingering rain in Miami?
statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and MLB