On Wednesday, I wrote an article outlining what I thought was our best chance to win a game in St. Louis. In a moment of genius, I picked last night’s game 4 as our best bet. After a 4-2 Brewers win, it turns out I am some sort of genius. Or, after watching/listening to 159 regular season games, I know this team better than I know my wife (sorry Ashley).
Since May, Randy Wolf has been the most consistent pitcher on this staff. Now consistent does not mean best, it just means that he generally went 6-7 innings giving up only 2 or 3 runs. Every other pitcher on this staff seemed to go in waves of sheer genius, which they usually followed up with their best Jeff Suppan impression. It was easy to see that Wolf was going to be the one to sneak one from Busch Stadium.
Randy Wolf may have single-handedly ripped the momentum away from the Red Birds last night. His curveball was in devastating form and both of the runs he allowed were not really due to any fault of his. Matt Holliday’s home run looked foul to every person in the stadium, but the ball had other plans. Then when Allen Craig sent a home run to the opposite field, he did so on a ball that was low and away. Nothing a pitcher can do about that. Aside from those runs, he was about as perfect as a guy with mediocre stuff can be. Wolf is a veteran guy and, unlike Mark Kotsay, he came through when all eyes were on him.
My hope is that Wolf’s performance inspires the other members of this staff to step up and attack the Cards hitters. Gallardo, Greinke, and Marcum all have better stuff than Wolf, so there is no reason that those 3 pitchers can not replicate his performance. Greinke gets to go first.
Tonight just became the biggest start of Zack Greinke’s life. You can bet that he is going to hear the boo’s raining down every time he takes the mound. After his comments about how Chris Carpenter is “fake”, the people of St. Louis will probably let him have it. How he responds to the heckles, will dictate whether or not the Brewers take a 1 game lead, or head home looking for a Miller Park sweep. Tonight is the reason that Greinke wanted out of Kansas City in the first place, so he needs to nut up or shut up.
Something I did not predict, Roenicke would start Kotsay for the second straight game. While this time he was put in right field, I still could not believe the brass ones on Roenicke. After all the crap flung at him yesterday (including the poo flung from our site), he stuck to his convictions and the team got a win. Despite the rookie manager title, this guy knows this team and knows how to push the right buttons. I tip my cap to the skipper for not being swayed by those of us who analyze his every move. RRR earned back a lot of my respect last night.
One last thing I want to throw out for today, how much longer can the Cards bullpen perform like this? Wolf was the first pitcher in this series to go 7 innings. Carpenter pitched 5 innings in Game 3 to lead all of the Cardinals starting pitchers. The starting rotation has only recorded one more out than the bullpen has. Cardinal starters have worked 17.2 innings, while the bullpen has pitched 17.1 innings this series. Eventually that bullpen is going to crack. It may not be today, but if you work your bullpen like that they will crack. Bullpen pitchers are not used to pitching every single day, but LaRussa seems to have more faith in the bullpen than in his starters. I do not suspect that we will see anything different tonight. Should Jaime Garcia get into trouble early, LaRussa will pull the plug right away. We’ll see how this plays out over the next few games.
I have said all along that I thought this series would go 7 games, regardless of who wins. These two teams are so evenly matched that it boggles the mind. It is going to come down to the heart of each teams batting order: Braun, Fielder, and Weeks vs. Pujols, Holliday, and Berkman. Best of 3 starts tonight. First 4 games do not matter anymore. Time to kick some RedBird tail.
Tags: 2011 NLCS Brewers Brewers Bullpen Brewers Hitting Brewers Pitching Carlos Gomez Jeff Suppan Mark Kotsay Milwaukee Brewers NLCS Game 4 NLCS Game 5 Nyjer Morgan Prince Fielder Randy Wolf Rickie Weeks Ron Roenicke Ryan Braun Shaun Marcum Yovani Gallardo Zack Greinke