Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 17th, 2011

Brewers Start Marcum, Lose Big; Cardinals Advance to World Series

with 2 comments

The Milwaukee Brewers, to be blunt, laid a big, fat, juicy egg last night against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.  They did so because of one thing — Brewers rookie manager Ron Roenicke making a “rookie mistake” and insisting upon starting Shaun Marcum when Marcum had at least six bad outings prior to last night and had shown nothing at all in his last two starts that led me — or anyone else — to believe that Marcum would do better in Game 6.

That the Cardinals won the game, 12-6, and thus advanced to the World Series, is almost an afterthought due to Roenicke’s horrible managerial decisions.  Roenicke could’ve gone with Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (who last pitched on Wednesday, so he’d have had about the right amount of rest between starts) as Game 6 was do-or-die for the Brewers — Gallardo is the Brewers best pitcher by a lot these days, and with Gallardo on the mound, the Brewers had at least a chance to tie the series up again and go to Game 7.  Note that other managers in similar positions have done things like this before, most recently Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers — he pitched his ace, Justin Verlander (who went 24-5 in the regular season), in game 5 as that was Detroit’s first “elimination game” — and Verlander delivered, staving off elimination for another night.

But Roenicke, in his post-game press conference carried by the Brewers Radio Network, insisted that he made the “right call” in sending the struggling Marcum to the mound.

I beg to differ.

Marcum went out there and struggled from the get-go.  (There were some questionable balls/strikes calls from the home plate umpire, yes.  But if you’re a good pitcher, you get beyond that.)  He didn’t have his best stuff, or even his most mediocre-but-still-can-get-guys-out stuff — instead, he ended up giving up four runs in the first inning, and the Brewers were in an immediate hole.

There were some good hits by the Brewers in this game.  Corey Hart led off the first inning with a towering home run — not a cheap job, either, as it bounced off the scoreboard in right-center field.  Rickie Weeks hit a nice, long HR.  Jonathan Lucroy hit a 2-run HR that brought the game as close as it ever was — 5-4, still in favor of the Cardinals — but really, that was all the Brewers were able to muster as far as heroics went.

What was worse even than Marcum’s pitching performance (and total lack of understanding afterward that his arm is tired, he needs rest, he never should’ve started the game in the first place and for all I know, may have a hairline tear or other arm problem that needs to be addressed, pronto) was the Brewers defense.  Hart made an awful play in right field — one that was caused by thinking he had the ball in his glove when he didn’t, and might’ve been caused by him trying too hard — in the fourth.  Then Jerry Hairston had a double-error play — yes, two errors on one, single play — which put the Brewers out of reach as the Cardinals scored several more runs off the ground ball Kameron Loe had been brought in to induce.  (Loe had to be frustrated, though he was as impassive as ever out on the mound.  Loe’s professional demeanor would unnerve me as a hitter, for sure.)

Anyway, there were a few other positives aside from Loe doing what he was asked to do — get outs (not his fault that Hairston misplayed the ball, then made a bad throw for that double-error play).  Takashi Saito pitched two really fine innings for the Brewers to hold the Cardinals (for those innings) to “only” eleven runs.  Francisco Rodriguez gave up a solo HR, but compared to most of the rest of the pitchers, was OK — and I don’t blame him for that at all.  While John Axford pitched his usual scoreless 9th . . . oh, if Roenicke had just used the brain he was born with and started Gallardo, then done anything except start Marcum in game 7 (providing we’d have managed to win Game 6 with Gallardo pitching instead), I’d have had a far better experience watching my 2011 Brewers compete in the post-season.

But as it stood, we had bad pitching (Marcum, and then Chris Narveson, who wasn’t as bad as Marcum in that at least Narveson got some Ks, but gave up 5 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings as opposed to Marcum’s 4 earned runs in 1 inning), bad fielding (Marcum, Hart, some plays Rickie Weeks should’ve made but couldn’t due to his injured ankle, a missed cutoff man/throw to the wrong base made by Nyjer Morgan early in the game that allowed two extra Cardinals runners to move up and eventually score, and of course the boneheaded Jerry Hairston’s double-error play), and a lack of timely hitting, combined with a few really bad calls here and there (the low, outside strike was called for the Cardinals, while it wasn’t called for the Brewers; Braun was safe at first on an attempted infield hit, but the ump called him out due to Albert Pujols getting injured on the play and all the costernation over the strawberry Pujols had on his right arm; a home plate call that could’ve gone either way went the way of the Cardinals).

All that said, I’m still glad the Brewers made it so far in the post-season.  I’m proud of their efforts — yes, even Marcum’s, even as bad as Marcum has looked in the past six weeks, I know he tried his best (it’s not his fault that his manager put him out there, either) — I’m proud of the 2011 team, and I hope that the 2012 team will be able to compete more effectively (maybe with better starting pitching and defense?) down the road.

Also, one more time — kudos to Randy Wolf, for pitching the only “quality start” in the entire NLCS.  Your professionalism, poise, and competence was something that I will always remember from the 2011 post-season.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 17, 2011 at 3:09 am