Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Braun’

Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Baseball Nirvana: Five Friends Journey To Milwaukee And Iowa. Part 1

September 11, 2009

There are very few things in my life that I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for. If my wife went into labor at 4:30 in the morning, I certainly would wake up for that. Of course, I would need a wife first in order for that to happen.

The other thing I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning for would be to have the opportunity to go to the Field of Dreams. Anyone who knows me, knows that Field of Dreams is my favorite movie of all time (Wall Street and Return of the Jedi are two and three respectfully). Since that movie came out in 1989, it’s been my dream to play on that field.

But before I got to play on the Field of Dreams, there was plenty of business to take care of in Milwaukee, WI. Milwaukee, home of the Brewers, cheese, Kopps frozen custard, the Comet Cafe, and of course, the Miller Brewing Factory.

Here is an unadulterated recap of the first day of my three day trip to baseball nirvana.

Day 1.

After a quick hour and forty five minute plane ride, my buddies Tom, Justin, John and myself arrive in Milwaukee around 7:30 AM. The fifth member of our group, Minnesota Twins fan, current Chicago native, and our driver for the weekend Charlie was going to pick us up at the airport.

In typical fashion we took bets on how late he would be in picking us up at the airport. John showed the least confidence by saying he wouldn’t show up, period. Much to our surprise, Charlie was right on time and greeted us all with giant man-hugs.

Our plan was to head to the Comet Cafe that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, check into our hotel, and then head to the Milwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals game that started at 1:30. Immediately our plan was tossed aside like a sack of potatoes because the Comet Cafe was closed and didn’t open until 10:30.

So after our initial plan was foiled, we decided to check into our hotel. Matthew, the extremely helpful and knowledgable doorman at the InterContinental recommended that we head to a place called Trocadero for brunch. I got to be honest, John is a doorman and if I had a vote for Doorman of the Year, I think Matthew would get it over John based on his performance.

Trocadero was awesome and while we were there, we experienced our first taste of Milwaukee’s obsession with Bloody Mary’s. I would say outside of beer, Bloody Mary’s are Milwaukee’s No. 2 most consumed beverage. Everywhere you looked, there were Bloody Mary’s being served.

Once we got done with breakfast, we headed to Miller Park. Now just to fill you in, Tom has a borderline unhealthy obsession with the Cardinals, which is why we are in Milwaukee in the first place. I am not going to lie, it’s a little concerning.

There's tailgating at baseball games?

There's tailgating at baseball games?

From a distance, the ballpark looks like a giant spaceship. It’s the weirdest looking stadium I have seen from the outside. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were all shocked by what we saw.

People were tailgating at a baseball game!! I am not talking about standing like a putz by your car with a beer and you call it a tailgate. I am talking about an all out tailgate like it was the Green Packers vs. the Chicago Bears.

There were tents, generators, sausages as far as the eye could see, and kids throwing the baseball around. I was really impressed. We barely see any tailgating at baseball games here in New York.

Here was the best part of tailgating at Brewers games. Not only do they have porta potties, but there is a full restroom that anyone can access outside the stadium. And not only is there a restroom, but this place was spotless. If that was at Giants Stadium, that place would be filled with stuff so vile that decorum prohibits me from talking about it.

I will admit, I like what I saw from Miller Park. It was fan friendly, tickets are inexpensive, and you can stand wherever you want for batting practice. Our seats were on the field level, down the firstbase line ($50 is not bad considering those same seats are $250 at Yankee Stadium), but for BP we stood in the rightfield bleachers.

I didn’t catch a ball, but the girl who was standing there before caught one in the arm because she wasn’t paying attention. Terrible job by her. One last note about BP, Matt Holliday put on a show and Albert Pujols hit the centerfield scoreboard.

Here is what I didn’t like — the Brewers’ lineup that day. Here is the lineup that Ken Macha through out there against Chris Carpenter, one of the best pitchers in baseball

1. Corey Patterson, CF

2. Frank Catalanotto, LF

3. Felipe Lopez, 2B

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Jody Gerut, RF

7. Jason Kendall, C

8. Alcides Escobar, SS

9. Dave Bush, P

What is wrong with this lineup? NO RYAN BRAUN!!! Ken Macha, how can you do this to me? If I am going to travel to Milwaukee at 4:30 in the morning, I better see one of the best players in the game play. No wonder why it was 60/40 Brewer/Cardinal fan ratio at the game.

Carpenter just destroyed this lineup. In the second inning, Justin said that Carpenter was going to throw a no-hitter. Well, he came awfully close. Carpenter tossed a one-hitter in one of the best games I have seen pitched in person.

A one-hitter is the sports equivalent of turning 22 years old. Nobody remembers what they did or where they were for a 22nd birthday. But everyone remembers what they did or where they were for a no-hitter or their 21st birthday.

The most surprising aspect of Carpenter’s performance is that he threw 99 pitches. It was surprising because I thought Carpenter only threw like 70 pitches. That’s how much the Brewers’ lineup was dominated by Carpenter.

The other thing I didn’t like — and this really ticked me off. The only thing I wanted was an old-school, powder blue Paul Molitor or Robin Yount player tee-shirt. I went to one team store — no dice. I went to the second team store — sold out.

How is this possible? How can they not have had shirts for the only two stars this franchise has ever had? Just a terrible job by whoever is in charge of merchandising for the Brewers. This almost ruined my day.

The Cardinals won 3-0 in a 1950’s like two hours and eighteen minutes.

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Overall it was a good day at Miller Park

Once we got out of the parking lot, in which Charlie had road rage for no apparent reason, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and hit up Water Street. Charlie thought it would take two hours to get out of the parking lot, when in reality it took only 30 minutes.

Now I am going to backtrack here a little. Back in the Spring of 1996, Justin, Tom, and I took a trip to Hartford, CT to see WrestleMania XI. It was the WrestleMania where Lawrence Taylor took on the “Beast of the East” the late, great Bam Bam Bigelow.

After that event, we deemed Hartford, CT the most boring city in America. Well, Hartford, CT, you have been replaced. This honor now goes to Milwaukee, WI.

I know it was a Monday night on Labor Day, but come on Milwaukee, show me something. There wasn’t a person in town and barely anything was open. How is Buffalo Wild Wings not open on a Monday night at 7:30 when Miami is playing Florida State that night?

It’s inexcusable.

I saw more people on my plane than there were people out on Water Street on Monday night. One of the places that was open was the Water Front Brewery. There I experienced my third sausage product of the day and my first ever beer sampler.

Normally, the sampler is reserved for mozzarella sticks, wings, fries, etc…But in Milwaukee, the sampler is reserved for eight different types of beer served on a “Thank you sir, may I have another” paddle.

Only in Milwaukee.

The town was so dead that we decided to head to the Pfister Hotel and have some drinks because that is where the Cardinals were staying. Again, Tom has issues. Speaking of issues. When we arrived, we saw a bunch a people and when say people, I mean adults waiting outside the hotel for autographs.

If you are in your 30’s waiting outside a hotel room at 10:30 at night with a sharpie and a binder full of photos, you have some serious issues. At that point you should re-evaluate things.

The bar at the Pfister Hotel was pretty quiet (shocker there). We did see Tony LaRussa, Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Skip Schumaker, and Julio Lugo walk into the hotel, but they weren’t drinking. I wanted to roll an olive at Lugo and ask him to field it.

We called it a night around 11:00. Part Two of our trip will cover the drive to Iowa, playing on the Field of Dreams, pizza in Madison, WI, a Brew Town Hot Brown at the Comet Cafe, and the Miller Brewery Tour.

Kansas City Royals Send Alex Gordon To Minors

August 19, 2009

There was a lot of big transactions yesterday in the world of major league baseball. The Washington Nationals signed Stephen Strasburg to a record deal, the Seattle Mariners signed Dustin Ackley, and the Texas Rangers traded for Ivan Rodriguez.

But there was one move yesterday that went under the radar that I think is worth talking about. Yesterday, the Kansas City Royals sent 3B Alex Gordon to Triple-A Omaha.

Gordon was sent to the minors

Gordon was sent to the minors

Gordon, who was hitting .198 with three home runs and 11 RBI has clearly been struggling at the plate all year and just recently came back from hip surgery. However, don’t let the Royals fool you into thinking this was all about performance – it’s not. This demotion had just as much to do with Gordon’s service time than anything else.

If Gordon spends at least 20 days in the minors, then the Royals will have him under team control until 2013. Gordon is currently slated to be a free agent after the 2012 season.

This is everything that is wrong with major league baseball’s service time rules. Isn’t it the goal of major league baseball to have teams put the best product on the field? These rules need to be changed.

Every year teams keep top prospects in the minors to start the season or send prospects down in the middle of the season just to get another year of service out of them. It’s utter nonsense.

Were the Milwaukee Brewers better with Ryan Braun in the minors to start the 2007 season? Were the Tampa Bay Rays a better team with Evan Longoria in Triple-A in April of 2008? Or are the Royals a better team for the last month and a half with Gordon in Triple-A?

The answer to all these questions is a 100 percent NO.

I get why teams do this. If you are a small market team like the Royals or Brewers, then it makes complete sense. You want to keep a potential star as long as possible before he leaves to go to the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.

I get it, but it shouldn’t be that way. If Matt Wieters gives the Baltimore Orioles the best chance to win, he should be catching – not Gregg Zaun.

Baseball is doing a disservice to it’s teams and more importantly to it’s fans. When I go to a game, I want to see the best players on the field. I don’t want to see a backup who is only playing to keep a seat warm for a potential star in Triple-A.

Baseball needs to do something about this. Alex Gordon belongs in the major leagues trying to work his way out of his slump and trying to help the Royals win.

He doesn’t belong in Triple-A.

Live Blog: MLB All-Star Game…

July 15, 2009

It’s been awhile since I have done a live blog, so what better time to do one than the 80th All-Star game in St. Louis. I have always been a big fan of the All-Star game, so this should be fun. I am just praying this game does not go deep into extra innings like last year’s game.

Game – American League vs. National League

Date – 7/14/09

Starting Lineups

American League

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF

2. Derek Jeter, SS

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Mark Teixeira, 1B

5. Jason Bay, LF

6. Josh Hamilton, CF

7. Michael Young, 3B

8. Aaron Hill, 2B

9. Roy Halladay, P

National League

1. Hanley Ramirez, SS

2. Chase Utley, 2B

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Ryan Braun, RF

5. Raul Ibanez, LF

6. David Wright, 3B

7. Shane Victorino, CF

8. Yadier Molina, C

9. Tim Lincecum, P

Top 1st

Tim Lincecum deals the first pitch of the 80th All-Star game at 8:50 est time and it is ripped by Ichiro down the rightfield line, but foul.

Starting this game at 8:50 est. pretty much eliminates anyone under the age of 15 who lives on the east coast from seeing the end of this game – good job Bud Selig

Ichiro rips a single to right. He is such a good hitter. Being down 0-2 in the count didn’t phase Ichiro one bit.

OUCH!!! With two strikes, Derek Jeter gets hit in the hand with a changeup. Every Yankee fan just took a deep breath. Jeter appears okay.

Lincecumis really all over the place in this inning. He quickly falls behind Mauer 3-1.

Wow, what a quick play by Molina. Mauer hits a ball a foot infront of home plate, Molina pounced on it, and got Ichiro at third. Wright made a terrible throw to first, which pulled Pujols off the bag. Mauer would have been out with a good throw.

Teixeira hits a slow groundball that hits off of Pujols’ glove and goes into short rightfield. Jeter scores to make 1-0 American League.

That was a potential double play ball that Pujols mishandled. Some bad defense by the NL in the first inning. They should be out of this inning.

First and second with one out for Jason Bay.

Bay singles to center. Bases loaded.

Boy, the NL is really asleep on defense. Hamilton gets a hard groundball to first, Pujols gets Bay at second, but Lincecum is late covering first, and the run scores.

2-0 American League. We can eliminate Tim Lincecum from winning the MVP award tonight.

Michael Young grounds to Wright for the third out.

Not a very good start for the NL.

Bottom 1st

Hanley Ramirez leading off for the NL, hits a rope, but right to Aaron Hill. One out.

How many recruiting talks do you think Roy Halladay has gotten in the past two days? 40? 50?

Halladay gets Chase Utley to ground out to Teixeira. Two quick outs here in the bottom of the first.

Now here comes Pujols. Maybe he will make up for that terrible error he made in the top of the first.

Pujols hitting, Mauer catching, and Halladay pitching – it doesn’t get any better than that.

Michael Young is the man. Pujols hits a frozen rope to third. I mean a real screamer. Young snags it and casually throws to first to get Pujols. Now that is how you play defense.

After one it’s 2-0 American League

Top 2nd

Hill grounds to Ramirez for the first out.

Roy Halladay is hitting. I don’t think he planned on this happening. With the luck the Blue Jays have been having with injuries, Halladay will get clocked in the hand here.

He doesn’t and Halladay K’s for the second out.

A much better start to the second inning for Lincecum.

Ichiro hits a linedrive, but right at Braun in rightfield for the third out.

Bottom 2nd

Braun flies out to center for the first out.

President Obama is in the booth with McCarver and Buck. Obama is neck and neck with Bill Clinton as the president you would most want to hang out with.

Ibanez grounds to Hill for the second out. Halladay is making this look easy.

Even when Halladay gives up hits, he splinters bats. Wright bloops one to rightcenter for a hit. His bat shattered in a 100 pieces.

Victorino singles to right. First and second with two outs for Molina.

How about this. Molina singles to center, Wright scores, and Hamilton trying to throw out Victorino at third – hits him in the back and the ball rolls into foul territory.

Victorino scores andwe are tied at two. Molina goes to second on the throw.

Last night’s HR Derby champion Prince Fielder will hit for Lincecum.

Amazing how quickly things change in an inning. Halladay was crusing and a broken bat got a rally started.

Fielder smokes one down the leftfield line for a ground rule double. Molina scores and it is now 3-2 NL.

Ramirez grounds to Hill for the third out.

What an inning for the NL. Three runs with two outs.

After two complete in St. Louis, it’s 3-2 National League

Top 3rd

This is odd, Cardinals’ closer Ryan Franklin is in the game for the NL. I don’t think I have ever seen a closer come into an All-Star game this early before.

Jeter grounds to Utley for the first out.

Mauer lines to Pujolsfor the second out.

Teixeira grounds weakly to Pujols for the third out.

Well that was easy for Franklin. A very impressive inning.

Bottom 4th

Chicago White Sox lefty, Mark Buehrle into the game for the AL. With Buehrle pitching, this inning might last five minutes.

Utley hits a can of corn to center. One down.

Man, does Buerhle work quickly.

Pujols grounds to Teixeira for the second out. Teixeira showed his range on that groundball, as he played that way off the bag at first.

Braun grounds to Jeter at short and in less than five minutes the inning is over.

I wish more pitchers worked like Buerhle.

It’s still 3-2 NL after three.

Top 4th

We start the fourth and McCarver and Buck have been very tolerable tonight. It must be a full moon.

Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks is now in the game for the NL.

One pitch, one out. Bay flies out to Braun in right.

Hamilton flies out to semi-deep center.

Young singles to left. Michael Young loves playing in All-Star games.

Aaron Hill up. Every kid outside of Toronto just asked their dad “who is that?”

Hill grounds hard to Hanley Ramirez, but Ramirez gobbles it up, and gets Hill to end the inning.

Bottom 4th

Just saw a commercial for the new GI Joe movie. It looks terrible. I was a HUGE GI Joe fan growing up, so I hope the movie is better than it looks. I am not optimistic.

The Kansas City Royals’ Zack Greinke is in for the AL.

One pitch, one out. Ibanez pops up to Young at third.

I hope Greinke goes two innings tonight. It will let the world see who he is.

And this is why – Greinke throws a wicked slider to Wright to strike him out. That was nasty.

Greinke just toyed with Victorino. Got him to swing at a pitch in the dirt and two feet out of the strike zone.

One-two-three for Greinke

This game is moving rather quickly. Still 3-2

Top 5th

The next pitcher for the NL is the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley.

Carl Crawford hitting for Greinke.

Crawford hits a single to center. With Crawford at first and Molina behind the plate, this should be interesting.

What a great play by Chase Utley. Ichiro hits a ball between first and second, Utley gets the ball, pivots, andgets the lead runner in Crawford at second.

What a great play. Ichiro now at first with one out and Jeter up.

My roommate from college Odie just sent me a text “Ichiro is a dope, let crawford steal.” I agree. The fastest man in baseball is on first and Ichiro is up there hacking.

The NL is flashing some leather. Jeter hits on his classic inside-out balls to the right side, but Pujols dives andgets the lead runner at second.

The first inning must have been a wake up call for the NL.

This brings up Mauer with Jeter on first and now two outs.

Is Joe Mauer the best hitter in the game right now or what? Billingsley throws a curve on the outer half and instead of trying to pull the ball, Mauer goes with the pitch and laces it down the leftfield line.

Jeter running all the way, scores from first. We are now tied at three.

Pujols really wants to make up for that first inning error. He makes another diving stop off of a Teixeira groundball and flips to Billingsley for the third out.

Pujols saves a run, but the AL ties the game heading into the bottom of the 5th.

Bottom 5th

Edwin Jackson the new pitcher for the AL

What is the story with hitters swinging at the first pitch when there is a new pitcher in the game?

Molina on the first pitch grounds to short for out No. one.

Ryan Zimmerman up at the plate. Zimmerman replaced Wright in the top half of the inning and is batting in the pitchers spot.

Zimmerman just missed one. He flies out to deep centerfield.

Ramirez on the first pitch grounds out to Young at third.

Wow what an inning for Jackson. Four pitches and three outs. Not a bad day’s work.

3-3 still as we head to the bottom of the sixth

Bottom 6th

The all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman into the game

The first batter he will face is the Orioles’ Adam Jones. Right now every Mariners’ fan is saying “I can’t believe we got rid of this guy.” Jones is hitting in Jason Bay’s spot in the lineup.

Jones hits a rocket to right, but Hawpe tracks it down at the warning track. One out.

Hoffman is not fooling anyone. Hamilton jumps all over the first pitch and singles to right.

Young hits a hard groundball, but right at Utley. After a brief bobble, Utley and Tejada are able to turn the four-six-three double play.

I was a little surprised Hoffman was used so early. I would have thought because he is the all-time saves leader, he would have been used to close out the game.

Bottom 6th

The Seattle Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez has been called upon to pitch for the AL.

Orlando Hudson will hit for Utley andmost likely come into the game to play second.

Okay, once again we are first pitch swinging. This game counts right Bud?

Hudson hits one deep to right but Adam Jones is there for the first out.

Pujolsgrounds to short for the second out.

Not too many people on the east coast get to see “King Felix” pitch, but he is a dandy. He really can become a legit ace. He has no-hit stuff every time he goes to the mound.

Justin Upton is now hitting for Ryan Braun. A great matchup here of two of the best young players in the game.

Another groundball to short. The sure-handed Jason Bartlett gets Upton to end the inning.

We are getting down to the nitty gritty as Gorilla Monsoon used to say.

Top 7th

Classy move by Charlie Manuel as he lets Pujols go out to take warmups andthen replaces him with Gonzalez so he can get a standing ovation from the Cardinal fans.

Francisco Cordero is the new pitcher in the game for the NL. He is the Cincinnati Reds’ lone representative for tonight.

Aaron Hill up for the third time and he flies out to Upton in in left.

Crawford up for the second time. On the first pitch he grounds to Tejada at short. Two outs.

Justin Morneau up for the AL. He replaced Teixeira at first and is hitting Ichiro’s spot.

That was a quick inning for Cordero. He gets Morneau to line weakly to Zimmerman at third.

Bottom 8th

My buddy Tom just sent me a text “Close game and these idiot managers are using pitchers for one inning each.” Kind of agree. With a lot of the pitchers having pitched on Sunday and after last year’s marathon, I am surprised pitchers aren’t going more than one inning.

A new inning, a new pitcher for the AL. Jonathan Papelbon is in the game for the AL.

OH WOW!!! Carl Crawford makes the play of the game so far. Brad Hawpe on Papelbon’s first pitch (of course) hit a fly ball deep to left and Crawford leaped over the wall to make the catch and rob Hawpe of a HR. Great catch.

Two pitches and two bombs off of Papelbon. Miguel Tejada flies out to deep right but Adam Jones is there to make the catch.

Papelbon is pitching to Victor Martinez. A sign of the future?

Papelbon is throwing his fastball at 89 mph. Someone should tell him this game counts.

Papelbon strikes out Jayson Werth to end the inning. That fastball was 94 mph, so Papelbon got into the groove towards the end of the AB.

It’s still 3-3 heading into the eigth and this game has extra innings written all over it. Lovely

Top 8th

Heath Bell is into the game for the National League.

The first pitch he throws is over the head of Jason Bartlett. Nice pitch.

Bell does better on his second pitch as he gets Bartlett to ground to short.

Curtis Granderson up for the AL. He crushes one to left and the ball  hits off the base of the wall. Granderson digs for third and he makes it.

Grandersonat third with one out and the infield comes in.

Victor Martinez is up and he is getting intentionally walked. That stinks for Martinez. Manuel is walking Martinez to get to Adam Jones.

HeathBell looks like his heart is racing a million beats per second.

Well, Manuel’s strategy backfires as Jones hits one to the warning track in right. Granderson scores to make it 4-3.

Kevin Youkilis is up for the first time and he promptly singles to center.

First and second with two outs for the Rays’ Ben Zobrist.

Bell gets Zobrist swinging, but the damage was done. One run on two hits and two runners left on base.

At the end of seven and a half, it’s the American League four and the National League three

Bottom 8th

New York native Joe Nathan in the game for the American League. The AL is going to go with Nathan for the eighth andthen Mariano Rivera for the ninth. The NL is in trouble.

The Braves and Ron Kittle impersonator, Brian McCann up at the plate to face Nathan.

McCannon a 2-1 pitch pops up to Martinez behindthe plate. One down here in the bottom of the eighth.

Zimmerman swinging at the first pitch, flies to right for the second out.

Here is the best player that nobody knows about – Adrian Gonzalez

FOX just showed Bud Selig with George Will. And there is your reason for a baseball team in Washington.

Good AB by Gonzalez. Down in the count 1-2 and he works a walk.

Another two out rally by the NL. Hudson singles up the middle and now we have first andthird with two outs.

Ryan Howard is coming up to pinch hit. Manuel was picking his spot for Howard and this is it. Very similar to the 2003 All-Star game in Chicago where Mike Scioscia was picking his spot for Hank Blalock in the late innings.

Blalock hit a pinch hit two-run HR off of Eric Gagne to give the AL the win.

They just showed Brian Fuentes warming up. Well, if he is not in the game to face Howard why on earth is he warming up?

Howard is swinging for the downs. Two fastballs, two Ruthian cuts, and now it is 0-2.

Hudson steals second. That’s kind of a good and bad move. Good in that it eliminates the double play and now a single scores two runs. Bad in that this might take the bat out of Howard’s hands.

No 2003 moment here as Howard swings at a pitch in the dirt for strike three.

We head to the ninth with the AL still clinging to a 4-3 lead

Top 9th

The next pitcher up for the National League is the New York Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez.

His first batter will be the Tigers’ Brandon Inge. Of course Inge swings at the first pitch and grounds to short.

Carl Crawford up. He is 1-2. With his catch and with nobody else really standing out tonight, he might win the MVP.

Striking out won’t help his cause. That was a great changeup by Krod.

Morneau rips one into the left-centerfield gap, Werth tracks it down, and makes the catch. What a catch by a guy who is normally not a centerfielder.

This is it. We head to the bottom of the ninth with the AL leading 4-3

Bottom 9th

If the NL is going to come back, they are going to have to do it against the best in the business in Mariano Rivera

Justin Upton will try to get things started for the National League.

Barlettis silky smooth at short. He made a tough, back-handed play look very easy. He gets Upton for the first out

Brad Hawpe, who was robbed of a HR by Carl Crawford will try to hit one a little further against Rivera.

Joe Buck just said Brad Hawpe is a very good defensive rightfielder. I am guessing Buck hasn’t seen Hawpe’s UZR lately.

Hawpe goes down looking on a perfect pitch on the outside corner.

Now it’s up to Miguel Tejada to keep it alive. He doesn’t.

Tejada pops up to Zobrist at second to end the game.

That’s a wrap. The American League wins again 4-3. The American League will have homefield advantage in the World Series.

Like I suspected, Carl Crawford wins the MVP award. This might be the first time in All-Star game history that a guy won the award for a catch.

It was a good game, well played, and it only took 2:31 to play. A little disappointed that Tim Wakefield didn’t get to pitch, but what can you do.

Over 3,000 words later, I am calling it a night. Good night everyone!!!

Baseball’s Best Outfield: Midseason…

July 12, 2009

In the third of the four part “Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, I am going to take a look at which team has baseball’s best outfield.

In order to figure out which team has had baseball’s best outfield in the first half, I used four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. It’s just not all about offense. In order to be tops on this list, you also need to be a quality defender.

The stats were calculated for all three individual outfielders, then added together, and then I divided the stats by three to figure out the team’s total in that particular category.

Each category was worth 10 points. If a team didn’t finish in the top 10, that team received zero points.

For teams that use a platoon in an outfield position, such as the New York Yankees with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera in centerfield, I used the stats for the player who has played the most games at that position. In the Yankees case – Brett Gardner.

In the preseason edition of this, the Milwaukee Brewers had the best outfield in baseball. Let’s see who is No. 1 at the midway point in the season…

10 – 6. Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros

5. Los Angeles Dodgers – 23 points

Outfield – Juan Pierre, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier

OPS – Six

RC – Four

UZR – Seven

FP – Six

Analysis – Of course the Dodgers were hurt in this by the 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez. I am guessing if Manny had played in 47 of those games, the Dodgers would be a little higher on the list.

Kemp should've been an All-Star

Kemp should've been an All-Star

However, Juan Pierre stepped in nicely in left. Pierre’s OPS is very similar to Ethier’s (.805 to .807) and has played a tremendous leftfield as his 1.000 fielding percentage and 6.2 UZR suggests.

Matt Kemp has been solid, both offensively and defensively. Kemp has created 52.7 runs and has a very impressive 10.1 UZR playing centerfield for the Dodgers.

I still think Kemp should have been an All-Star this year.

4. Milwaukee Brewers – 27 points

Outfield – Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Corey Hart

OPS – Eight

RC – Seven

UZR – Eight

FP – Four

Analysis – The Brewers’ outfield can hit with anyone. They finished third in OPS (.844) and fourth in Runs Created (52.3). When you have a player like Ryan Braun (.954 OPS)  in your outfield, you will usually finish towards the top in most offensive categories.

The outfield is rounded out by one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, Mike Cameron and one of the top up-and-coming players in the game, Corey Hart.

This is one of my favorite outfields in baseball. They have the offense in Braun, the defense in Cameron, and a guy who can do a little of both in Corey Hart.

3. Boston Red Sox – 30 points

Outfield – Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew

OPS – Seven

RC – Eight

UZR – Five

FP – Ten

Analysis – While the Milwaukee Brewers have an outfield that offers a little bit of everything, so do the Boston Red Sox. Bay, Ellsbury and Drew each bring something different to the table.

Bay is the bopper (63.2 Runs Created), Ellsbury is the speed and defense guy (.994 Fielding Percentage), and Drew is the steady rightfielder who seems to do everything well (.858 OPS, 5.0 UZR, .993 Fielding Percentage.)

While the Red Sox’s UZR is in the middle of the pack, when they have the opportunity to catch the ball, they do. Their Fielding Percentage of .996 was tops on this list.

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 31 points

Outfield – Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu

OPS – Nine

RC – Nine

UZR – Nine

FP – Four

Analysis – The Angels’ outfield has really carried the team throughout the first half of the season. Not only have they gotten great a contribution from the newly acquired Bobby Abreu, but they are getting a career year from Juan Rivera, and an MVP type season from Torii Hunter.

The Angels ranked second in OPS (.888), Runs Created (54.6), and UZR (6.0).

How smart do the Angels look for signing Bobby Abreu to that discounted contract in the offseason? Almost as dumb as they look for giving Gary Matthews Jr. that ridiculous contract a couple of years ago.

1. Philadelphia Phillies – 33 points

Outfield – Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth

OPS – Ten

RC – Ten

UZR – Four

FP – Nine

Ibanez leads the best OF in baseball

Ibanez leads the best OF in baseball

Analysis – I guess when you send three outfielders to the All-Star game you have to be No. 1 on this list. Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth will all be participating in the mid-summer’s classic in St. Louis.

The star of this group have been Ibanez. Ibanez’s 1.027 OPS ranks fourth in baseball and is higher than anyone mentioned in this post. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, his stats might be even better.

Victorino and Werth are gritty, gamers, who oh by the way can really hit. Werth has been responsible for creating 60. 5 runs, which ranks him fourth (Braun, Bay, Crawford) out of any of the players on the teams in this post.

Like Werth, Victorino has gone from solid contributor to All-Star this year. With Jimmy Rollins struggling, Victorino has been the spark plug for the Phillies this year. Victorino has put up a very solid .858 OPS so far this year.

So that’s it for baseball’s best outfield. The next and final installment of this series will cover baseball’s best infield.

*All stats were calculated prior to Saturday’s action.

Picking My 2009 National League All Star Team…

June 16, 2009

One of my favorite events of the year is the major league baseball All Star Game. Do I think that home field advantage in the World Series should be decided by the winner of the All Star game? No, I don’t. But I still the event regardless.

The mid-summer classic offers fans the opportunity for fans to see the best players in the game all on the field at the same time. It’s quite a scene.

With the All Star game exactly one month away from yesterday, I am going to put together my All Star game roster. Today I will do the National League and tomorrow, I will pick the American League All Stars.

Of course I will follow the same rules that this year’s National League manager, Charlie Manuel has to go by. A roster of 33 players and each team in the National League has to be represented.

With out any further adieu, here is my National League All Star Team:

Starters

C. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves

1B. Albert Pujols, St Louis Cardinals

2B. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

SS. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins

3B. David Wright, New York Mets

OF. Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies

OF. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets

OF. Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies

SP. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

There were six selections that were pretty obvious. The three players that are worth debating are Hanley Ramirez at SS, Brad Hawpe in the OF and Matt Cain as the starting pitcher.

I gave the slight edge to Ramirez over Tejeda at SS based on Ramirez having a higher OPS and more SB’s. Does anyone realize what a graet year Brad Hawpe is having? .337/9/47 is mighty impressive. I gave him the slight edge over Ryan Braun.

Cain is 9-1 and in my opinion, has been the most consistent NL starter, so he gets the nod over Santana and Billingsley.

Reserves – Pitchers

Johan Santana, New York Mets

Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers

Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks

Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins

Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets

Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers

Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

Jonathon Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

Ryan Franklin, St Louis Cardinals

After last year’s marathon, I decided to go with 13 pitchers instead of 12. I also went with more starters because of what happened last year. The toughest ommissions were Jason Marquis (8 wins), Zach Duke (7-4 3.10 ERA), Yovanni Gallardo (2.88 ERA) and Brian Wilson (17 saves)

Reserves – Position Players

C. Yadier Molina, St Louis Cardinals

C. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies

1B. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres

1B. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

2B. Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates

2B. Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers

SS. Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros

3B. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

OF. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

OF. Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks

OF. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

OF. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros

Some of the notable position players I had to leave off the roster were Chipper Jones, Adam Dunn (couldn’t have two Nationals on the roster), Hunter Pence (hard call between him and Lee) and Ryan Howard.

Here is the player by team breakdown:

4. New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, St Louis Cardinals

2. Florida Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros

1. Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies

What do you think? Anyone I leave off who you feel was deserving?

Getting Jewced; The Five Best Jewish Players In Baseball Today

June 15, 2009

Growing up as a Jewish, well half-Jewish (on my mother’s side, so I am legit) kid in New York, my dream of playing in the major leagues was just that – a dream. After all, not only was I not good enough, but being Jewish certainly limited my chances.

Sure we have had Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, Al Rosen, Shawn Green and the legendary Morrie Arnovich (played with the Phillies, Reds and New York Giants in the late 30’s). But the reality is, if I wanted to be an accountant or work in the entertainment industry, I would be in like Flynn. A baseball player? Not so much.

Baseball is more of a world game now than ever before. Us fans of the Dreidel need our roles models and inspirations in baseball. If Italy can have a team in the World Baseball Classic, why can’t Israel?

That being said, here are the top five jewish players in the game of baseball today.

The "Jewish Hammer"

The "Jewish Hammer"

Honorable Mention: Craig Breslow, Scott Feldman, Gabe Kapler, Scott Schoeneweis and John Grabow.

5. Brad Ausmus: Ausmus is at the end of his career with the Dodgers, but in his prime he was one of the best defensive catchers in baseball with the Astros. Ausmus has won three Gold Gloves and was an All Star in 1999 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Ausmus was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 Draft, and was the starting catcher for the Houston Atros team that made the World Series in 2005.

4. Jason Marquis: Heading into Sunday’s action, Marquis was tied for the National League lead in wins with eight. Marquis has his best season in 2004 with the St Louis Cardinals when he was 15-7 with a 3.71 ERA.

Marquis has spent 10 years in the major leagues and has an 87-74 lifetime record with the Atlanta Braves, St Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and currently, the Colorado Rockies.

3. Ian Kinsler: In only his forth year in the major leagues, Kinsler has established himself as not only one of the second baseman in baseball, but one of the best players in all of baseball.

The former University of Missouri star enjoyed a breakout 2008 season when he hit .319 with 18 HR’s, 71 RBI, 102 runs scored and 26 SB’s in just 121 games.

Kinsler earned a spot in the All Star game in 2008 and is expected to do the same in 2009.

2. Kevin Youkilis: If it were not for his teammate Dustin Pedroia, Youkilis might have won the American League MVP award last year. Youkilis, or “The Greek God of Walks” as he was referred to by A’s GM Billy Beane in the book “Moneyball,” is one of the best players in baseball.

Known for his intensity on the playing field, Youkilis was an All Star in 2008, won a Gold Glove in 2007 and is a lifetime .333 hitter in the postseason. Youkilis also helped the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2007.

1. Ryan Braun: If Braun continues on the pace he set for himself in his first three year in the majors, Braun will go down as one of the all-time greats in the game. Braun has averaged 35 HR’s, 100 RBI, 15 SB’s and a .305 batting average in his first 2 years in the majors.

Braun was named Rookie of the Year in 2007, won a Silver Slugger award and finished third in the MVP voting in 2008.

Braun also played for the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic.

Injuries A Plenty Around Baseball….

May 27, 2009

In the past 12 hours we have seen a rash of injuries to a bunch of great players. Let’s take a look at what is going on…

Jason Bartlett – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a sprained ankle. This awful news for the Rays who lose their glue in the middle of the infield. Not only do the Rays lose their glue guy on defense, but they lose a guy who just happened to be hitting .373 with 14 SB’s.

Potential Pickup– Ben Zobrist. Zobrist has played four games at 2nd and five games at SS. Zobrist is hitting .290/8/24/.392, so the Rays should look to get him in the lineup everyday at either 2nd or SS. Also keep an eye on Reid Brignac. Brignac was a top prospect for the Rays and should get plenty of playing time at SS.

Jose Reyes – Placed on the 15 Day DL with calf tendinitis. I am really not sure what took so long for this to happen. Reyes was hurt before the Giants series which was almost two weeks ago. Needless to say, the Mets handle injuries differently than any other organization. That wasn’t a compliment.

Potential Pickup – The Mets did acquire Wilson Valdez from the Indians, but he is not worth a pickup. Though he is not a SS, the Mets did call up Fernando Martinez, who is the Mets’ top prospect. He is only 20 years old, but keep an eye on him. He should get plenty of AB’s while playing RF now that Ryan Church is on the DL as well.

Carlos Quentin – Out at least till Monday with plantar fasciitis. There is a good chance that the White Sox will put Quentin on the DL

Potential Pickup – Right now the White Sox are using Scott Podsednik in LF in Quentin’s absence. If this was 2005, I would say pick up Podsednik. But it is not and he has little fantasy value. Podsednik’s value was he speed, but he is only has three SB’s in 21 games while being caught stealing three times. That is not a good percentage for those of you scoring at home.

Pablo Sandoval – Out till Friday with a bad elbow. A DL stint is possible if Sandoval doesn’t show improvement on Friday.

Potential Pickup – Juan Uribe. Scratch that, if you pick up Juan Uribe for your fantasy team, just hand in your money and call it a day

Matt Capps – Day to day with an elbow injury. Capps was hit on the right elbow by a frozen rope hit by Geovany Soto on Monday night. X-rays were negative but a DL stint may be likely.

Potential Pickup – John Grabow. Grabow would become the closer by default if Capps is out for an extended period of time. Grabow has a 4.71 ERA in 21 IP this year, so there should be no rush to pick him up.

Also, Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Braun left their games last night was injuries. Ramirez left with a groin injury and Braun left with a wrist injury after getting hit with a pitch. If these injuries become more serious, I will update this post.

I think it’s time for a little Vipers’ softball update. After struggling to score runs in our first five games, the Vipers exploded for 18 runs last night in an 18-4 victory. The key to coed softball is your girls have to hit and last night our girls were raking at the plate. The Vipers’ record is now 4-1.

Adam-O-Meter – 2/4 last night with 2 runs scored and a RBI. I also reached on an error. On the season, I am hitting .500/0/2 with 2 runs scored in 10 AB’s. I also had two errors at SS last night pushing my season total to three. Omar Vizquel I am not.

Fantasy Week In Review 5/4-5/10….

May 11, 2009

Good afternoon everyone!!! Hope everyone had a great weekend and again a Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. It was a crazy week last week in fantasy baseball, with the Manny Ramirez suspension stealing most of the headlines. But there were other players last week who were worthy of headlines, either good or bad. Let’s take a look….

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Zimmerman – .469/1/6. Zimmerman currently has a 28 game hitting streak going and hasn’t been going 1-4 in the process either. Zimmerman in this streak has been tearing the cover off the baseball.

Damon has carried the Yankees

Damon has carried the Yankees

Johnny Damon – .419/5/15. If it weren’t for Damon, the Yankees would be 7 games under .500.

Jason Bay – .379/4/14. Bay is quickly becoming one of the most clutch players in the American League.

Adam Dunn – .345/4/10. Dunn impressed me with his play during the WBC and is making the most of a terrible situation in D.C.

Ryan Braun – .458/3/12. Is there ever a time when Braun doesn’t come through in the clutch?

Joe Saunders – 2-0 with a 1.15 era and 13 K’s in 15.2 IP. Saunders’ CGSO against Zack Greinke was one of the better pitching performances I have seen in quite a while.

Eric Stults – 2-0 with a 1.23 era and 1 CGSO. Stults is still available in most leagues and since he plays on a good Dodger team, he should be picked up. He could be a good source of wins.

Rick Porcello – 2-0 with a 0.75 era and 8 K’s in 12 IP. Porcello is growing up rather quickly in Detroit.

Maybin will be running in AAA

Maybin will be running in AAA

Reasons for Concern

Cameron Maybin – .202/1/3 in 84 AB’s this season. My pick for ROY was sent down to the minors today. I don’t agree with this move but apparently the Marlins feel he needs to improve things in Triple A.

Jimmy Rollins – .182/0/2. It’s really starting to look like his 2007 MVP season was the fluke, not his 2008 season.

Lance Berkman – .184/7/16 in 103 AB’s this season. The HR’s and RBI are there but the .184 avg for Berkman this late in the season is concerning. Berkman now has a bad wrist which has heightened his slow start.

Jon Lester – 1-1 with a 8.74 era and 16 H, 16 K’s in 11.1 IP. The Red Sox really rode Lester hard towards the end of last year. It looks early on that all those innings last year have caught up to Lester this year. He is clearly not as sharp so far as he was at this time last year. The 16 hits and 16 K’s in 11.1 IP shows the inconsistency of his pitches this year.

Matt Capps – 0-1 with a 36.00 era. I can get over the 1 bad appearance last week but his elbow has been acting up which is concerning. Capps threw a successful bullpen session on Sunday but with an elbow injury, you just never know.

Injury News

Joakim Soria – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a sore right shoulder. This has been going on now for a while with Soria, so it is no surprise he landed on the DL. I am very concerned with this injury because it’s a strain in the rotator cuff and that could lead to something more serious. Juan Cruz will replace Soria as the Royals’ closer.

Aramis Ramirez – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a seperated right shoulder. Ramirez will be most likely 8 weeks with this injury. That is a devastating blow not only to your fantasy team, but more importantly the Cubs. Ramirez’s replacement will be Aaron Miles so don’t get too excited. If you are the Cubs right now, how much do you miss Mark DeRosa?

Brian McCann – McCann was activated from the DL on Friday and has gone 5-11 with 1 HR and 4 RBI since returning. He should be in your lineup everyday. He also sports now Ron Kittle like glasses which are fun for everyone.

Cubs vs Brewers…

May 10, 2009

Today’s live game blog is between NL Central rivals, the Chicago Cubs vs the Milwaukee Brewers. We should get a good pitching matchup tonight as Ryan Dempster (2-1, 4.86 era) squares off against Brewers’ ace Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 3.02era). This will be the Cubs first game without Aramis Ramirez who suffered a dislocated left shoulder in Friday night’s game against the Brewers.

Game – Chicago Cubs vs Milwaukee Brewers

Date – 5/9/09

Starting Lineups

Cubs

1. Soriano, LF

2. Theriot, SS

3. Fukudome, CF

4. Bradley, RF

5. Hoffpauir, 1B

6. Soto, C

7. Fontenot, 2B

8. Scales, 3B

9. Dempster, P

Brewers

1. Weeks, 2B

2. Counsell, 3B

3. Braun, LF

4. Fielder, 1B

5. Hardy, SS

6. Hart, RF

7. Duffy, CF

8. Kendell, C

9. Gallardo, P

Top 1st

First pitch of the game to Soriano is a curveball high for ball 1. Looks to be a pretty good atmosphere in Milwaukee as the stadium is sold out for this one. This Cubs’ lineup looks really weak without Ramirez and Lee.

On a 3-2 count, Gallardo paints the black with a fastball to strike out Soriano. Perfect pitch.

Gallardo gets back to back K’s as Theriot strikes out on a curveball in the dirt. Gallardo has thrown 5 curves so far this game and none of them have been for strikes. Theriot should have been sitting on a fastball and should have been laying off the curve.

Fukudome works a walk. Again, 2 curveballs thrown and still none for a strike.

Bradley grounds weakly to Weeks to end the inning.

Bottom 1st

One of the great things about the baseball package is that you get to see commercials from other cities. Apparently the Piggly Wiggly is a big sponsor of the Brewers. That is just funny to me.

Weeks K’s on a slider about 2 feet outside the strike zone.

Counsell, who it seems like has been in the majors since 1980 ropes an opposite field single to left.

Braun is a beast!!! Braun rips a mediocre fastball into the gap in left center and Counsell scores all the way from 1st. 1-0 Brewers. If the relay throw from SS had been on the money, Counsell would have been out at home.

On the very next pitch, Braun attempts to steal 3rd and Soto throws the ball into LF. Braun scores to make it 2-0. If the Cubs make 2 good throws, they are out of the inning with no damage.

Fielder K’s on just a terrible AB.

Hardy K’s as well to end the inning.

So despite striking out the side, Dempster gives up 2 runs on 2 hits.

After 1, 2-0 Brewers.

Top 2nd

Hoffpauir starts off the inning with a double to right. That ball was smoked. Hoffpauir really needs to learn how to play the OF. When Lee comes back, Hoffpauir will sit on the bench and he has too good a bat to be sitting on the bench.

Soto singles to left and now it is 1st and3rd with nobody out for Fontenot.

Gallardo paints the black again as he strikes out Fontenot on a 94 mph fastball. Another perfect pitch from Gallardo.

Up comes Bobby Scales who spent 11 years in the minors. Wow, that is a lot of bus rides. Scales didn’t see fastballs like the one he just saw from Gallardo. 94 at his eyes. Scales K’s to make it 2 outs. Big out right there because now the pitcher is up.

Dempster flies out to center and despite having 1st and 3rd with nobody out, the Cubs don’t score.

Still 2-0 nothing Brewers heading into the bottom of the 2nd.

Bottom 2nd

The Brewers’ sideline reporter is named Telly Hughes. If that isn’t a perfect name for a reporter, I don’t know what is. It sounds like he should have been a character in Anchorman.

Hart goes down looking on strikes. This game has been a strikeout fest so far.

Duffy hits one back to the mound and now there are 2 outs.

Kendell strikes out but because the pitch he swung at was 3 feet outside and in the dirt, the ball got by Soto. Kendell is on at 1st. Big play there because it clears the pitcher for next inning. However, Gallardo is not a joke at the plate. He is the anti-Al Leiter.

Gallardo strikes out to end the inning. That is 6 K’s now for Dempster.

After 2, it is still 2-0 Brewers

Top 3rd

Gallardo finally has got his curve working as he throws a wicked one to Soriano to strike him out. 5 K’s for Gallardo.

Gallardo walks Theriot. Those are the types of walks that anger managers. Throw strikes to guys like Theriot. What is the worst he can do? Single to left? Can’t walk a guy like that. Have to let him beat you with the bat.

Fukudome flies to left and now there are 2 outs.

Ok, do you know want to know why pitchers no longer throw complete games? It’s because the strike zone is the size of a shoe box. Gallardo just threw 2 pitches to Bradley that were right down the middle and called balls. All these things like K-Zone and Questech have hurt the game. Umpires are scared to call strikes because they are graded by these stupid machines.

Instead of being out of the inning, Gallardo is now forced to throw more pitches adding to his pitch count. RIDICULOUS.

However, no damage was done as Hoffpauir flies out to center.

Bottom 3rd

Weeks leads off the inning with a single in the hole between SS and 3B. Weeks is looking like he is finally coming into his own this year.

Dempster just threw a 2-1 splitter to Counsell. Are you kidding me? CHALLENGE HIM!!! I really wonder what is going threw the head of pitchers and catchers sometimes. Counsell walks and now it is 1st and 2nd with nobody out for Braun. Dempster is digging himself a nice hole here.

Braun walks on a pitch that was probably a strike. Got to love Questech.

Fielder hits a HIGH fly ball to center that is deep enough to score Weeks from 3rd. 3-0 Brewers.

Hardy pops one up and Soto reaches into the stands to make the catch. Way to help your team out Brewers fans.

Wow, what a play!!! Hart rips one off of Dempster’s shoulder, the ball goes over 2B, Fontenot gets to the ball and makes an off balance throw to get Hart. Really great play. Saved a run

That inning could have been a lot worse for Dempster. 3-0 Brewers after 3.

Top 4th

Soto down looking on K’s. Home plate umpire Jerry Crawford’s strike zone is all over the place.

Fontenot hits one past Fielder and down the RF line. Fontenot at 2B with a double. Hart got to that ball quickly and made the play at 2B a lot closer than it should have been.

Both teams are giving Jerry Crawford a piece of their mind. I know Crawford is a very good umpire, but tonight he is having a bad night.

Scales pops out to Counsell in foul territory for the 2nd out.

On a 1-1 count, Gallardo threw Dempster a curveball. My head is going to explode. Wow, Gallardo just walked Dempster. That is a no-no.

Gallardo strikes out Soriano to end the threat. It wasn’t a very good AB by Soriano as he went up there swinging at everything.

Bottom 4th

Dempster strikes out Duffy to start the inning.

Dempster won’t be winning the Gold Glove anytime soon. Kendell hits a ground ball back to him, the ball pops off his glove, he panics and then throws the ball into RF. Kendell on 2nd.

Gallardo ropes the ball, but right to Theriot at SS for the 2nd out. No chance of a double play.

Weeks, showing great patience at the plate draws a walk. Again, Dempster finds himself in trouble.

Dempster is dodging bullets as Counsell flies out to Fukudome in CF

We head to the 5th with the Brewers leading the Cubs, 3-0

Top 5th

Gallardo has thrown 89 pitches so far so he needs a quick inning in order to stay in the game longer

Theriot grounds out to Counsell at 3B for the 1st out.

Fukudome lines one to Hardy for the 2nd out. The Cubs are doing Gallardo and the Brewers a favor right now.

Bradley bloops one between Duffy and Hart for a single.

Hoffpauir blasts one over the RF fence for a 2-run HR. If you wanted the definition of a “bloop and a blast” that was it. The Cubs need to find a way to get Hoffpauir’s bat in the lineup everyday. He can flat out hit.

Gallardo bounces back and strikes out Soto to end the inning.

The Cubs get back in the game and it is now 3-2 Brewers.

Bottom 5th

Braun gets hit in the helmet with a Dempster changeup. That might have been the least scary player hit in the head moment in baseball. Braun got hit in the head and acted like nothing happened.

For some odd reason Braun tries to steal 2nd with Fielder at the plate and he gets throw out by 5 feet. I think Braun is a great player, but that was a bad baseball play. To say Ken Macha looks displeased would be the understatement of the century.

Fielder strikes out for the 2nd out of the inning.

Hardy pops out to Fukudome in CF to end the inning.

Dempster keeps dodging bullets and after 5 it is 3-2 Brewers.

Top 6th

I am getting the sense that this is one of those games where the Brewers keep the Cubs in the game by stranding runner after runner and the Cubs find a way to steal it in the end. I am getting that feeling.

Seth McClung comes into the game to replace Gallardo. Gallardo walked 4 and struck out 7 in 5 innings. Not Gallardo’s best performance but he does leave with a lead.

McClung gets Fontenot swinging for the 1st out.

Scales flies out to Hart in right for the 2nd out of the inning.

McClung makes quick work of Dempster and strikes him out on 3 pitches.

A nice inning by McClung.

Bottom 6th

Hart pops up to Hoffpauir in foul territory for the 1st out.

Duffy lines out to Fukudome in center for the 2nd out.

Kendell grounds one off of a diving Hoffpauir’s glove for a single.

McClung strikes out to end the inning.

After 6 in the books, it is still 3-2 Brewers.

Top 7th

It was just announced that this game is the Brewers’ 7th shutout of the season. The Brewers are starting to become the success model for small market teams.

McClung still in there and gets Soriano to ground to Counsell for the 1st out.

Theriot works a walk and is on 1st with Fukudome coming to the plate. As my summer league coach used to say….”Oh those bases on balls.”

Fukudome gets a broken bat single to right. Theriot goes to 3rd. The Cubs are set up now with 1st and 3rd with 1 out and Bradley coming to the plate.

Bradley walks and Macha is gonna make the call to the pen.

Lefty specialist, Mitch Stetter comes in to face Hoffpauir. Talk about being thrown into the fire.

Good morning, good afternoon and good night to Hoffpauir. 3 pitches and Hoffpauir is done. Macha comes out again to make another pitching change. Not a bad day at the office for Stetter. 1 batter faced, 3 strikes and 1 out.

Carlos Villanueva is summoned out of the pen to face Soto. Big spot here.

On a 2-2 pitch, Villanueva throws a perfect curve on the outside corner but thanks to Jerry Crawford’s ever shrinking strike zone it is called a ball. Just terrible.

Thankfully for the Brewers, Crawford’s terrible call didn’t cost them because Soto grounds to 3rd to end the inning.

Bottom 7th

Dempster still in there despite throwing 110 pitches. I like it. Old school baseball. I was watching Game 4 of the 1983 ALCS between the Orioles and White Sox on the MLB Network this morning and Brit Burns threw 150 pitches in that game. The legendary Brit Burns was throwing 150 pitches back in the day. Amazing how much the game has changed. 

Braun was a beast on Saturday

Braun was a beast on Saturday

Weeks flies out to Fukudome for the first out.

Craig Counsell turns on a fastball and hits it out for a HR. That ball barely made it over the right field fence. That was his first HR since June 17th of last year. Counsell now has more HR’s than David Ortiz. I am just sayin’.

It’s back to back at Miller Park as Braun crushes one to LF. I guess that was payback for getting hit in the head. 5-2 Brewers.  

Neal Cotts comes in to replace Dempster and promptly walks Fielder on 5 pitches. I already see the fumes coming out of Piniella’s ears.

Hardy smacks one up the middle for a base hit. Theriot got a glove on it but was only able to knock the ball down. 1st and 2nd and still only 1 out.

Cotts night is done. Piniella looks like he wants to punch Cotts as he approaches the mound to take the ball.

David Patton gets the call from the pen to face Hart and is greeting by a single up the middle scoring Fielder. 6-2 Brewers. I thought the Cubs’ bullpen was supposed to be a strength this year? Guess not.

Duffy grounds to Hoffpauir and Hoffpauir gets the force at 2nd. 1st and 3rd with 2 outs now.

Kendell bloops one to left for a single and Hardy scores to make it 7-2 Brewers.

Brad Nelson is called upon to pinch hit for the pitcher. He looks like a poor man’s Matt Stairs. Nelson came into the AB 0-20 on the season and on a 3-2 count, Patton throws him a curveball. What??? The guy is 0-20!!! Throw him a fastball. Makes zero sense.

Bases loaded now for Weeks. I have Weeks on one of my fantasy teams, so I am hoping for a big fly here. I will settle for a single. Duffy scores to make it 8-2 Brewers. This has turned into a route.

9-2 Brewers as Patton throws one that gets by Soto. I guess my feeling that the Cubs might win this game was a little off.

Scales makes a nice play on Counsell to end the inning.

But the damage was done. 6 runs on 6 hits and after 7 it is now 9-2 Brewers

Top 8th

If anyone is in the Milwaukee area this weekend, the Piggly Wiggly has a sale on Tombstone Pizza. 4 for $10. I think that is a pretty good deal.

Jorge Julio is on to pitch for the Brewers so this game isn’t over yet.

That’s what you want to see from your reliever if you are Ken Macha. Up 9-2 and Julio walks the first batter. Good times if you are Macha. Fontenot on 1st.

Julio redeems himself by stricking out Scales.

Aaron Miles comes up to bat for Patton. Miles hits a ball up the middle but Weeks slides to his right, backhands the ball and flips to Hardy for the force out. Great play by Weeks.

Soriano gets a broken bat single down the left field line. Miles goes to 3rd and it’s 1st and3rd with 2 outs.

Julio drills Theriot right in the ribs. That is going to leave a mark in the morning. Bases loaded now for the Cubs.

Julio throws a 55 ft slider in the dirt that gets by Kendell. Fontenot scores to make it 9-3 Brewers.

Like I said, this game isn’t over yet. Fukudome crushes one to center for a 2 run double. It is now 9-5 Brewers. I am sorry, but if you can’t protect a 9-2 lead, you shouldn’t be pitching in the major leagues.

Big Todd Coffey is on to pitch. Well this is strange. The lights just went out at Miller Park. Half the stadium lights went off. Great, only when I am blogging does stuff like this happen.

Right now the game is delayed. Faaaaaaaaaaantastic.

Well, that wasn’t so bad. We are back and so are the Cubs’ bats. Bradley hits one to deeeeeeeeep center for a double. Fukudome scores to make it 9-6.

Coffey strikes out Hoffpauir to end the inning.

The Cubs are trying to make a comeback as they score 4 runs to make it a 9-6 game

Bottom 8th

Chad Fox is the next pitcher out for the Cubs. Really? Chad Fox? These are desperate times for the Cubs.

Glallardo got the win on Saturday

Gallardo got the win on Saturday

Braun walks to lead off the inning. Your team just scores 4 runs to make it 9-6 and you walk the first batter of the inning. Unreal. A wild pitch advances Braun to 2nd.

Fox, who is coming back from 2 Tommy John surgeries, throws 3 pitches to Fielder and has to come out of the game. Looks like he hurt his arm again. Perhaps that was the last pitch in Fox’s career. 

Aaron Heilman will take over for Fox. Right now every Met’s fan reading this just cringed. Heilman coming in with a 3-0 count walks Fielder. That walk will be charged to Fox.

Hardy walks and now the bases are loaded. Piniella looks about as happy as Mets’ fans looked when they saw Heilman enter the game.

Oh boy. Heilman just walked Hart to force in a run. Braun scores to make the score 10-6. Still nobody out.

Duffy single to center and Fielder scores to make it 11-6 Brewers. I don’t think Heilman is winning any brownie points with Piniella at this point.

Kendell hits a sacrafice fly to right that scores Hardy. 12-6 Brewers.

Coffey down on strikes. 2 outs

Weeks strikes out to thankfully end this inning. That was brutal to watch.

The Brewers tack on 3 more to make it 12-6 after 8.

Top 9th

Soto starts the 9th with a single to left. This game is now 4 hours long. Good times.

Fontenot grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. Nicely turned by Weeks and Hardy. 2 outs.

Scales lines one to center that Duffy dives for and traps. A single for Scales. This game will never end.

Reed Johnson enters the game as a pinch hitter. Braun makes a diving catch in left to end the game.

The Brewers win this marathon 12-6. With this win the Brewers improve to 18-13, while the Cubs fall to 16-14. If the Cubs want to win the NL Central or even compete for a wild card they better get their bullpen in order because right now it’s terrible.

I would also like to wish all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day!!! Or to take a page out of Ralph Kiner’s book….On mother’s day, I again wish you a happy birthday.