Archive for April, 2014

Amid wild week, Brewers continue to roll

April 24, 2014 Comments off

There was an Easter Sunday brawl, the cover literally being hit off a baseball and pitchers rocking out to ’80s band Wang Chung.

It was a wild week for the Brewers.

And if you got caught up in all the craziness — or if you were too busy taking selfies at Miller Park with Hank — you may have missed the fact that the Crew continued to roll, going 5-2 over the last week by winning three of four in Pittsburgh and two of three at home against the San Diego Padres.

The brawl and who was more at fault between Carlos Gomez and Gerrit Cole makes for an entertaining discussion, to be sure. And Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado quite literally hitting the cover off the ball Friday night is something you may never see again.

But the biggest story should be that this team, a team most projected to finish fourth or worse in the National League Central, just might be the best in baseball.

They certainly have been so far, and their 16-6 record is no fluke. But can the Brewers sustain this pace?

Certainly, they won’t continue to win 72 percent of games. But if the pitching stays strong and they avoid any major injuries, this Milwaukee team appears to have the pieces to win about 85-90 games and potentially take the division. At the very least, the Brewers look very much like a playoff team.

April was supposed to be the toughest month of the season. Instead, the Brewers are breezing through it.

With 23 of the first 32 games against 2013 playoff teams, this team had its work cut out for it. Milwaukee has answered that challenge early, going 11-5 against teams that made last year’s postseason.

So far, so good. But don’t go booking your World Series trip just yet.

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Best team in baseball … so far

April 17, 2014 Comments off

The good news for the Brewers? They have the best record in baseball through 15 games.

The better news? After three more games this month, they don’t face the Cardinals again until July.

Milwaukee’s nine-game winning streak came to a screeching halt Monday as kryptonite came to town in the form of the defending National League champs.

The Cardinals have stymied the Brewers recently much the same way the latter did in winning 69 of 93 games against the Pirates from 2008-12. Since the two teams met in the 2011 National League Championship Series, St. Louis has won 25 of their 37 games.

That includes a pair of losses this week in which the Brewers’ hot bats suddenly went cold and their league-best pitching staff gave up 10 runs in two games after having allowed just 29 in 12 previous games. But after salvaging the final game of the series against St. Louis on Wednesday, the Brewers get 10 games against the Pirates, Padres and Cubs — each of whom is under .500 so far.

They’ll look to build off the momentum of that victory and start another winning streak in Pittsburgh before returning home for six games against San Diego and Chicago.

The Brewers will send Yovani Gallardo to the mound Thursday for his second straight start against the Pirates. Gallardo settled for a no-decision Saturday in the team’s 3-2 victory, tossing six innings while giving up two runs on six hits. He also struck out six with a walk.

Gallardo’s career 1.89 ERA at PNC Park is his best at any ballpark in which he’s made five or more starts. A win would be his sixth in Pittsburgh, which would be his most in any city outside Milwaukee.

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Braun embraces boos, breaks out in Philly

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Ryan Braun loves the boos. Which is good, because they’re only going to get louder when the Brewers travel to National League Central cities like Pittsburgh, Chicago and St. Louis.

But as long as Braun keeps hitting the way he has this week in Philadelphia, his Milwaukee teammates may learn to embrace the boos as well.

Braun emphatically answered any questions about how a lingering thumb injury might affect his power on Tuesday, belting three home runs, including a pair of three-run blasts. It was an impressive performance that came in the middle of an even more impressive week for the Brewers, who have yet to lose a road game this season.

After all the pomp and circumstance that came along with the World Series celebration on Opening Day in Boston, the Brewers thoroughly dominated the Red Sox en route to a three-game sweep at Fenway Park. With two more wins in Philadelphia, the Brewers moved to four games above .500 for the first time since Oct. 3, 2012, when they finished the season 83-79.

Milwaukee will look for a second straight sweep on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park, with Marco Estrada squaring off against Cliff Lee on the mound. When they return home on Friday, the Brewers will begin a stretch in which 20 of their next 23 games are against NL Central opponents, including a six-home homestand against the Pirates and Cardinals.

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Opening series gives preview of Brewers’ tough April schedule

April 3, 2014 Comments off

If the first three games were any indication, the Milwaukee Brewers have a team that might compete for a playoff spot. But they’ll need to survive a tough April first.

Of their 28 games in the first month of the season, 19 are against teams that made the playoffs last season. The Brewers went 1-2 against the Atlanta Braves this week, and now they’ll get three games against the defending World Series champs in Boston. Coming out of April with a winning record will not be an easy feat.

The Brewers looked much improved over their first three games of 2014, but came away with just one win. Most importantly, Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez were back in the lineup together for the first time since last June. Braun went just 1-for-11 in the opening series, but Ramirez looked to be seeing the ball well, driving in three of the team’s four runs.

While the Brewers’ offense struggled against the Braves, the bright spot was their pitching. Each of the team’s top three starters — Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza — impressed in their first outings of the season. Over 21 innings of work, the trio allowed just four runs (good for a 1.71 earned-run average) on 11 hits with 19 strikeouts against five walks.

As they head to Boston this weekend, the Brewers will need to hit better than .184/.237/.230 to come away with more than one win at Fenway Park. During the six-game road trip, Milwaukee will take part in another pair of home openers, for both the Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies.

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