So, Benny didn’t look great today. It still looks like he’s getting the ball up too much in the strike zone and doesn’t have the command he had last year. He did strike out five guys and lowered his ERA to 4.04, but the journey there was not impressive.
I went to the game with my mother today (a faux Mother’s Day gift since I’ll be in Boston on the real one) and two pitches before Benny gave up the 7th inning HR to lead-off guy/CF Chris Duffy, I leaned over and said to her, “Looks like Ben’s lost something; I don’t like the looks of this.” Verbatim.
Zing. Lead’s cut in half 30 second later. I know Benny’s going to give up some homers. The real disappointment was that he walked Jose Bautista two batters before.
The reason that I started to worry is that Ben lost some velocity right away to start the seventh. In Bautista’s PA, the fastest pitch was 90, whereas Ben was sitting at 93 and hitting 95 throughout before. Coincidently or not, this seemed to happen right at about 100 pitches, ala Pedro Martinez. He left having thrown 108. I guess if your first 100 pitches are dominant (ala Pedro Martinez) — or even effective and efficient — it’s okay if you turn into a pumpkin soon after the pitch count strikes 100. But Ben is far from being the dominating pitcher he’s shown he can be.
Still, a 6 1/3-6-2-2-3-5 line is pretty good (good enough for a Quality Start), and a win is a win is a win. Ben was horsing around after the game, hugging Coco and piggy-backing Johnny Estrada. I think his enthusiasm is important because it makes me think that he’ll keep working to regain form.
Notes from the game:
Jiggly Puff is officially awesome. Please, let’s all start to call Prince “Jiggly Puff.” It seems like he and J.J. have been leap-frogging for the team HR lead, and Prince reclaimed it today, hitting a solo shot and 2-run homer, giving him 9 on the year. He also scored the go-ahead run in the 8th on a very close play at the plate on an RBI single by Billy Hall.
J.J. Hardy is officially awesome. He extended his hitting streak to 17 games, and was on base with his first single of the game when the aforementioned Jiggly Puff hit his second dinger of the afternoon. Hardy singled again later.
Brian Shouse, not a LOOGY. Brought in to relieve Matt Wise, who relieved Ben Sheets, and to face lefty 1B Adam LaRoche, Shouse yielded a hit to LaRoche, then another to Ryan Doumit, and viola, game is tied 4-4. I know he’s popular in Milwaukee, and he’s not awful, but is he really good enough to be used as a lefty specialist? He’s more of a mop-up guy in my opinion. Why not bring in Turnbow in that situation? I mean, it’s not like you’re facing Big Papi, after all — it’s Adam friggin’ LaRoche, he of the .167 AVG and .286 SLG.
Tony Gwynn hit a triple. That’s probably not that big a deal, but they are fun to watch, especially live.
The Crew got to Matt Capps. Capps has been one of the toughest relievers in MLB this year (1.76 ERA, 0.85 WHIP in 15.1 IP coming in), but the Crew tagged him for two hits and an insurance run in the 8th.
Come on, Ben. It’s Chris Duffy. Chris Duffy was 0-for-his-last-17 when he hit his 7th inning HR. If I can notice things like this (i.e. Benny’s drop-off), how does a whole dugout full of coaches, who get paid to notice it, not pull the trigger? Brewers, hire me immediately. The players might not even notice: I sort of look like Dale Sveum.
21-10. When’s the last time a Brewers team has been 11 games over .500? I got very emotional at the game today. These guys deserve it. Heck, we as Brewers fans deserve it. I’ve waited 20 years for this, and I will not apologize for crying over a Jiggly Puff homerun.
Knock on wood.