Monday, April 8, 2013

Brewers/Diamondbacks series review - Everything is broken

The Brewers were lucky to get out of the Arizona series alive, and by that I mean they got swept and three of their best hitters got hurt but at least the bus to Chicago didn't crash. The series went about as bad as it possibly could, although I suppose the D-Backs winning every game 20-0 would have been worse. The pitching continued to struggle, with Mike Fiers and Yovani Gallardo getting knocked around in their starts and the bullpen giving up at least two runs in every game. Gallardo looked a little better than he did on opening day and was the victim of some bad outfield defense, but Fiers was blasted from the start and couldn't draw swings-and-misses. Kyle Lohse had a terrific debut on Friday night, but got little support from his offense and bullpen.

Much of the talk around the series thus far has centered around the failings of the 13-man pitching staff (which led to Kyle Lohse pinch-hitting with the game on the line in Sunday's game), but injuries have taken their toll on the team. Ryan Braun injured his neck prior to Friday's game and sat out the whole series, Aramis Ramirez ended up on the DL with a strained knee, and young shortstop Jean Segura had to leave Sunday's game with a bruised left thigh he sustained from a take-out slide by Gerardo Parra. Segura and Braun are only day-to-day at this point, but with an already short bench it's probably not the last time a pitcher will be forced to pinch-hit at some point.

John Axford blew up again in Sunday's game, escaping the 10th inning despite some loud outs and finally caving in the 11th by giving up a double to a crappy hitter in Cliff Pennington followed by a two-run shot by another crappy hitter in Eric Hinske. Manager Ron Roenicke claims Axford is still his closer, which is pretty incredible, but it's hard to imagine his leash being much longer after giving up four home runs in just 2 2/3 innings.

Awards time.

MVP: Jean Segura

I had a hard time picking between Segura, Lohse, and Nori Aoki, but I ultimately went with Segura despite him being knocked out of Sunday's loss. He hit his first career dinger on Friday, a big shot to straightaway center that ended up being the team's only run. He followed that up with another big game at the plate on Saturday, including a run-scoring double. All told, he went 4-for-9 in the series with a walk, and played fine defensively for the most part.

LVP: Burke Badenhop

Badenhop wins this prestigious award by contributing significantly to two losses. He was charged with two runs on Friday in 1/3 of an inning by giving up a walk and a hit, and while Michael Gonzalez (and Jonathan Lucroy, I guess) allowed those inherited runners to score, Badenhop's job is to get outs and the one out he did get was courtesy of a sacrifice bunt. Burke then followed that up on Sunday by allowing a base hit and a homer in the span of three pitches, putting the Brewers behind by two runs in a game they would lose by one. A pretty forgettable series for the sinkerballer who's ball is not sinking very well.

Play of the Series: It basically came down to Segura's homer and Logan Schafer's sweet throw on Sunday, but I'm going with Segura because first career taters are pretty sweet and Jean's reaction while rounding the bases was priceless. While it was obviously more than one play, Kyle Lohse striking out five straight to start Friday's game was a cool moment as well.

What's Next: The Brewers hit the road for their first trip outside of Miller Park this year. They are fortunate to not have to face Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija in any of the three upcoming games, but with how banged up the lineup is it's difficult to say the Brewers have any kind of edge, even if the pitching comes around. It's too early to declare anything a must-win game or series, but the team needs to take advantage of weak opponents and getting at least a couple wins against the Cubbies would be nice.

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