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)
Brewers Pull Off Last Minute Trade for Jonathan Broxton: This was a nice surprise. The Brewers bullpen has inspired less and less confidence as the season has worn on. For one thing, you may have noticed Francisco Rodriguez gives up a hell of a lot of runs for a guy in the closer role. I remember last year that John Axford lost his closing job almost immediately for giving up too many runs. This year, there didn’t seem to be a Jim Henderson-type guy to come out of nowhere and lock down the ninth inning (maybe Jeffress might have). With his 1.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, Broxton can be the closer that K-Rod apparently no longer is. And not a moment too soon…
Buzzkill (Worst event/news of the week)
Roenicke Blames Umpire for Fading Closer: Speaking of K-Rod, after Wednesday’s gut wrenching loss in San Diego Ron Roenicke lost his cool in a way fans aren’t used to. Roenicke has a reputation for being a pretty even-keeled fellow, but his temper got the better of him:
“[H]e is terrible behind home plate,” said Roenicke, who was ejected for the fourth time this season. “He calls pitches that aren’t even close. The catcher sets up six inches off the plate and he calls them strikes. I should have been kicked out the last time that we saw him.
“I’m tired of sitting here watching the catcher set up off the plate and hitting his glove and (the umpire) calling it a strike. They’re balls. So Frankie misses, OK, it’s off the plate this much, the first one he calls a ball. He’s been calling it all night. The next one was a little further off, but he’s been calling that also.”
We all sit at home and yell at the TV when the home plate umpire misses balls and strikes, and we don’t have nearly as much at stake as the players and coaches trying to make a living out there. There’s something cathartic when a manager finally calls out an incompetent umpire. Umpires and referees get too much protection in professional sports since players, coaches, and managers can be fined for criticizing them. Umpires/referees are not infallible and they should be able to handle a little heat without the league issuing fines. Listening to sports talk radio the next day, it sounded like lots of fans were thrilled that Roenicke said what’s on a lot of our minds.
I thought Roenicke sounded like a fool. Umpires’ strike zones are irritatingly fluid so it’s easy to sympathize with his frustration. But the umpire didn’t cost the Brewers that game. The fact that K-Rod gives up home runs all the goddamn time cost the Brewers that game. He’s not twenty minutes of terror anymore – he’s three minutes to a gopher ball. How many fans were surprised that K-Rod blew a one-run save with a homer? It was the third game in a row he’s given up a home run. K-Rod’s surrendered 12 homers this year. This isn’t something new. Ever since he blew the save Memorial Day against the Orioles, homers off K-Rod have become sadly predictable.
Plenty of fans wanted to pat Roenicke on the back for whining about the umpire. It made me cringe.
Have One on the House (Brewers player who deserves a drink)
Mark Reynolds: The Giants made some great defensive plays in last night’s game to keep Jake Peavy’s no-hitter going. Brandon Crawford made a diving stop to start a double play that ended the seventh inning. Pablo Sandoval fielded a ground ball down the line and made a long throw to first to open the eighth inning. Thankfully, Reynolds broke it up with an opposite field single and we could finally exhale. Any time Reynolds gets a hit on a two-strike pitch is an occasion to celebrate, but this one in particular dispelled a lot of tension.
Time to Sober Up, Pal (Brewers player who made me want to drink)
Wily Peralta: Who is this guy and what has he done with the real Peralta? After getting shelled by the Pirates last weekend, Peralta turned in his shortest start of the season against the Giants. Unlike K-Rod, at least he didn’t make us stay up late to watch the game get away.
Back on the Wagon (Thoughts on the week ahead)
Last year, the Brewers could count on the Cubs to put up little resistance, and posted a lopsided 13-6 record against the North siders. So far this year the Brewers are only 7-6 against the Cubs, so a Chicago road trip is no longer a guaranteed series win like it used to be. With the Pirates winning a series in Milwaukee last weekend and the Cubs playing better than expected, it feels like the world is topsy turvy as the season enters its final month.
But no matter what happens in the Chicago, the next series is the one we’ve been waiting for – a four-game set in Miller Park against the goddamn Cardinals, with control of the NL Central at stake. We can’t run. We can’t hide. We’re going to have to face our inferiority complex about the Cardinals head on. Let’s try not to think about the last time the Cardinals played four games in Milwaukee. The Brewers have one more series in St. Louis this season, so they can still make up some ground if they need to. No matter what happens in these four games, the division probably won’t be decided until the very end. Still, whoever comes out on top after this week will be in the driver’s seat. Everyone prefers the driver’s seat, right?
(Image: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)