John Axford is a really good closer. Some might say he is too good. Axford has been striking fear into the hearts of NL Central players since he first leapt onto the scene last season. Since that time, there have been few players willing (or able) to stand up to Axford. That is, until this season.
Now it appears that there is one man not afraid of the fireball closer of the Milwaukee Brewers. That man goes by the name of Ramon Hernandez. His skipper calls him “Clutch Man Moanie”, or CMM for short. The Ax and CMM seem to be destined to do this forever. These are the sort of rivalries that never get old and last for years at a time. Last night CMM made it clear that he has no fear, when it comes to the Ax.
Let’s take a trip down memory (nightmare) lane. It was March 31st, of 2011. Opening day of the current baseball season. The Brewers held a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 9th inning. After a sacrifice fly made the score 6-4, CMM stepped to the plate with two men on. It was at that moment that a Brewers villain was born. Ramon launched an outside fastball over the right field wall to win the game for the Reds. Axford’s first home run allowed on the young season. The dawn of a new rivalry had broken.
Fast forward to yesterday. John Axford had not allowed a home run since Ramon single-handedly evoked the Ides of March. The Milwuakee Brewers take a 5-3 lead into the top of the 9th inning. The Ax is called in to seal the deal. Who should he find standing in the batters box? CMM, in all his glory. The cruel and unusual villain did not even take a pitch to get a feel for Axford. First pitch delivered to CMM, is re-mailed to right field…again. As if it were not bad enough that he hits another home run of Axford, but to hit it to the opposite field again. That is cold blodded As Hernandez rounded the bases, I could hear him asking Ax man “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” Thank goodness no one was on base this time. Axford then completed the save, but at what cost?
After the game, Axford joked that next time they should put in a “pinch-pitcher”. Of course, The Ax was joking…but maybe that is not a horrible idea. Clearly Hernandez has figured out the mystery that is, The Ax. John Axford has allowed two home runs this season, both of them to Ramon Hernandez. Coincidence? I think not.
The Brewers win last night, paired with a Cardinals loss, pulls us back to a tie for the NL Central division lead. The Crew has now won two games in a row, which is what I like to call “a winning streak”. Chris Narveson and Yo Gallardo have thrown back to back great games. Tonight it is Greinke’s turn to show us something. It would be really nice to see Zack-a-Shaq throw a 7 inning 1 run game tonight.
P.S – If you missed Rickie Weeks line drive home run to center field last night, here it is. If my brain clock is correct, that ball left the park in under 4 seconds. Also, word on the street is that Ryan Braun could be ready to go in the series finale on Sunday. Which also means that he would play in the All-Star game. Not sure that I like it, but it is not my decision to make.
Happy Friday everyone. Go Brewers!!!!