Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Brewers v. Reds Series #1

The Brewers split a brief 2-game set against the Reds in Cincinnati, the first two of their 15 meetings this season. I attended both of these games on Monday and Tuesday, and was rather disppointed with the cool weather, low attendances, and lack of pitching by both teams. Winning 1 of 2, the Reds remain 1/2-game ahead of the Crew in the NL Central. It was a sloppy pitching series all around, particularly that no starter went 6 innings, but it was fun to see what these teams are capable of offensively.

Game 1 went the the Brewers, 10-6. Capuano looked as good as he has all season and was locating his cutter very well, but only lasted 5 2/3, even though none of the 3 runs he allowed were earned. The key point in the game was the 7th inning, when Todd Coffey of the Reds hit two batters and gave up a single, and then Bill Hall crushed a 3-2 fastball into left-center at the end of a 12-pitch at-bat for his first career grand slam. Uncle Milty got the loss for the Reds, and was pretty much destined to do so after his 35-pitch first inning.

Game 2 was in control of the Brewers until the bullpen, with an ERA just above 3 entering the contest, surrendered 6 runs in 3 innings to allow the Reds an 11-5 victory. Dave Bush was leaving his fastball out over the plate, but his curveball got him out of quite a few jams as he ended up giving up 4 runs over 5, and also had a 2-run double at the plate.

Notes on the Brewers: Weeks looks to be settling in as the leadoff hitter, albeit not a prototypical one - more of the Soriano variety. Weeks is definitely a 5-tool player, now that his defense has improved greatly over Spring Training. Mench and Hall both had 4 hits in the series and are looking pretty sharp. Knowing relatively nothing about newcomer Johnny Estrada, I was very impressed with his offense, two doubles in the gap, but not so with his defense, as he let quite a few balls go back to the screen. Unfortunately, it looks like Damian Miller will only get starts maybe once a week, if that, since the Crew signed Estrada for his bat and Miller is a career .260 hitter.

I really hope for Hardy's sake that J.J. can get his head together. I put up with his mediocre offensive production since he is young and has been injured, but Yost continues to hit him out of the 2-hole, so he must be seeing imporvement somewhere. But Hardy also had two errors in the series (I would have marked 4) and what was once the staple of his game looks to not be so much anymore. This, coupled with Hall's early struggles in Center Field, hopefully will not come back to bite the Brewers in the ass. Oh, and I'll say it again...Elmer Dessens is horrible and although I agree a trade of Clark was necessary, he wasn't the right man to get for him. Not only can he get nobody out, but his presence on the team has taken Jose Capellan's roster spot, and now we're probably going to lose this player to trade or free agency since he is pissed (rightfully so) about being back at AAA.

Notes on the Reds: Ryan Freel is a stud and I'm glad they gave him a 3yr/$7mil extension on Monday. He had 5 hits in the series and he can play 7 positions between good and very good. Although he has started every game in Center this season, he moved to 3rd base yesterday to make way for Josh Hamilton in CF, who is just surprising everyone by how well he's hitting. The testament to this is that he had singles off of the Brewers' lefty specialist Brian Shouse on consecutive nights - and being able to do that after being out of baseball for 5 years, that says a lot about this guy's raw talent. Griffey doesn't look like he has much in the tank. He very visibly gave up on a few balls that he would have dove for in years' past, he can't run well on the bases, and he just doesn't have the bat speed he used to. He's hitting ropes off the left-centerfield wall, but last year those would have been homeruns to right-center, and 8 years ago those would have been bombs to the second deck at the Kingdome. Adam Dunn is somehow leading the team in rbi, homeruns, AND average; could we see 40 homers AND a .275 average this year? Stop the presses. I still have no faith in neither their starting nor relief pitching; neither of their two aces have looked stellar (Harang, Arroyo), and their bullpen is just a hodgepodge of past-their-prime free agents.

Needless to say, this should be an interesting race between these two teams, and hopefully the Crew doesn't backslide this year so I can win my double-or-nothing bet with my friend in Cincinnati.
Twins W (8-5)
Brewers L (7-6)
Reds W (8-6)

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