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Brewers seal losing record at home in shutout

September 25, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — When their home record sat at 4-14 in mid-May, third baseman Casey McGehee told reporters the Brewers would get back to .500, even if it took until September.

It came down to the 80th game of the season at Miller Park, but they ultimately came up short. With a 4-0 loss to the Marlins on Saturday, the Brewers guaranteed a second consecutive losing record at home, dropping to 39-41 on the season in Milwaukee.

“I think my point in saying that before was that we weren’t just going to roll over on it, and just say, ‘Oh, well we struggle at home,'” McGehee said. “We were going to keep battling. From where we started to where we are now, we made up some pretty good ground as far as our record here I think.

“It’s a great place to play, and we didn’t do the best job of taking advantage of it at times. I think the whole thing is just a little bit disappointing overall when you look at the overall results, whether it be at home or on the road. We’ve got our work cut out for us, that’s for sure, for next year.”

With all the offense they put up over the last three days, the Brewers probably would have liked to have saved a couple runs for Saturday night.

After scoring 27 runs over the course of three straight wins, the Brewers couldn’t figure out Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad.

Any remaining doubts as to what side of .500 the Brewers would finish on overall were put to rest Saturday as well. With the loss, they dropped to 72-82 overall, guaranteeing they would finish with their second consecutive losing record.

The biggest reason behind the Brewers’ poor home and overall records could be attributed to their inconsistency, especially offensively. Fittingly, this week has provided an excellent example of such inconsistency.

Despite being among the league’s top run-scoring clubs — as evidenced in their 13-1 win over the Reds on Wednesday — the Brewers are among the leaders in being shut out as well. Saturday marked the 14th time this season Milwaukee was held scoreless.

“I think that’s going to happen when you have offenses like this,” McGehee said. “We’re kind of built on hitting the ball out of the park. We can do other things, but that’s how we’re built really, and you’re going to run into stretches where you’re not hitting the ball out or you run into tough pitching. It’s tough to sustain a barrage of power over any time.”

Volstad (11-9) tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering six hits while striking out two batters with no walks. Of those six hits off Volstad, none were for extra bases, which limited the Brewers’ ability to put together any sort of big inning.

Volstad’s success came on the heels of a five-hit shutout in his previous outing, a 4-0 Marlins victory over the Cardinals.

“I definitely tried to bring the last game into this game as much as I could,” Volstad said. “The pace I was working at helped me get momentum. I was getting the ball, getting the sign and making the pitch with not a lot of time to get myself out of whack.”

The Brewers’ biggest opportunity came in the eighth inning, when they loaded the bases with two out on three singles in a four-batter span. Reliever Jose Veras entered to face catcher George Kottaras, who ripped a liner to center field.

Unfortunately for the Brewers, it was hit right at center fielder Cameron Maybin, who secured the final out of the inning.

“You go up there and put a good swing on the ball,” Kottaras said. “That’s what I did. … He made a good play on it.”

Left-handed starter Chris Narveson delivered his fourth quality start in five chances this month, tossing 6 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

For Narveson, three hits — two first-inning singles and a seventh-inning homer — ruined what was otherwise an impressive outing.

“I felt pretty good,” Narveson said. “I know it’s toward the end of the season, but for me it actually felt pretty good. At times, I was a little erratic, but for the most part … when I missed with a pitch, I was able to make the adjustment.”

Narveson dropped to 11-9 on the season, despite posting his 11th quality start. Over his past 12 starts, Narveson has posted a 4-3 record with a 4.12 ERA, allowing 34 earned runs in 74 2/3 innings of work. In 14 previous starts, Narveson was 6-6 with a 5.87 ERA, giving up 50 earned runs over 76 2/3 innings pitched.

The biggest change, as his manager sees it, has been Narveson’s ability to realize what he needs to do to be effective.

“I think he’s kind of learned what type of pitcher he has to be, what works best for him,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “He does the fastball-changeup thing and mixes in a couple curves.

“I think he was trying to do too much with his breaking balls [earlier in the season]. He’s learned the back-and-forth game with his changeup, and that’s made his fastball better. He kind of saves his curveball for a finishing [pitch].”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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No shortage of praise for Hoffman in Brewers clubhouse

September 9, 2010 Comments off

Following last night’s thriller, which featured career save No. 600 for Trevor Hoffman, we had a sidebar on his Brewers teammates’ reactions to the moment.

While that story captured the emotions and feelings in the clubhouse, there was far too much to fit in after the game. With a guy like Hoffman who’s frequently described as the “best teammate,” there was hardly of lack of things to say in the home clubhouse.

Braun: “Like we were going to the playoffs”

According to left fielder Ryan Braun, the emotion following the final out of the game was far greater than the meaningless early September game that it starter out as.

“It felt like we were going to the playoffs,” he said. “It was exciting. I think it was exciting for all of us to have something to celebrate, for all of us to have been a part of something so special. That’s something that we might not ever see again. Who knows if anybody else ever gets to 600 saves.”

Coffey: “I was 100 percent spectator”

Perhaps most excited about the achievement — more so even than Hoffman himself — were Hoffman’s bullpen mates.

Reliever Todd Coffey described his feelings as “beyond goosebumps” as he become more of a spectator than a teammate. After that, he went on for a few minutes about the emotions he felt both when Hoffman entered the game and recorded his 600th save.

“As soon as he walked out of the bullpen, the entire bullpen was up and I think we were all clapping louder than the fans, we were hollering louder than the fans,” Coffey said. “I don’t think any of us actually realized we were in the bullpen. We were all out there with Hoffy.

“We were hanging over, we even thought about, ‘let’s just jump the wall and go. Then we thought, ‘we better not jump the wall.’

“I think me, Zach [Braddock] and Kam[eron Loe] all hit the pile at the same time. I think I felt the whole pile moving when we hit it. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget. He’s always there for every one of us. For us to be there for him, it’s amazing. He cares less about himself and more about his teammates than anything else.”

Davis: “Just incredible”

Others had less to say, but their thoughts were no less insightful.

Veteran left-handed starter Doug Davis recalled being part of a similar moment early in his career.

“Definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Davis said. “My first win was John Wetteland’s 300th save. I thought that was impressive, but this, twice as many saves, it’s just incredible.”

Bush: “An amazing number”

Another Brewers starter, right-hander Dave Bush, took particular notice of the number of people in the dugout during that final inning, as everyone wanted the best view they could get of Hoffman’s historic save.

“It’s an amazing number, one that nobody’s ever gotten to before,” Bush said. “I can’t even fathom at all what it takes to reach that.

“It was exciting. Probably the most people I’ve ever seen in the dugout in the ninth inning. Everybody was coming down here because they wanted to be as close to it as they could. As a player, moments like that are few and far between. To be his teammate and to be around for something like is just awesome.”

Lucroy: “I’m totally lucky and blessed”

After beginning the season at Double-A Huntsville, catcher Jonathan Lucroy called the game Tuesday night, including Hoffman’s thrilling ninth.

As he waited on the mound for the all-time saves leader, with “Hell’s Bells” blaring from the stadium speakers, Lucroy said he had goosebumps and began to shake from the nerves.

He stayed relaxed behind the plate, though, and didn’t change a thing. Until the final out as he ran down toward first base.

“It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and cherish,” Lucroy said. “To be able to remember something like that, it’s a blessing for me to even be able to experience it.

“To see him achieve a goal like that is just something that every baseball player lives for. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. He totally deserves it. It’s an honor for me to even be here and just experience it.

“I was jacked up and excited. I told myself I was going to sacrifice my life to get an out for him if I needed to. I was going to go everything I could to get an out, no matter what I had to do, I was going to sacrifice everything for him.

“For somebody like that, to put in the kind of work he has, to play for as long as he has, and have the kind of character that he has, and for something like that to happen to him, and for me to even be there and be a part of it, it’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I was the first one [to the mound]. Usually I run down to first base and back up on ground balls, but I cut it off halfway. I was going to go get there first as fast as I could. I grabbed him and he grabbed me in a headlock and then everybody else hit and we went at it.

“It’s not very often you see grown men crying out there and there were grown men crying on the field. It was very emotional, I was trying to hold back as best I could. It’s just the payoff for so much hard work and just shows you that if you work hard and be a good person in this game there’s a lot of good things that happen to you.

“I’m totally lucky and blessed to even be here. To experience that, I don’t even deserve that. I don’t even deserve to be on the same field as that guy.”

Axford: “My heart was racing the entire time”

Of course, no story about Hoffman’s historic accomplishment would be complete without some mention of his replacement, rookie John Axford.

As has been the case all season, Axford had nothing but positive things to say about his mentor in the Brewers bullpen.

“He’s meant everything to my development because he carries about his business perfectly. He does everything right,” Axford said. “That’s been the best mentor for me. I just try to watch him and see what he does and see how I can build upon that. Every time I go out there I just try and do right by Trevor. I just want to do basically what Trevor would do and do things the right way.

“My heart was racing the entire time once the ‘Hell’s Bells’ started. My heart was going and it didn’t stop the entire time until we’re actually here right now and I’m still talking a mile a minute. I still feel the emotion and the rush from it. I think it was absolutely unbelievable.”

“It’s a cool kind of turn around. At the beginning of the year, I got my first save and Hoffy went in and got a hold for me. Now I got to go in and save that game for him, which is probably going to be the best hold of my entire life right there. I’m definitely glad I was in that game for sure.”

McGehee: “The ultimate professional”

Third baseman Casey McGehee admitted he was nervous when Hoffman entered the game. In fact, he was just hoping the ball wasn’t hit to him.

Once the final out had been recorded, however, McGehee was thrilled to be a part of such a big moment and to have played with someone who is the all-time leader in any category.

“I think the reaction of all the guys kind of let everybody see how important to this team and to us he is,” McGehee said. “You couldn’t have asked for it to happen to a better guy. He’s the ultimate professional with everything he does.

“There’s not too many people you played with that you can say you played with the all-time best anything. When my career is over and I’m sitting around telling stories at a bar somewhere, that’s going to be one of the ones I tell.

“You can’t block that out, we all knew what was going on. Most of us, we’re huge fans of the game. Coming up, we remember watching Trevor Hoffman when he was in his prime and he was virtually unhittable. To be any small part of it, it’s pretty special.

“Some of these guys that got called up today, first day in the big leagues, not a bad way to start your big league career.”

Fielder: “Happy to be a part of it”

The final out was recorded by Prince Fielder, as veteran shortstop Craig Counsell fielded a ground ball and fired to Fielder at first.

As Fielder closed his first-baseman’s mitt on the ball, he joined McGehee and Lucroy as the first three players to embrace Hoffman on the mound.

“It was awesome,” Fielder said. “Coming into this year, you knew he was close to getting it. Everything he had to go through to get to it and he finally got it, I’m really happy for him. It’s really awesome.

“It [ranks] up there just because it’s your teammate and it’s a really special moment and something that nobody else has ever done. That’s what makes it even more special and I’m just really happy to be a part of it.

Narveson: “Pretty amazing”

But none of it would have been possible had it not been for an impressive seven-inning performance by lefty starter Chris Narveson.

His brilliance on the mound was lost in the shuffle, but everything was set up by one of Narveson’s best starts of the 2010 season.

“That was pretty amazing,” Narveson said. “To be able to witness it and be the guy that started that game, was pretty special.”

Hoffman’s teammates take pride in 600

September 8, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Judging by their reaction after the final out in Tuesday night’s 4-2 victory over the Cardinals, you might think the Brewers had just won the World Series.

While that may not have been the case, what they experienced certainly ranks up there pretty close. As shortstop Craig Counsell fired to Prince Fielder at first, all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman recorded career save No. 600.

“To have that final out hit to Milwaukee’s own, sure-handed Craig Counsell, that was rather fitting,” said Hoffman.

As Fielder caught the feed from Counsell, the Brewers mobbed Hoffman on the mound.

“To be a part of it was great because of how much admiration we all have for Trevor,” Counsell said. “That’s what makes it special. Hopefully, that came out [in the celebration]. The way he does his job is the way we all try to do ours.”

For rookie John Axford, the moment presented a fitting role reversal.

When Axford entered with one out in the eighth, he appeared to be in line for the five-out save and his 21st of the season. Instead, the historic moment finally arrived for Hoffman.

“We all understood that this was a moment for him,” Axford said. “I was just hoping inside that he was going to go out there. I know he deserves it and I knew he could get it done.”

After the emotional on-field ceremony that ensued, Axford was reminded by teammate Zach Braddock of an interesting relationship between Hoffman’s save No. 600 and the first of the 2010 season for Axford.

On May 23 at Target Field, after Hoffman had surrendered the closer’s duties, he delivered a scoreless eighth for a hold with the Brewers leading, 4-2, over the Twins. Three months later, it was Axford who delivered the hold in front of Hoffman.

“I felt like I had a big stake in it, too,” Axford said. “It really is unbelievable. It’s probably the best hold I’ll ever have in my entire life right there.”

Not only was it likely the most memorable hold of Axford’s career, it was also the most exciting win to date for Brewers starter Chris Narveson.

“You can’t beat starting a game with Hoffy coming in and getting 600,” Narveson said. “That will be one of the best games I’ll ever be a part of.”

When Hoffman began to warm in the bullpen during the bottom of the eighth, fans and players alike began to take notice.

In the dugout, teammates were asking Axford if it would be him or Hoffman in the ninth. As the Miller Park speakers began to play “Hells Bells,” their questions were answered. With that, they became spectators along with everyone else in attendance.

“I had beyond goosebumps,” reliever Todd Coffey said. “I was completely removed from the bullpen and everything. I was 100 percent spectator at that point.”

For the players on the field, however, the moment was more nerve wracking than anything before Counsell and Fielder recorded the final out.

“The one thought that kept going through my mind was, ‘Don’t hit the ball to me,'” said third baseman Casey McGehee. “I think I probably was more nervous than he was.”

Once save No. 600 was in the books, celebration ensued. From all directions — the outfield, infield, dugout and bullpen — Brewers players and coaches sprinted to the mound.

First among them was rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who embraced Hoffman after playing an integral role in the historic moment.

“It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and cherish,” Lucroy said. “I got goosebumps standing on the mound waiting for him to get in there.

“I’ll never forget it the rest of my life.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Narveson’s sharpness cuts down Cardinals

September 8, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — When the night began, Tuesday’s game meant far more to the Cardinals than the Brewers. That all changed when Trevor Hoffman entered in the ninth.

With a two-run lead, the Brewers called Hoffman’s number, setting him up for career save No. 600. Hoffman delivered as he pitched a scoreless ninth in the Brewers’ 4-2 victory over the Cardinals at Miller Park.

Before Hoffman’s historic 600th save, the game was highlighted by a number of unusual happenings on the field.

Brewers manager Ken Macha was tossed by second-base umpire Tim Timmons, and Brewers center fielder Chris Dickerson, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and then a male fan sitting in the stands near home plate were all ejected by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson.

“It was an interesting evening,” Macha said. “One coach, one manager, one player and one fan. Everybody got thrown out.”

The flurry of ejections began in the bottom of the second inning, when Timmons called interference on Brewers runner Craig Counsell for leaving the baseline in an attempt to break up Chris Narveson’s double play. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who initially appeared to score on the play for a 3-0 Brewers lead, was ordered back to third base while Macha rushed out to argue.

That call was crucial until the fifth inning, when McGehee’s two-run single off St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse (2-7) snapped a tie and gave the Brewers a 4-2 lead. McGehee also hit an RBI double in Milwaukee’s two-run first inning, and he claimed the club lead with 90 RBIs.

“We scored all our runs with two outs,” Macha said. “That’s what the bugaboo’s been. The other team scoring two-out runs. Tonight, that was ours on all four runs.”

That cushion was enough for Narveson (11-7), who matched a season-high with nine strikeouts and limited St. Louis to two runs on four hits in seven sharp innings. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when the Cardinals strung together four in a row, including RBI singles by Yadier Molina and Colby Rasmus.

Narveson watched a 1-0 lead slip away from the bullpen in the seventh inning of his previous start in Cincinnati, so this time he handled the inning himself. Narveson retired nine of the final 10 men he faced, and erased the exception — Matt Holliday, who walked leading off the sixth inning — on a strikeout-throwout double play.

He set down the final five Cardinals hitters he faced in order, including three strikeouts.

“I felt like I had all my pitches working and was able to execute when I needed to,” Narveson said. “I kept them off-balance. The knocks that they had, they did some good pieces of hitting. It’s going to happen at some point during the game.”

The 33,149 fans in the stands — or at least the 33,148 who avoided Davidson’s ire — might remember the flurry of ejections as much as McGehee’s clutch hit or Narveson’s mound gem.

One inning after Macha was tossed by Timmons after the call at second base, Cardinals pitching coach Duncan was ejected in the bottom of the third inning for arguing balls and strikes for Lohse, who was charged with four runs on seven hits in five innings.

Dickerson was ejected after striking out for the third time to end the fifth inning. Dickerson, who was upset in the first inning after his apparent ball four turned into a check-swing strike, took issue with Davidson’s called strike 3 to end the fifth and slammed his helmet.

Two innings later, Davidson turned his attention to a male fan sitting in one of the front rows behind home plate. Davidson alerted security officials to the man, who was removed.

“It was kind of a crazy game,” said left fielder Ryan Braun. “A lot of action and a lot of action early. I don’t really know what was going on, but I’m happy we won and I’m thrilled for Trevor.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McDonald, Bucs fall to big Brewers rally

August 29, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Sometimes in baseball, one inning is all it takes to change a game. For the Pirates on Friday, that inning was the bottom of the seventh.

Entering the inning, they held a one-run lead over the Brewers and looked for starter James McDonald to deliver one final solid inning before handing it over to the bullpen. When the inning came to a close, the Pirates trailed by five runs — as they lost the series opener, 7-2, at Miller Park.

Within that seventh inning, the turning point came with two on and one out, as rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar drove a 1-1 fastball over the head of right fielder Lastings Milledge for a two-run, game-winning triple.

Off the bat, it looked like a routine line out to right field. As it reached Milledge, it was anything but.

“When I hit the ball, I thought, ‘He’s got it,'” Escobar said. “Then he turned around and lost the ball, and I ran.”

“I looked up at the last minute and the lights got in my face,” Milledge said. “That’s a play that I make every day of the week. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the play. It cost us big. I make that play in my back pocket every day of the week.”

Following Milledge’s misplay on the Escobar triple, the Brewers tacked on four more runs on a pair of singles and two doubles, sending 12 batters to the plate before the Pirates finally got out of the inning.

While an out on Escobar’s triple could have saved the game for the Pirates, things really got out of hand when starter James McDonald and reliever Chris Resop were unable to close out the inning over the next five batters.

“They’re one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball anyway. Just one play is all they need,” Milledge said. “We were still in the game, only one run down, and they just took it over the top. It’s what they do.”

Milwaukee’s six-run, six-hit rally in the seventh inning marred what had been a spectacular performance by McDonald.

Through five innings, the right-hander had allowed just one hit — a bunt single by Escobar — with zero walks and six strikeouts. In the sixth, McDonald made a big pitch to left fielder Ryan Braun to induce an inning-ending double play.

But in the seventh, Braun managed to put the exclamation point on the Brewers’ victory.

“I thought McDonald threw the ball very well,” said Pirates manager John Russell. “He just couldn’t get out of that inning. After that, he just couldn’t get back in the dugout. You can’t give up six runs in the seventh.”

McDonald finished with 6 1/3 innings pitched, surrendering six runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and a pair of walks. The outing was McDonald’s second-longest this season — but it was also his worst in terms of runs allowed.

Before the game, Russell talked about focusing on the preparation and process, while ignoring the result. When asked about his start afterward, McDonald seemed to be following that mentality.

“It’s not frustrating, things happen. We played hard. Things didn’t fall our way,” McDonald said. “I felt like I had good stuff today. Sometimes I’ve had great stuff and I’m out in the fourth inning. I still went deep in the game. Things didn’t fall our way, but we’ll get them next time.”

Through five innings, though, things were falling the Pirates’ way.

Milledge got things started in the second, leading off with a double and coming around to score two batters later on an RBI single by Ronny Cedeno. In the fifth, catcher Chris Snyder added another run with a one-out solo homer off Brewers starter Chris Narveson.

But while Narveson (10-7) was not as sharp as McDonald through the first five innings, he benefited from the Brewers’ big seventh inning, picking up his first win since Aug. 3 and matching his second-longest outing of the season — going seven strong while allowing just two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.

It looked through five innings like the Pirates would finally snap yet another double-digit road losing skid. Instead, the streak climbs to 11 straight losses away from PNC Park.

For Milledge, though, the way the team has played in the last week far outweighs the Pirates’ 11-game road losing streak.

“You can say what you want to say about 11 straight, it doesn’t matter, we’ve still got a chance to win the series,” he said. “We’ve been playing good baseball here the last 4-5 days — it just got away from us today. We’re going to come back tomorrow and get it done.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Diamondbacks beat 8/10

August 12, 2010 Comments off

D-backs’ Young first to join 20/20 club

MILWAUKEE — With his third-inning home run on Monday, Chris Young did more than just tie the game at two runs apiece. The D-backs center fielder became the first player in the Majors this season with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

Young, who ranks fifth in the National League with 22 stolen bases, reached the 20-homer, 20-stolen base mark for the second time in his career and the first time since his 2007 rookie season.

“It’s nice,” Young said of the feat. “You’d like to be winning more games so you get away from focusing on the personal things, but it’s nice. I’m having a better season, it’s a big turn around from last year for me.”

Including Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee, the D-backs have 49 games remaining as Young chases his first career 30-homer, 30-stolen base season.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson sees it as a possibility for Young, but is more concerned with Young having improved dramatically at the plate, especially as his current .268 batting average is 26 points higher than his career average.

“His approach at the plate’s really good,” Gibson said. “He’s really beginning to understand how to get to certain pitches that they used to get him out on.

“Stolen base-wise, he’s getting really advanced. He’s got several techniques that he uses. I don’t know if he’ll get to 30-30, but I wouldn’t put it out of reach for him sometime in his career.”

After an impressive rookie season that saw Young belt 32 home runs and steal 27 bases, his production declined in each of the past two seasons. Young had 22 home runs with 85 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 2008 before dropping to 15 homers and 11 steals last season with just a .212 batting average.

Young’s 20th homer came a year removed from his demotion to the Minors last season, where he played from August 10-28 before returning to the big league club. Before he was sent down, Young hit just seven home runs with 28 RBIs and a sub-Mendoza line .194 average.

Over the final month of the season, Young’s production picked up, as he tallied eight home runs with 14 RBIs and a .263 batting average.

“It was a reality check,” Young said. “It was a sign that, ‘Hey, you need to turn things around if you expect to play at this level.’ I took it as a challenge. Nobody’s given anything in this game, and you have to earn everything, especially at this level.”

Drew records 250th RBI in 600th game

MILWAUKEE — When he stepped in against Trevor Hoffman in the 10th inning on Monday, shortstop Stephen Drew had already reached one career milestone on the day. With his two-run single, he added another.

Drew, playing in his fourth full season with the D-backs, collected his 250th and 251st career RBIs. It also happened to be Drew’s 600th career game.

Joining Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley, Chad Tracy and Jay Bell in an exclusive club, Drew became just the fifth player in Arizona history to play in 600 games and collect 250 RBIs as a D-back.

“Is that good or not?” Drew asked before learning how many players in franchise history had done so. “To reach that milestone, it’s pretty neat to hear that I was only the fifth one to ever do it.

“I don’t really set any goals or look at goals until the end of the season. It’s one of those things that is neat in its own self, but I just try to go out every day and help the team win, some way, some how.”

With 250 RBIs, Drew is just the eighth player in franchise history to reach that mark, joining current teammates Mark Reynolds and Chris Young. Drew is only the seventh player in franchise history to play in 600 games and the only current player to have done so.

He was not the only one at Miller Park this week who had reached that feat, however, as former D-backs shortstop and current Brewers infielder Craig Counsell played 664 games with Arizona.

Despite being just 27 years old, the 600-game mark makes Drew one of the more veteran guys in the D-backs’ clubhouse.

“When I first got called up, it was a bunch of veteran guys. We were still in purple then,” Drew said. “We had guys like Counsell and the reason I got called up was he had a broken rib. Gonzo was there still, [Brandon Webb] was still there. To play so many games here it’s nice, especially to stay in one spot, it’s huge.

“We had some good years when I first got called up. The year right after, we made the playoffs and that was neat in itself.”

Gibson: D-backs being thrown at is ‘baseball’

MILWAUKEE — As a 90-mph fastball from Chris Narveson sailed behind the back of Rusty Ryal in the fourth inning Monday night, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson wasn’t surprised, nor was he too upset.

With his starter having hit three Brewers hitters, it was just part of the game.

“He tried to hit Ryal before that, and then they threw a changeup and [Brewers manager Ken] Macha was over there going, ‘Come on!'” Gibson said. “I understand, I had no problem with any of it. We hit three of their guys — not on purpose — they tried to hit Rusty.

“That’s baseball. We should’ve just walked down to the base. I had no problem with any of that.”

While he’s fine with the idea of settling such matters that way, Gibson went on to say he would never instruct one of his pitchers to intentionally hit an opposing batter.

Still, he wouldn’t oppose such actions from his pitching staff.

“I told Joe Saunders not to hit him,” Gibson said, referring to the D-backs’ game on August 3, when Mark Reynolds was hit in the head by a Nationals pitcher. “But somewhere along the line, if somebody would’ve responded to that throughout that series, to me, that’s one of the things that helps connect you.

“Reynolds would’ve known what happened. Those are just little subtle things that happen within a game.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clutch hits give Crew enough to get by Cubs

August 4, 2010 Comments off

CHICAGO — A change in approach may have led to the reversal of fortunes for the Brewers over the first two games this week against the Cubs.

“Base hits up the middle,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “I think all the base hits were up the middle that we scored the four runs.

“It’s been nice the last couple nights.”

They didn’t have as many hits to show for it as the previous night, but the Brewers continued to swing hot bats in Tuesday’s 4-3 win against the Cubs at Wrigley Field which clinched the series victory.

Most importantly, the Crew delivered with runners in scoring position, going 3-for-7 in such situations. Milwaukee’s fourth and fifth hitters, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee, combined to go 3-for-6 with three RBIs.

The biggest hit of the night, though, belonged to the Brewers’ starting pitcher.

With his hit in the fourth, lefty Chris Narveson put the Brewers up, 3-1, as he delivered a one-out single to center field that scored catcher Jonathan Lucroy from second base.

“That was huge,” Narveson said. “Helping yourself at the plate has always been a big competition here with the pitchers, and it’s proven helpful lately.”

Narveson (9-7) wasn’t as sharp as he might have liked, but like the Brewers’ offense, he came up big in big situations. The lefty went 5 2/3 innings, limiting the Cubs to just one run on six hits while walking one and recording six strikeouts.

Rather than score their runs in bunches as they did Monday with five runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings, the Brewers strung together hits to score one run in the first, third, fourth and seventh innings.

“We kind of scrapped for our runs tonight,” Macha said.

During the Brewers’ previous series in Houston, Macha expressed concern about the team’s hitting approach in back-to-back shutout losses. That prompted him to discuss the matter with hitting coach Dale Sveum.

Based on the early results, Milwaukee’s change in approach seems to have worked. Still, Sveum downplayed the idea of an up-the-middle-specific focus.

“It’s not that big a deal. You guys make way too much out of that,” he told a reporter. “It’s just taking what the pitcher gives you.”

McGehee agreed with Sveum, while noting the much-improved results of late.

“It’s not like we sat down and all decided, ‘We’re going to stay in the middle of the field,'” McGehee said. “But Dale and I talked in the cage about what pitches we’ve been swinging at. It’s something that I’ve been trying to take up to the plate with me, but I don’t know what the other guys have been thinking.

“I think we’ve had a really good approach against [the Cubs] so far this series. For whatever reason, we have been hitting balls the other way pretty consistently.”

While four runs on nine hits doesn’t exactly compare to the 18 runs on 26 hits Milwaukee posted Monday, the Brewers scored at least four runs in consecutive games for the first time since doing so in three straight in a sweep of the Nationals from July 23-25.

For the second straight night, Ryan Braun, Fielder and McGehee came up big for the Crew.

“Those guys are all great hitters,” said Cubs starter Thomas Diamond. “I’m not going to take anything away from those guys. They’re all big league hitters, they’ve got All-Stars. To me, a hitter is a hitter, and all the accolades they get, they deserve and I just need to find a way to get them out.”

In the first, Fielder and McGehee delivered back-to-back two-out singles, with McGehee’s scoring Braun and putting the Brewers on top early. Two innings later, Fielder’s one-out single scored Rickie Weeks from second, making it 2-1 in the Brewers’ favor.

Finally, in the seventh, McGehee drove a liner to center for a sacrifice fly, scoring Weeks from third for the eventual game-winning run. Had it not been for a spectacular catch by All-Star center fielder Marlon Byrd, McGehee may have broken the game open with a one-out, bases-loaded hit.

“[Byrd] goes and gets it just as well as anybody,” McGehee said. “He’s like a free safety out there. You have to work to get one away from him.”

Though the Brewers came out on top, Diamond was impressive.

Despite giving up seven hits in six innings, he struck out 10 batters, becoming the first Cubs pitcher to do so in his Major League debut since Mark Prior on May 22, 2002. Diamond (0-1) struck out three in the first — while also giving up a run on two hits and a walk — and added at least one strikeout in every inning but the fifth.

“I think he’s got a chance to be pretty good,” McGehee said. “He’s deceptive, he’s got a good split or changeup or whatever he wants to call it. He threw enough strikes to make you want to be aggressive, but he also was effectively wild at times.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.