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Wow. That's all I can really say. I don't know what Jeff Suppan changed to handle the Reds this year, but whatever it was, it's working. Suppan went pitch for pitch with Johnny Cueto, yet again, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing only 3 hits, 2 earnies, and one walk and striking out 3. Cueto followed suit, going 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned, sort of) with 2 walks and 5 Ks. But once again, there was drama in Cincinnati as these two teams go into extras for the third time in five games this year. All three were won by the Brewers.
In this one, Corey Hart hit his first homerun of the year and a 3-0 lead was blown by the usually reliable Brian Shouse, when 'Glass' Joey Votto skied an 0-1 mistake on the inside part of the plate over the right field fence. At a 3-3 tie, things got a real interesting.
On what was probably the third strike to Prince Fielder in the 8th, Paul Bako caught a 2-seam fastball and prepared to toss it around, only to hear 'Ball!' from home plate umpire, Hunter Wendelstedt. If you were watching the game, you would have saw a couple of things. First of all, the pitch was a strike, but umps make mistakes and often times rely on the glove of the catcher to pick up the final location of the pitch. In this case, Bako waved past the outside corner and then back in to catch the ball. Sometimes this is enough for an ump who had a very big strike zone most of the day to tighten up just a little bit. So Bako is upset and gets a smile out of Prince, who then takes his sweet time getting back into the box, allowing Bako to keep jawing at Wendelstedt. After a minute or so, Bako turns around but keeps talking, and finally too long as Wendelstedt tossed him. And as he's talking to Dusty Baker, you see Wendelstedt say something to the effect of, "I warned him four times." Bako, you're a veteran catcher. Your back up has a tender hamstring, and you get yourself tossed. Dumb. The best part of it was Prince got caught looking at exactly the same pitch, which came immediately after. The difference, Javier Valentin didn't waive at it. He stuck it and framed it. The same pitch to Corey resulted in his demise as well.
But wait, there's more. In the bottom half of the inning, Ryan Freel steps in and Ned Yost pulls the Tony LaRussa and lets Shouse warm up before making the change to Mota. Wendelstedt proceeds to ring up Freel looking on almost the same exact pitch they ring up Corey on and Freel goes off the handle, cussing like a little baby, and he gets tossed. Now the whole complexion of the game has changed. It was once a good game and now it's just a mockery. Neither team manages to score in the 8th or 9th innings, even after more complaining from Dusty Baker and Francisco Cordero on a bang bang play that even the slow-mo cameras couldn't decipher.
In the end, the Reds did absolutely nothing as a squad. They mustered only one walk and four hits the entire day. This allowed the Brewers to take advantage of a weak bullpen in the 10th inning, when for the second time this season, the Brewers dropped the hammer on David Weathers with a 2 RBI double from Bill Hall, saving Craig Counsell the embarrassment of his botched bunt.
While the bullpen may be in trouble as far as being over-worked, you can't help but notice how well they continue to do, especially Eric Gagne and Guillermo Mota, who are tag-teaming once again as a solid one-two punch at the end of games. Gagne has changed his approach and Mota his delivery. Credit a great Brewers coaching staff, and that guy behind the plate named Jason Kendall.
Side Note: I'm not sure I'm happy that Gagne just threw three days in a row, but I'm proud of the way he handled it. I'm especially not sure since the Brewers could have used Derrick Turnbow yesterday in a 5-0 game and saved David Riske. Just a thought.
Game Changing Play:
It really should be Joey Votto's homerun. It completely changed the flow of the game, but the Reds couldn't ride the wave, and it was J.J. Hardy's lead-off single in the eighth and Bill Hall's 3-2 double to the right-center gap that put an end to a two-headed monster of a game.
Predictions Pretty Good and Bad:
You can't get 'em all right? But if I'm going to get it wrong, I'd rather have the Brewers win. It's hard to believe the Suppan all of sudden has figured out how to work the Reds. But after looking at his line and how he did it, you realize that Soup had a game plan. Soup has always struggled with two specific Reds: Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. In this one Griffey hit a solid ground ball that scored a run and Adam Dunn doubled and walked. Keep these two guys in check? Keep the Reds in check. Dunn's double was a nasty one, but basically it was up and away the whole game for both of these guys. Do not give them the opportunity pull one because it will get out. That's not to say these guys can't go opposite field, cause they can, but it's not as easy to go yard to left than it to right when you're batting from the left side of the plate. Soup's dealings gave the Brewers some much needed ABs because Cueto was just ridiculous again. I can't wait to see what he ultimately turns into. He really bounds off the mound after every pitch and is very limber. He could use a little bit of polish on working the inside, but that's about the only criticism you can throw at the guy.
What's on Tap?
Well, for me, I hope it's another ego killer as the Brewers try to sweep the Reds in Cincinnati behind the young Yovani Gallardo. But it won't be easy. Aaron Harang flat out owns the Milwaukee Brewers, and while Bill Hall may be hot, I actually would prefer Craig Counsell in the lineup tomorrow. Gross should stick around too although everyone and their mother hates him over at the blogs at JSOnline. Don't expect too much from Yo. He hasn't been sharp in his rehab starts, but that doesn't mean the adrenaline of the major leagues won't catch him again. Nevertheless, the bullpen needs him.