Unlucky Number 4

by Kevin Kimmes

The number 4 seems to carry with it, a very vexing connotation in Wisconsin sports lore, and as of yesterday, the number has reared it’s ugly head again. With no disrespect to Paul Molitor, who’s number 4 was retired by the Brewers in 1999, the number is best known to carry hurt feelings over a former NFL quarterback named Burt something-or-another. However, as of last night, it has become the “Magic Number” for the St Louis Cardinals.

With Milwaukee’s’ loss to the Cincinnati Reds and St Louis’ win over the hapless Houston Astros,  it appears that the clock may be quickly approaching midnight on the Cinderella story that was the Brewers’ post season push. Now, is this to say that all hope is lost for the Crew? Absolutely not. Hell, it’s baseball, and if I’ve learned anything from watching the game over the years it is that just when things seem to be at their bleakest, the baseball gods have a funny way of throwing a 12-6 curveball that reshuffles the status quo.

If the Cardinals win today, again, DO NOT PANIC! They will pick up a win, maybe 2, over a lesser club like Houston. It’s just the way it is. The positive is that while Milwaukee may struggle with the Reds, they finish at home with 3 games each against the Astros and Padres, while St Louis will be at home taking on 2 teams that are contenders, the Nationals and Reds.

The Brewers can pull this out. It may however come down to sweeping these final 8 games to do it. Fans I ask one favor of you, don’t stop Brewlieving!

Good and Bad Omens on a Doubleheader Monday

The Brewers finished off a sweep of the Mets yesterday thanks to an excellent outing by Yovani Gallardo, and now its on to Pittsburgh where the Brewers play a twi-night doubleheader.  The late game is a makeup of a game postponed in April.

Game 1 will feature Chris Narveson’s return from a brief DL stint with a thumb injury.  He’ll go against Brewers’ nemesis Jeff Karstens, whose 2009 spat with Ryan Braun you might recall.  Its worth noting that Karstens has never won a game against the Brewers, while Narveson is 3-0 career against the Pirates.

Zack Greinke gets the ball in game 2 against Pirates reliever-turned-starter Brad Lincoln.  Lincoln will definitely be on a pitch count in only his second start of the season.  Lincoln’s first start of the year was back in July, and it was quality (6 IP, 2 ER, 4 K, 3 BB).  In his career versus the Brewers (8.1 IP), Lincoln has a 10.80 ERA with 4 strikeouts.

Doubleheaders haven’t been kind to the Brewers this year.  I’ve heard that doubleheaders are often swept, and while I have no stats to back that up, it would be true in the Brewers’ case.  The team has played two doubleheaders this year and has been swept in both:  by Washington in mid-April and by Atlanta in early May.  Both occurred on the road.

Magic Number Watch: 27

Revenge is the theme

The Brewers are on a five-game winning streak and look to close out the series against Washington tomorrow with a sixth.  And the name of the game in this series is revenge.

Three straight devastating losses to the sub par (21-27) Washington team set the Brewers back in April, dropping them below .500 again after they regained their footing following four straight losses to open the season.

In an interview with 1250 WSSP, Jonathan Lucroy didn’t mince words when asked whether the team was playing with a chip on its shoulder.  “Absolutely.  We’re still pretty bitter about that.  We don’t like getting beat like we did when we went there … I want to give them a taste of their medicine.”

The Brewers are well on their way.  Cory Hart absolutely hammered Washington starter Tom Gorzelanny and reliever Doug Slaten yesterday, racking up 3 HR and 7 RBI en route to an 11-3 Brewers victory.  Ironically, Hart, the victim of an early season DL stint, wasn’t even around during the sweep in Washington.  But Lucroy played in two out of the three games, and chimed in with two hits and an RBI.

Tonight, the Brewers clawed and scraped to beat the Nationals, 7-6, in a much closer contest.  Starter Chris Narveson pitched himself into a big hole early in the game, giving up six runs between the second and fourth innings.  But timely hitting from the series’ usual suspects – Hart (2-4, HR, 2 RBI) and Lucroy (2-4, HR, 3 RBI) – helped put the Brewers on the board, and Weeks tacked on a 2-run shot in the 7th to cut the Nats lead to one.

That set up an epic play at the plate in the eighth to give the Brewers the lead.  With two outs, Brandon Boggs walked and Casey McGehee, who had reached on a single, moved over to second.  Lucroy again proved to be the hero, singling to right field.  And as Boggs challenged the throw, Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos missed the ball, allowing the go-ahead run to score.  Axford closed the door in the ninth.

Tomorrow, Zack Greinke gets the nod, and the opportunity to bring this cycle of vengeance full circle.