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Under normal circumstances, I would have written a series preview for the Brewers and Giants series that started today, but there's very good reason for why I wasn't able to. I was kind of grilling and drinking beer in the Miller Park parking lot. Opening Day in Milwaukee has turned into a spectacle that parallels Packer tailgating season. Thousands of people find themselves walking around for hours with cases of Miller Lite, sporting Brewer gear they didn't have just two years ago. With grills smoking and suds bubbling, Brewers' fans are finally unafraid to show their true colors. Fair-weather fan or not, it's an exciting time to be a Brewer fan, especially for those born in the mid-80's, who haven't seen a baseball team do well in the entirety of their lives. Today, they straight put on a show.
In what some might call a bloodbath, the Brewers stroked 16 hits en route to a 14-3 victory over the young (and old) San Francisco Giants. Carlos Villanueva tossed 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits, two walks and striking out six for his first victory of the year and the Brewers' third. The story of the day the day, however, was the performances of the 1-3 hitters of Weeks, Kapler and Fielder, who were all denied credit by an incredible performance by Billy Hall, who stroked two homeruns to left field, knocking in a career high six runs. But it's because of this that a 2, 3, 3 hit and 3, 2, 3 run performance from Weeks, Kapler and Fielder, respectively, will go unnoticed for the time being. And I'm quite alright with that.
People are constantly asking what's the difference between this team and last year's. Well, it's really not all that hard. The first and real answer is experience, but experience ultimately leads to better at bats, more walks and the desire to win rather than just stand up and hit the snot out of the ball. Yes, two homeruns in today's game led to five runs, but the remaining nine came from a series of singles and walks, while only two other hits went for extra bases in the Brewers' onslaught. The key to any AB is swinging at pitches that are hittable, fighting off those that may not be and taking those that are out of the zone. Brewers batters struck out nine times today, which is frustrating, but rarely did they swing at a bad pitch, leading to a breezy victory.
I'm a total Carlos Villanueva homer. For those who don't know, Villanueva is a 24 year savvy right hander, home grown in the Brewers' farm system. He's a straight off speed pitcher with a 90-92 MPH fastball, who is capable of throwing his chaneup and curveball at two different velocities, making him extremely deceptive. Villa pitched relatively well today, considering the hype of Opening Day, but his 5.1 innings is hardly acceptable with a 8-0 game. Innings become important, but Carlos could never keep it together the whole time out there. He'd hit his first pitch strike and fall 2-1 just as fast, and then he'd jump ahead 0-2 before throwing two balls and having to work harder than he really should. Villa needs to continue working on the location of his changeup, at least it looked like a changeup from where I was sitting, so he can jump up on his fastball when batters least expect it. But for that to work, he needs to stay aggressive, which he normally is, just not today. A quality outing nevertheless, ultimately saved by an impressive three inning save from Salomon Torres.
After a nap to tame the post game hang over, a brief analysis of specific performances or desired improvements may follow. Go Crew