Tuesday: Undefeated and Unscored Upon
We're riding the wave of an Opening Day shutout in today's roundup of all things Brewers.
Some things to read while expanding your vocabulary.
Opening Day could not have gone much better for the Milwaukee Brewers, who rode Aramis Ramirez's two-run double and solid pitching to a 2-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. If you missed the highlights, Noah Jarosh of Brew Crew Ball has them in gif form.
For many fans, the big story from yesterday's game was fan reaction to Ryan Braun. Braun received a standing ovation in his first game back at Miller Park following his 2013 suspension, and cheers overpowered any boos he may have heard before his at bats. Mike Bauman of MLB.com has Braun's reaction to the cheers.
Of course, fans cheering for Braun didn't sit as well with many members of the national media, whose "moral outrage" meters went off the charts. Jess Lemont of The Brewers Bar used a Holy Grail reference in response. One of the more level national pieces came from Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, who talked to Bud Selig and one of the former season ticket-holders Braun called personally this winter.
Yesterday's most surprising news may have come in the ninth inning, though, when Francisco Rodriguez, not Jim Henderson, got the call to record the final three outs. Ron Roenicke reported not liking how Henderson was throwing the ball this spring, leading to a surprise switch in the closer role. @AndrewGruman tweeted a Henderson quote about how he was on board with "whatever was best for the team."
Rodriguez, by the way, reported pulling four more cactus spines from his foot before the game (h/t @AdamMcCalvy). His 305th career save moved him into sole possession of 21st place on MLB's all-time list (h/t @MikeVassallo13).
K-Rod saved a win for Yovani Gallardo, his first victory in five tries on Opening Day (h/t @joe_block). Gallardo pitched six shutout innings and also recorded four strikeouts in the game, with the second one moving him past Teddy Higuera and into second place on the Brewers' all-time list (h/t @AdamMcCalvy). He needs 122 more to catch Ben Sheets for first. Jordan Mader of Brew Crew Ball has a look at Gallardo's Opening Day arsenal, which included an encouraging uptick in his average velocity.
Other notes from the field:
The Brewers will attempt to extend their winning streak to two games tonight when they take on the Braves again at 7:10. Kyle Lohse will face Alex Wood in the season's first night game, and Joe Morgan has the MLB.com preview.
- Our own Howie Magner was in attendance yesterday and covered Opening Day from every angle, including stories on Braun, Bud Selig's (likely) final Opening Day as commissioner and press box usher Lou Montgomery.
- 45,961 fans paid to see yesterday's game, the sixth-largest crowd in Miller Park history.
- Those fans got to see a bit of history, as the Braves challenged the call on a play at first base where Ryan Braun appeared to have legged out an infield single and became the first team to have a call reversed with baseball's new replay system. Jim Tosches of Baseball Rules! has a look at what happened. The replay took 58 seconds. (h/t @joe_block)
- Carlos Gomez had the Brewers' first hit of the season in the first inning, then advanced to second on an error and was thrown out trying to take third. He was credited with the season's first TOOTBLAN. The acronym, by the way, stands for "Thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop."
- Jonathan Lucroy stole a base yesterday for the 20th time in his career. He joins B.J. Surhoff and Charlie Moore as the only catchers in Brewers franchise history to steal 20 or more.
- The Brewers have now shut out the Braves in each of their last two meetings (including a 4-0 win on September 25 of last season) and in six of their last 10. (h/t @MikeVassallo13)
- This was the third Opening Day shutout win in franchise history and the first since a 12-0 blanking of the Orioles in 1988. (h/t @AdamMcCalvy)
- Bucky Badger also made an appearance at Miller Park yesterday as fans continue to celebrate Wisconsin's berth in the Final Four.
- The Hot Dog won 2014's first official Sausage Race.
- Speaking of dogs, the season could not open without an appearance from Hank. USA Today has video of the occasion, and MLB.com has more on his ongoing fame.
Don't be surprised if we see Jeff Bianchi in the lineup at shortstop tonight. Jean Segura narrowly avoided opening the season on the DL with shoulder soreness, and while he walked and scored a run yesterday, Todd Rosiak reports the Brewers will be monitoring him closely in the early days of the season. If Segura sits out tonight and serves as the DH in Boston on Saturday, he could play in five of the season's first six games without having to play the field on back-to-back days.
Segura, by the way, has a pair of walk-up songs this season: “Pa Que Tu Me Saluda” by Don Miguelo and “Dando Coriente” by El Alfa. The Brewer Nation has a comprehensive list of the Brewer walk-up songs we know at this very moment.
Segura accounts for a pretty small portion of the Brewers' franchise record $103 million Opening Day payroll. Adam Weiser of Disciples of Uecker has a table that puts that into perspective, though, showing that the Brewers' payroll figure has remained steady at around 3 percent of MLB total payroll in every season since 2007.
In the minors:
Back in Milwaukee, the "Double Clutch" stand on Miller Park's loge level is serving Chicken and Waffles as the specialty item for the Braves series. I didn't get a chance to try it yesterday, but let me know if you did.
- The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers became the final full-season affiliate to announce their tentative 2014 roster yesterday, and it includes 2012 first round pick Clint Coulter and 2013 Pioneer League MVP Michael Ratterree. I'll be in attendance for their Media Day later this morning.
- Speaking of the Timber Rattlers, Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has some photos from around the newly-renamed Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium as Wisconsin prepares to open itsseason at home on Thursday.
- Marcus Young of Miller Park Prospects has a preview of the 2014 Huntsville Stars.
I don't know if Mark Attanasio was asked about food trucks or waffles, but he was asked yesterday about a USA Today story listing him as one of five likely candidates to replace Bud Selig as commissioner following the season. He downplayed the rumors, mentioning that he's one of a group of owners attempting to convince Selig to stay on.
Bob Uecker was, of course, also in attendance yesterday for his 59th Opening Day in professional baseball. He's still planning on taking some days off this season but confirmed what he's previously stated: His schedule is flexible and he may cancel some of his off days if the Brewers are in contention down the stretch.
Better late than never, today we have another massive collection of season previews, predictions, projections and power rankings:
If you'd like more Brewers coverage today but you're sick of reading, I'll be making my debut today with Ben Larson on Talking Cheeseheads. You can hear my appearance on the show at 2:30 p.m. on Sports Talk AM 1090 in Rice Lake, at 3:30 p.m. on Sports Fan 100.5 in Wausau, or anytime this afternoon via archived audio on Cheeseheadtalk.com.
Athletics: Signed pitcher Joe Blanton to a minor league deal.
Blue Jays: Placed shortstop Jose Reyes on the DL with a hamstring strain.
Braves: Signed reliever Luis Perez to a minor league deal.
Diamondbacks: Announced the retirement of catcher Henry Blanco.
Mets: Signed first baseman/outfielder Bobby Abreu to a minor league deal.
Red Sox: Placed outfielder Shane Victorino on the DL with a hamstring strain.
With Blanco's retirement, Jamey Wright is now the only active member of the 2000 Brewers, the last team to play a home game at Milwaukee County Stadium. Wright is also one of just 19 active players who appeared in a game at that facility.
Elsewhere today in former Brewers:
Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- Nyjer Morgan hit the go-ahead sac fly in Cleveland's 2-0 win over the A's yesterday, Oakland's 10th consecutive Opening Day loss.
- Casey McGehee batted cleanup on Opening Day in his debut for the Marlins.
- Tony Gwynn Jr., who did not play in the majors in all of 2013, was the Opening Day starter in left field for the Phillies yesterday.
- Shaun Marcum did not make the Indians' Opening Day roster, but @ChrisCotillo reports that he'll remain in the organization for now.
- The Rockies have released reliever Mike McClendon (h/t @Mass_Haas). He last pitched in the big leagues with the Brewers in 2012.
- Former Brewers hitting coach Don Baylor broke his femur catching a ceremonial first pitch before last night's Angels game.
Plunk Everyone notes that Niekro's 123 hit batsmen are the most ever for a pitcher born on April 1, and his 12 career HBP as a batter also rank fifth among players born on this day.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to come up with a better nickname.
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