Milwaukee’s magical run came to an end with a Game 6 loss to the Cardinals Sunday night. But keep your heads up Brewers fans, the 2011 Brew Crew won the most games in franchise history and the core is coming back: Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, John Axford, etc. will all be around in 2012. As for the humongous pink elephant in the room, Albert Pujols said after the game that he believes Prince Fielder will be a Brewer next season, and he thinks Milwaukee will be back in the NLCS sooner than later.
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!
The Milwaukee Brewers, fresh off a game 1 victory at Miller Park behind their ace Yovani Gallardo, gave the ball to Zack Greinke on short rest and inched a bit closer to their title dream. The Brewers won 9-4 thanks mostly to a five-run sixth inning sparked by Jonathan Lucroy’s go-ahead safety squeeze. Greinke went five innings in his postseason debut, allowing four runs on eight hits (three home runs), no walks and seven strikeouts. Ryan Braun had three hits for the second straight game and launched his first postseason dinger. With Fielder flexing his muscles (he hit a bomb in game 1), Braun hitting .750, and the bullpen pitching lights out, it looks like the next game at Miller Park will be in the National League Championship Series. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Milwaukee’s next game is in Arizona, where they’ll send Shaun Marcum to face Josh Collmenter. As always, Go Brewers! 9 wins away from a World Series title…
Today was just about the craziest day in baseball that I can remember. So many things were on the line going into the final day of the 2011 season. In some scenarios we would have had the pleasure of watching two one-game playoffs on the same day; that didn’t happen, but here’s some stuff that did:
The Brewers capped their best season in franchise history, becoming the first Brewers squad to earn 96 victories. Their win versus the Pirates also earned them home field for their NLDS match-up against the NL West-Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Yovani Gallardo will start game 1 for Milwaukee at home on Saturday.
Zack Greinke surpassed 200 strikeouts while earning his 16th win of the season Wednesday night; he improved his record at Miller Park this season to 11-0 (the Brewers are 15-0 in Greinke starts at home). Greinke and Yovani Gallardo are the only two teammates in Brewers history to have 200 punch-outs in the same season.
Prince Fielder earned a walk in his final at-bat of 2011. That walk left his batting average for the season at .299, leaving the quest for his first .300 season short once again. The base-on-balls did however give Fielder more walks (107) than strikeouts (106) for the season. Pretty neat.
Ryan Braun did not win the batting title, going 0-for-4 while Jose Reyes got on base via a bunt single in the first and was subsequently pinch-ran for per his request so that his average would remain higher than Braun’s. Bush. League. Braun finished the year at .332, Reyes at .337.
Albert Pujols recorded the first season in his career in which he failed to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs. Pujols finished with a .299 average and 99 RBI.
The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp hit his 39th home run Wednesay; however that left him one short of becoming the fifth player in MLB history to record a 40/40 season.
Following Boston’s knack for collapsing, Adrian Gonzalez (.338) lost the AL batting title to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (.344) after leading the race for almost every single day throughout the year.
Detroit closer Jose Valverde finished the season a perfect 49/49 in saves.
Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox were literally one strike away from a victory, yet the Boston closer ended up blowing the save and allowing Baltimore to win. Three minutes later the Tampa Bay Rays, who had just gotten out of a first and third nobody out situation in the eighth, walked-off with an Evan Longoria homer that squeaked inside the left field foul pole. Tampa Bay was down 7-0 to the Yankees going into the eighth inning, but thanks to sound baseball and a three-run Longoria bomb, the Rays pulled within one going into the ninth. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon pinch-hit Dan Johnson for Sam Fuld with two outs and the bases empty. Johnson was hitting .105 with one home run on the sesason. On a 2-2 pitch, Johnson crushed a home run deep into right field which barely snuck fair for a home run. The Rays were literally one strike away from losing, yet they scratched and clawed their way to an improbable AL Wild Card birth.
And lastly one more word about the NL batting title race I’ve been covering for quite some time… I think this excerpt from Tim Kurkjian’s ESPN.com article titled “Remembering the Amazing Ted Williams” says it best, and keep in mind how Reyes asked to be removed after a first inning bunt single…
“When he got to the final day of the season, a doubleheader at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Williams was hitting .3996, which rounded off to .400. Red Sox manager Joe Cronin gave Williams the option to play that day. Williams said if he couldn’t hit .400 from the beginning to the end of a season, he didn’t deserve it.
“I asked him about that final day,” Gwynn said, “and he said, ‘Hell yeah was I going to play.”’
Williams went 4-for-5 in the first game, the Red Sox overcame an 11-3 deficit to beat the A’s, 12-11, and Williams raised his average to .404. He insisted on playing the second game, and he went 2-for-3 to finish the season at .406. In the doubleheader, with all the pressure of .400, he went 6-for-8. “
Dodgers 1, Brewers 3
Milwaukee is all business. With yet another victory at Miller Park, the Brewers held on to a seven game lead in the National League Central. Zack Greinke (12-4, 3.92) continued the trend of Milwaukee’s stellar starting pitching, tossing seven innings and limiting the Dodgers to one run on five hits, walking three and striking out eight. Greinke set a franchise record for the most wins without a loss to start a career as a Brewer, as he improved to 9-0 at Miller Park. Jerry Hairston Jr. drove in two runs and Ryan Braun went 1-for-3 to maintain his .329 average. John Axford earned his 36th save of the year, tying him for the most in the senior circuit and giving him 33 straight. The Brewers are on a six game winning streak and now have the second best record in the National League.
The Brewers have won 19 of 21 and go for a four-game sweep of LA tomorrow as Marco Estrada faces Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw. According to Mark Kotsay, Milwaukee has found their identity — pitching. With a handful of top end starters, a back end of the bullpen that can rival any in the Bigs, a dynamic duo of MVP hopefuls, and savvy veterans with playoff experience, the Milwaukee Brewers may be giving the city a reason to forget 1982.
The Milwaukee Brewers completed their second straight three-game sweep, this time by brushing aside the lowly Astros. The Brewers (60-49 overall, 39-14 at home) are now a season best eleven games over .500 and have increased their lead in the National League Central to 4.5 games over everyone’s darling Pittsburgh Pirates. The second place Cardinals play tonight and even with a win would remain behind Milwaukee. St. Louis comes to Miller Park for a three-game set tomorrow.
Milwaukee scratched out another one-run victory at Miller Park courtesy of Casey McGehee’s first inning, two-out, two-RBI triple which was sliced sharply down the right field line. Prior to McGehee’s triple, Ryan Braun saw his bat split in two and the ball drop just inside the foul line in right field, scoring Corey Hart who smacked a double off of Cubs’ starter Ryan Dempster to lead off the game. Chris Narveson earned the victory, allowing two runs on eight hits over five innings. He left in the sixth with the bases loaded and nobody out, but Kameron Loe would pick up his teammate by getting consecutive ground balls to get Milwaukee out of the inning unscathed. K-Rod was sharp in his Miller Park debut and Axford closed the door for his franchise record tying 25th save in a row. On another note, with the Florida Marlins late scratch of first basemen Gaby Sanchez, Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder became the only player in baseball to start each and every game for his respective squad. Prince has been in the starting nine for all 104 games for the Brew Crew, as well as the All-Star game (in which he earned MVP honors). Ryan Braun notched three base hits in Tuesday’s game, raising his batting average to .326 on the season, second in the National League. The Mets’ Jose Reyes, the senior circuit’s leading hitter, went 0-for-5 Tuesday, lowering his average to .346. The Brewers’ send Zack Greinke to the hill tomorrow to face Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano. As of now, the Brewers sit a half game back in the tightly contested NL Central.