Posted by Steve
First, some thoughts on yesterday’s game.
- It was actually close for most of the game, and the Brewers were lucky to have a 3-0 in the middle of the game. Each team squandered several scoring chances over the first five innings. At one point Bill said, “The Brewers could easily be leading 8-0,” to which I thought, “And they could easily be trailing 4-3.”
- It’s funny to me to that some praising Sheets for yesterday’s outing are the ones who had been criticizing him. He really didn’t pitch much differently that he has over the past few weeks… He was a little luckier this time, and he didn’t make his mistakes in crucial situations last night, unlike the Houston start. Oh, and he had a ton of run support for a change.
- I have felt all season the Brewers are better than the Cardinals, but I couldn’t believe what I was watching yesterday. The Cardinals making errors—and mental errors at that, is something I’m just not used to, yet they’ve regularly done it in games against the Brewers this season.
- The Brewers own Rick Ankiel this season to the tune of a .619 OPS in 53 plate appearances. It seems the guy will swing at any fastball above his letters. The Brewers only give him that pitch or a curve in the dirt and he’ll get himself out.
- Finally, we come to Ryan Braun’s pwnage of the Cardinals pitching. I couldn’t say it better than Bernie Miklasz of STLToday.com in his blog entry titled, “Changing of the Guard: Brewers Own Cardinals (I enjoyed his title as well).
One more thing: I simply do not understand what the Cardinals are trying to do in their approach to Milwaukee bopper Ryan Braun. This kid simply murders them, and the numbers almost read like fiction.
In 57 ABs vs. the Cardinals this season Braun has 28 hits for a .491 BA. He’s slammed 7 homers and has 13 RBIs. His OBP is .516, and his SLG is .965 …
In his two-season career, Braun has 99 ABs against the Cardinals and he’s raked ‘em for 43 hits … that’s a .434 BA … and he has 10 homers and a SLG of .838.
And yet the Cardinals keep pitching Braun the same. In yesterday’s blog I relied on the STATS scouting reports to offer a glimpse at Braun’s weak spots as a hitter, and basically you pound him low with fastballs and sliders and mix in the change. Or you can ride the fastball up and get him to chase it. What you don’t do is throw this guy any heat from the top of the knees to the belt; he’ll destroy you. And you don’t try to blast him inside; Braun loves to turn on those pitches in. So what do the Cardinals keep doing? Of course: throw the mid-thigh gas, and try to smoke him inside. That was their strategy Tuesday, and Braun launched a thigh-high fastball into the Milwaukee bullpen for a two-run jack. And he added two singles. That’s right: give it to Braun exactly where he likes it. And let the dude keep mauling them. It’s almost comical the way Braun slaps them around. And they simply refuse to alter their approach. It’s as incomprehensible as anything I’ve witnessed of this team in recent years. Yep, the Cardinals will keep showing Braun that they’re right; you just watch.
- Let’s talk about Mike Cameron. His gigantic August has vaulted him to the top of the pack among center fielders. He is now third in all of MLB behind megastars Grady Sizemore and Josh Hamilton in OPS among center fielders. Cameron’s .871 OPS is identical to Prince Fielder’s. I could argue Cameron has been the best center fielder in the national league this season, particularly factoring in defense. This signing has proven to be a fantastic one, even before figuring in that he was a second or third option signed late in the year. I fully expect the Brewers to pick up his $10 million option for next season.
- The argument could be made that last night’s game was the most important of the year, at least in terms of playoff implications. It was a 12 or 13 percentage-point swing, with the winner’s chances jumping by about six percent and the loser dropping by a similar amount. That is a gigantic swing for one game. The Crew jumped from 85% to 90.6%, while the Cards fell to just 6.4%. Of course, tonight’s game will have a similar swing. Simply put, though, the Brewers find themselves in great position.
- Last night on a pre-game radio show, the following question was posed on a “round table” segment: If the Brewers sweep these two games from the Cardinals, will they lock up the wildcard? The first panelists seemed appalled by the question, basically saying there’s still an entire month to go and it’s way too early to say something like that. The second panelist was sabermetric-minded Rob Neyer, and his simple answer was: “Absolutely.” This definitely brought a smile to my face, because although I’m afraid to say it, I agree with him. A 5 ½ game lead with a month to go is substantial in any form, but when you consider the Brewers are considered/projected to be a better team than both the Mets and Cardinals, it’s huge. Add on the Brewers’ favorable schedule compared to the Cards, and… Well, like I said. They’re in a great situation, especially if they sweep tonight.