Braun back for Brewers; more 'clutch' talk
Ryan Braun returns to the Milwaukee Brewers’ lineup today as they take on the Cubs at Wrigley Field. We’ve got some sun and some clouds today, but overall, it’s a much more pleasant day than Friday. Carlos Gomez was supposed to return from his suspension and lead off for the Brewers, but he was a late lineup scratch with lower-back tightness.
Edwin Jackson starts for the Cubs today against former Cub Matt Garza. We’ll see if the Cubs lay down a bunt or two against Garza, who has trouble throwing to first base. Garza beat the Cubs 5-2 in Milwaukee on April 25.
We had a good discussion yesterday with Cubs manager Rick Renteria about the notion of “clutch” hitters and “clutch” performances. Yes, there are clutch hits, but are there clutch hitters? It’s an age-old debate.
“I think there are clutch approaches,” Renteria said yesterday. “I think there are hitters who have good approaches in those situations. Part of that is they take the anxiety, somehow they’re able to manage the anxiety in those situations.”
Baseball is different from football, basketball and hockey in that getting keyed up for a game or a performance can be counterproductive. Instead, baseball must be played with a controlled enthusiasm.
“It’s a game in which I think you have to take a step back, for sure,” Renteria said. “Being a high-energy person is not a bad thing. It’s just being able to manage that high energy and directing it in the right place. Some people are capable of doing it better than others. Some people have moments in which they are able to manage it for a while and then they might fall away from it. We’re trying to get our club, hopefully, at some point, to start chipping away and start moving in an upward direction in all those aspects.”
On other fronts, Renteria said outfielder Ryan Sweeney has taken a step back in his recovery from a hamstring strain. Justin Ruggiano, who also has a hamstring injury, will report to Class AAA Iowa tomorrow and begin playing Monday if all goes to plan.
Class AAA Iowa dropped out of first place with a 5-1 loss to Round Rock. Northwestern’s Eric Jokisch took the loss, working 6.1 innings and giving up 7 hits and 4 runs, 3 earned. He walked one and struck out five. Jokisch is 2-4 with a 4.37 ERA.
Iowa committed 3 errors, leading to 2 unearned runs. Christian Villanueva had 2 singles while Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur had a double apiece.
Class AA Tennessee fell 2-0 to Mississippi, with both runs coming home on wild pitches. Corey Black took the loss, as he pitched 5.1 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs while walking three and striking out six. He is 2-4 with a 3.96 ERA. Dustin Geiger had 2 of Tennessee’s 5 singles.
Daytona (A) won its third straight, beating Fort Myers 2-1. Felix Pena got no decision, pitching 4 innings and giving up 4 hits and 1 run. Albert Almora drove in the first run and scored the game-winner. He was 2-for-4 with his team-leading 19th RBI. Zach Cates worked 3 innings to earn the win in relief. Andrew McKirahan added 2 more innings for his second save.
The Kane County Cougars (A) got a 3-run fifth and beat Quad Cities 4-2. Paul Blackburn picked up the win, working 6 innings and giving up 2 hits and 1 run while walking only one and striking out eight. He is 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA. The 8 strikeouts tied a career high. Carlos Penalver and Danny Lockhart each had RBI doubles. Ben Carhart singled twice as he went 2-for-4 with his 15th RBI. Tyler Bremer earned his second save for the Cougars.