Brewers vs. Giants: Consider The Following
After a series loss to the lowly Padres, one that saw the Brewers lose their first baseman, their bats silenced by Jeff Freakin’ Suppan, and their pitching staff embarrassed by Mark Freakin’ Kotsay, the team heads to NorCal for their season’s first meeting with the Giants. While Milwaukee is not quite licking its wounds yet, the generally poor effort in San Diego (series opener notwithstanding) has plenty of fans concerned, mostly because much of the malaise came at the hands of two polarizing former Brewers. Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez aren’t providing their expected run production, and with Ryan Braun nursing a strained right Achilles, the thought of Corey Hart and only Corey Hart having to lead the offense is disconcerting, no matter how well he has played so far. Unfortunately, pitcher-friendly AT&T Park is usually not where slumps at the plate are broken, and making matters worse, this weekend the Brewers will face none other than the three-headed monster of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.
Please, consider the following:
- Bats. The Giants are also coming off a rough series offensively, mustering just 5 runs while being swept by the Marlins. They also received bad news on the injury front: Pablo Sandoval, without question their best hitter over the last calendar year, was lost for 4–6 weeks with a fractured left hamate bone. Last season, San Fran was dead last in the NL in runs scored and 15th in OPS and average. They’ve shown improvement so far this season: former Rookie of the Year Buster Posey is healthy and hitting again, plus the newly-acquired Melky Cabrera has put up good numbers and will slide into the three spot in place of Sandoval. To my surprise, the Giants offensive stats are about even with those of the Brewers (middle of the pack in the NL), but given the hitting woes of both squads, this doesn’t have the makings of a high-scoring series and both teams will ride their pitching staffs to wins. Like most teams, the Brewers haven’t had much success against Lincecum in his career (.239/.313/.369 in 9 career starts) or Bumgarner (only 3 runs scored in 3 career starts), but they have slightly better numbers when facing Matt Cain (.254/.327/.379 in 7 career starts) who will start the series finale. However, Ryan Braun owns a career OPS north of 1.038 against all three, so take that for what it’s worth. Zack Greinke, tonight’s starter, has never faced the Giants, but Saturday’s starter Randy Wolf has a 2.85 career ERA vs. SF and Shaun Marcum has held their bats to a .212 average and a respectable 9 runs in 3 career starts. Both are of course fly-ball pitchers whose styles should play well at cavernous AT&T Park.
- Boos. Nyjer Morgan received some scorn last July from Bay Area media outlets after supposedly flipping Giants fans off following a nice running catch. Judge for yourself, but to my eyes it’s merely the standard two-out hand signal outfielders give each other. T-Plush has looked completely lost at the plate lately and his playing time has waned as a result, but it’s likely he’ll see some at-bats this series against the Giants’ tough righties. He seemed to thrive on the negative reception of opposing fans last year, so perhaps the likely boos Giants fans will rain down on him will give Morgan some impetus to get off the schneid. He won’t be the only one: Ryan Braun has been roundly booed on every road trip this year. I’m sure I’m not the only one who notices the obvious irony in Giants fans booing a hitter who supposedly took performance enhancing drugs once (an opinion only based in high testosterone levels) after a decade plus of cheering on a hitter who has faced multiple testimonials that he actually took PEDs and faced congressional indictments of perjury stemming from his use. While I don’t fault Giants fans for cheering Bonds, I do question their logic in booing Braun.
- Brooks. Today the Brewers called up infielder Brooks Conrad from AAA Nashville and placed Mat Gamel on the disabled list. For fans who aren’t familiar with him, Milwaukee signed the veteran utility player to a minor league deal this offseason, and he was the last player cut in spring training. Conrad is mostly known for his tenure with the Braves, which unfortunately included a three-error game in the 2010 NLDS. He’s a sort of jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none defensively speaking. The switch-hitter is known for having some power though, and he was tearing the cover off the ball in the minors. Most of his big-league experience is at third, but he will be counted on as the right-handed half of what’s likely to be a first base platoon with former Giant Travis Ishikawa, despite only 1.2 big league innings at the position. He gives the team some needed depth around the infield: he will likely backup at second and third.
First pitch tonight is at 9:15 CT; both Saturday and Sunday’s games are matinees at 3:05 CT.