Monday, April 28, 2008

Bats and Temps Go Cold in Wisconsin

All photos from Appleton & Fox Cities Stadium available on Flickr.

This past weekend was my first "multiple ballgames in multiple cities" weekend of the year and offically pulled me ahead of Erik in the "Most Ballgames Attended" race for 2008. Friday night was game #2 of our Brewers 10-pack against the Marlins. The seats my dad got were excellent and worth every penny, and smuggling in free beer from the tailgate (which isn't always a sure bet to get past security these days) was an added bonus. As for the game action, YoGo gave the team yet another outstanding starting pitching performance, tossing 7 innings of shutout ball against the Marlins ace Scott Olsen. The bad news was that the Brewers' offense was once again embarrassingly bad and provided no run support for Gallardo, as Olsen matched him pitch-for-pitch, going 8 scoreless innings. It was nodded at zero going into the 10th (you can pretty much assume the Crew will go extra innings now) when the most recent bullpen goat, Guillermo Mota, surrended 3 runs and the game ended at that score. It's unclear to me how much of the bullpen's inconsistency is due to overuse/poor bullpen management or just the pitchers themselves. On paper, all of our relievers except Turnbow look good - and even he has had his bright spots. But in reality, one day a guy will toss 2 outstanding innings and the next game will blow a lead. Gagne has 7 saves and a win, but also has an ERA around 7. Mota, Riske, and Torres all have ERAs under 4, but all have surrendered the lead in at least one game in the past week. It seems to be all a game of chess at this point with Yost, trying to figure out who he can rely on and when, and at this point it's pretty clear he really only trusts Eric Gagne and Brian Shouse, as he seems to rotate all other relievers strictly based on availability and not situations. The Brewers could only muster 6 runs in 3 games against the Marlins and are now 9th in the NL in runs scored and are batting an anemic .244 as a team. Some of this I feel has to do with Ned, who I am beginning to question more and more, particularly when we have guys on 1st with less than two outs before the 9th inning and there is rarely a sign to bunt, hit & run, or steal. If it were not for our starting pitching, this team would be well below .500.

Saturday I finally used my free Timber Rattlers tickets and drove 100 miles up north to watch a little Midwest League A-ball with my brother and our friend Brian who lives in neighboring Neenah. Erik and I had visited the T-Rats on the 2nd to last day on the tour on the way home to Milwaukee and it was a great time. I wish I could say the same for Saturday, but it was so cold that I had to focus all of my energy on staying warm. Being so close to the field at a minor league game, and with the temps being so cold which produce a lot of broken-bat foulballs, I also had to concentrate on not getting hit in the face, which proved exceedingly difficult while also eating cheese fries out of a helmet and drinking a 152-oz beer. I make it sound like it was a horrible time, and I'll admit it was ridiculously uncomfortable being in 40-degree weather with strong winds (we actually left in the 7th), but its minor league baseball, and you can never go wrong with that. It's always fun to identify amongst yourselves which prospects look really promising and which will be working at a car wash in a month. The starting pitcher for the T-Rats, Josh Adcock, stood out most in my mind, as he seemed to command the plate well. There were so many seeing-eye singles in the game that I couldn't really say if any position players really jumped out at me. Overall it's a great park and Nick and I look forward to returning when it warms up a bit.

After the game the three of us went to an NFL draft party at the local BW3s, and between that and the ballgame, we acquired an entire bag of free stuff, so the day turned out to be pretty positive - if you ignore the fact that the Packers had a horrible draft, but that's not a story for this blog. After listening to another heartbreaking loss on the radio Sunday, I look forward to the return of Ben Sheets and Mike Cameron against the Cubbies on Tuesday.

Brewers 14-11 (3 @ Cubs, 3 @ Astros)
Reds 11-15 (3 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Braves)
Twins 11-14 (2 v. White Sox, 3 v. Tigers)

Erik - 7
Peter - 9

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