Well, the first week of the 2013 Major League Baseball season didn’t go exactly as planned, at least not for Brewer Nation. The Crew managed to salvage the opener, thanks to 10th-inning, Jonathon Lucroy sacrifice fly. That sac fly was necessary only because John Axford, with the Crew up one in the top of the ninth, tossed a batting-practice fastball to Dexter Fowler, who promptly deposited it in the seats to tie the game at four.
Of course, the Brewers trailed 3-2 late in the game until Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run double to give them a 4-3 lead, so had that not occurred Axford would not have entered the game the Brewers may have sent the sellout crowd home disappointed. Regardless, beginning a new season with a blown save was extremely disappointing.
Tuesday’s 8-4 loss was not impressive. Marco Estrada gave up four runs in five innings and left the game with a 4-4 tie. Michael Gonzalez came out of the bullpen (not out of THE Bullpen ... that would be gross), faced three batters and didn't allow a ball to leave the infield ... only to surrender three runs. Game over. The Crew hung in there on Wednesday, trailing 4-3 heading into the ninth. Axford came in and promptly gave up three runs on what (to my untrained eye, at least) appeared to be another batting practice session. A 7-3 win for the Rockies.
The only good part of the opening series was that I managed to see all three games without paying a dime for a ticket!
The Arizona Diamondbacks came to town over the weekend, and the woes continued. Left fielder Ryan Braun missed the entire series with a pain in his neck (Axford?) and Ramirez left the first game with a sprained knee. Side note: I managed to pull off what I thought was a decent trade in my fantasy baseball league last week, netting Ramirez to fill a desperate need for a third baseman. The trade was finalized literally just hours before the Brewers placed Ramirez on the 15-day DL. Story of my life …
Even with a hodge-podge lineup (one that put Brewers' fan "favorite" Yunieski Betancourt at first base), the Crew showed some life in the Sunday's series finale, scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. John Axford came in to pitch the 10th and got three outs -- including two fly-ball outs to the warning track. Even with Axford's recent troubles, Runnin’ Ron Roenicke brought him out to pitch the 11th. This is the same man who once started journeyman Mark Kotsay in center field in the most important game for the Brewers in decades, so nothing surprises me anymore. One single and a tater later, the Crew found themselves down by two.
I was in attendance at Sunday's game, this time with my two kids in tow. It was an exciting game but to say the ending was a disappointment would be a gross understatement. During the game I try to explain things to my kids, in an attempt to teach them the game's whys and whatnots. Unfortunately, I couldn't explain yesterday’s outcome.
In the bottom of the 11th, Rickie Weeks struck out looking with the tying run on third base and one out. I’ve coached a few seasons of youth baseball and always taught the same thing I was taught as a kid: With two strikes, if it’s close …YOU SWING. I understand that there is a major difference in the two levels, but still …as a big-leaguer you strike out looking with the tying run on third? Disappointing.
While Rickie was busy striking out, Braun was in the on-deck circle and it appeared as if he would have a chance to put another brick in that legend wall he’s building. Instead, it appeared to be more of a psychological chess move because newly signed starting pitcher Kyle Lohse grabbed a bat and, of course, struck out looking to end the game. Seeing a pitcher end the game with a strikeout looking isn’t nearly as disappointing as seeing that pitcher pinch-hit in the first place, especially when one of the best bats in the game sits on the bench.
Anyway, it is what it is. The 1-5 Crew takes a 5-game losing streak to Wrigley Field for a three-game set with the Chicago Cubs. Weather-permitting, today's 1:20 p.m. game will be the Cubs' home opener. It's also what I call a "showroom ballgame" -- which means I get to listen while I work! The Bullpen (posting as Brewcrew420) and I (tthompson) will be commenting below throughout the afternoon, so join the conversation if you'd like!
There is lots and lots of baseball left to be played, but the sooner things get turned around, the better. Plus, there's no better place to turn things around than Wrigley Field! LET'S GO, BREWERS, LET'S GO!