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Brewers beat 6/25

June 25, 2010 Comments off

Zduriencik returns to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — For the first time since leaving to become general manager of the Seattle Mariners, former Brewers director of scouting Jack Zduriencik returned to Miller Park on Friday for the clubs’ Interleague series.

“It’s great walking back in here,” Zduriencik said. “It’s nice to see these guys doing so well. All the guys are great. We came in from the right-field line and a lot of the guys came over and said hello.

“It’s good to see so many of them doing so well.”

Zduriencik, who joined the organization in 1999, has been credited by many for putting together the talented young core that the Brewers have been built around for several years.

During his time in Milwaukee, Zduriencik was the first non-general manager to receive the Major League Executive of the Year Award from Baseball America in 2007.

Some notable selections during Zduriencik’s time with the Brewers include Corey Hart in 2000, Manny Parra in ’01, Prince Fielder in ’02, Rickie Weeks in ’03, Yovani Gallardo in ’04, Ryan Braun in ’05 and Jonathan Lucroy in ’07.

Since leaving the Brewers, however, Zduriencik has not enjoyed as much success in Seattle as he, or anyone else in the organization would have liked. In particular the club’s offense has struggled quite a bit

Of late, though, the team has been on a hot streak, winning six of its last seven.

“We’ve played well lately, unfortunately the club ahead of us has played a little bit better,” Zduriencik said. “[The Rangers] have won 11 in a row. We play good and we lose ground. So we’ll see what happens, though … there’s a lot of season to be played.”

While he’ll finally get to see his former club in person this weekend, Zduriencik said he keeps up on the Brewers quite a bit along with his duties as the Seattle general manager.

Zduriencik also said he hoped to face the Brewers again after this weekend.

“I watch the Brewers all the time,” Zduriencik said. “I told all these guys out here today that I’m proud of what they’ve done. I pull for them all the time. I’d love for them to win this division and go on.

“It would be a dream come true to be able to play this club in the World Series.”

Davis takes next step toward return

MILWAUKEE — While lefty Doug Davis made his second of two planned rehab starts on Thursday, the Brewers do not plan to make a decision on his next step until Saturday.

Pitching in his second rehab start for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, Davis quieted the Memphis Redbirds over an impressive five-inning outing. Davis threw 82 pitches, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out nine batters.

“Everything went well,” Davis said. “I don’t know what their plan for me is yet. All I know is, I’m ready, so it’s up to them now when they’re ready for me.”

Manager Ken Macha said that he planned to meet with pitching coach Rick Peterson, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and general manager Doug Melvin on Saturday to discuss the future of the pitching staff and in particular, their plan for Davis.

“We’re going to have a huge summit tomorrow,” Macha said. “Rick, Stan Kyles, myself and Doug will sit down and probably talk for five minutes. So it’ll be a huge summit. It’ll be along the lines of the Russian president and Obama, the meeting they just had.

“We’ll try to figure it out, it’s nice that he’s healthy and he threw the ball well last night.”

Macha added that he had his own idea for what might happen, but was unsure whether it would be the consensus opinion.

Additionally, he noted one part of the plan that he knew for certain.

“He pitched the same day that [Yovani Gallardo] pitched,” Macha said. “So I don’t think he’s going to pitch on Yo’s day.”

Gerut takes batting practice

MILWAUKEE — Nearly a month after going on the disabled list with a bruised right heel, outfielder Jody Gerut took batting practice on Friday for the first time since the injury.

Gerut, who went on the disabled list on June 7 — retroactive to May 27 — said everything felt fine in his first session at the plate in more a month.

“I’m finally making some improvements, I’d say I’m probably about halfway there,” Gerut said. “It was nice to be back on the field again and break a sweat.”

Despite the positives that came out of his session, Gerut remained unsure of when he would be able to return to the active roster.

“I really don’t know, I wish I could be more specific, but I can’t do it,” Gerut said. “It’s been a month and they were targeting two to three days. So with that wide of a range, how could I possibly put a date on it in the future?”

Brewers manager Ken Macha said that he too was unsure whether Gerut would return anytime soon, but seemed to think it would be later rather than sooner.

“I can’t tell you where he is,” Macha said. “I’m sure he’s going to have to go play some games. He’s going to have to run, too. I’d say he’s a while yet, but we’re all happy that he at least he took some BP today.”

After sitting for more than a month, Gerut certainly is eager to get back to game action.

“I’m bored, I find this whole thing uninteresting,” Gerut said. “I’m not having fun not playing. I’d rather be playing.”

Braun dines with fans at new restaurant

LAKE GENEVA — As Ryan Braun opened his second restaurant on Thursday, he was greeted by a huge crowd of fans who had traveled near and far to meet the left fielder.

One family drove more than 10 hours from their Michigan home to meet Braun. The reception was a bit of a shock for Braun.

“This is far more people than I expected to see come out here tonight,” Braun said. “I was expecting more of a low key, quiet, private gathering. But it’s great, I’m really impressed.”

Ryan Braun’s Tavern and Grill, located at 430 Broad Street in Lake Geneva, Wis., saw an impressive turnout as it opened its doors for the first time.

According to Tom Romano, who owns the restaurant along with Braun, the restaurant seated an estimated 400 customers, while an additional estimated 600 patrons were in attendance to see Braun throughout the night.

After arriving just after 7:30 p.m., Braun finally managed to get a bite to eat around 9 p.m. It was the first time Braun had tried anything on the menu, and the budding restaurateur was impressed once again.

“It was great, I got to take some time and try a few different appetizers and desserts along with my meal,” Braun said. “I had the filet, and everything I had was just great. Our chef does an excellent job.”

Braun, who said he used to get down to Lake Geneva on every Brewers off-day, expects to make more trips down to the city now that his restaurant has opened.

Though much of his night was filled with almost constant requests for autographs and photographs, Braun said one of the best parts of the night was getting to meet his fans.

“It’s awesome, the community here in Lake Geneva is great,” Braun said. “I’ve been here a lot, but I’ve never really met many of the people who live in the area. They’ve all been very nice and given a lot of feedback, both about the Brewers and the restaurant.”

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

Braves recap 5/12

May 12, 2010 Comments off

Braves finish road trip strong, sweep Crew

MILWAUKEE — It may not be quite what they were looking for when it started, but after losing four of six in Washington and Philadelphia, the Braves are happy to be going back to Atlanta with a winning road trip.

Thanks to great pitching, excellent defense and some clutch hitting, the Braves ran away with a 9-2 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday at Miller Park

With the win, the Braves completed their first road series sweep of the season, outscoring the Brewers, 28-7, over three games. Atlanta’s only previous road series victory came April 12-15 when they took two of three in San Diego.

The Braves last swept the Brewers in a three-game series from July 30-Aug. 1, 2002, in Atlanta, with their last sweep in Milwaukee coming June 1-3, 1998.

“We had a great road trip,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “You need to have confidence, get a little swagger back. It helps a lot knowing that you can get rallies, get runs in, make pitches. We’ve played really well. Our defense has been terrific.”

Right-hander Derek Lowe (5-3) delivered the Braves’ third consecutive quality start in the series, pitching six strong innings while allowing just two runs on six hits.

Lowe, who had been touched up for a season-high 11 hits in his last outing in Philadelphia, did not allow a hit through the first four innings, while facing just one over the minimum.

According to Lowe, a mentality change allowed him to shut down the Brewers, who had been swinging the bats as well as anyone in baseball entering the series.

“I think there comes a game where you have to assess your game,” Lowe said. “The whole ‘I’m going to throw every pitch away’ game gets kind of predictable and old. … The Philly game really just opened my eyes.”

Lowe used both sides of the plate effectively against the Brewers, striking out two while only walking a pair. He also said he used more changeups in the game than he had all year.

His counterpart, Brewers righty Yovani Gallardo, delivered a strong pitching performance of his own, keeping the game tight through six innings.

Gallardo threw his fifth quality start of the season, going six innings while allowing two runs on five hits. He also walked three and struck out six as Gallardo settled for a no-decision.

“He pitched good. You look at the way he’s been pitching and it’s phenomenal,” Lowe said of Gallardo. “It’s a 2-2 game there going into the seventh inning.”

When asked before Wednesday’s game what his team needed to do to be successful against Gallardo, Cox answered honestly, saying he didn’t know. His best game plan was to “make him make mistakes,” and “if he makes a mistake, hit it.”

So when Gallardo’s day was done after six innings, Cox and the Braves were happy to see the Brewers relievers.

“He’s good. You don’t care if you don’t face him or not, that’s for sure,” Cox said of Gallardo. “If you can miss him you’re better off.”

With Gallardo out, the Braves lit up the Brewers’ bullpen for the second straight game, scoring seven runs on seven hits and two walks over the final three innings. In the final two games of the series, Milwaukee’s relievers allowed 15 runs on 16 hits in six innings, compared to its starters, who gave up just five runs on 12 hits in 12 innings.

After scoring their first two runs of the game on two-out RBIs by first baseman Troy Glaus and left fielder Eric Hinske, the Braves struck twice more with two outs again in the seventh. Right fielder Jason Heyward delivered a two-out double down the right-field line, plating pinch-hitter Matt Diaz for what proved to be the eventual game-winning run.

Heyward finished 1-for-3 on the night with a pair of walks, a stolen base, an RBI and three runs scored.

“Jason makes our team immediately better, and I think he’d make every team in the big leagues immediately better,” said Diaz.

An inning later, the Braves began to pour it on the Brewers as third baseman Brooks Conrad delivered the knockout punch with a two-run blast, making it 6-2 with his second eighth-inning homer in as many games.

Conrad, who started a second consecutive game in place of Chipper Jones and finished 2-for-5 with a career-high four RBIs, was just happy to contribute as much as he did in the sweep.

“It feels great,” Conrad said. “You’ve just got to stay ready for when your time comes. Any time you get a chance to get in there and help the team win, it’s a great feeling. So, I just had fun with it, and it turned out great. I had fun.”

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

Braves recap 5/11

May 11, 2010 Comments off

Hinske, Glaus fuel Braves’ rout

MILWAUKEE — Entering this series, the Braves’ offense was anemic while the Brewers were rolling, leading the Majors in runs scored. But it sure hasn’t looked that way over the past two nights at Miller Park.After riding a six-run sixth inning to victory the night before, the Braves plated 11 runs on a season-high 16 hits Tuesday as they routed the Brewers, 11-3.

While the series-opening victory featured a pair of big hits, the entire Atlanta lineup got into the act to defeat Milwaukee for a second consecutive night. Every starter, including starting pitcher Tim Hudson, hit safely at least once, while six batters had two hits.

“It was a good night,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “Everybody had good at-bats.”

Hudson (3-1) allowed just one run while scattering six hits over six innings. He also walked six, tying a career high.

Fortunately for Hudson and the Braves, the defense behind him played well, turning a pair of double plays and stranding runners in scoring position in each of Hudson’s final five innings. On a night when he didn’t have his best stuff, Hudson was more than pleased with the outcome.

“It was a battle out there,” Hudson said. “It was one of those nights where there wasn’t a whole lot working. I was able to go out there and gut it out. It wasn’t exactly how I drew it up, but nights like tonight — for me — are more satisfying than the nights when I go out there with great stuff and it’s easy. It wasn’t easy tonight.”

Much like the first game of the series against the Brewers, the Braves were slow to start offensively, plating just two runs through the first five innings. It was enough to give them a 2-1 lead, however, and by the end of the night, the slow start didn’t matter.

Miwaukee starter Dave Bush (1-3) kept Atlanta in check through six innings. Bush allowed just three runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out three for his fourth quality start of the season and his first at home for the Brewers.

Once Bush exited the game, however, the Braves’ bats came alive for eight runs over the final three innings.

After catcher Brian McCann made it 4-1 in the seventh with the third of three straight singles, left fielder Eric Hinske broke things open with a two-run double to left. Hinske, a Wisconsin native, went 2-for-2 with two doubles and three RBIs, plus two walks.

With 20 friends and family members looking on, it made Hinske’s second career trip to Miller Park that much more special.

“It’s cool,” Hinske said of performing well in his home state. “I grew up going to County Stadium, watching [Paul] Molitor, [Robin] Yount and [Jim] Gantner. It’s a special place for me. I think about my grandpa, my dad and my brother coming down when I was a kid. It was a special night for me, for sure.” Along with Hinske’s strong night, first baseman Troy Glaus extended his hitting streak to seven games with a solo homer to left field leading off the sixth inning. Over his past 16 games, Glaus is batting .362 with two home runs and 14 RBIs.

Rookie right fielder Jason Heyward returned to the lineup with no noticeable limitations at the plate, in the field or on the basepaths.

In fact, Heyward notched his first career stolen base in the second inning and finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, three runs scored and two walks. After reaching base four times in six plate appearances, Heyward improved his on-base percentage to .423, leading the team.

“Jason had a good night,” Cox said. “We’ll keep him up in the front of the order because his on-base percentage is off the charts right now.”

The return of Heyward, who has been the most consistent threat in their lineup this season, can only help the Braves’ offense, which had been struggling mightily entering the series.

Having scored among the fewest runs in the league before arriving in Milwaukee, the Braves hope the 19-run outburst over the past two nights will be just what they need to get back on track and make up some ground on the first-place Phillies.

“You don’t have much time in this game,” Hinske said. “You start getting double digits back, and that’s a long way back. We know it’s now, the time is now. We’ve got to do something to turn it around, and I think these last two games are a good indicator of what is hopefully to come. This is momentum for us. This is ‘feel good.’ We all kind of like take a deep breath and, ‘OK, we’re fine.'”

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

Braves recap 5/10

May 10, 2010 Comments off

Prado’s career night helps Braves slam Crew

MILWAUKEE — As he watched his team take batting practice before Monday’s game, manager Bobby Cox couldn’t help but notice the way the ball jumped off the Braves’ bats at Miller Park. In the sixth inning, the Brewers noticed, too.

After struggling mightily of late offensively, the Braves broke out against the Brewers on Monday, riding a six-run sixth inning — which included two home runs — to an 8-2 victory at Miller Park.

With his team up, 1-0, entering the inning, first baseman Troy Glaus crushed a 2-2 fastball from Milwaukee lefty Doug Davis (1-4) deep to center field and out, snapping Atlanta’s homerless streak of 169 at-bats.

Seven batters and one pitching change later, second baseman Martin Prado drove an 0-1 fastball from left-handed reliever Manny Parra out to left for his first career grand slam, making it 7-0 in favor of the Braves.

“He had a huge night,” Cox said of Prado, who also drove in the Braves’ first run of the game and finished with a career-high five RBIs. “Prado’s ball would’ve been out anywhere. That’s for darn sure.”

Prado’s grand slam was the first of the season for the Braves and the first since catcher Brian McCann’s grand slam on July 25, 2008, off Brad Lidge in Philadelphia. The Braves had gone 253 games without a grand slam, which was the longest-active streak.

The Royals, at 136 games, now own the longest streak of games without a grand slam.

The Braves added a run in the ninth off reliever Claudio Vargas and their eight runs proved to be more than enough.

Right-hander Tommy Hanson (3-2) pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out eight. Hanson, whose eight innings matched a career high, kept the Brewers off-balance throughout the game, mixing up his pitches and locating well.

“It definitely feels good,” Hanson said. “I just want to go strike one, strike two as much as I can and go out there and be aggressive. It feels good to go deep into the game, and that’s what I want to do. So the couple times that I did do it, it feels good.”

Hanson was especially effective when pitching ahead of hitters, which he did against 17 of the 29 batters he faced.

Facing a Brewers lineup that led the Majors in runs scored entering the game, Hanson used four pitches — fastball, slider, curveball and changeup — to keep the home team off the board through eight innings.

Only four Brewers — Joe Inglett, Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee and Jim Edmonds — hit safely against Hanson, while none were better than 1-for-3 against him.

“I’m not exactly sure what his numbers were last year, but it’s not by accident,” said McGehee, referring to Hanson’s runner-up finish in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2009. “He’s got command of his fastball and he’s got really good command of an above-average slider. That makes for a pretty good combination.”

Glaus, who also singled and walked on the night, has hit safely in six straight games for the Braves. Over his past 15 games, Glaus is batting .358 with two doubles, a home run, 11 RBIs and 11 walks.

With two homers at Miller Park, the Braves increased their road home run total by 25 percent, from eight to 10. More important than the statistics, though, is the positive energy the team got from such a lopsided victory.

After such a difficult stretch of games, losing 13 of their past 18 games, the Braves hope Monday night’s big win could be the start of a more positive streak.

“We’ve been pretty positive the last two weeks, [but] it’s been tough,” Prado said. “I think we’re going to turn it around and start a winning streak. This kind of game is what we need to start something good.”

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