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Old 06-24-2019, 03:36 PM   #301
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Some early June thoughts about the present and the future

With the amateur draft coming up tomorrow the Brewers leadership finds themselves thinking about current trends on the team and about what the future might hold.

Starting rotation: This season sees a rotation that features the last three MGL Pitchers of the Year (Harry Lyerly, Cheol-han Lee, and Erik Sloan) along with a pitcher, Steve Green, who consistently puts up good peripheral numbers but just hasn't quite yet lived up to his well above average potential. And with a legendary pitching coach and a history of often having one of, if not the, best rotations in the league, this year they have significantly under-performed.
Some of the best performances have come from the least heralded members of the staff- Eric Johnson and Matt Helm.
So what are the indications for the future?
Well, ace Cheol-han Lee is 32 now but should have several more years as one of the better pitchers in the league, even if he is unlikely to add to his 3 Pitcher of the Year award total. Lee is durable and signed through 1976, though the team has an option on the last year of his contract.
Erik Sloan is the top southpaw in the rotation. He turns 30 later this month and is having an off and on season, but his contract goes through 1975 and he'll almost surely be in a Brewers uniform at least until then.
Harry Lyerly, at age 25, might never reach the levels he did in 1970 when he was the MGL Pitcher of the Year, but he has proven to be a reliable middle of the rotation arm. I sometimes wonder if I might have over-worked the high stamina (but not particularly durable) Lyerly in his first few WPK seasons and if his potential has been stunted a bit as result. But maybe this was just his career destiny and so long as he maintains his current production he's a valuable member of the rotation. He is arbitration eligible for a few more years and we will see what happens after that.
And what of Steve Green? At 26 it is about time for him to start living up to his potential. This year he has regressed, at least in terms of results, quite a lot. There is still a lot of season left and the hope is that he turns things around. He's still under team control through 1977 so he will likely be given time to prove himself.

Matt Helm is the team captain and the only other lefty in the rotation. So while he isn't likely to ever become a star pitcher he should have a spot in the rotation for at least a few more years (he could be a free agent at the end of the 1975 season.)
Eric Johnson profiles as a back end of the rotation starter at best. Thus far in 1973 he has been better than that, and at times spectacular. He earns high praise for his intelligence but less so for his work ethic. Time will tell if the 26-year old righty has a future in the rotation.

The Brewers have several capable arms in the minors but not a one who looks like a future ace. The best of the bunch is likely 20-year old John Weaver, who at this time looks like a future middle of the rotation guy.

The bullpen: Jose de los Santos is on the way down at age 36. His contract only extends one more season and the Brewers have an option on 1974 so it is hard to know if he will be back after this year.
Jaden Francis, the team's first round draft pick in the 1965 draft, at age 26, seems to be coming in to his own this season and has been the most stable member of the 'pen. He doesn't exactly profile as a dominant late-inning guy but he has the stamina to work multiple innings and he's not the worst guy to have out there in high leverage situations. Jaden will not be free agency eligible until after the 1976 season.
27-year old Liann-wei Hua is the lone lefty currently in the pen and remains a talented set-up man. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility but some expect that the team will try to sign him to a medium length contract before he hits the free agency list.
As for Dave Duncan, Sam Pruiett, and Jordan Stephens, well, the jury is still out regarding their future. Duncan, who struggles with control issues but has the best stuff of the lot, has not done well this year and is at risk of being sent to AAA to get his head straight. Pruiett has been okay overall but isn't a lock for the future. Stephens probably is in the best position to stick around, partly because his potential for development, even at age 25, is still tantalizing but most especially because of his two-way skills and power bat. Particularly with Mike Foster experiencing some regressing with his bat this season, Stephens ability to play third base gives him added value.

In the future, likely we will see Mike Lizarraga taking on an important role, possibly even becoming the anchor of the 'pen. And left-hander Jeremy Walker seems to be finally living up to his promise and is likely to earn a promotion from AAA Chester soon.

Okay, I realize that I'm becoming a bit wordy with all of this. Sorry. Let me try to speed it up a bit.

Catchers: Kevin Curtis is one of the team leaders, he's a 3-time Gold Glover and will likely win another this year. Although his bat has regressed to the norm after a hot start, he remains one of the better catchers in the league, a fan favorite in Denver, and is in no danger of losing his job. Curtis is signed through 1976.
As previously mentioned, Zacharias Martell is a good bet to become Curtis back-up soon and might eventually take the starting job if and when Curtis leaves (or his talent diminishes.)

First base: There is no reason to think that Bobby Erbakan won't own this position at least through the 1979 season, when his contract expires. Erbakan, at age 26, hasn't yet quite lived up to his great potential, but even if all he does is continue to play at his current level for several more years, he will have put together a fine, if not nearly HOF-level, career. But the hope is that his best years are still ahead of him.
There are several decent first base prospects in the system. They will probably have to find their future elsewhere.

Second base: Is the Jonathan Koch of 1973 so far the real Jonathan Koch? If so, well, we are all set here. Koch is an extremely gifted defender who this year has turned into one of our best hitters, and our best power hitter. It's too early to know if this is a fluke or just the development of a young star in the making. Even with some offensive regression, Koch, with his defensive speed and decent power, is a big league starter. But the team does have at least a few quite good prospects (David Bennett, Tim Leinen, especially) in the minors so if Koch regresses too much he could have competition.

Third base: Mike Foster in 1973 is not the hero he was in 1972. But there have been some signs of life with his bat of late. His defense is adequate, not great, and he has been too error prone thus far in 1973. There aren't a lot of candidates to take his place, so for now the strength of his '72 campaign has earned him some time.

Shortstop: Chad Brown is 26 years old and already a 3-time All-Star. He is signed through 1979. He is a well above average defender though he might never earn a gold glove. He is a good hitter with gap power and while he rarely walks he also rarely strikes out. He is one of the faster players in the league and a force on the base paths. Will Chad end up in the Hall of Fame? Probably not. But with his great durability and having started his career at such a young age, if he can continue to produce at his current level for another decade or so, well, he just might sneak in on the strength of longevity and an accumulation of stats. I wouldn't put it past him.


Left field: Ryan Rodgers is likely a Hall-of-Famer. Currently in second in batting average in the MGL, by a hair, Rodgers is showing no signs of slowing down at age 34. He is signed to a contract through the 1977 season, though he does have an opt out at the end of this season. I doubt he will use it, but he isn't totally happy about his role on the club (what with too many talented outfielders.)
Andrew Kennedy has a sweet swing. And that swing produces line drive after line drive, scattered around the field and often into the gaps. He is a tremendous hitter. And one of my favorite players. He's no gold glover, but he's above average in left field, adequate in right, and solid at first base, where he provides a left-handed hitting back-up for righty Erbakan. Kennedy is signed through 1978. I hope he continues to be an important member of the club at least that long.

Center field: Joe McPhillips looks to be on the verge of becoming one of the bigger stars in the WPK. Hopefully his current injury isn't an indication of some future injury proneness starting to manifest itself. But if he can stay healthy, and on track with his current progress, the future looks bright indeed for the 5-tool player.

Right field: Is this Josh Schaeffer's job to earn? So far, between a short stint in September of 1972, and parts of this season, Schaeffer has impressed. He is a fine defensive right fielder with a very strong arm. He has shown the ability to hit, even with a bit more power than might have been expected, and he has a great eye at the plate. His work ethic is a concern. But if he keeps producing that will be happily overlooked.

And then we will just have to wait and see how prospects like Jorge Gonzalez and Val Guzman progress.

If the future plays out something like discussed above, the pitching staff might need an infusion of new talent at some point in the next 4 years or so. The defense should continue to be a strength for the team, especially up the middle. This team should hit very well and run the bases with great skill. Power will continue to be an issue. While we have nobody in the mix who looks like they could contend for a HR crown, if Bobby Erbakan would return to the level he was at a few season ago, when he hit 21 HR's, and if Jonathan Koch's power turns out to be for real and he is a consistent 15-20 HR a year guy, and if Joe McPhillips lives up to his potential and becomes a 25-30 a year guy and a few others with roughly average power potential- Mike Foster, Josh Schaeffer, Kevin Curtis- can chip in with low double figure numbers, then it could be enough. But that's still a lot of ifs.
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Old 06-24-2019, 08:05 PM   #302
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June 1-3, 1973, versus Detroit

The Brewers begin the month of June with a 3-game series in Denver against the Detroit Falcons, who enter the game in a virtual tie for 4th place with the Brewers.

In game 1 the Brewers starting rotation woes continue when Erik Sloan allowed 7 runs on 8 hits in just 5 2/3rds innings pitched and the Falcons won 7-4. Sloan falls to 5-4 with a 4.22 ERA. In spite of his team being on the losing side, Brewers second baseman Jonathan Koch (.337/.348/.497) was named the Player of the Game with his 2 for 4, 3 RBI game. Koch hit his 10th double and 5th HR in the loss. Mike Foster (.257/.303/.326) also had a good game at the plate, collecting 3 hits in 4 at-bats.
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With the Brewers desperately needing a good performance from a member of the starting rotation, their 25-year old captain, Matt Helm, gave them just that. Helm got the complete game victory, allowing 2 runs, only 1 of them earned (and that one a 9th inning solo HR), on only 4 hits, striking out 3 and walking just 1. Helm improves to 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA as the Brewers win 6-2. Backup catcher Spencer Wilson (.268/.339/.464) had a big game at the plate, going 3 for 3 with 1 run scored, 1 RBI, and a walk. Pat Rondeau (.406/.419/.490) not only went 2 for 4 with a run scored in the game, but for the second day in a row he recorded an outfield assist. Rondeau now has 5 outfield assists on the season.
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Perhaps inspired by the Helm performance, Cheol-han Lee gave the home team their second fine start in a row. Lee held the Falcons to 2 runs on 7 hits over 8 innings pitched, striking out 7 and walking just 1. (Cheol-han also went 2 for 2 at the plate.) The Brewers offense ratcheted things up another notch in this rubber match, scoring 9 runs, and Lee got the win to improve to 6-4 with a 3.12 ERA. Bobby Erbakan (.298/.353/.463) was 2 for 4 in the game, hitting his 7th double and 3rd HR, driving in 3 runs. Erbakan was just one of four Brewers to hit a bomb in this one, a rare event indeed for the team that came into the game in last place in HR's in the MGL. (They are now tied for 9th.) Jonathan Koch (.339/.349/.508) continued his great season, going 2 for 4 and hitting HR #6. John Flores (.176/.300/.412), brought up from AAA before the game to provide some right handed power did just that in the 8th inning, when after going 0 for his first 3 AB's, he slammed a 2-run HR into the left field seats. A few batters later, veteran Billy Turner came to the plate as a pinch-hitter, specifically because of his ability to hit the ball over the fence, and boy did he do that- when he crushed a ball 414 feet also into the left field stands for a 2-run shot.
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The Brewers get a series victory to start the month of June.

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Old 06-25-2019, 10:55 AM   #303
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1973 Amateur Draft

To follow up a bit on an earlier post regarding 5 of the most highly rated players in the draft: http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/boar...&postcount=278

Sure enough, St. Louis College shortstop Justin Ficklin was the first player chosen overall, by the Portland Wild Things. The Wild Things once again find themselves in the bottom portion of the league and need an infusion of young talent. Perhaps Ficklin will prove to be a big part of a resurgence for the Wild Things in a few years.

John Hemmah, one of a good number of talented prep outfielders in the draft, went to the Detroit Falcons at #4 in the draft.

Shortstop T.J. Williams, a mature 18-year old who shows great leadership potential, was chosen at #12 by the San Francisco Velocity.

The Boston Berserkers, battling with the Jacksonville Wolf Pack thus far this year not only for the SJL title but also for best record in the WPK, chose Las Vegas College first baseman Mike Lovett with their 1st round pick, at #8 overall. This looks like a great pick. Lovett is a marginal defender but is already an advanced hitter with great power potential. He should move up the minor league system rapidly and could be in the bigs as early as late in the 1974 season. There is every reason to believe that this pick will help make the Berserkers a contender for the foreseeable future.

Another prep outfielder, Cameron Olsen, was taken by the San Francisco Velocity with the 6th pick of the 1st round. With their 2 picks in this round the Velocity come up with 2 of the more talented players in the draft. The big question with the 18-year old Olsen is his lack of maturity. He is not known for his baseball smarts or his hard work. Olsen has potential for greatness but also has potential bust written all over him.

More about the Brewers picks thus far later (the draft is completed through the 9th round), but suffice it to say that it was a bit of a disappointing draft for the organization though they are hopeful that a few of the youngsters they took a chance on may exceed current expectations.
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Old 06-25-2019, 03:36 PM   #304
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They all look like #1's.
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Old 06-25-2019, 06:15 PM   #305
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It was a top-heavy draft, definitely. Had we been a bit higher in the draft order (our first pick was at #18) we could have gotten a potential star.
I think overall (we will see how it plays out eventually) that this was a stronger draft class then the last few. So a decent number of mid-level prospects also.
We got a few of those. And took a chance on some very under-developed youngsters with potential for growth. Who might also completely fail.

But honestly, I love the draft process.
Will try to finish the rest of this year's draft tonight and will report on some of the Brewers picks also.
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:52 PM   #306
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1973 Draft- Brewers First Five Picks

The Brewers had the 18th pick in the first round of the 1973 amateur draft, and they chose 18-year old Jose Figueroa. Figueroa comes out of USC having played everywhere in the infield other than first and all three outfield positions, but the team has already signaled their intention to have him focus on learning third base for now.
Figueroa profiles as having the potential to be an above average contact hitter with slightly above average power. He will probably only draw an average number of walks and his speed is mostly average to below average. But he has a strong arm in the infield and should be able to become a strong third baseman defensively and has the ability to be an above average corner outfielder as well. He is young and a hard worker and could develop into a starting third baseman in the league but some in the organization see him as being more suited to a super-sub role in the WPK.
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In the second round the team chose a bat-first power hitting first baseman, Richard Escamilla out of Manitowoc Lutheran High School in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Escamilla will never wow anyone with his glove or his legs, but he has the potential to turn into a big league slugger with decent contact skills and a decent eye.
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Third round pick Bobby Stewart profiles quite similarly to Escamilla. While Stewart will be given a chance as a corner outfielder many believe that his ultimate home is first base as well, where he has the chance to be at least average defensively. Stewart is slow and his plate approach is questionable, but he is known for his great baseball smarts and as another 18-year old the hope is that he might develop over time to be a useful big league power hitter.
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In the fourth round the Brewers chose their first pitcher, in a weak draft for pitching. 18-year old Mike Blackstone has the stamina and durability to be a starter but will likely be relegated to the 'pen should he ever reach the bigs due to being essentially a two-pitch pitcher. But his curveball projects to have the potential to be elite and should be paired with a solid cutter. He has a poor change-up that is never expected to be anything but sub-par. Still, his stuff has a chance to be above average, his movement is already pretty well developed towards above average, and his control has the potential to be acceptable. He is a ground ball pitcher which fits into the organizational pitching philosophy.
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With their fifth round pick, the Brewers selected 21-year old Glendale College right fielder Justin Hawes. Hawes is a speedy player with good base stealing and running skills, a great bunter, and profiles as a solidly above average defensive outfielder with a strong arm. He is unlikely to ever hit for power the way one would expect from a corner outfielder but he could be a decent contact hitter with an above average eye at the plate. He comes to the organization pretty well developed with a ceiling that isn't that great but a floor that isn't particularly low either. There is a good chance he will eventually earn at least a small role in the WPK.
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Overall the Brewers selected 6 pitchers- all starters at this point though surely some will be transitioning into relief work. They picked 5 shortstops, though as previously mentioned at least one will be moving to third base. They chose 4 first baseman and 4 right fielders in a draft that featured an inordinate number of power hitting but defensively challenged players. They drafted 3 center fielders, a smaller number than usual for the Brewers. And just 2 catchers. Only 1 third baseman was drafted, though that number has already doubled with the move of Figueroa from short. And just 1 left fielder was chosen. Not a single player who was primarily a second baseman was picked, though positional changes could surely still be in the works.
It should be noted too that one of the players they selected is a two-way player, Ron Bates, who plays first base while also being a starting pitcher. He is unlikely to have the talent at either position to make the big leagues, but he's a smart guy and durable and should at least be an asset at the minor league levels.

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Old Yesterday, 12:20 AM   #307
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June 5-7, 1973, at Oklahoma City

The Brewers are off to OKC for 4 games against the 7th place Diamond Kings.
The Monday game is called off due to bad weather and re-scheduled as the first game of a Tuesday double-header.

(Okay, a little note outside the reality of the WPK. The first game of this series was not originally postponed. In fact, the Brewers were leading it 9-2 in the 8th inning when the game just froze on me. Couldn't get it back. Had to sacrifice the game. I wasn't very happy to lose an almost sure win. On the other hand, Bobby Erbakan had to leave the game with an injury mid-game (having homered earlier) and I didn't of course know how serious the injury was or if we might lose him for an extended time. Still, Harry Lyerly was also pitching a good game and the way this season was going I was sure in a re-do he would get shelled. I was wrong. All's well that ends well.)

In the opening game of the double-header Harry Lyerly pitched his best game of the 1973 season. Lyerly pitched 8 great innings, allowing just 2 hits, striking out 11 batters and walking 3. (I realized finally that I was letting him throw way too many pitches and got him out of there.) The top of the lineup provided him with all the offense he would need and more. Chad Brown (.329/.339/.427) was 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored from the lead-off slot. Pat Rondeau (.412/.424/.510), hitting in the two hole, was also 3 for 5, scoring twice and driving in 2 runs, hitting his 11th double and 2nd triple. With the 5-0 win Lyerly improves to 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA.
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Unfortunately, the Brewers see Steve Green continue his struggles in the night cap. Green allows 6 runs (3 earned) on 9 hits in just 4 1/3rd innings pitched. The Brewers lose 6-2 and Green falls to 3-5 with a 5.06 ERA. Pat Rondeau continues his amazing season, going 2 for 5 and picking up his 8th stolen base in the loss. Andrew Kennedy (.321/.353/.430) went 2 for 4 and hit his league leading 16th double.
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Game 3 of the series makes me want to sing a song in praise of sloth. The two Brewers who are most often singled out for their poor work ethics- starting pitcher Eric Johnson and right fielder Josh Schaeffer- combined to get the Brewers back on the winning track. Johnson, who has been the best pitching surprise for the team this year, was once again masterful. Over 8 innings, he held the Diamond Kings to 2 runs on only 3 hits. And Josh Schaeffer (.306/.414/.633) went 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored, 2 RBI, hit his 3rd HR (he crushed it!), his 1st double, drew a walk, and continued to play excellent defense in right field. Jonathan Koch (.341/.350/.503) went 3 for 4 in the narrow 3-2 victory. Johnson got the win, improving to 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA. Which basically means that the 6th starter on the staff is having the best year of all so far.
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Let's talk more about Jonathan Koch. What the heck has gotten into this kid this season? Game 4 saw the young second baseman almost single handedly power the offense to a 4-0 victory. And power being the operative word as Koch drilled his team-leading 7th HR while going 2 for 4 with 3 RBI. And with the exception of Steve Green, you have to like what you are starting to see from the starting rotation. It was Erik Sloan's turn in this game, and while he was playing with fire much of the game (the Diamond Kings had runners in scoring position in more innings than not) he somehow managed to get the shutout, allowing 6 hits over his 9 innings, striking out 3 and walking 2. Chad Brown (.333/.344/.432) is really hitting lately, and after having a 21 game hitting streak earlier in the season he is now up to 12 straight currently. In this game he went 2 for 5 with a run scored and hit his 10th double of the season.
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With the 3-1 series win the Brewers climb back into a tie for 2nd place with Brooklyn, 1 game behind the Los Angeles Spinners.
Jonathan Koch is now leading the MGL in batting average at .344 as L.A. star Travis Johnson has been in an extended slump that has seen his average drop from .406 as recently as May 19th to .338 today. Ryan Rodgers is in second, just ahead of Johnson, at .339.
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Old Yesterday, 12:40 AM   #308
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Ruben Souffront among MGL batting leaders.

I probably should mention that 3 of the top 5 batting averages in the MGL currently belong to Brewers players. And a 4th belongs to former Brewer Ruben Souffront.
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While Ruben is still only projected to finish the season with a 1.8 WAR, he is having quite the comeback season with Charlotte.
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Old Yesterday, 10:59 PM   #309
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June 8-10, 1973, at Portland

The Brewers then head up to Portland where they hope to keep things going against the rebuilding 7th place Wild Things.

And in game 1 they carry a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the 9th, having received another fine start from Matt Helm, who worked 7 innings giving up the 2 runs on 8 hits. But Jaden Francis, who has been the most stable member of the Brewers bullpen this year, couldn't hold the lead in the 9th and the Wild Things sent the game to extras. Then, in the 11th inning, Liann-wei Hua, who had been sailing along for 2 1/3rd innings, needed one more out to send the game to the 12th. But the Wild Things superstar shortstop Chris Tobin, who had entered the game as pinch-hitter in the 9th and hit the triple that tied the game, now topped that by drilling the 1-1 pitch 450 feet into the left-center seats to give the Wild Things a walk-off victory. Josh Schaeffer (.333/.429/.648), continuing to rake in his short WPK career, went 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored and hit his 2nd double in the loss.
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The Brewers got another good start from their veteran ace Cheol-han Lee in the second game and held on for a narrow 3-2 win. Cheol-han worked 8 innings, giving up 1 run on 5 hits to improve to 7-4 with 2.94 ERA. Jose de los Santos gave up a run in the 9th but worked out of a jam to get his 6th save (3.14 ERA.) Bobby Erbakan (.302/.368/.453) went 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored and hit his 8th double in the win. 42-year old Billy Turner (.314/.340/.490) was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.
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Steve Green gave the Brewers perhaps his best start of the season in the rubber match, but the offense and bullpen let him down and the Brewers lost, again on a walk-off, 2-1. Green allowed just 1 run on 6 hits in 8 innings pitched, striking out 8 and walking just 1. His ERA improves to 4.59. Sam Pruiett pitched the bottom of the 9th and got the first two outs pretty quickly, and against the Wild Things two most dangerous hitters (Chris Tobin and the power-hitting right fielder Alex Reyes.) But then he gave up a 2-out double to former Brewer Jose Careaga, Careaga's second straight double of the game, and then Portland's first baseman Matt Sherman singled Careaga home to end the game and give the home club the series victory. On the plus side, Chad Brown (.331/.340/.424) did pick up 1 hit in 4 at-bats to extend his current hitting streak to 15 games.
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Fortunately for the Brewers two of their main competitors in the division are going through cold spells- L.A. has lost 5 straight and Baltimore has won just 4 of their last 10 games. Brooklyn has, on the other hand, won 4 straight and sit in 1st place, with the Brewers, Baltimore Lords, and L.A. Spinners all 2 1/2 games back. The Brewers are percentage points ahead of the Lords and Spinners.
Meanwhile, in the SJL, the Jacksonville Wolf Pack have rattled off 13 straight wins and now lead the Boston Berserkers, who have also remained pretty hot, by 2 games.
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