April 11th: Milwaukee Brewers 2 New York Mets 4
April 12th: Milwaukee Brewers 5 New York Mets 3
April 13th: Milwaukee Brewers 9 New York Mets 7
Gabe Kapler was utterly ridiculous in the two games he played in this series. On Saturday his 2-run home run was the difference in the game and on Sunday his 2-run shot set the tone for a slug-fest. It didn't hurt that he tacked on two more doubles, one of which provided an insurance run for the Brewers ultimate victory.
Nobody was particularly wonderful for the Mets in the series. Angel Pagan had a quality series, bu really had nothing to show for it going, 5/12 with one run and one RBI. As a result, Wright takes the cake by default, as his power was definitely something to be feared the entire series.
What was the difference?
The long ball. I said in my series preview that if the Mets wanted to prevail, they were going to have to show us the long ball. David Wright did with two solo shots, but nobody else showed up. They almost managed to make up for it by walking 13 times in the series, but were unable to push across enough runs to overcome. The Brewers on other hand found their power stroke in Rickie Weeks and Gabe Kapler, who both hit two home-runs this series and combined to score 10 of the Brewers 16 runs in the series. Not bad for the one and two hole. Toss in a Bill Hall solo shot and you can see that the Brewers' role players are doing their best. If a struggling Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder find their way to their old form, then expect a ridiculously potent offense.
Causes for Concern:
The Mets should be a little bit worried about Jose Reyes' injury on Friday. While it's just a strain, it can be one of those nagging injuries that could take away Reyes' most important skill and that's his speed. No more infield singles and no more stolen bases will destroy the amount of runs that could be produced by the top of this lineup. Speaking of the top of the lineup, there should be a little bit of concern about the Mets lack of power production 1-4. Beltran and Delgado are 30-40 HR type guys and combined they only have one dinger this year, which was hit by Delgado. In this series they mustered only on extra base hit, which was Delgado's booming double off the wall in game two. Delgado is almost 36 and may finally be on that downfall, but Beltran is 31 and should not be falling off any time soon, but the Mets plan on making a run, they need these two guys to do the work.
For the Brewers, it's still that inability to take walks. They amassed four walks over the first two games, but held on for 5 in today's rubber match, which is a start. But 24 strikeouts in three games is unacceptable, especially when you know more than half of those were on pitches outside of the zone. Though three or four of them were head ump Jerry Layne. If Braun and Fielder's flip flop results in more walks, the problem may remedy itself. Fielder has much better plate discipline and can handle taking walks that Braun might not be able to. So protecting Braun and forcing teams to pitch to him, may ultimately benefit this squad.
The Brewers need also worry about their bullpen's control problems. The Brewers bullpen walked 8 batters in 11 innings this series, but were saved by multiple double plays, which don't come as often as you like. Torres and Mota and the most responsible for these numbers, so hope their command improves, as everyone else seems poised and going well.
Causes for Excitement:
The Mets have little to celebrate today. Their ace gave up three homeruns to a struggling squad and their number three in Oliver Perez couldn't get past the fifth inning, but the bright spot has been Angel Pagan and perhaps Aaron Heilman finding himself. Pagan has only played two seasons in the big leagues, but every day playing is starting to pay off. He has walked 7 times in 46 plate appearances thus far and has already managed three stolen bases. He was expendable to the Cubs with Pie, Soriano and Fukudome, but he's a perfect fit in that two hole behind Reyes and in front of Wright. It doesn't hurt that he can fill in at the leadoff spot with Reyes out.
At the beginning of the series, the Mets were a nervous wreck about their bullpen especially after their stud reliever Aaron Heilman gave up 6 runs and two homers over his first 5 appearances. However, in the Brewers series Heilman went 2.2 innings, striking out 3 and only allowing one baserunner on a HBP. Good outings from Scott Schoenweis and Carlos Muniz also give the Mets some promise as there's still a lot of season for these guys to work the kinks out.
For the Brewers, his name is Gabe Kapler and he's played down right impressive at the plate and in the field. Kapler is batting a ridiculous .423 in 11 games thus far and leads the Brewers in RBIs with 11 and slg pct with a .962 clip. You know he's not going to keep it up, but how can you not be proud and excited about a guy who was coaching minor league baseball just one year ago and is only making 800k on a non-guaranteed contract. Impressive. The Brewers can also be excited about Rickie Weeks and Bill Hall, who are hitting for power again and are playing quality defense all over the place. Both are going to make a few mistakes every now and then, but the most sure handed infield the Brewers have had in some time. If Prince follows suit sometime soon, the Brewers could turn into a very well rounded squad.