June 2010

Brewers pitchers raking at plate

MILWAUKEE — Facing the Brewers, the No. 9 spot in the batting order is hardly an easy out. Yovani Gallardo reaffirmed that Tuesday night, going 1-for-1 with a solo homer and a walk.

 

With a .219 batting average, Brewers pitchers lead the National League. Milwaukee’s pitching staff is tied for first with 33 hits and 14 runs. Brewers pitchers also rank first in home runs (3), RBI (14), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.261), slugging percentage (.331), and OPS (.592).

Along with their success, the Brewers staff has even coined a phrase to describe it.

“These guys have got a quote in here in the dugout,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha, “they say, ‘Pitchers rake.'”

While the hurlers’ ability to swing that bat has come in handy quite a bit of late, Macha would like to see them improve on another aspect of the game at the plate: bunting.

The Brewers rank last in the NL with just eight sacrifice bunts, while they have four times as many hits.

“We’ve been working on our bunting,” Macha said. “We’ve got more hits than we do sacrifice bunts. So we’ve been putting some time in on the bunting because eventually we’re going to need to move [a runner] up.”

Still, on the current homestand, Brewers pitchers have been even better at the plate than their season average of .219. More than double that even.

With eight hits in 18 at-bats, the pitching staff had posted a .444 batting average entering Wednesday’s final game of the homestand. Along with that .444 mark, the Brewers have gotten two RBI, five runs, a walk and a home run out of the pitcher’s spot.

Each of the Brewers five starters — Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Dave Bush, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra — has contributed at least one hit while all of them except Bush have either scored a run, driven in a run, or both.

“We have some pretty good [hitting] pitchers,” Gallardo said. “We have a lot of fun up their hitting. Wolfy, Bushie, Narveson and Manny, we take it serious. For certain situations you can only help yourself out. I think that’s what we try to do.

“We joke around out there when we hit BP, but you never know when it’s going to come in handy.”

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

Gomez back in lineup vs. lefty Rodriguez

No surprises once again for the Brewers. The only change from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon is the lefty-righty swap in center field.

With lefty Wandy Rodriguez on the mound for the Astros, speedy Carlos Gomez is back in center for the Crew. As a result, veteran Jim Edmonds gets the day off after playing the first two games of the series.
Rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy gets bumped up ahead of Gomez as usual, whereas he typically bats behind Edmonds. The rest of the lineup remains the same:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Fielder  1B
Braun  LF
McGehee  1B
Lucroy  C
Gomez  CF
Escobar  SS
Bush  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter
*

Brewers add Jeffress to 40-man

MILWAUKEE — With an open spot available, the Brewers added right-hander Jeremy Jeffress to the 40-man roster on Tuesday, optioning him to Class A Wisconsin.

 

When reliever Todd Coffey was activated from the disabled list, the Brewers designated Chris Smith for assignment, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Smith eventually accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville, but the open spot remained.

Jeffress, 22, was a first-round selection by the Brewers in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. His time with the club has been marred by separate 50-game and 100-game suspensions for testing positive for “a drug of abuse.”

Since signing with the club in 2006, Jeffress has played for the Double-A Huntsville Stars, Class A Advanced Brevard County Manatees and the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

After being suspended 100 games on June 29, 2009, Jeffress returned earlier this month in a new role, moving to the bullpen for the Timber Rattlers.

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Davis likely to start against Giants

MILWAUKEE — At least one Brewers pitcher likely will not make their regularly scheduled start in the next homestand, manager Ken Macha said Tuesday.

 

If everything goes according to plan in his rehab start Wednesday for Class A Wisconsin, lefty Doug Davis will return to the rotation sometime during the Brewers’ four-game series with the Giants.

Macha does not expect to use a six-man rotation, which means one Brewers starter — not named Yovani Gallardo — will be bumped from a start in the San Francisco series.

“Yeah, unless we have two guys throwing at the same time,” Macha said when asked if another starter would come out of the rotation. “Six, I don’t think that’s going to happen. If we do six, then that pops somebody out at the other end over the last three days there.”

Without Davis’ return, the Brewers’ probable pitchers for the Giants series would be Dave Bush, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra. As Davis’ rehab start falls on Wednesday, his next outing on regular rest would coincide with that of Bush.

While Davis is anxious to return to the rotation, he understands it will force out another starter, something he is not anxious to do.

“They’re going to have to cut ties with somebody with me coming back,” Davis said. “I hate to see anybody leave and get sent down or whatever it is because of me.

I know it’s part of the game, but if we’re winning I have no reason to say, ‘I can come in and do better than this guy.’ With the way we’ve been playing and the way they’ve been pitching, I can’t.”

At the same time, the success of the rest of the pitching staff only makes Davis want to get out on the mound that much sooner.

“There’s only so much you can do on the DL to help your team win,” Davis said. “Just to get back out there and get on the mound and actually contribute to a winning ballclub is something that you really can’t replace ever on the DL.”

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

*

No surprises in Brewers lineup

After tweaking the lineup so many times early on to find a combination that works, Brewers manager Ken Macha has made far fewer changes of late. For Tuesday night’s matchup with the Astros, there’s only one change from the night before.

Rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar is back in the lineup after taking the day off on Monday in favor of veteran infielder Craig Counsell. 
With a right-hander taking the hill for the Astros, veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds remains in the lineup for the second straight day.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Fielder  1B
Braun  LF
McGehee  3B
Edmonds  CF
Lucroy  C
Escobar  SS
Gallardo  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter
*

Axford rooting for Dutch in World Cup

MILWAUKEE — Even with the United States and Mexico eliminated, at least one person in the Brewers clubhouse still has a rooting interest in the World Cup.

 

Closer John Axford, a native of Ontario, Canada, is pulling for The Netherlands, which beat Slovakia, 2-1, on Monday to advance to the quarterfinals against Brazil.

Axford is of Dutch heritage on his mother’s side of the family, and his grandparents immigrated to Canada before she was born, just after World War II.

“I remember being younger, we’d always get together for the games and watch them because my grandfather was really into it,” Axford said. “If he had his way, I’d definitely play soccer over baseball.

“I played soccer in elementary school. He actually taught me to kick with my left foot before I could learn with my right because he said, ‘Everyone kicks with their right, so you’ll learn with your left first.'”

Axford said his mother was either the first or second member of her family born in Canada, though he could not remember if she or his uncle was born first.

While Axford has not been able to keep up on the World Cup as much as he would like — he did not watch The Netherlands play on Monday — he knows the excitement will only grow if they continue to advance in the tournament.

“It’s a pretty big thing with our family,” Axford said. “I know if they continue going through everyone will be calling each other and talking with each other and trying to catch the last couple games.”

And what does Axford think of The Netherlands’ chances against Brazil?

“That’s going to be pretty tough,” Axford said. “I saw part of the Brazil game today and they were doing pretty good. So it’ll be a tough game, but it should be a good game. Reading about it I think The Netherlands have got a pretty good shot.”

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

*

Edmonds, Counsell to start against Astros

No surprises in the Brewers lineup Monday.

With a right-hander on the mound in the form of Astros starter Bud Norris, veteran left-handed hitters Jim Edmonds and Craig Counsell will start in center field and at shortstop, respectively.
They’ll give Carlos Gomez and rookie Alcides Escobar some rest.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Fielder  1B
Braun  LF
McGehee  3B
Edmonds  CF
Lucroy  C
Counsell  SS
Parra  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter
*

Lucroy, Gomez back in lineup for series finale

After a scheduled day off for Jonathan Lucroy on Saturday with lefty Randy Wolf on the mound, the rookie catcher is back in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale with the Mariners.

In addition to Lucroy, Carlos Gomez is back in center field with lefty Jason Vargas on the mound for Seattle. 
Aside from those two, however, the rest of the lineup shows no changes:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Fielder  1B
Braun  LF
McGehee  3B
Lucroy  C
Gomez  CF
Escobar  SS
Narveson  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter
*

Edmonds, Kottaras in starting lineup

One night after belting back-to-back home runs in the fourth to put the Brewers on top against the Mariners, speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez and rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy got the day off Saturday.

Gomez belted the eventual game-winning home run against the Mariners, but the speedy center fielder is back on the bench, in favor of left-handed hitting Jim Edmonds.

It’s beginning to appear as though manager Ken Macha plans to use Gomez and Edmonds in a strict platoon with Edmonds facing right-handed starters and Gomez starting versus lefties.
Behind the plate, catcher George Kottaras gets the nod as Lucroy sits one day after hitting his first career home run and taking his first curtain call.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Fielder  1B
Braun  LF
McGehee  3B
Edmonds  CF
Escobar  SS
Kottaras  C
Wolf  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter 

*

Gomez back in center field vs. Mariners

With the Mariners and former Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik in town for Milwaukee’s final Interleague series of the season, manager Ken Macha has speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez back in the lineup.

Gomez and Edmonds have been splitting time of late, and with lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith on the mound for Seattle, Macha has the right-handed hitting Gomez in the lineup in place of the left-handed Edmonds.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Fielder  1B
Braun  LF
McGehee  3B
Lucroy  C
Gomez  CF
Escobar  SS
Bush  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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