The Brewers starter allowed one run over eight innings, replicating his eight inning-one run performance in St. Louis in August, to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.
Milwaukee won their fourth straight to move 10 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central, tying their largest lead of the season.
Wolf gave up four hits and struck out five to improve to 12-9, and 6-1 in his last eight starts. He contributed at the plate, as well, with two infield hits, one of which led to a two-out rally producing run in the second.
Ryan Braun and Nyjer Morgan both homered for the Crew, who won their fourth straight and extended their division lead to 10 1/2 games. Braun’s 27th blast went to center field and put the Brewers up 2-0, while Morgan’s career-high fourth homer, aided by shouts of “GET OUT!” from T.Plush, gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.
Yuniesky Betancourt’s RBI single in the sixth gave Milwaukee a 3-1 lead.
John Axford closed the game for Milwaukee for his 41st save of the season, 38th consecutive with a three-up, three-down bottom of the ninth.
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.
He’s been the victim of five road shutouts and all year long has been the recipient of poor run support. But when you can throw eight one-run innings, you’re in pretty good shape to get the win.
That was the case Wednesday night in St. Louis. Wolf (9-8) only gave up one first-inning run to the Cardinals as the offense supported him with five runs–much more than he would need. The Brewers’ starter’s command was impeccable throughout the night, walking none despite only striking out one batter.
Prince Fielder put the Brewers on the board with a sacrifice fly in the top of the first before his counterpart Albert Pujols tied the game in the same manner. Fielder then added an RBI double to give the Brewers a cushion that Wolf would not relinquish. With the game still in reach for the Cardinals, Corey Hart added a two-run single in the 9th off Mitchell Boggs to open it up.
As for the Brewers road woes? They are now one win away from a perfect 6-0 road trip to Houston and St. Louis, both places where the team has historically struggled.
“I think we carried over what we were doing at home and I’m hoping that this is the point where it doesn’t really matter to them whether we’re at home or road, they know we can win at both places,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “That’s important for them to feel that way.”
In Wolf’s 13 road starts in 2011, he has 3.43 era and a 1.25 WHIP yet a losing record at 4-6, obvious indicators that the offense has struggled in his starts. This was not the case Wednesday night, as the Brewers southpaw relied on his defense to get him through eight innings easily on only 92 pitches.
The Cardinals were without Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. Berkman sat out the night due to lifetime 3-30 hitting versus Wolf, and Holliday was out after injuring his back while lifting weights.
By the end of the night, St. Louis was without their manager Tony LaRussa, who was ejected in the top of the ninth inning after pinch-hitter Josh Wilson was called safe on a bunt at first. First base umpire Greg Gibson believed Pujols never touched first, despite replays showing that his toe may have scraped the bag.
In LaRussa-esque fashion, he called it a “very undeserved ejection”. Tony’s never wrong, I guess.
With the win, Milwaukee clinched the road series victory, and extended its division lead to five games. By the end of the series, it will either be four or six games, depending on Thursday’s outcome.