Small ball meets the longball

The Brewers’ win on Wednesday was awesome for a number of reasons.

  1. Doug Davis was struggling mightily his first inning back as a Brewer. Manager Ken Macha calls for another lefty, Manny Parra, to start warming up in the bullpen — in the first inning! After Davis had only surrendered two runs! He had just reloaded the bases. In years past, Macha, or usually Ned Yost would have let a veteran starter or struggling n00b (see Suppan, Parra) give up four runs before getting himself out of the jam… or five, or six before calling for the cavalry.
  2. Davis locked it up, getting the Brewers up to bat for the first time with a 3-0 deficit.  His final line, however, was four innings, six hits, and four earned runs.
  3. Then came an excellent group effort from the bullpen, as Coffey, Narveson, Stetter, Villanueva and Hawkins played their role perfectly, allowing the offensive to catch up and Trevor Hoffman to close it out for his second consecutive save and number 593 on his career.
  4. The offense was remarkable, with bench players coming on with key contributions in the win.

The coolest thing about the way the offense has worked these first three games is it’s in the style that all the baseball purists that called into local sports radio for all those years complaining about Ned Yost’s managing style, and yes, even last year.

Their blind insistence that ballgames are not won with the longball. Well, I’ve been to plenty games that were won by homers, off the bat of the likes of Ryaun Braun and Prince Fielder, but I understand the importance of “puttin’ ‘em on, movin’ ’em over, bringin’ ’em home.”

At Opening Day, the scoreboard showed a trivia question that asked which Brewers player led the team in stolen bases last year. It was Corey Hart, right? Fastest guy on the team, they even have a child’s racing game in the playground area because everybody knows that. Nope. Ryan Braun.

So you’ve got Ryan Braun and Corey Hart that can steal bases, Rickie Weeks, and now Alcides Escobar and Carlos Gomez, who are fast enough to bunt for hits with regularity… Now you’ve got a lot of guys who can move around the bases in the way all those “small ball” advocates would hope.

But even with all that speed, you’re probably not going to see a suicide squeeze play this year — because the Crew still has the big boppers like Braun, Fielder, McGehee who can score those speedsters on a sac fly, base hit or home run.


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