Monday, May 6, 2013

Brewers/Cardinals Series review - "I Win the Game if You Beg Me to Cut Off Your Finger"

Thursday, 5/2 Cardinals 6, Brewers 5
Friday, 5/3 Cardinals 6, Brewers 1
Saturday, 5/4 Cardinals 7, Brewers 6
Sunday, 5/5 Cardinals 10, Brewers 1

Win Probability Stars
5/4 Jonathan Lucroy singled to center. Martin Maldonado and Alex Gonzalez scored. (+.179 WPA)

5/4 Norichika Aoki sacrifice fielder's choice to catcher (Bunt Grounder). Jeff Bianchi scored. Logan Schafer advanced to 2B. (+.172 WPA)

5/4 Logan Schafer singled to center. Jeff Bianchi advanced to 3B. (+.172 WPA)

I know, that's a long title. "Game of Thrones" fans likely recognized that quote and cringed a little bit at the thought of it. For those unfamiliar, this was said from one character to his tied-up captive in the midst of a vicious guessing game, and I thought it was fitting here. The Cardinals toyed with the Brewers this series the same way the "Game of Thrones" prisoner was being played with by his torturer. For games 1 and 3, the Cardinals gave the Brewers just enough of a window to possibly win the game, only to slam it in their face right when they were on the cusp of doing so. Then in games 2 and 4, they just blew them out like it was nothing, scoring runs at will in the process via bloops, bleeders and long balls.

Fun fact: no Brewers starter made it past 5 innings this series, and neither of them allowed less than 4 earned runs. Pretty neat, hey?

I hate the Cardinals. Hate 'em. And there's multiple reasons for it.

Part of it is jealousy. They're a well run organization from the top down with a long tradition of winning. To even deny that's a factor would be kidding myself. But many like me are fortunate enough to follow a football team who also carries these same traits, who also help ease the pain during the Brewers down seasons (apologies to fans raised on Minnesota, Illinois or any other state's football. My condolences.)

Another long handed-down tradition of the Cardinals is bitching and moaning, bred by the Tony LaRussa school of professionalism. This is where a larger part of the hatred comes from. It's their shit-don't-stink attitudes, the way they just seem to suck fun out of the game, and the extremely large ego of their fan base – the self-proclaimed "Best Fans in Baseball."

And that's not to mention the gobs of luck of they always seem to be swimming in. I've made a stink in the past over the Giants last couple World Series-winning clubs overachieving. But the Cardinals previous two winners? They make each of San Francisco's teams look like the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees.


Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. There really wasn't a lot to say about this series outside of that, other than Braun appears to be out of his funk. Rickie Weeks, on the other hand, continues to keep us guessing on whether he's broken out of slump or not.

MVP: Warm Weather

If you spent your time outdoors instead of watching every minute of these games, you are the real winner here.

LVP: Marco Estrada

Sorry, John Axford won it last week. A starting pitcher had to take the cake this time, and Estrada turned in the worst of the group, which also happened to be his second straight poor outing.

The Brewers were in a tough spot from the word "go" this season with their starting pitching, originally having to rely on Estrada to be their #2 starter. Even as a #3 in the rotation, they're asking a lot out of a pitcher who really is more of a back-end guy. Stepping up against some of the more talented starters in the league is always going to have mixed results for him, but especially against the Cardinals multitude of talented starters. He's simply overmatched more often than not.

That's not to say Estrada can't hold his own from time to time, but the early results tell us that gambling on a guy like Estrada to overachieve from what he is might be just asking TOO much of him.

Play of the Series: Ryan Braun's diving grab

Now that I'm done being a snarky sourpuss, I'll acknowledge that Braun actually had himself a pretty good series, and was probably the real MVP.

Watching some of the Brewers reserve outfielder out in left has helped further my appreciation for the progress Braun has made on his defense these past few years, and it's comforting to know that he can  save his own skin when he takes a not-so-good route on a tough fly ball, as was the case here.

Just another reminder that Ryan Braun is good at baseball.

What's Next

The Brewers host a two-game series against the Texas Rangers in their first interleague series of the year. The Rangers are coming in tied for the best record in baseball at 20-11 after sweeping the Boston Red Sox. The Brewers and Rangers are meeting for the first time in 3 years, and this will actually be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season, with a second two-game series set for the second weekend in August in Arlington.

Probable starters
5/7 Peralta vs. Grimm
5/8 Lohse vs. Holland

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