It’s a beautiful day in Wisconsin today, not only because of the sun and the crisp spring air. Today is the first day of the Milwaukee Brewers 2012 season.
Opening Day might be one of the most optimistic days a baseball fan will ever experience. You haven’t yet dealt with long losing streaks or poorly hung curveballs. You haven’t seen your favorite player fall into a slump and it’s impossible to run up against a red-hot team on the road. All you have is hope and enthusiasm that you will be celebrating with your team in far into the autumn months.
The Brewers are beginning down a long road in defense of their Central Division Title, and the first obstacle in the road comes by way of the St. Louis Cardinals – I guess they had a pretty good year last year.
To celebrate this achievement, Reviewing the Brew has decided to bring a staple of the 2011 season out of hibernation for the very first game. That’s right – we’re live blogging. If you’re new to phenomenon that is a live blog, simply stick on this page and be ready to hit refresh every couple of minutes or so, as we will be updating the progress of the game with stats, facts, and opinions as they happen. Without further ado, I present to you the Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day.
Yovani Gallardo (RHP, 0-0, 0.00) vs. Jaime Garcia (LHP 0-0, 0.00)
The pitching match-up today is a showcase of the younger generation of pitchers fighting to make their way into the conversation of elite hurlers in the game.
Yovani is looking to begin his 2012 campaign with a statement, and he needs one against St. Louis. His record against the Redbirds stands at 1-7 against the 2011 champions, with a 5.66 ERA. But Yo has been good in Opening Days past – and Brewers fans can have hope that the third time’s the charm. Also, it’s hard to forget that Gallardo’s greatest performance last year came against St. Louis, where the young righty posted eight no-hit innings.
Jaime Garcia is also looking to make his mark on the team and the division today. It’s the beginning of Garcia’s third full season with the team, and in his previous two season he posted 13 wins each. Consistency is key for a starting pitcher, and the Cardinals will be looking for nothing less from him. Being the lone lefty in the rotation may help his cause, even if he struggles, but there will certainly be a lot of eyes on this performance today. In the past against Milwaukee, he has been either feast or famine – he’s collected two wins against three losses with a 3.27 ERA.
Milwaukee Brewers (0-0)
Seeing the Starting Lineup for the first time, it’s become obvious the game plan has changed. I can’t say that I like Weeks back in the lead-off spot, but we can only wonder if that’s because confidence is non-existent in Gomez for the time being. Gomez is obviously starting Opening Day because of Roenicke’s preference for him against Lefties, and today will go a long way in helping Gomez win over a few more fans. Gamel’s bat way down in the seventh spot is all the evidence you need to know that he is not getting any favors as the heir apparent to Fielder.
St. Louis Cardinals (1-0)
For the time being, the Cardinals have refused to post a lineup, probably just because they know that pisses me off. Here’s their lineup from their opener in Miami, and I’ll add any changes as I find them.
The Cardinals got the win against the Marlins in their first regular season game mostly thanks to an outstanding performance by Lohse, with Furcal and Freese driving in all three of St. Louis’ runs. The big bats in the middle of the lineup were mostly quiet, as Holliday, Berkman, and new addition Carlos Beltran going 3-13 combined with three strikeouts. Freese looks like his playoff heroics might be here to stay.
2:25 PM CST
We’re under one hour to post here and I’m just about giddy as a schoolgirl. It also took me about half an hour to find FS Wisconsin on DirecTV – it’s channel 669 if you’re wondering, buried amongst a bunch of crap that’s off-air about 99% of the time.
I feel like I should say something more here, but it might just be Opening Day jitters. I guess would-be sportswriters get them, too.
2:34 PM CST
Brewers Live is talking about Ryan Braun, let’s see how they decide to sidestep that whole tricky over-turned suspension thing.
2:40 PM CST
Nobody seems to be speaking with confidence about Matheny taking over the reigns for St. Louis, and I would have to agree with them. I know I will be happy if I don’t have to see 12 pitching changes a game then hear that droopy old man LaRussa complain that the music is too loud today.
2:41 PM CST
Davey Nelson just said the Brewers are going to “three-peat”. I guess we’re just skipping over years now. Sometimes I get the feeling they wake up Nellie minutes before air and he spends the rest of the show just trying to catch up.
2:46 PM CST
Hats off, folks – it’s National Anthem time.
2:49 PM CST
The Cardinals have a coaching staff full of potbellies. I’ve never heard Miller Park so quiet then right now during introductions, they aren’t even booing. Way to stick it to ’em, Brewers fans.
2:50 PM CST
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! GO BREWERS!!!!!!
2:55 PM CST
Oh, Lucroy has a long, drawn out chant this year. I’ll have to remember that.
2:57 PM CST
Joe Attanasio, father of our dear owner Mark Attanasio, is singing the Anthem for Opening Day once again. He has such a velvety voice.
3:04 PM CST
Just so you know, the first inning was pre-loaded because I had to go to the bathroom. I promise to try and make future mistakes less glaring.
3:09 Pm CST
I love Opening Day – exactly for stuffy, silly reasons like that. Let’s do this.
Top 1st – Holy crap, it’s Brewers baseball! Yo takes the mound, and will deliver the first pitch to shortstop Rafael Furcal. First pitch is in as a strike. Nice start. Gallardo needs to shake some rust, or some jitters, or something off from a full count. Furcal grounds out on a hot shot to Gonzalez in short. One out, no one on.
Top 1st, One out – Beltran steps in for St. Louis, and is quickly up on Yo 2-0. Gallardo misses – really closely – to walk Beltran. One out and one on for Holliday.
He’s pitching Holliday way outside and is behind again 2-0. Furcal steals second, and Lucroy proves that he’s still not where we’d like him to be throwing to second. Gallardo promptly walks Holliday and now there’s a man on first and second for the squishy first baseman, Lance Berkman. Gallardo gets him to pop up to Lucroy behind the plate and there’s two down with two outs.
Mid 1st – Freese is up against Yo with two on. Freese pops up to Gomez to end the inning on Gallardo’s 21st pitch. Brewers 0, Cardinals 0 as the Brew Crew starts the season off in scary style.
Bottom 1st – Our power-hitting lead-off Rickie Weeks takes the plate against Jaime Garcia to start out Milwaukee’s 2012 offensive campaign. Weeks knocks a great hit into deep center for a single – he’s batting 1.000 so far. One on, no outs for Gomez.
Gomez puts one into the corner in left, stretches it to a triple and Weeks crosses the plate. Brewers 1, Cardinals 0 as Braun looks for his first RBI chance of 2012.
The crowd was all kinds of jacked up, and Braun shot a hard liner right to Furcal. One out.
Bottom 1st, Two Outs – Ramirez’s first AB of 2012 was a hard grounder, which put him out but allowed Gomez’s wheels to hit the dirt and score. Brewers 2, Cardinals 0. This is exactly how you’d like to start out.
Bottom 1st, Two Out – Hart showing good discipline with a quick walk and it looks like Garcia might be rattled pretty good. Gonzalez is up for his first shot in the regular season. Hart looks like he wants to steal but that’s just a dumb move with Garcia on the mound and two outs.
End 1st – Gonzalez struck out rather meekly, but the damage was done long before he got up there. The Brewers drive in two from a fantastic shot by Gomez and a sacrifice by Ramy. A great, quick start against a good pitcher. Brewers 2, Cardinals 0 as Yo heads to the mound with some early insurance.
Top 2nd – Molina takes Yo big fly on the first pitch. Brewers 2, Cardinals 1. No outs. Fastball middle in just gets a huge ride, and that hurts big time.
John Jay up now. Jay chops one to Ramirez, who makes a surprisingly skilled play to Gamel for the first out.
Top 2nd, One out – Descalso hits a single to right and Garcia gets his first AB of the season. I bet he bunts.
Top 2nd, Two Out – Back around to the top of the order as Garcia is put out at first and Descalso moves to second. Furcal is 0-1 thus far. Gallardo has his off-speed stuff back under control, kind of.
Mid 2nd – Molina puts the hurt on Yovani, but nothing else comes of the second. Gallardo is unusually nervous today and his command is suffering Another good offensive inning should help that. Brewers 2, Cardinals 1.
Bottom 2nd – The age of Gamel has begun. Gamel gives a good knock that carries pretty well, but unfortunately it lands right in John Jay’s glove. One out for Lucroy.
Bottom 2nd, One Out – Lucroy hits a lazer to Descalso, and he’s put out at first base. Two out for Gallardo.
Bottom 2nd, Two out – I like that Garcia is actually pitching around Yo.
End 2nd – The strategy worked as Gallardo pops out foul to Berkman. Nothin’ doin’ for Milwaukee in the second. Now Gallardo really needs to settle into a groove for the third innning. Brewers 2, Cardinals 1.
Top 3rd – Beltran is up to face Gallardo. Beltran walked the first at-bat and is up on Gallardo again here. Beltran obviously had the green light on a 3-0 pitch and Beltran sent it damn near to the panels in center field. Brewers 2, Cardinals 2. Then Holliday puts one into the stands and the Cardinals are up 3-2. This is making my brain hurt. Not a bad pitch from Gallardo – Holliday can just extend on anything.
Top 3rd – Berkman is up as a lefty this time, and Gallardo needs to do something. I don’t think he’s been ahead on a batter all afternoon. Berkman takes a stroll on the payoff pitch. One on, NO OUTS, as Freese steps up.
Good God. Freese knocks one to deep Left, and the fourth home run puts up the fourth and fifth run for the Cardinals. Someone please do something to help Gallardo. Brewers 2, Cardinals 5 as this is quickly reminding me of why I wanted to punch my TV in October.
Gallardo’s up over 50 pitches now in the third inning and he walks Molina on four straight balls. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE????????
One on and no outs for Jay.
Lucroy mercifully meets Yo on the mound as he falls behind Jay, who pops it up to Braun and there’s finally – finally one down in the inning.
Top 3rd, One out – Descalso steps up to the plate with Molina on first. Gamel is getting plenty of infield practice at first. Gallardo goes full for Descalso – again.
Top 3rd, Two Out – Gallardo gets his first K of the year and no one has ever needed a strikeout more. It was a good one, too as Garcia steps up.
Mid 3rd – Good lord, Gallardo strikes out the final two batters to bring this waking nightmare to a close. It was a finish to the inning that was more for his own personal pride than anything else, as I think everyone will be expecting Estrada out for the fourth. Tough luck, Yo, go get ’em next time. Now the bats have to do some big work as the top of the order is coming back. Cardinals 5, Brewers 2
Bottom 3rd – Rickie Weeks looking to control the tide here against Garcia. Weeks has more uniform accessories that I have seen in a long time. Also he strikes out looking for the first out.
Bottom 3rd, one out – Gomez is keeping patience as Garcia is having trouble putting his curve anywhere close to the bat. Gomez flies out to Beltran and Braun steps up with two outs.
End 3rd – Braun gets robbed of his first hit in 2012 with a beautiful catch by John Jay. Any momentum or obviously positive emotion has surely left Milwaukee’s dugout and taken up residence on St. Louis’ side. We’ll see how much confidence Roenicke has in Gallardo (or his bullpen) in the fourth. Cardinals 5, Brewers 2.
Top 4th – Top of the order again as Gallardo does come back for another shot at the Cardinals. Furcal (0-2) is back to the dish. Weeks can’t reach a grounder and Furcal makes it safely to first. One on, no outs.
75 pitches for Gallardo now. Cardinals are looking for a hit-and-run. Furcal goes without the hit, and Lucroy’s throw misses Gonzalez’s glove, but almost pegs Furcal in the face – which would have been just as well. Beltran strikes out and Gallardo looks somewhat settled, oddly enough. One out, one on at second.
Top 4th, One out – Holliday is up, looking to add on to his home run in the last inning. He flies out deep to Hart, and Furcal tags and gets to third as Berkman steps up. Two out, one on.
Top 4th, Two Out – Fun fact: I hate Berkman and his stupid face. Gallardo is getting no help on those corners and walks Berkman. Freese is up once more, with men at the corners.
Freese puts a solid hit into center field, scoring Furcal and closing the book on Gallardo. Two on, two outs.
*Stat Time: Gallardo’s line: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 K, 5 BB*
Top 4th, Two Out – Gallardo makes an early exit with 90 unsteady pitches, give or take. Estrada is up to take on Molina – the man responsible for this mess. Molina grounds it up the middle and Estrada is out of a Gallardo-created jam.
Mid 4th – Yo is done for the day, and now the focus needs to shift to creating opportunities on the bases. This is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day so far. The Brewers need to turn it around really soon. Cardinals 6, Brewers 2.
Bottom 4th – Ramy is up to try and turn the tide, but instead he puts a weak little chopper to get out at first. One out
Bottom 4th, One out – Corey Hart is back up and still being patient at the plate. It is truly remarkable. And he walks – again! What kind of sorcery is going on here? Yovani can’t throw strikes and Hart won’t swing at outside breaking balls. Gonzalez is up with one on and one out.
End 4th – Gonzalez grounds into the first double play of the Brewers season and ends the inning before anyone in attendance probably noticed it begun. A flat, uninteresting turn of events for a flat and uninterested looking offense so far. I am highly disappointed and losing patience and rationality very quickly. Cardinals 6, Brewers 2.
Top 5th, One out – Hart catches a second-pitch fly from John Jay and a first out. Estrada is hurling a gem, considering the circumstances. Descalso grounds out for the second quick out of the inning.
Mid 5th – Estrada retires the side, his fourth Cardinal in a row. Things are looking up now. Cardinals 6, Brewers 2. You will never get a better chance to turn it around than this.
Bottom 5th – Gamel is up for his second at-bat here. There it is, nicely down center field. Welcome to the show, Matty. One on, no outs for Lucroy.
Lucroy puts a sweet hit in the gap between left and center (which was enormous) and Gamel gets down to third on his feet. Two on and no outs for Aoki’s first Milwaukee At-Bat.
Nobody knows how to pronounce his name. Aoki strikes out for his appearance, which is unfortunate. Two on, One out for Weeks.
Bottom 5th, One out – Rock has just told the same Opening Day story for the third time. Weeks takes a first-pitch strike. Lucroy bumps into Descalso on his way into second, which is interference. Which means Lucroy is out. Which means Rickie goes to first. Which means Gamel goes back to third instead of scoring a run. Two outs and a big ol’ face-palm.
End 5th – Gomez flies out to ruin any momentum we had. It was good to see the bats light up, but silly mistakes have ruined the day so far. Cardinals 6, Brewers 2.
Top 6th – Manny Parra begins a new year in 2012 as the 6th Inning pitcher. Hopefully some of that (short-lived) old magic will come back.
Top 6th, One out – THAT’S WHY YOU DON’T STRETCH ON BRAUN. Great throw and catch by Weeks and Braun.
Beltran knows better than stretch a single into a double. One out and one on for Holliday.
Top 6th, Two outs – A beautiful pitch takes down Holliday and I feel great about Parra in the ‘pen. Squishy old Berkman scores Beltran from first base on a big hit that rolls passed Gomez. Cardinals 7, Brewers 2 and the rout is on in Miller Park. One on, two outs.
Freese the Magnificent steps up to the plate, and it looks like he hasn’t lost much of anything from 2011.
Mid 6th – Freese takes a seat as Parra gets his second strikeout of 2012. Good inning from Parra, save one pitch to Berkman. Time’s running out for Milwaukee’s offense, and Braun gets another shot as lead-off here. Cardinals 7, Brewers 2.
Bottom 6th – Holy crap the Polish Sausage looks good this year. Nice win. Braun is battling well here, but it looks like he’s still pressing a bit. There was ‘all that other stuff’, which appears to be the official position of what to call the suspension and appeal by FS Wisconsin. Braun grounds out and is now 0-3 on the season. One out.
Bottom 6th, One out – Ramirez is up for another shot and he gets way under an early pitch to center field. Two outs for Hart.
Bottom 6th, Two outs – Corey Hart knocks a beautiful shot down the left field line, and gets in for a double. One on and two out for Gonzalez.
End 6th – Gonzalez gets underneath a 1-2 pitch and flies out to Jay for the final out. The hits are there, they just aren’t turning into anything, much to the dismay of the Brewers faithful. Cardinals 7, Brewers 2.
Top 7th – Parra gets another inning here against Molina. Parra’s pitching is still looking good, and I think Molina looks kind of like a turtle. The Payoff pitch for Parra puts a fly ball right into Braun’s glove. One out.
*Personal note: I must have a Lucroy bobblehead*
Top 7th, One out – John Jay is up with one out and he gets a hit – which Gomez bobbles as he fields – and Jay ends up at second base. One on, one out for Descalso.
Top 7th, Two outs – Matheny is putting a pinch hitter in for Garcia with Jay on third as Gamel puts out Descalso at first. Manny Parra deflects a pitch away from an easy out, Robinson lands safely at first and Jay scores. Cardinals 8, Brewers 2. E8 on Gomez, by the way, on that Jay double.
Furcal up with one on and two out. Parra walks Furcal and I think I see a wheel or two falling off. Two on and two out.
Mid 7th – Beltran flies out to Braun. Cardinals 8, Brewers 2. Stretch ’em out guys. I’m going to go punch some walls.
Moral victory – Miss America is from Wisconsin. Take that St. Louis.
Bottom 7th – Gamel gets his second hit on a nice knock to right field. One on and no outs as Romero takes over on the hill against Lucroy. One on, no outs.
Rock is trying to convince everyone that he understand technology. I am not convinced but I would love to follow him on twitter. Lucroy puts up a good hit and things are moving with two on and no outs.
Matheny is going to the bullpen and Izturuz is up to pinch hit.
*Stat Time: Milwaukee batters 1 through 6: 3-16; 7 and 8: 4-6*
Everyone lied and Morgan is up to pinch hit. Boggs is your pitcher for St. Louis. Tony Plush hits into a fielder’s choice, and they only get one at second base. Men on the corners for Weeks with one out.
End 7th – Rickie Weeks grounds into a double play and ends the greatest chance Milwaukee had to get back into this. Cardinals 8, Brewers 2 with only 6 outs left for the Crew.
Top 8th – The Legend of Tim Dillard continues into 2012 and he puts up a quick strike against Holliday. Gamel and Dillard team up to put out Holliday at first base. One out.
Top 8th, One out – Berkman is up again with a big cut on a 1-0 change. Dillard has some nice looking ‘burns. And some good looking pitches as well.
Top 8th, Two outs – Berkman battled nicely, but ends up grounding out to Gamel for the second out.
Mid 8th – Dillard retires the side for only the second time today. It looks like a bright future for the sidearm throwing Dillard, and hopefully the Brewers can put something together – even if it is just for moral victories. Cardinals 8, Brewers 2.
Bottom 8th – Gomez is up for what is likely his last at-bat of Opening Day, but it’s been a good one as he gets another lead-off base hit. One on and no outs for Braun.
Braun gets blown back by a fastball for a strikeout, and will finish up Opening Day with nothing but zeroes. One out, one on.
Bottom 8th, One out – Ramirez is up for his fourth at-bat and quickly falls behind 0-2. Another strikeout for Boggs on the fastball as Ramy drops for the second out.
End 8th – Hart hits a 2-2 pitch about as deep as it would go, but unfortunately John Jay’s mitt was in the same spot and the inning ends with another Brewer left on base. Cardinals 8, Brewers 2 with last ups for both sides coming up.
Top 9th – Molina blasts a double against Dillard down the third base side. One on, no outs for Jay. Ishikawa is in Right for the defensive replacement. Jay grounds out to Gamel for the first out.
Personal Note: You have issues when the “Shining Moment of the Game” is the first pitch – just because it existed.
Top 9th, One out – Descalso is up as Molina moved over to third. Descalso walks and now men are on the corners as Carpenter knocks extra bases as a pinch hitter. Cardinals 10, Brewers 2. Talk about poor sportsmanship *Sarcasm* **Puking**
Top 9th, One out – Furcal puts it into the corner and Ishikawa can’t play it any better than Hart can. Carpenter scores and Furcal goes to second and I want to destroy everything in my house. Cardinals 11, Brewers 2.
Komatsu gets his big league hit, even though it looked like Rickie got him from a great cross-body throw. Two on, one out for Holliday.
Mid 9th – Komatsu gets doubled up after Holliday flies out to Gonzalez. Welcome to the show, rook. There’s nothing I can really say about this inning: when it rains it pours. Cardinals 11, Brewers 2. It’s all over but the shouting, and the throwing things, and the weeping, and the swearing, and the dark lonely corners of my mind that emerge when the Brewers lose.
Bottom 9th, One Out – Gonzalez lines out and erases his great defensive performance. Gamel up, making his case to move up that line up against Kyle McClellan.
Gamel legs out a dropped third strike and we have extra outs here in the ninth. A rare passed ball from Molina and an even rarer Milwaukee first baseman who doesn’t jiggle when he runs.
Way to take one for the team, Lucroy. He gets plunked in the back and two men are on for Kottaras.
Kottaras puts the silver lining over the fence for a three-run shot and some much needed offensive production. Cardinals 11, Brewers 5. Hey, this is almost a game again.
Rickie puts in a nice base hit and it’s starting to look something like a rally here. One on and one out for Gomez.
Gomez flies out to right field and Braun is up with the final out of Opening Day on the line.
Bottom 9th, Two outs – Braun puts up a lazy fly ball to John Jay, who closes out a performance we’d all just as soon forget ever existed.
Final – Cardinals 11, Brewers 5.
What can you say about games like this? Sometimes. It just isn’t your day. You hate to see the Brewers fall so short on Opening Day, but the game opened and closed on some very good offensive notes. Gomez and Rickie each did some good work at the top of the line-up, and opinions have to be fairly high of Gomez in particular after his first performance. Unfortunately, the pitching did not hold the early Brewers lead. Gallardo was simply off today – struggling with command and location and if he had any rhythm at all, it was quickly lost.
The relievers did what they could to stop the bleeding, but only one – Marco Estrada – was able to hold the Cardinals offense to a zero. Parra looked sharp but errors and mistakes marred his first performance of the year.
As it turned out, mistakes carried the day for Milwaukee. On the base paths, at the plate and in the field the Brewers did everything they could to ensure that victory stayed in the hands of the Cardinals. It was like watching the playoffs all over again. Surely we need no re-enactment of that final stretch of the 2011 season.
Perspective is necessary, of course, in the Milwaukee Brewers season. We dropped the first four last year, and I think that season turned out pretty good. This is just one loss in what will undoubtedly become many, but it certainly isn’t the way we wanted the team to start out.
Then again, 161-1 is still a decent record.
By the Numbers
WP – Garcia (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 K)
LP – Gallardo (3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 K)
MIL HR: None
MIL SB: None
STL HR: Holliday, Molina, Freese, Beltran
STL SB: Beltran, Furcal
STL LOB: 9
Attendance: 46, 086
Thanks for stopping by and commenting and spending the first day of the season with us here at Reviewing the Brew. There will be better days, Brewers fans.