The Brewers took the second game in a row of a three game series against the Pirates Wednesday night on the arm of their ace, Ben Sheets. Sheets pitched his second complete game of the year, scattering 11 hits and getting away with it by refusing to walk a batter, striking out six and avoiding the big hit with runners on. The Pirates had to be frustrated. It's not very often that you get eleven hits and only pull one run out of the deal.
Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun continued to deliver combining for four hits, three runs and two RBIs. Weeks contributed with his 6th home run of the year as well a stolen base and is slowly moving up the ladder to gain fans praise. But these guys weren't the only two on top of their game. J.J. Hardy continued his streak as well walking twice and pitching in an RBI single in the second inning. He's flourished since moving to the six-hole behind Corey Hart, who tossed in another two hits tonight.
Every Pirates starter had a hit besides the pitcher, but they just couldn't put it together at the same time. Xavier Nady's homerun in the fourth represented the only run the Pirates could get despited having a hit in every inning except the fifth. But it seemed like every time they threatened Ben Sheets would follow with a big strikeout or the Pirates would follow up with a poor AB. Mind you, Mike Everitt's strike zone was huge and you can't help but have a few problems.
Game Changing Play:
Right after the Pirates tied the game in the fourth Rickie Weeks hit a slow ground ball to first base to lead off the fifth. Adam LaRoche flat out biffed a ball right between his legs allowing Weeks to reach. He would steal second during the next AB and would score on Ryan Braun's triple. But that run wouldn't have scored since Fielder popped up the next time through. Nevertheless, a single by Corey Hart would score Braun turning a tie game into a two run lead, from which the Pirates would never recover.
Predictions and Notes:
Rickie continues to deal which is exciting, but I couldn't have been more wrong about Xavier Nady. I'll be honest, I have completely underestimated Nady this year. He has been on fire lately, perhaps overachieving. Nevertheless, his power numbers have been impressive and he has had some excellent ABs so far this series. If he sustains it, more power to him.
Sheets was more dynamic than I thought he would be after a tough outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he exploded in the seventh. If there's anything that can revitalize a team, it's an ace who handles himself the way he did in this game. There was nothing dominating about this performance, but it has shown the growth he's made as a player, and it's something to be proud of.
In the end, Freddy Sanchez and Nate McLouth have not been producing enough for the Pirates to be an effective offensive team. Nady has hit the ball particularly well, but not with runners on. Even worse, the pitching has been doing just to keep Pittsburgh in games, but with the pressure constantly on, they will eventually fold. Snell pitched particularly well tonight, but the two unearned runs really ruined his line.
What's on Tap?:
The Brewers go for the sweep in game three tomorrow night at 6:05 CST, pitting Dave Bush against Tom Gorzelanny. Milwaukee has been particularly good against lefties this year so I wouldn't be surprised to see them ride this bus little longer and save Yost's job for the remainder of the season. The Pirates need to figure something out if they want to take this game, and that shouldn't be particularly difficult with Bush on the mound. But they'll have to do it for a while because the Brewers offense looks like it's on one of its offensive runs.