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Ben Sheets pitched his third complete game in the season en route to a huge Brewers victory that starts their 10-gam road-trip. This made him the story all night, working fast and tossing strikes. It took him only 106 pitches, 73 for strikes, to get through 31 batters all while not allowing a single Brave to get an RBI. This performance gave him his ninth win of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.59.
The Brewers offense showed up for a little bit, doing all of their work in the second and third innings. Corey Hart led off the second with an impressive at bat that was rewarded by a single, bringing up Mike Cameron. Cameron would work his way ahead of Braves pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes, and then turned on a ball and sent it to the left field bleachers, giving the Brewers yet another homerun. In the third, a red hot Rickie Weeks stepped up to the plate and ripped a ball to the gap for a double. JJ Hardy would follow suit with a double of his own, and so would Ryan Braun for three consecutive doubles and a 4-0 lead.
Soon after, things really quieted down. After getting Fielder to fly out, Reyes walked Hart and Cameron prompting Bobby Cox to pull the lever and bring in Buddy Carlyle. Carlyle induced a line-out from Billy Hall and fly out from Jason Kendall to end the bases loaded threat. And that was the story for the Brewers offense the rest of the night. The Brewers blew a big opportunity and really wouldn't get one the rest of the night as Carlyle saved his team from a blow up game that could have stuck with them the rest of the series. Carlyle ended up pitching 4.1 solid innings of baseball, saving the Braves bullpen, all while keeping them in the game, even if it didn't seem like it with Sheets on the mound.
Game Changing Play:
In the fourth inning the Braves were threatening for the first, and really the only time all night. The had runners on first and third with no one out with their stud catcher, Brian McCann up to bat. Ahead 2-1 and with the curveball really not working, the Braves were sitting on fastballs, but McCann couldn't get around on it and grounded into an easy double play. The run scored, but it really deflated the Braves and amped up Ben Sheets, who praised Jason Kendall yet again after the victory.
- With this win the Brewers are only 1.5 GB from the wild card, 5.5 GB from the division leading Cubs, and are eight games above .500, which is a season best. Interestingly they're doing it with good defense, plate discipline and quality pitching: signs of good teams. Yes the homerun ball is still the pillar to their success, but they haven't pushed that too far yet.
- Sheets is leading the National League in CGs and is second only to Roy Halladay in the entire league. And with less than half of the season done, it's interesting to note Sheets is on pace to pitch over 200 innings for the first time since 2004, when he finished with 237 IP and a 2.70 ERA. That kind of season could really put the Brewers over the top.
- The Brewers dodged a huge bullet as Chipper Jones wasn't in the lineup for the second day in a row, as he rested his quad, which he slightly tore a few days ago. The Braves desperately need Jones' bat after mustering only four hits tonight. The question is, do he Braves want to risk it? That's not up to me, but I hope not. The Brewers could use two more victories.
Who's on Tap?:
The Brewers ride a three game winning streak into game two with Dave Bush on the mound taking on Charlie Morton, who has never faced the Brewers. The Braves will need to play with a little more confidence if they want to keep up that home record and stop a streaking Milwaukee squad.