Brewers 8 Reds 1
One game after 'the fight', the Brewers bounced back and took advantage of the plentiful mistakes of rookie Edinson Volquez. The Brewers tagged Volquez with five runs in five innings of work, while striking out only two. A low K rate usually means trouble for a power pitcher like Volquez. But don't be fooled, Dave Bush bounced back a bit from his rough return after the ASB to toss a solid game, riding the wave of offense to his sixth victory of the year.
The Brewers looked flat during the first two batters of the game. Durham popped out on the first pitch and JJ Hardy flailed his way into a groundout to third. But the big producers of the team showed up in a big way. Ryan Braun doubled to the gap and Prince Fielder was unintentionally, intentionally walked to bring up the struggling Corey Hart. Hart jumped from that slump with a 2-RBI triple, starting the Brewers in the right direction.
Dave Bush did his best to make things interesting though, at least in the first inning. Jeff Keppinger led off the game with a solid single up the middle and was followed by Joey Votto, who walked on five pitches, none of which even challenged the young man. Bush settled in though, getting Jay Bruce to pop out and Brandon Phillips to ground into a fielder's choice that should have been a double play that JJ slightly bobbled. After hitting Adam Dunn with a pitch to load the bases, Edwin Encarnacion smoked a ball down the line, that I thought was going to score three runs for sure. But Craig Counsell some how ranged over and stopped the ball on the foul line about eight feet beyond third base. Counsell's throw was off target, and the run scored, but he saved at least one run, maybe two in the process as Corey Patterson flew out to end the big time threat.
Both pitchers found the groove after that, each plowing through the second and third innings unscathed. Bush was placing his pitches well and Volquez was taking advantage of an inconsistent strike zone, forcing the Brewers to swing at borderline pitches. But in the fourth inning, Volquez stopped hitting the corners and started making mistakes. He left a changeup over the plate on an 0-2 pitch to Corey, which he smoked into center for a double. After advancing to third on a ground out by Cousnell, Mike Cameron pushed Hart across with a single to left. After stealing second, Cameron would get pushed across on Jason Kendall's hardest and furthest hit of the season. No, it didn't make it over the fence, but it did hit it and Brewers took a 4-1 lead.
The Brewers would manufacture another run in the fifth as JJ Hardy and Ryan Braun led off the inning with singles. Hardy would advance to third on a fly ball to left center and would score on a sac fly by Corey Hart. It's amazing what situational hitting and not strikeouts do can do for a team. This fifth and final run, sent Volquez packing when the inning was finished after tossing 96 pitches in just five innings of work.
Dave Bush, on the other hand, was efficient, which was a change of pace after his last outing. Bush avoided the long ball in this one and only walked two batters, and was really only challenged in his first and final innings. Bush looked poised to give up the big inning in both instances, but was saved by defense in the first and a ground rule double combined with solid pitching the seventh.
Prince Fielder put the exclamation point on the game with a two run blast in the top half of that inning after getting a little chin music the two pitches before. Who was the first man to congratulate him in the dug out? None other than Manny Parra. To be honest, Manny looked like he was just doing it for the sake of the team. No smile, no excitement, just a little fiver. Prince gave him that five and gave him a little tap on the cheek, as the Brewers patted themselves on the back after splitting the first two games of the series.
Game Changing Play:
The Craig Counsell stop really stands out in my mind, but momentum really didn't shift then, it simply stalled it for both teams. As a result, I'm going to go with Mike Cameron's RBI single, stolen base and Kendall's double as a sequence that really changed the complexion of the game. These guys have floundered immensely considering their 'veteran' status. Veteran's are expected to produce and these guys just haven't, but tonight their contributions, specifically in the fourth inning, pushed the confidence meter back to the green.
- It's interesting to note that Ray Durham was pretty rough at the plate tonight. He popped out twice, once on the first pitch and once after only three pitches. He then singled on a quality AB in the third and flew out in the seventh on a ball right down the middle after only four pitches. Yet, the media and those over at the JS blog, think Rickie is awful for having these nights. The guy made it past the four pitch mark once and was rewarded for it. Otherwise he never hit the ball hard. But he gets some slack because he's not Rickie Weeks. Frustrating. And I'm done beating a dead horse, at least for tonight.
Who's on Tap?:
The Brewers and Reds square off in a morning rubber match tomorrow, pitting Mr. August Jeff Suppan against former top prospect Homer Bailey. It should be interesting considering Suppan's struggles with the Reds and their long balls and Homer Bailey's inconsistent approach on the mound. Thankfully the Brewers have seen him once before this season, so they shouldn't be completely embarrassed at the plate.