After going through some struggles briefly around the All-Star break, the Milwaukee Brewers have opened up a 2.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals after winning 4 in a row. The free-falling Cinicinatti Reds are no longer relevant in the NL Central, and the Pirates are trying to hang around, but at 6 games back with 6 weeks to go their chances of winning division are slim.
Catcher Matthew Lucroy has been outstanding lately for the Brewers. Lucroy is poised to become the first catcher to lead either league in doubles. The Brew Crew’s recent sweep of the L.A. Dodgers in Chavez Ravine was noticeable on 3 fronts:
1. It caused a 3-way tie for the NL’s best record between Milwaukee, L.A. and the Washington Nationals. The owner of the best record obviously owns home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
2. They beat Clayton Kershaw Saturday, owner of a 1.86 ERA and in doing so handed Kershaw his first loss in 14 starts.
3. The starting pitchers only gave up 7 runs in 3 games over the weekend. Jimmy Nelson (6 inn, 2 runs), Yovanni Gallardo (8 inn, 1 run) and Wily Peralta (6 inn, 0 runs) were outstanding.
Across the St. Croix, the Minnesota Twins continue to spiral down the standings even further, losing 3 of 4 to the 1st-place Kansas City Royals. The Twins are trotting out young players in “audition roles” for the 4th year in a row to see if they have anything for the future. SP Trevor May got another start Monday and continued to walk too many batters in 4 1/3 innings. The Twins are experiencing tough times even in the minor leagues. Star prospect Byron Buxton was hurt badly in an outfield collision.
General Manager Terry Ryan has a lot of things to consider before next season, most notably, is Ron Gardenhire the person to continue managing this team. Paul Molitor is waiting in the wings. I’m not sure Gardenhire wants to go through another rebuilding season, despite his contract extension. Obviously the manager isn’t to blame for all their ills, but something has to change within the Twins organization. There’s no guarantee that prospects May, Alex Meyer, Miguel Sano, Buxton and others will work out. We’ve already seen that one or two injuries will derail the youth movement in Minnesota.
At their current rate, the Twins will finish 72-90…their 4th straight 90-loss season. The mid-90s teams have made a resurgence. Fans can only hope that what followed, a 10-year run of contention and winning from 2001-2010, will show up sooner rather than later this time around.