Brewers pick perfect time to fall apart

The Brewers are 2,100 miles away. If they’re going to suck it up again tonight, just like they did last night (read a recap here if you care to), they’ve picked the perfect time to do it.

Tonight’s game won’t be starting until possibly after the Milwaukee Bucks have finished Game 6 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Brewers should just let it all hang out — blow it up, lose the next three, let Trevor Hoffman sleep in his own home in, in his own bed, and don’t give him a chance for a save in the next three games.

Because at least tonight, nobody will be watching. So, Brewers pitchers, if you’re going to get lit up like a gas can, do it out there in the Gaslamp Quarter, late at night, while Old World Third Street is rocking out with a Bucks win.

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Get well soon, Ueck

The other day Brewers fans received news that will shape the sound of their Summer 2010. It was announced that Hall of Fame radio voice of the team Bob Uecker would undergo heart surgery on Friday.

If it were someone else, we might spout platitudes about how life is more important than the game. But the news, and the sentiments in his final broadcast before the operation on Wednesday, brought to mind none of that “Field of Dreams” bologna.

It just reminded us of our love for that man, that voice, that personality. Our summer will sound drastically different for those 10 to 12 weeks he is expected to be out of the broadcast booth. In Minnesota, J.J. Hardy said that Uecker was more of a grandfather figure to him than a coworker. Many Brewers fans, and certainly the majority of the team, weren’t even born when he started broadcasting for the team in 1971. He’s much more of a grandfather figure to us than your local disc jockey or anchorman.

Cory Provus and Davey Nelson are fine announcers, but no one can spin a yarn, or embellish last night’s dinner with the bus driver at a Phillip’s Seafood in Washington, quite like Uecker. He’s said that he’ll come back to the booth once he’s recovered and doesn’t feel like it’s time to hang it up —this report says he still swam a mile every morning right up until last week, and this famous photoshows he’s got his 75-year-old physique in matinee idol shape.

Here’s hoping Mr. Baseball a speedy recovery and a quick return.

MilwaFAILukee

Let’s backtrack to take a look at the Cubs and Pirates series.

  • Friday: L (1-8) — FAIL
  • Saturday: L (1-5) — FAIL
  • Sunday: L (2-12) — FAIL
  • Monday: W (17-3) — FAIL

Wait, what? Why is Monday a fail? Because as the SportsCenter tumblr pointed out, a lot of weird things happened Monday night, and not the least of which is the Brewers beating someone by 14 runs. The team and the fans might have been expecting it, given the three game sweep the week before in which the Brewers outscored the Bucs 36-1 in Pittsburgh. But Major League teams rarely win or lose games by 14 runs.

SportsCenter tumblr also dug out this nugget from the Brewers veteran catcher:

“We have to find a way to beat the Cubs. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that we’ve played some really good baseball against Pittsburgh, and if we want to play meaningful baseball later on in the season, we have got to continue doing what we’re doing against Pittsburgh.”

— Gregg Zaun, explaining why the Brewers have to continue to beat the crap out of Pittsburgh.

And that’s why Monday is a FAIL. It counts in the win column, but in terms of momentum, in terms of propelling the team toward the playoffs months from now, it marks a big, fat zero. Because, true to Zaun’s insight, the Brewers have not found a way to beat the Cubs — and then they forgot how to beat the holy living crap out of Pittsburgh.

In which we rescind our hubristic remarks

I may have done a horrible thing.

Three weeks ago, I predicted on this site that Trevor Hoffman would record his 600th save in this here month of April. It’s now beyond a mathematical impossibility, and I am here to atone for my pomposity, for it clearly jinxed the Crew.

This, of course, comes after several rather rocky outings for T-Hoff. I thought he could get to 600 in this month following those first two saves against Colorado. There were the back-to-back nightmares against the Cardinals, on Nick Stavinoha’s bit of brillance and a one-two punch from maybe the best three-four combo in baseball. Okay, fine. Stuff happens.

Then the Brewers went down to Chicago, and weren’t in a position to win the first two games. Trevor comes in with a three-run lead in the third game and allows a run. All right, whatever. Doesn’t help his ERA, but it’s a win, and a save.

But then he goes on to not pitch again for nearly an entire week. He gets to pitch in Pittsburgh, at the end of a 20-0 rout, the worst loss in Pirates’ history! He gets mop-up duty again for the sake of getting out there, three days later as the Brewers are losing 12-2 to the Cubs.

Now come the latest blown saves against the Pirates. It’s concerning because they are once again on homers. It’s concerning because the Pirates are decidedly not the defending NL Central Champion Cardinals. The Pirates are the Pirates, who lost 22 games in a row at Miller Park and who the Brewers outscored 52-4 in their first four games this season.

As I look at this, I’m beginning to see evidence why this may not be as concerning as it appears. There’s no way Hoffman can get a routine going when the team is either blowing some poor schmucks out of the water (Pirate pun) or getting it handed to them. Milwaukee is tied for the lead in runs scored by a team in all of MLB at 121. But the team has the fifth worst runs allowed and sixth worst ERA. But those extremes haven’t really lined up together in the same game. The last week leading up to these Pirates debacles has been Loss by 8, Win by 4 (after scoring 10 runs in the first), Win by seven, Win by eight, Win by 20, Loss by seven, Loss by four, Loss by 10, Win by 14.

So basically, it was 12 days and three cities between Trevor’s save opportunities. Not to mention the giant billboard in the outfield advertising that opposing batters have the chance to beat the Greatest Of All-Time, and the new catcher who may be asking for too many fastballs.

Manager Ken Macha said he wasn’t sure who he would bring out if the Brewers found themselves in a save situation on Thursday. I can understand you’d be concerned about Hoffman’s status given the back-to-back blown saves and the cross country flight. But this is Petco Park.

Trevor Hoffman is a humble and gracious man. But if that situation arises and Macha doesn’t stick with him, he should pull the “Do you know who the hell I am?” card. This is Petco Park, where Hoffman made his Hall-of-Fame name for himself for 15 years. Last year, he was perfect against his old team, striking out four in three innings pitched.

But the main reason I’m not concerned is that I’m atoning, right here and now. What I wasn’t saying when I predicted T-Hoff would go on a streak and hit 600 this month, was that I love watching Trevor Hoffman and the memories he’s provided for me. If he never saves another game and is run out of town, I’ll never forget the dread I had when he came out for the Pad’s at Petco, or the fun I had rocking out to “Hell’s Bells” at Miller Park. He’s a winner and he always will be.

Post Script

Here’s another reason I’m not worried. I’m never wearing my g.d. J.J. Hardy jersey T-shirt again. I hung on to the shirt when J’j was traded to the Twins as a workout shirt, and every single day this season I’ve worn it to the gym, the Brewers have lost in disgusting fashion. I told DramaMamma that she could tailor it into a Brewers shirt for one of her little girls, as long as she cut out Hardy’s name and No. 7. I’m going to Minneapolis for P-House’s 21st birthday next weekend, and a Twins game — maybe I could dump the scraps in the Mississippi River.

Pirates’ worst loss in team’s 124-year history

There were other things that happened yesterday — other records tied or broken — but that about sums it up.

The team that had the ninth-worst club ever in 1952, and has lost 100 or more games in seven different seasons, had never lost 20-0.

No three-game series had ever seen a run differential of 35 runs (the Brewers outscored the Bucs 36-1 from Tuesday to Thursday) since 1993.

Most Brewers players afterward were humble, and well-aware of the fact the Pirates will be in their backyard early next week.

Gallardo pitches to prospectus

The Yovani Gallardo that took the hill Wednesday night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh was the pitcher the Brewers hoped they were getting when he signed a new contract with them earlier this month.

Gallardo retired nine of the first 11 Pirate batters to make an out via the strikeout. His pitch count ballooned early in the first inning, with many pitches being fouled off or counting toward two early walks, but he got out of the frame recording all three outs on strikeouts.

The offense helped out too, by scoring eight runs on the Pirates for the second night in a row. Ryan Braun continued as the flotilla leader against the Pirates — from his last gasp grand slam late in the 2008 Wild Card race, to Kartstens’ crap in April 2009, which foreshadowed later shenanigans.

This, of course, included Braun’s infamous “We play them about 17 more times. Tell Mr. Selig, we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be interesting.”

Jody Gerut has this to say in the MLB.com wrap on the game:

“We had some internal conversations about having fun again and regaining our identity … We celebrate, maybe, a little more than other teams, but that’s how we play the best. That’s just the way we have to play to be good.”

If there Brewers issue another beatdown on Thursday afternoon on the banks of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela, and celebrate in ribald fashion, we could have the Bucs in Milwaukee early next week a’fixin’ for a’feudin’.

Dave Bush gets no respect

Dave Bush turned in the best pitching performance by Brewer by far last night. But he gets no respect. Just look at that photo — imagine him tugging at his tie like Rodney Dangerfield.

When asked in a radio interview what was motivating him, from his “man on a mission” appearance during spring training, he replied that, well, he had to win a job. He had a non-guaranteed contract and he had to earn a spot on the team.

That’s Dave Bush, who baring last years injury, has pitched up to his capabilities. He’s so underrated. Lest we forget, it was the game that he pitched that the Brewers won their first playoff game in 26 years, before being eliminated.

Bush went on to say that his goal is to get back to pitching the way he was before his 2009 injury. Which was quite well. He’s a man on a mission — he knows exactly where he wants to go.

Baseball observers talk about a team’s starting pitchers according to their rank as a shorthand. When Ken Macha used this last off day to rearrange the rotation and split his lefties, it would appear that Bush ranks fifth out of five starters, assuming Yovani Gallardo starts as No. 1 and proceed in order. But the way things have panned out over three turns through the rotation, the real ace of the staff pitched last night.