Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oops...My Bad

No sooner do I rag on the Pittsburgh Pirates for their epic blowout losses this season than our beloved Milwaukee Brewers, their chief tormentor, splice together an impressively outrageous string of early-inning, middle-inning, and late-inning defeats.

Following an "Oh-for-Homestand" homestand, the Brewskis, seemingly eager to distance themselves from their tenderly loving, patient, and concerned patrons at Miller Park, sought their fortunes on the Carefree, Open Road. I'm pretty sure that was manager Ken Macha I saw driving the team bus to the airport at light speed.

Getting away almost worked. Long the bugaboo of Brewers' fortunes, the team's starting pitching has actually seen Fortuna reversed this week, eking out two good starts in a row in Cincinnati. The team's young demi-ace, Yovani Gallardo, provided a gutty, one-run outing over six innings on Monday. Then today, Tuesday, Manny Parra notched an unusually above-average start, and minor league call-up Marco Escobar had a terrific Brewers' debut in middle relief.

All of these efforts were, of course, wasted. What's the opposite of clutch heroics? Clutch goat-ics? Todd Coffey gave up the seventh inning grand slam in relief of Gallardo on Monday; and today, Future Hall of Fame Closer Trevor Hoffman took the hill in the ninth with a 4-2 lead.

It's getting harder and harder to keep to my spirited defense of Hoffman, who, once again this season, blew the save opportunity. Five men up, nobody out, bingo-bango-bongo, that's all she wrote. That's five blown saves this year for Hoffman, most -- like today's -- involving the long ball. I still wouldn't boo him, based on what he's meant to the game, but I'm pretty sure his personal Open Road, having headed south for the past six weeks, is about to head west, into the sunset.

That's how it's gone for the Bluer-than-Blue Crew all season. The starting pitching is largely an underperforming disaster. The exhausted relief corps has converted near-wins into losses with astonishing predictability. The bats are made of titanium in one game and sawdust the next. With former starter Jeff Suppan making $12.5 million, Trevor Hoffman at $8.0 million, Bill Hall -- Bill Hall! -- still collecting $7.2 million of Bernie Brewer's money while hitting .218 for Boston, and Prince Fielder gearing up for a Scott Boras-sized payday in 2012, Brewers GM Doug Melvin might be wishing he'd been on the bus out of town, too. Macha, a convenient target of scorn, might be wise to strap on a parachute on the flight to Pittsburgh.

The Pirates are now ahead of the Brewers in the standings. It could be all my fault for posting that earlier blog entry; I've awakened the Baseball Gods and earned their scorn and retribution. As New York Mammoths' star pitcher Henry "Author" Wiggen says at the end of Bang the Drum Slowly, "From here on in, I rag nobody."

Until tomorrow's game, at least.

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