Greinke welcomes pennant race

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Todd Rosiak
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
— Meaningful baseball in August had been nothing but a pipe dream in Zack Greinke’s seven seasons with the Kansas City Royals.

With the Milwaukee Brewers, though, it has become a reality, one the right-hander seems to be embracing.

Greinke got the better of the St. Louis Cardinals and their ace righty, Chris Carpenter, as the two former Cy Young Award winners squared off Monday night for the second time this season.

Greinke allowed seven hits, two earned runs and a walk while striking out five in six innings to help lead the Brewers to a 6-2 win at Miller Park.

It was just the type of performance Milwaukee was hoping for from Greinke when it traded a passel of prospects to Kansas City for him last December. And it was just the type of situation Greinke was seeking when he requested to be traded to a contending team.

“I was nervous going into the game,” said Greinke, who improved to 9-4 overall and 7-0 at Miller Park. “It was a big game, and we’re getting close and they’ve got a good team. It was exciting.”

Greinke entered the game having been named the Brewers’ pitcher of the month for July after striking out 43 and walking nine while compiling a 1-1 record in five starts.

Cheating accusation

All year, folks have wondered why the Milwaukee Brewers have been so much better at home than on the road.

The St. Louis Cardinals offered a possible theory Monday night: The Brewers are cheating.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa filed a complaint with the umpiring crew during that series opener, suggesting the LED “ribbon” board that wraps around the ballpark above the loge level shone brighter while the Brewers batted. The suggestion was that the lighting was darker when the Cardinals batted, making it more difficult to see the ball in their 6-2 defeat.

Umpiring crew chief Gary Darling forwarded that complaint to Major League Baseball vice president of baseball operations Joe Garagiola, Jr., who then placed a telephone call to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin.

“There’s no cheating,” said Melvin. “It’s all been handled.

“We didn’t change anything.”

Asked after the game Monday about his complaint to the umpires, La Russa only said, “I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to talk to you guys about. In fact, it’s the very thing I shouldn’t talk to you guys about. It’s something they’ve heard before.”

La Russa declined to comment further about the matter Tuesday.

Darling confirmed to a pool reporter before the second game of the series that the Cardinals complained about the lighting but said nothing was changed. He said no edict was issued by MLB to make any adjustments to the lighting.

“I sent an email last night to the baseball ops department explaining Tony’s complaint. They took it up from there,” said Darling.

Asked if he noticed any irregularity in the lighting, Darling said, “No. Like I told him last night, we just don’t pay that much attention to it. Nothing really jumped out about it.”

There have been whispers about possible cheating by the Brewers at home because they have been so much better at Miller Park than on the road. They entered play 40-14 at home, but only 21-35 on the road.

Apparently, there was thought on the St. Louis side that the Brewers were relaying pitch signs from second base Monday night in the fifth inning, when they broke through for five runs against right-hander Chris Carpenter.

It’s not against the rules to relay signs from the bases, but if the other side suspects it confrontations can occur.

When told about that suspicion, Brewers rightfielder Corey Hart said, “Why did we wait until the fifth inning to do it? I had struck out twice by then.”

“I’m a player that plays everywhere,” Jerry Hairston Jr. said.

Did he mean positions in the field or cities in the major leagues?

The veteran utility player has qualified on both counts during his 14-year career, with the latest stop being Milwaukee after the Brewers acquired him Saturday morning from Washington for minor-league outfielder Erik Komatsu.

Hairston, 35, got a call at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) from Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, informing him of the trade. A few minutes later, Brewers GM Doug Melvin called to see if he could get to Milwaukee in time for the 6:10 p.m. game against Houston.

With no direct flight to Milwaukee, Hairston traveled to Chicago and took a car from there. He got to Miller Park in the bottom of the first inning.

“When I walked in the clubhouse, I saw (leadoff hitter) Corey Hart hit a home run,” said Hairston. “That was good to see.

“Having an opportunity to get on a first-place team, I know they’re in first place for a reason. I just want to come here and fit in. They’ve got a great team here. Hopefully, the next two months it’ll be a fun ride.”

The Brewers are the seventh team for which Hairston has played, following the Orioles, Cubs, Rangers, Reds, Yankees and Padres.

“I guess I’m running out of teams, right?” he said. “It’s part of the business. I understand it. I’ve had fun wherever I’ve played. I’ve enjoyed my experiences.

“The last time I got traded (to the Yankees in ’09), we won the World Series. Hopefully, it’ll happen again.”

Hairston’s versatility was the key to the deal for the Brewers. He is comfortable at third base, second base and shortstop as well as all three outfield spots, particularly center.

“I feel good anywhere,” said Hairston, who made his Brewers debut Sunday as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and popped out. “I’ve done it so long. It really doesn’t matter to me. The bottom line is winning games and getting in the playoffs. There’s nothing better than that.

“I think you’ve got to be a little athletic. I work extremely hard, too. I pride myself in that. I don’t know too many guys who can play short and center field. That’s my niche in the game. It’s been good to me.”

Despite playing all those positions, Hairston uses just two gloves —one for the infield and one for the outfield.

“It’s complicated enough, playing the infield and outfield,” he said. “I try to keep it simple.”

The Brewers made no more moves before the non-waiver trade deadline expired Sunday afternoon. Melvin is still on the hunt for a left-handed reliever but said it was “quiet” on his end in the final hours before the deadline.

Last updated: 6:13 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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