First of all, I’d just like to file one nugget from today’s game under “Things I Don’t Care About,” namely the fact that the Brewers tied a franchise record for wild pitches today with five. What that tells me is that Manny Parra and Kameron Loe, who combined for 7 strikeouts on the night, have nasty sinker/splitter/two-seamers. Nothing to worry about, except maybe Lucroy had an off game. On to what actually matters.
Tonight, it’s all about the pitchers. Manny Parra continued to pitch excellently, handling a very good Twins lineup quite well through 5.2 IP. Parra also continued to draw ground balls, with 9 of the 18 balls hit in play against him staying on the ground. Since rejoining the rotation against the Cardinals on June 6th, here’s what Parra has done.
23 IP, 29 K, 9 BB, 3 HR – or, if you prefer, 11.35 K/9, 3.52 BB/9, 1.17 HR/9
Those are absolutely fantastic numbers for a starting pitcher. It’s only been four starts, but they’ve been against four excellent lineups, and I really, really want to believe that this is the step forward that we’ve been waiting for.
Then we have the bullpen. The part of the Twins lineup that Zach Braddock faced – Jim Thome, Denard Span, Orlando Hudson, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau – was just made for Braddock. Braddock handled Thome, Span, and Hudson with ease – striking out all 3 – before giving up two hits to Mauer and Morneau, which is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. He managed to keep the bases empty before facing them, which is they key to facing the Twins lineup.
Kameron Loe continued his utter domination of right handers, striking out Michael Cuddyer to end the threat in the seventh. Seriously, that two-seamer is one of the single nastiest pitches I can remember seeing. Watch the video here.
Carlos Villanueva continued to pitch well – quietly, it seems. He managed to get around Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, and Nick Punto, despite allowing contact to all three hitters. He was certainly helped by an excellent throw to gun down Young on a steal attempt which wasn’t even close.
Finally, the Ax Man cometh. Once again, it was the gauntlet of left handed hitters, and Axford put himself in a poor situation by walking Matt Tolbert – a bad left handed (switch) hitter – to open the inning. Still, he managed to get Span and Hudson out, making Mauer’s double relatively unimportant. Still, it brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Justin Morneau. Morneau, however, was no problem for the Ax Man, who spotted everything on the corners and struck Morneau looking on a 95 MPH fastball.
It’s great to see Parra becoming a valuable part of the rotation, and with Axford, Loe, Braddock, and Villanueva, the Brewers have a potential top-half of the rotation starter and the core of a good bullpen on hand. All of these pitchers are 28 or younger. Finally, in Milwaukee, there’s a reason to be excited about young pitching.