Please, for once, I’d like to write a recap that actually has a winning tune to it. I’ve written one and only one. So, basically what happened? Randy Wolf had a bad outing, that’s what. I think bad might actually be an understatement, but as always, you have give credit where credit is due and today it belongs to the Astros’ line-up, specifically Jed Lowrie and Carlos Lee. Astros’ starter Bud Norris had a pretty tremendous outing against the Brew Crew, which is unusual considering his prior struggles facing this line-up. While there really isn’t any positive aspect to take away from this game, I suppose the one thing we can be somewhat glad about is that after Wolf’s four innings of work, our bullpen pitched five innings, only giving up one run on one hit (which happened to be a home run to Carlos Lee). We saw bounce back performances lately from Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, thinking that Randy Wolf would be next. Guess not.
Things started off rough for Wolf and they started earlier. In the second inning, Wolf found himself in a jam as Carlos Lee scored from a Jed Lowrie double and Lowrie scored on a Justin Maxwell single. The Brew Crew would be down 2-0 as Wolf gets Chris Johnson to hit into a double play then gets Jason Castro out to end the inning. Rough start for Wolf so far. The third inning didn’t prove to be any easier. What hurts any pitcher’s integrity is when they give up a hit to the opposing pitcher and that’s just what happened. Bud Norris singles, followed by Jose Altuve singling and the walk of J.D. Martinez. With bases loaded and one out, the infield behind Wolf is looking for that double play ball to end the inning, but with Carlos Lee up, the situation is a lot more dangerous. Lee singles, scoring Norris and Altuve and moving Martinez up to second. After that, Jed Lowrie hits what should be an out to Corey Hart, but ends up being safe at second as Hart makes an error and Martinez scores. Things turned ugly quite fast for Wolf and after the damage was done, he managed to get Justin Maxwell and Chris Johnson out. After three, it’s 5-0 Astros.
To redeem himself, Corey Hart hits a solo home run in the top of the 4th. However, that would be it for the Brewers’ production for this inning as the next three batters all get out. The bottom of the 4th would end up being Wolf’s final inning and we can see as to why. A 5-1 deficit isn’t too terrible, but the gap unfortunately does nothing but widen at this point. Wolf walks Jason Castro, who later advances to second on a sacrifice by Bud Norris. Jordan Schafer singles, scoring Castro, which only makes the Astros’ lead expand. Jose Altuve is also walked (uh-oh, two walks in one inning). Both Schafer and Altuve steal and advance. With only one out and runners on second and third, Wolf has put his team in a critical spot. J.D. Martinez hits a sac fly to center which scores Schafer. Carlos Lee would fly out to end the inning. After four, it’s 7-1 Astros…yikes.
Vinnie Chulk replaces Randy Wolf in the bottom of the 5th and this is when we only know it can get worse from here. Surprisingly enough, Chulk throws two perfect innings, striking out three. That is a huge confidence booster for the bullpen. Tim Dillard replaces Chulk in the bottom of the 7th and isn’t as fortunate as Chulk was. After getting the first two outs, Dillard serves up a towering home run to Carlos Lee. He would then get Jed Lowrie to ground out. After seven, it’s 8-1 Astros.
The top of the 9th starts off as a potential rally for the Brewers. Rhiner Cruz, who came into the game after Norris in the 8th, is still in at this point. Cruz walks Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart back to back. Having two runners on with no outs is an ideal way to start off any inning. Cruz is replaced by Wesley Wright as the Astros had a bad feeling starting off the inning this way. Edwin Maysonet flies out and now here comes one of our most destructive bats, Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy hits an amazing triple to deep center, which in turn scores Ramirez and Hart, closing the gap of the deficit. Cesar Izturis is up and has the potential to make a productive out, like a fly ball to the outfield, but grounds out to Wright. Norichika Aoki comes into the game, batting for Manny Parra and has a chance to keep this game going. Just a single can score Lucroy, but unfortunately, Aoki grounds out to second to end the game. Astros win 8-3.
Scoring late is great sure, but when you’re already down a bunch, it’s not something you want to constantly rely on. We’ve seen what I call “potential” rallies started in the 8th or later that haven’t won us games. It’s heartbreaking yes, but it proves that we need to score earlier. The offense has been a bit sluggish, excluding Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Travis Ishikawa (whenever he gets to play). What we did see in this game though was a great start by Bud Norris. Norris pitched seven innings, only allowing one run on four hits while walking two and striking out nine. That’s a solid job done for any team and I know his bullpen is thankful for it. This loss sits Milwaukee at 16-21 and the victory for the Astros also puts their record at 16-21. Tomorrow’s match-up, which is the second and final game of this two game set, features Shaun Marcum (2-1, 3.07 ERA) against J.A. Happ (2-3, 5.72 ERA).
WP: B. Norris (4-1, 3.58 ERA): 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB’s, 9 K’s
LP: R. Wolf (2-4, 6.38 ERA): 4 IP, 7 H, 7 R (6 ER), 3 BB’s , 1 K
Home runs: C. Hart (8), C. Lee (3)
RBIs: C. Hart (18), J. Lucroy 2 (19), J. Lowrie (13), J. Maxwell (6), C. Lee 3 (18), J. Schafer (10), J. Martinez (21)
Doubles: J. Lowrie (6)
Triples: J. Lucroy (3)
Errors: C. Hart (1)
Until next time, go Brew Crew!