The Sunday Cycle: A collection of four of my thoughts from the prior week of Brewers baseball
Current Record- 47-30, First Place- NL Central
Single- This week’s cycle pretty much wrote itself. When you’re having the kind of success that the Brewers are having, combined with two of the more comical baseball sequences I’ve seen in a long time, it becomes a pretty easy task to put together a weekly recap. Let’s start with the series sweep against the Rockies, which was made possible by a number of sloppy plays on both sides of the ball by Colorado. The now infamous bases clearing wild pitch (http://mlb.si.com/2014/06/21/watch-brewers-score-three-runs-on-a-wild-pitch/) is one of many examples of the poor play that the Brewers were able to take advantage of. It’s not often that you can sweep a series without getting a stellar performance from at least one starting pitcher, but the Crew was able to take advantage of many of the Rockies mistakes and came out of the 6-1 road trip on top of the NL standings with a major league best 47 wins.
Double- Last week, I wrote about how I believed the Brewers needed to end Marco Estrada’s tenure in the starting rotation and opt to pitch Jimmy Nelson out of Triple A Nashville. While Estrada did pick up a win this week in a hitter friendly ballpark, he also allowed seven earned runs in just 5.2 innings pitched. While spotty defense was to blame for a couple of those runs, I still question how much longer the crew should be turning to Estrada. Since May 1st, the Brewers have lost just 22 games; six of those games were started by Estrada. Even more concerning about those 6 losses was that the Brewers averaged 5.8 runs per game, which is an abnormally high run total for lost games.
Triple- There are far too many impressive stat lines to ignore with this team, so here are the ones that stick out to me with very little commentary in between. Carlos Gomez is riding a 18-game hitting streak, and has reached base safely in 35 straight game, the 5th-longest streak in Brewers history. Lucroy (.331), Gomez (.317) and Scooter Gennett (.310) all rank in the top ten in batting average in the NL- no other team has more than one batter in the top 10. Khris Davis has started to really figure it out at the plate and ranks top 10 in the NL in runs, extra base hits, and Home Runs. Will Smith ranks second on the majors in holds, and is becoming a nice set up man for the MLB saves leader, Francisco Rodriguez. The Brewers are one of only two teams in the majors with at least five players with double digit home runs. Since his return from the DL, Aramis Ramirez is batting .377 with 5HR and 17 RBIs. The Brewers are currently on pace to win 99 games, which would break the franchise record of 96 and would almost certainly win them the divisional crown. This team is for real.
HR- While the three-run wild pitch debacle was great in its own way, this week’s games were highlighted by the questionable antics of Arizona Manager Kirk Gibson, and the response by the first place Brewers that could not have been scripted any better. Down one run in the seventh inning, Arizona reliever Evan Marshall intentionally plunked Ryan Braun to load the bases for Jonathan Lucroy. Just how intentional was it? He tried to hit Braun on the first pitch, but threw behind him. Marshall was ejected from the game, but not before he received a high five from Gibson in the dugout. Call me old school, but even on the most obvious of hit batters, managers and players alike should be forced to pretend it was an accident- I cannot believe Gibson hasn’t been fined for congratulating his pitcher. Perhaps it’s because the MLB figured he suffered enough at the hands of Jonathan Lucroy, who hit a go-ahead grand slam on the very next pitch to put the Brewers ahead for good. If you haven’t seen it, watch the entire sequence here, it truly was one of the best moments of the season: http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/11493214/v33822799/must-c-clutch-lucroy-makes-d-backs-pay-with-a-slam. You’ve got to love the class of Lucroy choosing to run around the bases without any theatrics… God only knows what Gomez would’vevdone in that situation.