Saturday, April 30, 2005

Brewers come back on Reds

Miller (AP)

In a truly aggravating game, the Brewers somehow beat the Reds by a score of 6-5 on a bases loaded walk-off single by Damian Miller in the 9th inning. The game started poorly, and generally stayed that way, until the 7th inning. If you missed that "sick to your stomach" feeling you got every five days last year, known as Wes Obermueller-itis, you weren't disappointed today. He was generally knocked around in his 3.1 innings, but at least Ned had the guts to pull him quickly. This was one of few things Yost did correctly today.

My daily disillusionment with Nedly started early today, at 12:20 CT, when the lineups were released. Two things immediately stuck out to me: 1.) Why the hell is Bill Hall batting 2nd?, and 2.) Why the hell is Russell Branyan batting 7th? Now, Hall has been playing well lately, but putting him in the 2-hole made little to no sense, as he has quite a shaky past when it comes to things like getting on base (he doesn't), and making contact (he doesn't). In fairness, Hall was leading the team in P/PA with 4.54, and had walked more than he K'd coming into the game. Hall did break up Paul Wilson's no-hit bid (!) with a single with two out in the fifth, and went 2-5 with an RBI and run scored. Chalk that one up as a move that worked, just hope you don't see Hall hitting second often. I just don't like the idea of giving Hardy all these days off. If Hall is being played because of his patience, over Hardy and his 11 BB in 55 AB, it makes no sense. It seems like Hardy's bat is starting to come around, and he's been on base in six of his last 15 plate appearances. Let the kid play!

The Branyan situation really irked me, however. Why, on a day when Chad Moeller is playing, do you hit "The Muscle" 7th? He has some of the best power in the league, and is playing at an all-star level, yet he gets put in the 7-spot. Golden Boy Jeff Cirillo, on the otherhand, gets plunked into the 2-hole on nights when he plays because he is a "professional hitter", and "prototypical #2 hitter". Yet, don't professional hitters put up lines closer to Branyan's .326/.396/.721 than Cirillo's .196/.339/.370? I get it - one of those is a really good professional hitter, and the other one isn't. Anyhow, this is an anti-Yost post, not an anti-Cirillo post, so back to the subject at hand. Chad Moeller was hitting behind Branyan today. Moeller is the worst player in the league, cut and dried. The result of this brilliant lineup was Branyan being pitched around in his first three plate appearances, resulting in three walks. In one of these situations, Branyan was walked to load the bases for Moeller, with one out. Moeller promptly proved the Reds right by popping up the first pitch weakly to the left side. The aforementioned "professional hitter" Cirillo followed up with a nearly-identical pop-out. Chad Moeller needs to go, and it wouldn't bother me one bit to see Cirillo sent down in favor of Kevin Orie, who has posted a line of .396/.515/.679 at Triple-A Nashville. Nonetheless, when Branyan was finally pitched to in the 7th inning, he responded like a good professional hitter, and tied the game with a double down the right field line. He did also have a chance to win the game in the 9th, with the bases loaded and no outs, and popped out to second. However, Moeller's offensive replacement followed up with the game winner.

Branyan was the winner of my game ball. He got walked 3 times in the game (which equals about half the total of all last season) and delivered in the clutch as you mentioned. He has really stepped up his game this year and should be rewarded with everyday duty.
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