Janesville72.6°

Brewers take the win, don’t ask questions

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Michael Hunt
April 16, 2010
— The ivy is still brown on the Wrigley Field wall, and you want me to tell you that Jeff Suppan is going to be fine this season?

We’ll get to that right after we nail down that the 80-degree weather on a mid-April Thursday afternoon was conclusively linked to global warming.


In the meantime, it’s sufficient to know that Suppan was sort of OK enough to help get the Milwaukee Brewers the heck out of this wind-blown, sun-dried dump—I’m sorry, “historically significant structure”—and into the relatively safe baseball haven that is Washington without the three-game series against the Chicago Cubs going down as a total disaster.


When you can say that about what had every right to be an eye-averting 2010 debut for Suppan, it’s best to get to D.C. as quickly as possible and ask questions later.


When Auntie Em’s house was being carried over the center-field scoreboard and the glare in right was enough to make Corey Hart look as lost as a busload of Wichita conventioneers on Michigan Ave., you’ll take 8-6 like it was a perfect game wrapped around a 20-strikeout performance every day of the week.


Forget being worried that it was Suppan making his first start. All things considered, you would’ve been worried with Sandy Koufax on the hill.


“A reasonable start,” was how Brewers manager Ken Macha summarized Suppan’s afternoon.


Granted, the line score—four earned runs on two homers in five innings—wasn’t anything to remember. But given the circumstances—the whole Wrigley experience and the fact that the Brewers are trying to squeeze the last dollars of a bad contract of out Suppan’s right arm—and it was enough for even Macha to break off a good line about the rocket Derrek Lee launched in the first.


“That’s home run No. 713 for Lee, one short of Ruth’s record,” Macha said. “All off Suppan. And Soup is aware of it.”


Actually, the Cubs first baseman only has six homers in 54 career at-bats against Suppan. But when it looked like Lee’s 400-plus-foot shot to dead center would be the start of a beer-league score for the Cubs, Suppan was sort of OK from there.


I mean, what do you want for $12 million?


“Those were tough conditions to pitch in,” said third baseman Casey McGhee, whose two-run homer against his old team jump-started the Brewers. “It’s not the biggest yard in the world. Our pitchers did a good job of keeping us in it.”


Especially Carlos Villanueva, who struck out four in two innings. Trevor Hoffman continues to make you nervous at the back end, not that it was his fault this time as the Brewers continued to make the ninth the sort of adventure best left unseen by impressionable eyes.


“In Corey’s defense, I’ve played right field here,” Macha said. So did Ruth, but that’s another story.


The main thing was that Suppan, against all reasonable expectations, gave a fairly dangerous offense a chance to win. When Gregg Zaun has three hits in his first three at-bats, that’s a sign that it was going to be a good day for the hitters on a hitter’s afternoon.


Rickie Weeks continues to be a force at the top of the lineup. Jim Edmonds is hitting. Ryan Braun is ripping the cover off the ball. Prince Fielder may not have a homer yet, but that’s coming.


Afterward, Macha couldn’t say when Suppan would start next. And that’s fine. You take Thursday and get out of town, with that big “L” on the scoreboard flag thankfully in your rear-view mirror.



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