There were a lot of people you could have picked for the Brewers MVP this week. I really was leaning towards Salomon Torres because of his two innings were real important ones. You could have even gone with Braun or Fielder who both had good series, but Russell 'The Muscle' has been the catalyst of this team since his arrival. Yesterday's game was the case and point. I whine about walks all day and every day. Corey Hart and Fielder led off the third inning with walks, which is a feat in itself, to bring up Branyan. Branyan promptly took a few balls and smoked a ball to the right center field bleachers for a three run bomb. Good things happen when you take free baserunners.
The Blue Jays didn't play very good baseball this week, but Lyle Overbay did a very good job getting on base and being patient at the plate. Overbay has struggled since breaking his hand last year, but has been making up for his low average by taking a lot of pitches and walking. That's exactly what Overbay did this week, getting on at .500 clip during the series. Unfortunately for him, nobody could get him all the way around the bases and his patience practically went for naught. Nevertheless, his return to Milwaukee was a successful one, showing us that he's the same old 'O' in the field and at the plate. He will always be a fan favorite here.
What Was the Difference?:
Starting pitching. The Brewers swept the Blue Jays because in 21 innings of work, the starters only gave up three runs (1.28 ERA). The Jays starters, who up to this point have been some of the best in the league, weren't nearly as good, giving up 16 runs in just 15 innings of work (9.6 ERA). You could have said the long ball if you wanted to, but the Blue Jays practically stole a game on Thursday because of the long ball.
Causes for Concern:
The Brewers can't really be happy with the bullpen this week, which struggled pretty hard on Wednesday and Thursday, but the offense and Salomon Torres picked up the pieces. Bullpens are allowed down times. Perhaps the offense can carry them long enough to get them back on tract. Other than that, I personally was not happy seeing only two walks total in the first two games of the series and heavy reliance on the long ball. However, they did quell some of my worries by walking six times in yesterday's game. Of those six free baserunners, three scored. All of these turned out to be huge runs. I can still hope they'll keep doing this right?
If I were a Jays fan I would be really worried about A.J. Burnett, who made comments that made it sound like he was ready to leave an then promptly gets his ass handed to him in his next start. Let him go to the Blue Jays. If Milwaukee can rock him this bad now, imagine what they can do after they've seen him a couple of times. Other than that the Jays have to wonder what the hell is going on with their offense. With Alex Rios and Vernon Wells in your lineup, you should expect a lot more. They showed up a little late on Thursday, but more consistency would do wonders. Why Matt Stairs is ever batting clean up is beyond me. That is perhaps why the Jays coach is on the hot seat.
Causes for Excitement:
Brewers starters have been extremely impressive over the past month or so, McClung and Parra especially. Though McClung didn't pitch in this series, his start against the Twins was a huge pick me up for this team and Parra followed it up by tossing seven shutout innings. Even when Sheets is off, he's an ace. And finally Dave Bush flirted with a no-no, though I was screaming for it to end in the sixth because now whenever Bush is terrible, Yost will be able to defend it with, "You know, he's good enough to almost get a no hitter. He was just missing tonight." AHH! I'm not going to be able to handle that. Anyways, 18 of the last 22 starts for the Brewers have been 'quality starts', which is more than making up for the Brewers inconsistent offense and low OBP.
It looks like Vernon Wells is back on his horse. While the numbers weren't overwhelming this series, Wells looked healthy and smooth at the plate. That's a big must for the Jays who really need a boost of confidence. Elsewhere, I'd say that Shawn Marcum and Dustin McGowan, though they struggled still looked pretty good. McGowan struck out five in four innings and Marcum six in six. The Brewers just had hot sticks this week. Every time they got wood on it, it was elevated and carrying. Looking at their homerun numbers prior to this week, this was the worst case scenario for both and they'll come back better than ever in their next few starts.
- Julian Tavarez was DFA'd this week to make room for David Riske, who gave up a grand slam yesterday in his return. The Brewers want Tavarez to go to AAA and get some innings to sharpen up again, as if he was that sharp the last five years.
- Yost finally conceded that Salomon Torres is the Brewers official closer despite Eric Gagne scheduled to return from the DL next week. This was a no brainer. It just took Gagne getting close for this to be said. Gagne will probably be a 7th or 8th inning option after a few innings of mop up work. If he can avoid the walks, he has the potential to be effective.
- Dillard got raped again yesterday, but I'll blame it on Yost refusing to use him yet again. Prior to this huge blow ups, Dillard was getting work every other or every two days. His last two outings were separated by five days. How do you stay sharp? It's frustrating to see a manager waste a talent like Dillard.