Milwaukee Brewers 1 Atlanta Braves 0 MVPs of the Game:
Jeff Suppan: 8 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 7 K (W)
JoJo Reyes: 7 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 9 K (L)
In a stunning pitches duel, the Brewers out lasted the Braves with a little help from the umpires and Rickie Weeks. Jeff Suppan dealt eight shut out innings with probably his best start of the year. The thing is, the Brewers don't know how to win without some drama. Young JoJo Reyes pitched better than Suppan only to be slapped with the loss. Both teams got caught looking a ridiculous amount of times, but the difference was ultimately the double play ball. The Brewers turned two big double plays in the game, one on a bunt by the pitcher, in order to keep Chipper Jones at bay. In the end Reyes would walk the first batter in the eight and was replaced by Blaine Boyer. After a sac bunt and a strike out, Rickie Weeks ripped a groundball down the left field line to score JJ Hardy from second. Torres would pitch a flawless ninth for his fourth save of the year.
This was a crazy game, but not in the 'haha' sort of way, at least not until the eighth inning. The Brewers and Braves only combined for seven hits tonight, mostly because of good defensive placement and well located pitches. As a result, things moved fast and furious with the veteran and 'rookie' going pitch for pitch. The game only lasted two hours and fifteen minutes, and let's be honest, it wasn't interesting until hour two.
Kelly Johnson started out the eighth inning with a lead off walk, which scared the crap out of me since Chipper Jones was on deck. Soup then promptly dropped a wasted high to Jones who crushed it to left center. But it wasn't high enough and Cameron brought it down. But then things got interesting. Mark Teixeira would strike out on three straight pitches that were essentially in the same spot. The problem? Those three pitches weren't strikes all night. Home plate umpire, Mark Wegner's strike zone did not include the bottom of the knees in the first seven innings of baseball, but for some reason, that changed in the eighth, prompting Texeireira to give him a bit of a look after the second strike. The very next pitch was probably three inches off the black and Wegner wrung him up. Up comes Brian McCann. The first pitch is a fastball at the bottom of the knees, and McCann had a conniption. He immediately stepped out of the box and expressed his displeasure. Wegner then told him to get into the box two times. McCann steps in for about a half a second, then puts the time sign up. Wegner points at the box and says get in there and points at Suppan. McCann looks him down some more and Wegner repeats the gesture. Kendall made the call and Jeff Suppan quickly tossed a change-up right down the middle while McCann sat half in the box with his bat on his shoulder. McCann's body language was something to behold and the Brewers' fans erupted like it was Game 7. Two pitches later McCann struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt two tosses later and the crowd erupted.
In the bottom half of the inning, JJ Hardy walked on four straight pitches, which weren't even close, prompting Cox to take the young Reyes out and bring in the usually reliable Blaine Boylan. But Boylan couldn't get it done as Rickie Weeks ripped an 0-1 pitch past Chipper Jones for the game winner. Salomon Torres continues his success with the Brewers this season with his fourth save and perhaps has solidified his role in the bullpen even when Eric Gagne returns.
Game Changing Play:
It should be the McCann free strike to be honest, but I'm going to go much earlier than that. In the second inning the Braves were threatening bit time. Gregor Blanco started the threat with a single. Omar Infante would reach on Bill Hall's 12th error, which leads the majors (Did I mention he K'd twice and had a broken bat single against a lefty?), bringing up pitcher JoJo Reyes. Reyes would make the mistake of bunting towards third base. Kendall would snap out of his crouch pick up the ball bare handed and toss the ball to third. Hall would not hesitate and tossed the ball to first to get Reyes for a double play, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Predictions and Notes:
It's rare to see umps have agendas. But tonight, Wegner did, and I won't complain, but I don't condone it. That's not to say this game would have ended any differently, but when you're struggling and you feel like you have the umps visibly out to get you, it's difficult to keep fighting. I don't know what else to say. I guess the ramifications of something like this haven't really settled with the beer from the tailgate. Well, I failed yesterday's predictions, but I'll predict Bush will lose his job every start because his command has been atrocious. Jo-Jo delivered though, making me look like a genius for four seconds, but I was humbled by Prince Fielder looking like a little girl against the lefty. Both Cameron and Hart were hitless, but both hit lasers that were right at guys or were snagged on good defensive plays (insert Omar Infante). And Chipper, well, Chipper is good. 'Nough said.
What's on Tap?:
The Brewers go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon with Seth McClung taking the mound for his second start and an 85-90 pitch limit. Look for him to struggle with his command a bit. The Brewers will need more than three hits off of Jorge Campillo to win tomorrow like they did tonight. I'm liking JJ Hardy right now, whose two walks tonight have really gone over looked. If he could jump 20 more points on that average, I would be more than happy to see him finish out his final pre-free agency years here. Hall better be on the bench tomorrow if Yost claims to be committed to winning instead of just competing.