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Note: Derrick Turnbow pitches his first AAA game last night and walked three while giving up a hit and two runs in two thirds of an inning. Not what he had hoped I'm sure. On with the analysis.
May 9th: Milwaukee 4 St. Louis 3
May 10th: Milwaukee 3 St. Louis 5
May 11th: Milwaukee 5 St. Louis 3
May 12th: Milwaukee 8 St. Louis 3
MVPs of the Series:
Ryan Braun: 9/16; 4 HRs, 2 2Bs, BB, 6 Rs, 0 Ks
Albert Pujols: 4/9; HR, 4 BBs, R, RBI
Braun was flat out on fire this series. I'm mostly impressed by the zero strikeouts in 17 PAs, which is beyond a rarity for Braun, but most people will be impressed with the four homeruns in just six ABs. Interestingly, all four of those homeruns were solo shots which is a bit frustrating, but not something worth complaining about.
It was a bit difficult to pick the MVP for the Cardinals because they are pretty dead set on a team performance. I wanted to give it to Ludwick who had the game winning hit on Saturday, but I can't reduce myself to giving the guy props when he had more strikeouts than total bases. Ultimately, Pujols was on base at a .615 clip, which is ridiculous and worth noting.
What was the Difference?:
It turns out that after looking at the numbers, the Cardinals should have won this series, but in the end, it was starting pitching and defense that gave the Brewers the edge. The Cardinals amassed more hits and walked several more times, but the Brewers would turn five pivotal double plays in the series and commit only one error, while the Cards would turn only two and commit five errors, resulting in four unearned runs.
With the exception of Monday's game where Wainwright struggled mightily, the Brewers and Cardinals starting pitching was impressive. But the Brewers starters would out-duel the Cards, giving up 8 runs in 25 innings, while the Cards starters gave up 8 in 18.1 innings sans Wainwright.
Causes for Concern:
Both teams obviously have to be concerned with the back end of the bullpen, but the Cardinals should be a little more concerned. The Brewers have more than capable arms with Torres, Mota and Riske hiding out there, but with the exception of Ryan Franklin, the Cards don't have anyone with the the experience or mental stability to close. Even then, Ryan Franklin may be a little sketchy in that role considering he's spent so much time in the set-up role. Sometimes they aren't mentally prepared to close. Perhaps Randy Flores could pull it off, as he has the stuff, but you never know. The Brewers will likely stick to closer by committee for some time, but that's not always good. In the end, they'll have to rely on Yost to handle the matchups, and that could be a big problem.
On other fronts, the Cards should have some worries about their defense, which led to their demise this series. If their pitching continues to be solid, they could be in great shape if they get clean up the defense. The Brewers need to continue to work on their discipline at the plate. The Cardinals put on a show again, walking 22 times in four games, but the Brewers didn't follow suit, walking 11 times. Interestingly, many of those runs scored. Maybe they should pay attention to those things, especially in game three when they walked and HBP'd the first two ABs and they both came around to score.
Causes for Excitement:
Ryan Ludwick is actually turning into an every day player, but he'll have to cut his strike out numbers if he plans on sticking around as such. Other than that, the Cards should continue to be excited about their starting pitching. Wainwright is allowed a blow up start once and a while, but Wellenmeyer, Looper and Piniero all pitched extremely well. This rotation could carry the team if they have everything figured out.
For the Brewers, there's plenty to be excited about considering the rebound from a 6-game losing streak. Ryan Braun has found his stroke and the starting pitching was solid all of the way through. With the Cubs winning four straight, the Brewers will need to keep this up if they plan on making a run at the division. Additionally, the bullpen continues to impress, despite Eric Gagne. Stetter had some troubles this weekend, but other than that, everyone has been impressive, refusing to give up a lead the entire series.