All Tied Up, National League Central Week in Review
By Bill Berg
Aug 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) scores on a wild pitch by Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Alfredo Figaro (45) during the seventh inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
The Milwaukee Brewers had one of their worst weeks of the season last week and saw their lead in the division erased. Now on Labor Day and opening the season’s final month they find themselves tied with the St Louis cardinals atop the division.
The week started on a promising note with a 10-1 drubbing of the San Diego Padres, but the Brewers lost their next five games to finish the week 1-5.
The Brewer offense took most off the week off. In their final two games against the Padres they scored a total of three runs. In the first two games against the Giants they had the same total of three runs.
They finally picked it up on Sunday, scoring five runs, but the Giants dropped 15 on the Brewers. The Brewers were outscored 38-21 on the week.
The team did however finally acquire the relief help it has needed since June. They traded for Jonathan Broxton, formerly of the Reds, for two players to be named later.
They also announced their first five roster moves for September’s expansion. They recalled Jimmy Nelson to start today against the Cubs. Nelson was sent down to clear room for Alfredo Figaro earlier in the week but it was a formality until roster expansion and Nelson didn’t miss a turn on the rotation.
The team also reinstated Mat Garza and Wei-Chung Wang from the disabled list. The final two moves were to call up outfielder Logan Schaefer and catcher Matt Pagnozzi from Nashville.
The Brewers will open this week with a three game series against the Chicago Cubs in Chicago before hosting the St Louis Cardinals for four games staying on Thursday.
St Louis Cardinals
By the standards of a playoff contender the Cardinals had a pretty lackluster week going 3-4 but it was good enough to pick up a game and a half on the Brewers and tie the central division.
St Louis lost two-of-three to the Pirates to open the week and split a four-games series with the Cubs to close out the week.
Perennial All Star, catcher Yadier Molina, returned to the team on Thursday and paid immediate dividends when he collected five hits in the Cardinals two wins against the Chicago Cubs.
Unless I missed them, the Cardinals didn’t make any waiver deadline deals last week.
The Cards open this week with another three-game series against the Pirates before a four gamer with Milwaukee.
The Cardinals may have gained 1.5 games on the Brewers but the Pirates doubled that. The Pirates opened the week five-games behind and finished just two back after going 4-2 last week.
They opened the week with a 2-1 series win against the Cardinals and finished with a 2-1 series win over the Reds.
Andrew McCutchen’s return from the disabled list is going well for the Pirates. Cutch had seven hits last week, and only struck out three times, a far cry from the middle of the Milwaukee line up.
The Pirates open the week with a three gamer against the Cardinals before a three game weekend series with the Cubs.
The Reds gained ground in the division for the first time this month thanks to Milwaukee’s bad play. The Reds went from 9 ½ back to 7 ½ back on the week thanks to a 3-3 week.
They opened the week by taking 2-of-3 from the Cubs, before losing 2-of-3 to the Pirates.
Other than sending one of their best relievers to Milwaukee, the Reds had a quiet week on the transaction front. Despite gaining two games in the division the Reds know that 7 ½ is too big a hole to make up and aren’t going to try to get back in the division race.
The Reds are the only team playing outside of the division this week. They have a three-game series with the front-running Orioles before a three-game series with the New York Mets.
The Cubs went 3-4 on the week and picked up a game and a half on Milwaukee. They opened the week by taking 1-of-3 from the Reds before splitting a four-game series with the Cardinals.
The Cubs, sitting firmly in last place, had the second best record in the National League Central Division in August. Their 16-14 record was just a ½ game worse than the Cardinals at 16-13 and well ahead of Milwaukee at 13-14.
The Cubs have a six-game home stand this week, hosting Milwaukee and the Pirates for three games each.