By Danny Mehigan
The Brewers have already decided on their 2009 plan for drawing in, demoralizing, but yet keeping, their fans. And it’s quite brilliant. I’m no marketing wizard, but if you’re going to lose 90 games (I don’t think they actually will – extrapolate with me here, people), you might as well keep people hanging on until the 9th inning every night.
The squad’s first visit to Citi Field in New York this weekend was no different.
Friday – Mets 5, Brewers 4: Dave Bush gave up three runs in the first inning (another bases loaded walk … what a joke!) but settled down and the offense took the lead when Ryan Braun finally hit his first jack of the year. But in the 7th, Gary Sheffield took a pitch from Mitch Stetter and absolutely drilled it into the left field bleachers. It was his 500th home run – not in one game though, that would be a record. That tied the game, and then a few innings later Luis Castillo hit a two-out walkoff infield single. It was definitely one of those games where the Brewers were flirting with danger the whole game and you just knew they would lose in heartbreaking fashion. And they did.
Saturday – Mets 1, Brewers 0: In a matchup between Yovani Gallardo and Johan Santana, you figure it would be a low-scoring affair. The two aces dueled all night – Gallardo going six shutout innings and Johan seven – but the first crooked number went up about, oh, 17 seconds after the Crew went to their bullpen. Carlos Villanueva came in and walked the first batter, who advanced when Rickie Weeks dropped the ball on a sac bunt attempt (I didn’t see it, but I’ve heard it was awful. Like a 7-year-old could have made the catch.) The run eventually came in on a fielder’s choice and the Crew didn’t do shit against J.J. Putz or Frankie Rodriguez. Hey, 1-0 losses are tough, but you can’t be that pissed about losing to Santana. At least Yo pitched well. (Fuck that … silver linings suck. Brewers need to learn how to win close games. And get a bullpen that works)
Sunday – Brewers 4, Mets 2: The Crew took one in the series finale, and it was surprisingly thanks to Jeff Suppan. The oft-maligned pitcher threw 6-plus innings and gave up two runs. Mitch Stetter and Mark DiFelice came in to relieve, fucked up, and left. Todd Coffey saved the day with an 8-out save, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the 7th with a double play as the main highlight. Slick Rick Weeks had three hits and Mike Cameron hit his fourth homer of the young season. The Mets outhit the Crew, 12-8, but could never piece together a rally.
Here’s one thing I don’t understand: Suppan gets out of the 6th inning up 3-1, had thrown 96 pitches, and is leading off the 7th at bat. Why the hell does Macha leave him in to hit? Predictably, he grounded out weakly, then gave up a triple to lead off the 7th and got pulled. Now the bullpen works from trouble immediately and you wasted an opportunity to score more runs on offense. Somebody explain that to me. Now.
Hot Fire Player of the Series: Todd Coffey. What a badass. It’s still hilarious to watch his fat ass sprint full speed from the bullpen to the mound. And now he’s our only clutch pitcher. Most importantly, he threw 2.2 scoreless innings to save the only win on Sunday. That says something about the sad state of the ‘pen … but that’s a discussion for another time. He cleaned up the mess in the 7th with a double play ball. He worked out of a jam in the 8th and he locked down the win in the 9th. Hell, he also dropped a nice sac bunt in the top of the 9th. He also threw 1.2 scoreless innings on Friday night, too. The Brewers signed Coffey last September, and he still has not given up any runs. That’s pretty ri-god-damn-diculous. You go, Todd Coffey.
Weak Sauce Player of the Series: J.J. Hardy. The shortstop went 0-for-12 with five strikeouts in the series. Sweet life, buddy. He also misplayed two balls in the Sunday game that were ruled hits, but should have been errors. He’s now hitting a robust .114 on the year, which is even more frustrating since he hit .417 in Spring Training. We were looking for a breakout year from J.J., and while it’s still early, dude needs to get it together. Get your game up, J.J.
Records: 4-8 (2-4 on the road). The Brewers have lost all four series they’ve played.
Next up: The Crew continues the road trip with a 3-game series in Philadelphia. Your starting pitchers will be Manny Parra, Dave Bush and Braden Looper.