Posts Tagged ‘George Kottaras’

Astros beat 8/7

August 8, 2010 Comments off

Mills thinks Hart was out on game-winner

MILWAUKEE — While the Brewers were celebrating a thrilling walk-off victory Friday night, the Astros and manager Brad Mills weren’t so sure about the game’s final run.

As right fielder Corey Hart scored the winning run Friday night, Mills was convinced he was out. His opinion remained the same Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately, the ensuing celebration made it tough for Mills to voice his opinion.

“That is the toughest way to argue a call,” Mills said. “To go out there when everybody is running around — the umpires want to leave, they’re trying to get off the field, and I’m trying to state my case as he’s walking off. It’s a bad place to be.

“They were picking Hart up off the ground as I was running around trying to get to the umpire. That’s a tough situation.”

A closer look at Hart’s slide shows his left leg was several inches off the ground as Astros catcher Jason Castro turned to tag the All-Star right fielder. From the camera angle behind the plate, however, it’s difficult to see whether Hart scores before the tag is applied.

Mills said his catcher could have been better positioned on the play, though he understands the difficulty of catching the throw from right fielder Hunter Pence and making the tag at the plate.

“The ball is always going to travel quicker than the guy is able to get the ball and reach back,” Mills said. “We try to get the guys to straddle the bag and let the ball travel.

“When the ball’s coming from right field, it’s the worst for the catcher. His eyes are on the ball, and he can’t even see the runner out of his periphery. It makes it really difficult.”

Astros like Wallace’s approach at the plate

MILWAUKEE — Like the rest of the National League, the Astros are still learning just what kind of hitter rookie first baseman Brett Wallace could be.

Through five starts and 17 at-bats, early indications have been good.

Wallace showed off one part of his skill set Friday night as he drove a double into the gap in left-center field in the fifth, scoring shortstop Geoff Blum from first base. Hits to left-center field were a common theme for Wallace in the Minors.

In particular, manager Brad Mills also likes the calm approach Wallace seems to have in the batter’s box, regardless of the outcome.

“Isn’t that nice to see?” Mills said. “As a young kid, that sure looks nice.”

Bourn has green light when he feels right

MILWAUKEE — When it comes to stealing bases, it’s up to Michael Bourn to decide when he thinks it’s the right situation to go for it.

When Bourn reached base twice on Friday night, manager Brad Mills reminded his center fielder of that fact more often than usual. With Brewers catcher George Kottaras having thrown out just 16 percent of basestealers this season, the Astros knew they could have an easy time on the bases.

But Mills didn’t want to force Bourn to steal.

“I tried to emphasize him running, but you don’t want to force him to run,” Mills said. “He has to be able to feel it.

“He tried to go a couple times and just didn’t feel it. You can’t force a guy to run when he doesn’t feel comfortable, especially a guy like Michael.”

He finished the night with a pair of stolen bases, but Bourn might have had more if his right foot was feeling 100 percent

Bourn has been slowed since his foot was hit with a pitch Wednesday in St. Louis, though he has not missed any time. Although he was left out of the starting lineup Saturday, it had more to do with Bourn’s numbers against left-handed pitching than his right foot.

“It was sore last night. As he was coming off the field, I think you could [see that],” Mills said. “He said it hurts him more to jog than to run.”

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

Brewers beat 7/24

July 24, 2010 Comments off

Hart happy to find out wrist isn’t broken

MILWAUKEE — A day after slamming his wrist into the wall in right field, Corey Hart said he felt a little sore. The good news, though, is that an MRI on Friday revealed no fracture.

Hart said the exam was a relief: “Especially the way it’s going, I didn’t want to miss too much. I might miss a few days. I’ll take treatment until it stops hurting. I’m lucky I didn’t break anything. It could have been a lot worse.”

Hart injured his wrist Friday in the top of the third inning during the Brewers’ 7-5 victory over the Nationals. As he attempted to catch a long foul ball off the bat of Cristian Guzman, Hart slid and hit his right hand against the concrete wall below the padding.

Hart injured his wrist in a similar region of the ballpark where Braves outfielder Matt Diaz slid into the concrete wall and suffered a knee injury two years ago, which cost him much of the season.

Now it’s just a waiting game for Hart and the Brewers.

Hart was out of the lineup Saturday night, and Joe Inglett got the start in right field. Before the game, Hart sported a compression sleeve on his right wrist, which is intended to keep the swelling down.

Once he feels well enough to play again, Hart expects to return to the field. The Brewers have an off-day Thursday, which could give him an extra day of rest before returning.

But that’s not exactly his plan.

“I’d like to be in before then,” Hart said. “I’m probably not going to play these next two. Hopefully I’ll get at least a couple games against the Reds.”

Lucroy gets another shot at catching Parra

MILWAUKEE — Brewers manager Ken Macha shook up his catching rotation Saturday night, putting rookie Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate with lefty starter Manny Parra.

Over his past three outings, Parra had been paired with backup catcher George Kottaras. Lucroy struggled with stopping Parra’s splitter, which resulted in several wild pitches.

“I had that because of balls getting back to the screen on the split,” Macha said. “I just feel that we’re going to try this fit because of results we can get with Manny, so we’ll try somebody else back there.”

In three starts this month with Kottaras behind the plate, Parra has a 1-2 record with a 10.89 ERA, allowing 19 earned runs over 16 innings on 28 hits, including five home runs.

Conversely, in five starts with Lucroy catching during the month of June, the Brewers left-hander went 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA, allowing 13 runs on 29 hits (four homers) over 29 innings.

Parra had 36 strikeouts against 13 walks in June, compared with 12 against seven this month.

So does Macha think having Lucroy behind the plate is going to result in a better outing for Parra?

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Macha said. “How did he do last time out? Sometimes catchers and pitchers get on the same page and it happens.”

Hawkins set for another rehab outing Monday

MILWAUKEE — Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins will rejoin the Brewers soon, but not before Tuesday at the earliest.

Manager Ken Macha said before Saturday’s game that Hawkins would pitch for Triple-A Nashville again Monday as he continues to rehab from right shoulder weakness.

“We’re just going to evaluate his Monday outing,” Macha said. “We’ll go from there.”

Hawkins pitched for the second straight night Friday, tossing 16 pitches over two innings while allowing just one hit as he earned the save.

Macha was hesitant to confirm that Hawkins would rejoin the club after his outing Monday, based on Hawkins’ own evaluation of his rehab outings, which Macha received from Brewers trainer Roger Caplinger.

“One of his other outings he kind of indicated he wasn’t really on top of his game quite yet,” Macha said. “I just got that report from Roger. I didn’t talk to [Nashville pitching coach] Rich Gale or anyone like that. Rick Peterson, our pitching coach, will talk to Rich Gale sometime.”

Worth noting

The Brewers’ comeback on Friday night, after being down 5-1 to win 7-5, marked their largest comeback victory of the season. They had previously come back from three-run deficits five times. … Milwaukee had homered in 12 straight games entering Saturday’s contest, going 8-4 during that stretch. It marks the longest streak for the Brewers since they homered for a franchise-record 20 straight games from July 1-24, 2008. … Prince Fielder entered Saturday’s game just one RBI shy of 500 for his career. He would become the 12th player in franchise history with at least 500 RBIs. … Rickie Weeks is on pace for 102 RBIs this season, all coming from the leadoff spot. Weeks would be just the second leadoff hitter in MLB history to eclipse the 100 RBI mark, joining Darin Erstad, who did it in 2000 with the Angels.

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

Brewers recap 5/29

May 29, 2010 Comments off

Hart pumps two more homers to beat Mets

MILWAUKEE — Less than 24 hours removed from his first career walk-off home run, Corey Hart picked up right where he left off on Saturday night.

With two home runs and six RBIs on the night, Hart carried the Brewers to an 8-6 victory over the Mets at Miller Park.

Hart crushed a 1-1 slider in the first from Mets starter Fernando Nieve (1-3), a no-doubter over the bullpen in left for his first career grand slam. Two innings later, Hart drove an 0-1 pitch from Oliver Perez out to left, a two-run shot, for his third homer in as many at-bats.

After hitting just three home runs over the first six weeks of the season, Hart has nine blasts and 19 RBIs in his last 14 games.

“I didn’t even want to sit down next to him, these uniforms are hot enough,” Brewers manager Ken Macha joked. “Guys kept telling me when he gets hot, he can carry the club. Well, he’s been doing that as of late.”

On Negro League Tribute Night at Miller Park, with the Brewers wearing the uniforms of the Milwaukee Bears and the Mets dressed as the New York Cubans, Hart became the 15th hitter in franchise history to belt homers in three consecutive at-bats and the first to do so since Geoff Jenkins’ three-homer game on May 21, 2003.

His six RBIs tied a career high for Hart, who leads the team with 12 home runs on the season. It was also his eighth career multi-homer game and second during his current hot streak.

“It’s all Dale,” said Hart, referring to Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. “Dale’s worked really hard to change some things around for me and help my mindset. What he did is help me get the ball in the air.

“I’ve had stretches where I’ve hit balls hard, but now the ones I’m hitting are getting good backspin and they’re carrying. I keep doing what he’s telling me, and so far it’s working.”

Nieve (1-3) took the loss for the Mets, as he lasted just two innings, surrendering five runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

But after Hart put the Brewers up, 7-3, with his second homer in the third inning, the Brewers, too, had to go the rest of the way with the bullpen on the mound.

Starter Manny Parra lasted just three innings for the Brewers, giving up three runs on six hits with three walks — one intentional — and two strikeouts.

“I was just out of sync,” Parra said. “It made it really hard to command my fastball. … For me, my game is commanding my fastball. I do that and I’ll be just fine. But the days like today where I’m out of sync and struggling with the fastball command, it’s going to make for a tough day.”

Fortunately for the Brewers, three members of their bullpen delivered excellent performances on the night.

After Marco Estrada relieved Parra and proceeded to allow three runs on one hit and one walk in just 1 2/3 innings, Todd Coffey (2-1) came in and shut the Mets down. But things didn’t start so smoothly for the reliever.

Before he threw his first pitch, Coffey was forced to switch gloves because the color of the glove — which he’s been using all season — was too light, clashing with the Bears uniform. After being tipped off by Mets manager Jerry Manuel, the umpires approached Coffey and asked him to make the switch.

“It was light, a little bit too close to the colors of the uniform,” Manuel said. “I told [the umpires] before he came in. I saw him warming up in the ‘pen with it and thought it was a little light. I should have let him keep the other one though, right?”

As Manuel joked, the glove didn’t matter, as Coffey (2-1) threw 2 1/3 scoreless, striking out three while keeping the Mets off the basepaths.

Coffey entered with the bases loaded in the fifth. Upon getting Jason Bay to ground out to second to end the inning, Coffey started a string of 13 straight batters retired by Brewers relievers to close out the game.

Carlos Villanueva pitched a clean eighth with two strikeouts as the setup man on the night, and John Axford needed just 14 pitches in the ninth for his second save of the season.

“It’s huge,” Parra said of the bullpen’s performance. “It’s great to win this ballgame. We came out firing, scoring a lot of runs. So it was just great that we were able to win that game [and] put a lot of confidence in this clubhouse. I think we’re starting to play a lot better.”

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

Brewers beat 5/29

May 29, 2010 Comments off

No worries about Gallardo’s pitch count

MILWAUKEE — A day after he pitched his first career shutout, Yovani Gallardo remained a topic of conversation in manager Ken Macha’s pregame media session.

Gallardo, who kept the Mets off the board all night while scattering eight hits, impressed all those in attendance on Friday night, including his manager.

“Last night, that’s as good as I’ve seen him throw, ever,” Macha said.

One of the concerns brought up about Gallardo, though, was the high pitch total in the game. Gallardo threw 121 pitches over nine innings, marking his third game in May that he’s thrown 120 or more pitches.

It was the first of the three in which Gallardo has gone nine innings, however, with the other two outings being 121 pitches over seven innings in a win at San Diego and 120 deliveries over six innings in a no-decision at Cincinnati.

With the length of the outing in mind, and the fact that Gallardo had a chance at his first career shutout, Macha was not worried about letting his pitch count go over 120 for the third time in less than a month.

“If I’d have taken him out of the game, there were probably 31,000 people here that would have had me on the rail, tarred and feathered,” Macha said. “The 120 pitches, that was over nine innings, instead of being like seven. Those other ones were shorter.”

Kottaras moved up to second in order

MILWAUKEE — Upon learning he had been moved up to the No. 2 spot in the Brewers’ lineup, even George Kottaras was surprised by the decision.

“I did? They changed the lineup?” Kottaras asked. “I came in and they had me batting eighth.”

Kottaras, who has become the team’s No. 1 catcher since Gregg Zaun went on the disabled list a week ago, has just a .224 batting average. But his on-base percentage is more than 200 points higher, at an impressive .425.

Despite originally listing him eighth, manager Ken Macha, after further consideration, swapped Kottaras with center fielder Carlos Gomez, who batted seventh.

“His on-base percentage is .425,” Macha said, referring to Kottaras. “I think he’s done a great job in the eighth spot getting a lot of walks and turning the lineup over quite a bit. … So we’ll see how this works out. George’s got some power, maybe he’ll get some balls to hit and hit some home runs too.”

Kottaras hit a solo home run in the second inning on Saturday.

When asked about the last time he had batted as high as second in the lineup, Kottaras recalled the exact game.

“I had just gotten traded from San Diego to Boston [in September 2006],” Kottaras said. “We went to the Double-A playoffs and they batted me second. I went 2-for-4, I had a home run and I stole a base.”

Vargas designated for assignment

MILWAUKEE — While much of the pregame discussion centered around his replacement, right-handed reliever Claudio Vargas received some well wishes from Brewers manager Ken Macha.

Vargas, who re-signed with the Brewers during the offseason after being traded from the Dodgers before last year’s deadline, was designated for assignment on Saturday as the Brewers needed to make room on the roster for lefty Chris Capuano.

Through 17 appearances on the season, Vargas is 1-0 with a 7.32 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. Vargas struggled to keep opposing hitters off base, sporting a 1.932 WHIP.

With Vargas likely headed elsewhere, Macha was hopeful for his future.

“He’s a terrific person,” Macha said. “It’s a little bit of a sad day. If he wants to continue playing, I hope he winds up catching on with somebody.”

Worth noting

The Brewers and Mets honored the Negro Leagues on Saturday night by wearing uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears and New York Cubans. … The Brewers have won consecutive games in walk-off fashion for the first time since June 17-18, 2006, vs. Cleveland. … The last Brewers walk-off home run that resulted in a shutout victory also came that season when Geoff Jenkins hit a solo home run to to give the Brewers a 1-0 win over St. Louis on Sept. 20, 2006. … The shutout Friday by Yovani Gallardo was the Brewers’ first since Ben Sheets shut out San Diego on Sept 6, 2008, and the first complete game since Gallardo’s on April 24, 2009, at Houston. … Brewers pitchers tied a franchise record Friday with their ninth consecutive game without allowing a home run. The starting pitchers also tied a record for 12 games without allowing a homer in a season. Both records were established in 1976. … The Brewers are the only team in the Majors to have not given up a home run since May 19.

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

Brewers recap 5/28

May 28, 2010 Comments off

Walk-off homer caps Gallardo’s shutout

MILWAUKEE — If ever there were a game that could turn the Brewers’ season around, Yovani Gallardo pitched it Friday night against the Mets.

But it wouldn’t have happened without right fielder Corey Hart, who crushed a 1-1 offering from Ryota Igarashi into the bullpen in left for the 2-0 victory and the Brewers’ second walk-off win in two nights at Miller Park.

Gallardo (5-2) delivered an absolute gem of a performance, pitching his first career shutout and second career complete game. As he scattered eight hits and struck out seven while walking one, Gallardo outlasted one of the best lefties in the game in Johan Santana.

Gallardo dialed up the velocity as high as 94 mph in the ninth, but he credited his ability to stay relaxed on the mound for getting him through a 121-pitch complete game.

“Not trying to overthrow is the main thing for me,” Gallardo said. “We all know I have that tendency to try to do a little bit too much in certain situations. But I was able to stay under control and make pitches whenever I needed.”

In his last three outings, Gallardo settled for no-decisions, despite going six innings in each and giving up an average of just over two runs per game.

But Gallardo was not the only one who pitched well on the night. Santana threw eight scoreless innings for the Mets, giving up just three hits and two walks while walking five.

After throwing 105 pitches, Santana was pulled in the ninth in favor of the Mets’ bullpen.

“Once he had doubled, [and] fought through the eighth, I didn’t think it would be a good move,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of leaving Santana in for the ninth, with Prince Fielder up to bat. “Fielder, I thought he was seeing it pretty good, anyway. I didn’t want to chance him losing that ballgame after the way he had performed.”

For the Brewers’ hitters, the end of Santana’s night was a welcome sight.

“Obviously he’s been known to throw upwards of 120 pitches, and I don’t think he was that high,” Hart said. “For us, it was a little comforting to get a few new guys in there to see if we could handle those guys.”

Hart’s home run was his team-leading 10th of the season, but much like Gallardo would not have gotten the shutout victory without his homer, Hart wouldn’t have even batted in the ninth had it not been for the hustle of Ryan Braun two batters earlier.

Braun grounded a ball up the middle and beat it out for a one-out infield single. Following him was third baseman Casey McGehee, who popped out to the first baseman for the second out of the inning.

“Give Brauny some credit,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “He hits that ball up the middle and runs it out. Otherwise, it’d have been our third out [and] it would’ve turned the inning over. [But] then Corey gets a pitch to win the game.”

Gallardo’s last complete game, a 5-2 win for the Brewers over the Astros, came on April 24, 2009. Its significance is much higher, however, when considering no Brewers pitcher had gone the distance since.

According to Macha, it was Gallardo’s command of his fastball that helped him last all nine innings, as it got him out of several tough situations.

In the fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth innings, Gallardo ended the inning with a strikeout, with the last three looking. Each time, Gallardo ended the inning with a fastball.

“He was throwing everything for strikes,” catcher George Kottaras said. “Throwing that velocity in the late innings is impressive as well, but … it’s also how he got to those pitches in those sequences. He was throwing his breaking ball and his changeup for strikes … and just kept them guessing.”

A few times in the Brewers’ recent slump, Macha has talked about not being able to get over the hump. In doing so, he referenced that when one thing went right, another went wrong.

Friday night, despite the lack of offense, the Brewers played as well as they have all season.

As great as Gallardo’s pitching was, the defense behind him bailed him out in a few tough spots, turning double plays in the third and the eighth innings. The first, which started with second baseman Rickie Weeks, ended the inning after the Mets had the bases loaded with none out one batter earlier.

In the eighth, the Brewers went around the horn to get the first two outs of the inning and save a run, as Santana batted next and crushed a double to the gap in right.

With so much going right in a thrilling win, they may have finally gotten over the hump.

“Those guys are pretty excited in there,” Macha said, referring to his players in the clubhouse. “It should do a lot of things as far as getting people over the hump.”

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

Brewers-Pirates recap 4/27

April 28, 2010 Comments off

Hoffman implodes in ninth vs. Pirates

By Jordan Schelling,