Tonight’s episode, Errors.
The Brewers were on the wrong side of a few “records” in the 2011 NLCS. By far the least flattering record the Brewers now hold, most errors by one team in an NLCS series, nine. Of those nine errors, seven of them came in the final two games of the series.
You can look at errors however you choose. Me, I look at them as free outs. When you commit an error, you are giving the opposing team one free out. You should have got them, but you didn’t. Now they live to see another day. When you are facing guys like Pujols, Holliday, and Berkman…well, you can’t afford to give up any. It’s sad really. Games 5 and 6 were when we needed the team to be at it’s best, and they were anything but.
Let’s start with the most painful error of all. Jerry Hairston Jr. laid out to make an amazing diving catch, which was the 2nd out of the 2nd inning in Game 5. It was almost too good to be true. The play happened so fast that the television camera man could not follow it. By the time he turned the camera towards third base, all you saw was JHJ laying on the ground with the ball. That play meant that pitcher, Jaime Garcia, would be coming up to bat. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, Garcia hit a grounder at JHJ…and it went right between his legs. Somewhere on the east coast, Bill Buckner got his wings.
That play would have gotten the Brewers out of the inning, with only a one-run deficit. Instead, they were looking at a 3-run deficit. If it had been only that one error, the Brewers still might have had some speck of hope. Some small glimmer of hope, but then Yuni Betancourt made another crucial error in the Bottom of the 6th inning.
Yuni Betancourt just lost his concentration. It is as simple as that. Had Betancourt made the play cleanly, Pujols never would have batted in that inning. Once again, there were 2 outs in the inning. Furcal was on 2nd base and Jon Jay hit a routine ball at Betancourt, but Yuni just could not make the play. Then up comes Pujols, who knocks in Furcal with a single. Now the score is 5-1, Red Birds. That is five runs, of which only two were earned. A 2-1 game going into the 7th inning, is much more manageable than what the Brewers set themselves up for.
But wait, it gets even better. Marco Estrada did not want to be left out, so he made a pick-off attempt with 2 outs in the 8th inning and threw it to someone who was not Prince Fielder. The runner advanced to 2nd base and the next batter walked. Which of course was followed by a 2-run double.
You may have noticed that I left out Rickie Weeks’ error from Game 5. The truth is, he committed 3 errors in the series. That guy does not need me bagging on him. Rickie should be embarrassed. I love him and think that he is one of the best 2nd baseman in the league…when he is healthy. Weeks was not healthy. He rushed himself back and it was so obvious that at times that I wished that RRR would bench him. While Weeks should not shoulder the entire blame, as a leader of the infield he should be responsible for helping his teammates keep their focus. Ryan Braun can’t do everything.
Game 6 was pathetic, because all three of the errors in that game came in the Top of the 5th inning. All throwing errors. The game was already out of reach at that point (which is sad in and of itself). That series of baseball bloopers, lead to an 11-5 deficit from which there was no recovery.
Why am I reliving this all over again? To make us all realize how close we were to playing in the World Series. When you look at what I wrote about yesterday, it is painfully clear that the Brewers had a large hand in defeating themselves. Game 5 could have very easily swayed in our favor. That game got away because the team lost focus. Whenever you have an abundance of errors, that is the only thing you can point to, focus. I said it at the beginning, you can not give teams free outs. When you do, they score 5 more runs in a playoff game. For whatever reason, the Brewers infield completely lost all sense of discipline and it cost the rest of the team a chance to play in the fall classic.
Check back tomorrow for Part 3, Shaun Marcum and Ron Roenicke’s decision to let him start Game 6.