Oh, the life of a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. About three weeks ago, it was probably one of the more exciting things to be. Unfortunately for the Buccos, everything came crashing down to Earth...very, very quickly. And then they had to travel to Milwaukee for a three game series with the Brewers, a team that they hadn't beat all season and a team they have little to no success against in Miller Park. The beat goes on as the Crew took care of business, albeit not in the most efficient way possible. But they got the job done and that's what I always look for. After a sweep of the Bucs, the Brewers now stand at an impressive 70-51 with a five game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals, a team led by a man who thinks a fan base that just filled Miller Park with 45,000 fans is composed of "idiots."
Fair enough, Tony LaRussa. We idiots have our own Tony around these parts who we can't get enough of, and his name is Nyjer "Tony Plush" Morgan. The player who hasn't received enough discussion for the Comeback Player of the Year Award did it again today, and I'm not talking about the interview department. Plush came up in the bottom of the 10th with runners on second and third and one down and crushed the ball to deep right center. It turned out to be a long sacrifice fly as George Kottaras trotted across home plate and the Brewers celebrated a 2-1 extra inning victory - and a sweep of the Pirates. Pittsburgh proved it can play with the Brewers, especially because of their stellar starting pitching, but they didn't have the killer instinct that the Crew displayed in all three games this weekend. The game I attended on Friday wasn't really in question for the most part, but once the Pirates closed to within two in the eighth, the always reliable Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder combo hit back-to-back jacks two sections from where I was sitting to put a nail in the coffin. If that wasn't enough, Casey McGehee tripled and K-Rod legged out an infield single for his first career hit to make the fans go absolutely nuts. When Saturday afternoon rolled around, Yuni B. popped one out, Marco Estrada pitched admirably for five innings and the bullpen (Tsunami Saito, Hawk, K-Rod, Axe) shut it down. Most notably, the Ax Factor gave up a lead-off triple in the ninth only to weasel his way out of the mega-jam and nab his 31st consecutive save. Ridiculous. And then their was Sunday, where the Brewers trailed nearly the whole game 1-0. Brauny stepped up in the eighth and rifled a run scoring base hit to center off Pirates' closer Joel Hanrahan to tie the game. Tony Plush finished the Bucs off, and that was that.
Not only are the Brewers an astounding 70-51, but they are a league best 44-15 at Miller Park thanks in part to thousands and thousands of idiots packing the house night in and night out. It doesn't get more fun than this. So what did we learn from the weekend? The Brewers are taking advantage of the weaker teams in the Central Division and taking care of business - just like they should. What else? Marco Estrada has a future as a starting pitcher in this league. He just has a different demeanor on the mound as a starter and if the Brewers can't find a spot for him in the starting rotation next season, I fear that somebody else will. Anything more? The Brewers have some major ice water in their veins. I'm not willing to put the effort in looking this up, but the Brewers have won many more one-run games than their opponents and they also have some of the more clutch hitters in the league. We know the obvious candidates, but how about guys like Casey McGehee or Mark Kotsay or George Kottaras? These guys might not be putting up the best overall numbers, but man do they come through when it matters. A lot. In my mind, this is one of the most important ways a player's performance should be measured. Maybe I'll start up my own statistic...
As fun as it is to talk about the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers, who start a four game series at home against the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, the Green Bay Packers played an exhibition game Saturday night out in the greatest city in America...Cleveland! Am I right or am I right? Naturally in the opening preseason game, the starters will only play a series or two, so I won't spend too much time discussing a rather meaningless game. The usual suspects were in attendance; A-Rodg hooked up with Greg Jennings for a touch and other guys like Ryan Grant and Clay Matthews saw the field (sadly no sign of Jermichael). However, I really liked what I saw from a few players - most notably newcomer Randall Cobb and safety Morgan Burnett. Both of these players will be battling for significant playing time this upcoming season...and both of them deserve some. Burnett suffered a season ending injury last season in week five and was replaced by Charlie Peprah, so those two will be going at it in practice, but I thought Burnett really had a nose for the ball Saturday night and made a few plays that stood out to me. As for Cobb, he made all the catches he was supposed to make and was pretty stellar in the return game. With rookie running back Alex Green out with an injury, Cobb got more looks at kick returner. As the game went on, there were the players that surfaced who were trying too hard to earn a roster spot and I began to lose interest in the game...a game the Packers would lose 27-17. Darn.
My next post will more than likely include my Wisconsin Badgers football season preview while, of course, continuing to touch on the play of the Brewers. With the Crew playing out of their damn minds lately, I really can't scrap together all that much to talk about...I'm so used to being negative about everything. Now in the last year, the Packers win the Super Bowl, the Badgers go to the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin and Marquette basketball reach the Sweet 16 and now the Brewers, who have won like 100 of their last 101 games. Something like that. So you're starting to see a new "me," like it or not. Let the good times roll.