Randy Wolf dazzled in St. Louis Thursday night to knot the National League Championship Series at 2 games a piece. With the 4-2 victory, Milwaukee guaranteed a game 6 at Miller Park (where they have a MLB-best 61 wins this season) and also snapped an eight-game road losing streak in the playoffs dating back to 1982. The Brewers were in desperate need of a quality start from someone not named Gallardo, and Wolf delivered the most clutch performance of his career. The crafty southpaw dominated Cardinal hitters through seven innings, striking out six while allowing one walk and six hits en route to his first postseason win. His only two blemishes were solo home runs by Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. The familiar K-Rod / Ax-Man combo finished off the game in the final two innings. To nobody’s surprise, Jerry Hairston continued his exquisite postseason play, smacking two doubles and a RBI. Ryan Braun, Yuni Betancourt, and George Kottaras also chipped in with RBIs, as the Brewers climbed out of an early 2-0 hole to rattle off four unanswered runs.
The win, in my opinion, was the biggest in franchise history. The Brewers send Zack Greinke out to face Jaime Garcia tomorrow night in a pivotal Game 5 in St. Louis. It seems as if the Cardinals bats have gone silent; they are 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position since the first inning of Game 4.
Game 6 will be in Milwaukee on Sunday night. Go Brewers!
After leaving Milwaukee with a 2-0 lead in their NLDS clash with the Diamondbacks, the Brewers promptly dropped games 3 and 4 in Arizona. With back-to-back losses by Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf, the Brewers will put their entire season on the line Friday evening at Miller Park, where they own a Major League-best 59 wins in 2011 (including the postseason). Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo will once again face Arizona’s 21-game winner, Ian Kennedy. There’s not much more to say –a trip to the League Championship Series is on the line. The same goes for the Yankees-Tigers series as well as Cardinals-Phillies.
Ryan Braun solidified his case for NL MVP (if he hadn’t already) with a two home run performance during a Friday night win in Cincinnati. The two blasts made Braun the second Brewer to accumulate 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season, the first being Tommy Harper in 1970. “I’m really proud,” said Braun. “There’s a reason it’s only been done one other time in franchise history. It’s a hard thing to do.” The Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-3, eliminating them from playoff contention, while the Brewers shrunk their Magic Number to 7.
Oh yeah, Wolf got the win to improve to 13-9, Prince went deep for his 33rd, Kotsay and Kottaras also went yard, and Axford picked up his 43rd save (40th in a row).
Here are Braun’s numbers and National League rank in each category.
AVG: .330 (2nd)
OBP: .396 (4th)
SLG: .590 (1st)
OPS: .986 (1st)
HR: 30 (T-8th)
RBI: 99 (5th)
R: 100 (T-1st)
SB: 31 (T-7th)
Milwaukee southpaw Randy Wolf cruised into the seventh inning with a 7-1 lead over the New York Mets Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. Then things began to unravel. The Mets scored five runs in the seventh and three in the eighth to take a 9-7 lead into the ninth inning. However, Milwaukee wasn’t ready to pack it in quite yet. The final act of the game began when Jason Isringhausen took the hill, the rest as they say, is history.
Lucroy walked, Morgan walked, Hart singled.
Then Kotsay walked, scoring Lucroy. 9-8, Mets.
Isringhausen exited, Acosta entered. Braun flew out.
With 1 out, Fielder singled on an 0-2 pitch, scoring Morgan. 9-9.
McGehee then took the first pitch he saw and pushed a grounder through the hole scoring Hart and Kotsay to give the Brewers a 11-9 lead. Then, as is usual, the Ax Man locked it down 1-2-3, earning his 34th straight save and 37th overall.
Milwaukee picked up K-Rod, who got roughed up in his return to the Big Apple. But as good teams — championship caliber teams — do, the Brewers never gave up and stunned Citi Field. Prince Fielder was in full beast mode, going 2-for-5 with a single, home run (28), and four RBI, pushing his season total to a National League-leading 96. Yuniesky Betancourt cranked out his 10th long ball. Ryan Braun went 1-for-3 with a homer (24), two walks and three runs scored. His season batting average sits at .327.
The Brewers have now won 21 of 24 and extended their division lead to 8.5 games, the largest in franchise history.
There’s something special going on in Milwaukee, Wisconsin these days. The dog days of summer are upon us and the Milwaukee Brewers are hotter than ever — scorching, if you will. Milwaukee has stellar pitching, a loaded offensive lineup with two MVP candidates, and if that wasn’t enough, they began to really flash the leather Monday night at Miller Park.
With a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Brewers improved to twenty games over .500 on the year (71-51) and thirty games over .500 at home (45-15). Milwaukee is 17-2 in their last 19 games and has a six game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central.
Randy Wolf (10-8, 3.30) was masterful as he went eight scoreless innings, allowing only six hits while walking five and striking out five. He was also the beneficiary of some beautifully crafted defensive gems. Wolf got Andre Ethier to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the first inning. In the second, the Brewers turned the first triple play in the National League this season and the sixth in franchise history. Wolf surrendered a lead-off walk and single to put runners on first and second (Matt Kemp was running on the single but was forced to slide into second base thanks to Josh Wilson’s bluff, making Kemp think it was a ground ball therefore preventing him from reaching third on the hit-and-run). James Loney then broke his bat on a cue shot up the middle; Wilson smoothly fielded and flipped the ball with his glove to Yuniesky Betancourt who threw to Prince Fielder at first base to turn two; Kemp, trying to score from second base on the play, was then thrown out by Prince at the plate thanks to a diving tag by George Kottaras; 4-6-3-2 (the first triple play of that sort since 1973 — 151 triple plays have occurred in between the two). In the third inning, Jerry Hairston Jr. threw out Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro at home. The fourth inning ended with a double play when Hairston made a diving catch in center then promptly stood up and threw out Ethier at first who was attempting to tag. In the bottom half of the fourth, Ryan Braun capitalized off of Lilly’s lone mistake and deposited his 23rd homer into deep left center on a 0-2 pitch with two outs, giving the Crew a 1-0 lead. The fifth inning saw a 3-6-1 double play, also courtesy of James Loney — who had his first two at-bats result in five outs. Wolf finally had his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, getting two ground ball outs with a strikeout of Ted Lilly squeezed in between. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Wolf got Navarro to fly out to Hairston. Jonathan Lucroy entered the game for Kottaras in the eighth and unleashed on a fastball, cranking out his 9th home run of the season and putting the Brewers up 2-0. Corey Hart followed by launching his 18th long ball into right field, giving the Crew a 3-0 lead. John Axford closed the door again, thanks to a game ending double play, Milwaukee’s fourth of the game. Axford earned his 32nd consecutive save and 35th of 2011. Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 on the night, raising his batting average to .328 and stealing his 23rd bag along the way.
With a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Brewers moved seventeen games over .500 (67-50) and pushed their lead in the division to five games. Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf was stellar throughout eight innings, allowing only one run on five hits and zero walks. Prince Fielder drove in runs 86 and 87 on the season while Corey Hart added two RBI himself, putting him at 43 for the year. The red-hot Yuniesky Betancourt tacked on his 50th RBI and Ryan Braun stole his 21st base. Milwaukee improved to 12-1 since the injury to Rickie Weeks, and have won six games in a row, including thirteen of their last fourteen.
Casey McGehee deposited three balls into the seats as the Milwaukee Brewers capped a 8-1 homestand with a 10-5 win over the second place Cardinals. McGehee, who had three homers in his previous 355 plate appearances, smacked three out in four at-bats today, giving Milwaukee a three and a half game lead over rival St. Louis and a six and a half game lead over Pittsburgh. Corey Hart also homered while Randy Wolf improved to 8-8 on the season. The Brewers are off Thursday and start a three-game series in Houston on Friday.
Also, take note of SI.com writer Cliff Corcoran’s latest article surrounding the MVP watch in each league, posted below. Corcoran has Ryan Braun ranked #1 with Prince Fielder holding down the #2 spot in the National League race. Stay tuned.
And if you’re keeping track like I am, Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 in the win today, raising his batting average to .324 – good enough for second in the NL (tied with Cincinnati’s Joey Votto). Mets shortstop Jose Reyes sits at .339. Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan is creeping up on averaging 3.1 plate appearances a game, the minimum to qualify for a batting title. T-Plush is hitting .328.
The Brewers send veteran lefty Randy Wolf (4-4, 3.20 ERA) to the hill to try and cool down the scorching hot Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park. Boston boasts the best record in the American League and has won 12 of their last 13 contests. Fellow southpaw Jon Lester (9-2, 3.73 ERA), who has never faced Milwaukee in his career, takes the ball for the AL East leaders. Ron Roenicke’s lineup for game two of the series looks a bit different than normal.
1. DH – Rickie Weeks
2. RF – Corey Hart
3. LF – Ryan Braun
4. 1B – Prince Fielder
5. 3B – Casey McGehee
6. SS – Yuniesky Betancourt
7. 2B – Josh Wilson
8. CF – Carlos Gomez
9. C – George Kottaras
In other news, the Brewers recalled reliever Mark DiFelice from Triple-A Nashville after designating Danny Herrera for assignment last night. DiFelice appeared in 59 games for the Brewers in 2009 before having shoulder surgery late in the season, forcing him to miss all of 2010. The right-hander went 4-1 with a 3.66 ERA in ’09 and should be available to pitch if needed in tonight’s ballgame.
It may be mid-90’s in Wisconsin these days… but it’s still not as hot out as Prince Fielder is at the dish. Prince smoked two key home runs in a dramatic 7-6 come from behind victory over the New York Mets Wednesday night. Wow. What a game. Starter Randy Wolf gave the Crew a solid outing, pitching 6.2 innings and surrendering only a single run. Kameron Loe came on in the 7th, getting the third out of the inning on just one pitch. However, he struggled mightily in the 8th, giving up 5 earned runs and deflating the Milwaukee faithful. Lefty Zach Braddock got the Crew out of the mess, but the damage was done. The Brewers entered the bottom of the 8th inning trailing 6-2, yet never blinked. After Craig Counsell walked, Rickie Weeks grounded into a fielders choice. Nyjer Morgan was next, lining a single into right field, putting runners on first and second. All-Star slugger Ryan Braun followed by hitting a ringing double in the left-center gap scoring both Weeks and Morgan, cutting the deficit to two. With Braunie on second, Prince stepped to the plate and blasted a monster home run to deep left-center field, his second of the game and sixth in his last six games, tying the ballgame 6-6. John Axford, back from being with his wife for the birth of their son, pitched a scoreless top half of the 9th. In the bottom of the inning, Counsell worked the count to his favor, then singled sharply into left with one out. After a check swing strikeout by Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, a.k.a. Tony Plush, stepped into the batters box and promptly smacked a double into right field scoring Counsell from second and giving the Brewers a heart thumping walk-off win. It was a signature W for a Milwaukee club who boasts an insane 22-8 record at home, the best in the Bigs. The Brewers go for the series win tomorrow, as Yovani Gallardo is set to take the mound against Met’s starter Jon Niese.
Some other interesting tidbits:
- The Brewers have not lost consecutive home games in 2011.
- Milwaukee’s bullpen had an astounding 1.88 ERA in its previous 72 innings before Kameron Loe’s horrendous 8th.
- With his two homers, Prince Fielder passed Gorman Thomas for sole possession of third place on Milwaukee’s all-time home run list. Fielder (209) is only 4 home runs away from passing Geoff Jenkins for second place.
- Casey McGehee’s 7th inning single up the middle snapped his 0-for-27 skid at the plate.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Randy Wolf committed the first balk of his career – he had the most innings pitched without a balk in the majors up to that point (1,968.2). The new active leader in innings pitched without a balk is Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers (906).
15. Carlos Gomez, OF
Go-Go came to Milwaukee in a trade after the 2009 season that sent shortstop J.J. Hardy to Minnesota. Gomez makes up for his lack of batting average with his outstanding hustle and great defense in center field. His blazing speed makes him look like a lead-off man to the naked eye, but his .292 career on-base percentage makes him better fit to hit 7 or 8 in the lineup.
14. Nyjer Morgan, OF
Morgan adds swagger to a Milwaukee team already overflowing with confidence and young talent. He’s a much better hitter than Gomez, boasting a career .286 batting average along with a .347 on-base percentage. His numbers with the Brewers so far this season are even more impressive (.356/.406), although the sample size is small (68 plate appearances, 59 at-bats). Morgan has speed as well, making him a solid option in the 2-hole.
13. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
Yuniesky is a serviceable major league shortstop. He’s not going to bash the ball or make highlight reel plays daily (with the exception of the incredible behind the back flip to Weeks to turn two); however, he’s not a liability on defense and has a tendency to come up with timely base knocks. He’s struggling out of the gate with the Brewers, hitting .232/.260/.335 (BA/OBP/SLG), well below his career averages of .269/.294/.389. Shortstop is a key position, so Betancourt has obvious value, but here’s to hoping Milwaukee selects high school SS Javier Baez with one of their two picks in the 1st round today.
12. Randy Wolf, SP
The veteran southpaw pitched fairly well for the Brewers last season, his first year with the club, posting a 13-12 record with a respectable 4.17 ERA in 215.2 innings. This year, as the number four starter, he’s off to a 4-4 start with a 3.69 ERA. He likely won’t be relied upon if the Brewers make the playoffs, but the lefty is crafty and reliable. Pitching is at a premium, and Wolf is an above average fourth starter.
11. Chris Narveson, SP
Why is Narveson, the fifth man in the rotation, ranked higher than Wolf, the fourth starter? He’s five years younger and has much more left in the tank. Narveson had a breakout campaign last season, going 12-9 with a 4.99 ERA and 7.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. He hasn’t come out guns blazing this year, but his ERA is a tad lower (4.85) and his K/9 innings has improved to 8.2. Like Wolf, Narveson won’t be counted on should Milwaukee make the postseason, but he’s a key member of the club and needs to pitch well down the stretch.