A look at the Brewers offense would show you that this team could make the Playoffs and beyond on just their lineup and an average pitching staff.
The SWAT Team’s (Nyjer Morgan’s nickname for the offensive attack of the Brewers) sidekick holds the key to reaching the NLCS and the World Series, though let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
After an abysmal 2009 and 2010 season for starting pitching in Milwaukee, GM Doug Melvin took to the market and traded for former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and Blue Jays ace Shaun Marcum. In addition, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf returned as the only bright spots from the 2010 rotation. With many skeptical about lefty Chris Narveson, he proved those wrong with a 9-6 record and 4.31 era in 2011.
In any Playoff series, manager Ron Roenicke would send out Greinke, Marcum, Gallardo, and Wolf (not in that order, particularly) with Narveson in the bullpen. The Brewers are trying this move out even in August with Narveson not scheduled to start in over two weeks. With the successes of Wolf and Marcum on the road, even without much road run support for these two, Roenicke should have Greinke, then Gallardo pitch the first two home games.
Not only does the SWAT team match up with any offense in the National League, but the pitching is equal, if not better. While I’m not going to go in depth on why the pitching is better, but Alec Dopp of Bleacher Report did.
Currently atop the National League, the Phillies rotation would be Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Earlier in the season, Milwaukee beat Halladay and had Cliff Lee on the hook for the loss, showing they can beat the Phightin’s. A four-game series at Miller Park in September may be an NLCS preview.
They say “pitching wins in October”, and this is very true for Milwaukee. Even with Texas’ explosive hitting last year, their surprising pitching staff carried them to the World Series. This very much could be the case.
Every time Zack Greinke needed a big pitch he delivered on a night he felt less than stellar. His numbers looked brilliant at the end anyway.
Greinke won his fifth straight start and Jerry Hairston Jr. singled in two runs to lift the Brewers to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night for their 19th victory in 21 games.
The NL Central-leading Brewers remained seven games ahead of St. Louis after the Cardinals topped Pittsburgh 7-2 and are on track for a second playoff berth in four years.
“It’s definitely not locked up or anything, but if we continue playing well, it should happen,” Greinke said. “It’s on us, mainly. We’ve just got to keep doing as good as we’re doing or close to that and make it as tough as possible on the other teams. It is ours to lose.”
The hottest team in baseball has gotten contributions on offense from unlikely candidates all season, including Hairston, the utilityman acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline when second baseman Rickie Weeks severely sprained his left ankle.
“The one thing I did hear about him is he’ll get you some big hits and he’ll come in with the game on the line like it was tonight,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He battles, especially with two strikes and gets you that big one. You name a whole bunch of guys, everybody’s chipping in.”
Hairston’s two-out single in the sixth helped Greinke (12-4) become the first Brewers pitcher in franchise history to win his first nine home decisions with the club. Greinke’s only mistake came when Tony Gwynn Jr. homered in the seventh.
Milwaukee is 11-0 when Greinke starts at Miller Park and 47-15 at home this year, the best pace since the 1998 Yankees won 62 games.
“This is definitely the best team I’ve ever been a part of, it’s definitely fun,” said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who joked that only a Little League team he was on had a better record at 25-0. “The talent level on this team has been unbelievable.”
Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young winner, scattered five hits and struck out eight over seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.57 over this five-game winning streak.
“It wasn’t a great outing, but I made big pitches when they needed to be made,” Greinke said.
The Brewers have only scored 11 times in the past five games, all victories, because of their dominant pitching staff and just enough clutch hits.
“Since the second half, everyone’s been playing well,” Greinke said. “Not just that, the defense has been better, the bullpen’s been really good and starters have done better. Pretty much one of those things everybody on the team is doing their job right now. That’s why we’re winning the games we are.”
In the sixth, Milwaukee got to Dodgers rookie Nathan Eovaldi (1-1) after the 21-year-old right-hander loaded the bases with one out. Eovaldi forcedYuniesky Betancourt to pop up for the second out, but Hairston’s bouncer up the middle was just out of the reach of rookie shortstop Justin Sellers to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
Hairston’s big hit came a night after Mark Kotsay‘s tiebreaking single in the ninth.
Gwynn homered for the first time this season in the seventh against Greinke, but the Brewers answered when Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom allowed a single to Lucroy then threw two wild pitches that allowed him to score.
Los Angeles remains in an ugly rut on offense, something that’s been a problem all season.
We realistically (are) not mathematically eliminated, but realistically we haven’t shown that we are the kind of club that can go rattle off 10 in a row,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
The Dodgers, who have two runs in three games here, loaded the bases with an out in the fourth and had two on and two out against Greinke in the sixth, but both times failed to score with each inning ending on a groundout byDioner Navarro.
Sellers made two terrific plays to keep the Brewers off the board early, including a diving catch of Ryan Braun‘s liner with the bases loaded and one out in the third that turned into an easy double play. But Sellers couldn’t quite reach Hairston’s roller in the sixth, and the Dodgers failed to score at least two runs for the 37th time this season.
“Our lack of offense has been fairly standard, but we know these guys can pitch a little bit,” Mattingly said. “They’ve been doing it not only against us, but they’ve been doing it against a lot of teams.”
Maybe Zack Greinke was flying so high after Friday’s start that he didn’t know what day it was.
Called into action Saturday to pinch hit for Marco Estrada in the fifth inning, Greinke came out wearing a jersey that read “Bierbrauer”, which honors Milwaukee’s German Heritage. The team is to wear those uniforms on Sunday as a part of German Heritage Day at Miller Park.
Ron Roenicke said his star pitcher was wearing a fleece over and nobody noticed until he was called into pinch hit for Estrada, who went five scoreless innings in the Brewers 1-0 victory.
“I had no idea,” Roenicke said. “It was blue, and that’s all it looked like to me. I didn’t know until one of the guys said something. He didn’t know [either].”
Greinke laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, if you were wondering.