Good afternoon and welcome to the fourth annual Progressive Game Blog, hosted by the United Cardinal Bloggers. We have an excellent lineup of blogs for you today to get you through today’s matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Progressive Game Blog is (as far as we know) a UCB exclusive, in which one game can be seen through many different sets of eyes. Each blog will take an inning (or half-inning, in two cases) and fill you in on what happened in their own unique way.
Let’s set the lineup for today’s action before setting the scene for the game. As posts are made, these links will be edited to take you to the specific post rather than the blog in general, so continue to check back throughout the day.
First inning*: I70 Baseball
Second inning*: Aaron Miles’ Fastball
Third inning*: The Redbird Menace
Fourth inning*: Fungoes
Fifth inning*: STL: Fear The Red
Sixth inning*: El Maquino
Seventh inning*: Cardinal Diamond Diaries
Top of the eighth inning*: Cards ‘N Stuff
Bottom of the eighth inning*: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Goodnight
Ninth inning*: Pitchers Hit Eighth
Extra Innings/Postgame*: C70 At The Bat
Milwaukee comes into this game riding a seven game losing streak and is tied with Houston for last in the NL Central, five and a half games behind division-leading St. Louis. The Brewers narrowly avoided history last night, breaking up Jaime Garcia’s perfect game with one out in the seventh inning. The Brewers managed only one other hit and lost 6-0.
Offense was supposed to be Milwaukee’s calling card this year. The rotation had been upgraded, sure, but a team with Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Casey McGehee should be able to back whatever pitching they had with some strong outings. Milwaukee is fifth in home runs in the National League with 32 (two behind St. Louis), but their team OPS is .707, ranking eighth in the league. The offense has also gone south during this losing streak, as they are only hitting .157 over that span.
Taking the hill today for the visitors will be their ace from last year, Yovani Gallardo. Many thought that he lost that status when the Brewers traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, but that he would be a very dangerous number three starter. However, this season has been a disaster so far for him.
Gallardo comes into this game with a 6.10 ERA in seven games, a mark all the more notable since he has one complete game shutout on his record as well. In his last two starts, he’s allowed 11 earned runs in just 10 innings and his ERA in the last four is 9.28. Whatever the problem with his stuff is, it has been an extended one. According to the Brewer blog Bernie’s Crew, it appears that Gallardo is out of rhythm when he pitches and having trouble getting it back.
The Cardinals might not be the team he does it against, though. Here is what he’s done against the current Birds on the Bat:
As you can see, a number of the Cardinals have had a lot of success against Gallardo in the past, a surprise given his ace-like status the past couple of years. Also, one of the people that has struggled with him, Matt Holliday, is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, so it will be interesting to see which wins out during today’s contest.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have shaken off the weak 2-6 start to the season to take the top slot in the division. While the team is not without its question marks, most notably in the bullpen, they are 6-0-1 in their last seven series and looking to take yet another one this afternoon.
As noted above, Jaime Garcia flirted with perfection last night, settling for his second shutout of the season. (Interestingly, Garcia now has more shutouts–three–than Adam Wainwright–two.) The Cardinals have a +46 run differential, which is the highest in the National League, and a good portion of that is due to the remarkable pitching that St. Louis has received, most notably from the back end of their rotation. The pitcher that most exemplifies that surprising success takes the mound today for the Redbirds.
It’s fitting that Kyle Lohse is on the mound for today’s Progressive Game Blog. The first game blog took place on May 3, 2008. Lohse was on the mound that day and had one of his worst outings of the season, allowing eight runs in six innings in a game against the Chicago Cubs. Lohse only had a couple of other games that season approach that level of carnage and finished the year 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA, good enough for the Cardinals to sign him to a four-year contract on the last day of the season.
The results were completely different on May 23, 2009. Lohse again took the mound, this time against the Kansas City Royals, and spun scoreless ball through eight innings as the UCB recorded it. It seemed just a regular game, getting Lohse back on the track he was on with a superb April before slipping a bit at the beginning of May.
However, a fastball in the eighth inning from Ron Mahay struck Lohse on the forearm. Seemingly innocuous, that pitch turned out to have major impacts not only on the rest of 2009 but most of 2010 as well. Lohse missed most of the next six weeks and when he returned to pitching, he wasn’t at all the same player Cardinal Nation had seen wearing the St. Louis uniform.
Lohse continued to try to pitch through the injuries, but after his May 22, 2010 start, he landed on the disabled list. Had he not, he would have pitched on May 29, 2010, the third of the game blogs. Instead, Adam Ottavino made his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs. Ottavino struggled with his command and didn’t make it through the sixth inning.
That brings us to today. Lohse had the surgery on the forearm last season and has been a different pitcher in 2011, one that resembles the Lohse that was signed to that long-term deal. He finished April with a 1.64 ERA before hitting a speed bump last time out against the Florida Marlins, allowing five runs, including a Gaby Sanchez grand slam, in six innings.
Lohse has had his struggles with this Brewers lineup as well in the past.
This stats should be looked at with the caveat that a number of them have been piled up in the last couple of years, when Lohse was not at 100%. That said, there are some high averages there, though it does look like Lohse has been pretty good about keeping them in the park.
Today’s game starts at 3:05 PM Central with Dan and Al on the Fox Sports Midwest telecast. It should be an exciting game and you’ll have some great guides through the way today. Bill Ivie and the crew at I70 Baseball will get you started here soon. Enjoy the afternoon, everyone!