Each Sunday evening we will review our favorite and least favorite events of the previous week, and share our perspective on how the team is doing. Please enjoy responsibly.
Cheers! (Best event/news of the week)
Diamondbacks Pay for Beaning Braun: This is one of those games that makes you think the Brewers have destiny on their side this year. All fans have slightly different understandings of when it’s appropriate for a pitcher to intentionally hit a batter (I would guess players don’t all have exactly the same standards either). In Tuesday’s game, Kyle Lohse hit Chris Ownings in the helmet, and later in the inning nearly hit Mike Bolsinger. One might think the Diamondbacks were entitled to brush a guy back based on that alone. Adding to the intrigue, Ryan Braun is especially unpopular in Arizona due to his admitted PED use coinciding with the Diamondbacks losing the 2011 NLDS to Milwaukee.
When reliever Evan Marshall hit Braun to load the bases in a situation where you might otherwise intentionally walk a batter, it was understandable. When Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate and made Kirk Gibson look like a short sighted chump on the very next pitch, it was poetic.
Lohse summed it up best: “You know what? [The D-backs] won tough-guy points today, but I don’t know where the stats are for those… We’re winning games.”
Buzzkill (Worst event/news of the week)
Matheny Can’t Take a Joke: FS Wisconsin’s lighthearted All-Star campaign ads for Carlos Gomez and Lucroy are inarguably amusing. Usually it’s not possible to judge sense of humor objectively, but these are exceptions – the ads are funny, period. Still, every joke has a target, and the Lucroy spot makes fun of Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals. When asked about it, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny could have just laughed it off, but instead he was oddly serious and defensive:
“It was just amazing that it was that much directed at our organization. I think that part probably caught me off guard the most.
“Not saying that’s surprising. We’ve gone through this the last few years, especially last year with the Cardinal Way stuff getting blown way out of proportion. I think it can put a bad taste in a lot of peoples’ mouth. But in defense of the recognition that our guys have had—whether it’s having a number of guys on the All-Star team—that stuff isn’t just handed out. These guys have worked hard for that. They have deserved it, and they have earned it, and I don’t think that’s anything for us to apologize for.”
Dude, it was a joke. How hard would it have been for Matheny to say he thought the ad was a bit of silly fun? Maybe he could have pointed out that the ad underscores how much respect Molina has among fans. He might even have teased the Brewers about how the club and its fans obviously have an inferiority complex when it comes to St. Louis. Lighten up, man.
Have One on the House (Brewers player who deserves a drink)
Marco Estrada: Estrada gets a lot of grief in Brewer Nation because…he mostly deserves it. The guy leads the league in home runs surrendered by a healthy margin. No Brewers fan looks forward to his starts, so when his spot came up Friday in hitter-friendly Coors Field, I think most of us wrote that game off. When Estrada gave up six runs in the first two innings including his 24th homer, plenty of us changed the channel. But those of us that stuck with it saw Estrada settle down and only give up one more run over his final 3.2 innings. In a game that was a slugfest from the start, Estrada kept the Rockies off the board and gave his team a chance to win. It’s not often a guy gets shelled for seven runs and you can say he did a good job.
Time to Sober Up, Pal (Brewers player who made me want to drink)
Brandon Kintzler: When your team only loses one game in a week, it’s hard to find anyone to criticize. But they did drop one game, and it was Kintzler who took the loss. Plus, he’s got a goofy face. Aww, I’m just kidding. Kintzler’s a handsome guy if you’re into soft features. I bet he’s a good listener.
Back on the Wagon (Thoughts on the week ahead)
The end is in sight for the Brewers’ latest 20-games-in-a-row stretch. First, the division-leading Washington Nationals make their only trip to Miller Park starting tomorrow. A quick review of Baseball Reference indicates the Brewers have played the Nationals pretty evenly in the last few seasons, going 18-17 against Washington since 2009. The Nationals did have one memorable game in Miller Park that year when Josh Willingham hit back-to-back grand slams, a feat more rare than a perfect game. Based on the way both rotations are lined up, ace Stephen Strasburg is set to face Estrada on Wednesday. That seems like a lopsided matchup, but they don’t play the games on paper. Go get him, Marco! Try not to give up any homeruns on your way through the parking lot!
In a scheduling quirk, the Brewers wrap up the season series with the Rockies just a week after starting it. I’ve come to the conclusion that all fans can ask from a four-game series is a split, whether at home or on the road. Even though they just swept the Rockies, let’s not get greedy.
(Image: Patrick Breen/azcentral sports)