Unreal. Despite all of the good things we saw in yesterdays game it was all thrown out the window when Ramon Hernandez (catcher) hit a 3-run homerun in the bottom of the fricking 9th inning. Brewers closer John Axford, who struggled most of the spring training but came around the last week or so, left a fast ball hanging and Ramon blasted it out of the park.
One could also put blame on the mishap of Casey McGahee. He missed a routine tag play on Brandon Phillips and overthrew 1B when. Kameron Loe also gave up a HR in the 7th inning. All in all, it was devastating blow to the start of the season. I say this because the Crew has off today and won't be able to get this taste out of my mouth until their shot on Saturday. Sadly enough, Casey's excuse was that he thought Phillips left the baseline. Really? Come on now....act like a pro and take the hit. He did say that he should've made the throw to 1B, but after hearing his first excuse...I was already pissed off.
That being said, Milwaukee's offense was stellar and even made franchise history when Rickie Weeks (lead-off) and Carlos Gomez opened the season with back-t0-back HR's. It was also the first time to open the season since 1969 when Pete Rose and Bobby Tolan did it, oddly enough. Quite impressive to say the least. Gomez also reached base on a walk. Granted, he also opened last season with similar numbers (1 HR); so hopefully he'll pan out better this season. One thing is for sure, he was patient at the plate and didn't seem too wild. This is encouraging; one can only hope that the addition of Nyjer Morgan a few days ago will light a match under his ass. If he goes back to his old ways, the Morg-Dog goes in.
Ryan Braun also homered for the Crew
Closer, John Axford gave up 4 runs in 1 inning...awesome
Yovani Gallardo had a solid day on the mound (but not at the plate) for the Crew. He went 6 complete innings giving up 2 earned runs on 7 hits (3 walks, 4 K's).
One thing we should see a lot more of this season are the starting pitchers going deeper in to the game. Instead of the 5+ innings that we have been forced to stomach over since Ben Sheets left, hurlers like Marcum & Greinke (and eventually Gallardo) will hopefully give 6+ innings. That leads to one less appearence by Kameron Loe and Co. The ultimate goal, in a perfect world, is giving the ball to Saito (2 hits in 1 inning, zero runs) and then off to the closer (Axford, as of press time).
Let's not get overly anxious with Axford. A long-time friend of mine (Rat, the only known reader of this blog) referenced his distaste for Doug Melvin letting Fransisco Cordero walk over to the Reds after 2007...instead relying on Eric Gagne for the 2008 (which was their play-off season!). I quickly reminded him that Co Co wanted a 4 year deal at the time, which Melvin wasn't allowed to do under the current ownership's restraints on payroll. Although he did pay Gagne 10MM x 1 year contract. I also pointed out that Salmon Torres did a fine job as fill-in closer notching 20-25 saves (can't recall off the top of my head). Likewise in 2009 when Trevor Hoffman was untouchable and even an All Star! Although in 2010, Hoffman blew hard and he set the Crew back in to a hole that they never got out of....John Axford killed it when he recorded 24 saves out 27 attempts...for a rookie none the less.
Milwaukee's offense is going to be the best in the NL if not the entire league. Their defense will be average at best. The starting rotation should be above average (aiming low there) and the bullpen has a huge question mark. Not just because of yesterday's blunder....but because no one knows if Axford, Loe, and Braddock can continue their success from last season, when there was NO stress and no season on the line. Give Ax some breathing room and hopefully he will rebound.
Saito moves to the closer role and hopefully by then, Hawkins or Parra will be back to possibly fill in for set-up. Parra is a long reliever, so he probably isn't even an option considering that he's also left handed. But Hawkins was signed as a set-up man to Trevor Hoffman...he just has too many injuries and blunders when he did make appearences. Jeremy Jeffress would probably be tapped to be the set-up man, but he's in KC now. So that leaves us with...well....SERGIO MITRE?
Again, I said it last season and I will say it in 2010...a marginal improvement with the starting rotation will give the Crew that needed bump to the top. We certainly didn't see it last season, but there HAS TO BE some light at the end of the tunnel with the current cast.
The famous Bronx Zoo king cobra was found....a bit of good news from yesterday. Oh, and Albert Pujols went 0-5 in his opening day. He hit in to 3 double plays and accounted for 8 outs!