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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marcum's Command Returns, Brewers Become First Team in Majors to Throw Three Shutouts

The Brewers beat the Pirates 6-0 yesterday at a nearly empty PNC Park. The Pirates announced the official tally at 8,755, but spectators insisted that much less actually attended. It's too bad, since Shaun Marcum and Pirates starter Kevin Correia matched no-hitters for the first half of the game. The Pirates broke Marcum's up in the fifth, while the Brewers ended Correia's bid in the sixth. Jonathan Lucroy, in his first Brewers start of 2011, led off the inning with a double. Marcum managed a bunt single, pushing Lucroy to third, and the Brewers scored on a Carlos Gomez sac fly. After a single by Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder continued his April domination with an opposite field, three-run home run.

In the end Marcum pitched seven shutout innings. His command looked much improved, prompting Tom Haudricourt to label him "The Marcum the Brewers Expected." The Brewers tacked on a couple more runs, including one scored by Nyjer Morgan in which he continued his Tony Plush-style of play, bowling over catcher Ryan Doumit in another hard (and legitimate) play at the plate.

An image we'll see many more times this year
The Brewers bullpen combined for two scoreless innings to secure the shutout, making the Brewers the first Major League team to post three shutouts this season. Roy Halladay came close to making the Phillies the second last night, but he lost his shutout in the ninth inning of his complete game victory.

Two sources of worry continued last night with regard to the Brewers bullpen. Zach Braddock led off the seventh inning. He faced three batters, garnering one out and walking the other two. His control looked bad, and his velocity even worse. Jaymes Langrehr of the Brewers Bar wrote of concerns about Braddock's lack of velocity. The other source of concern: the overuse of Kameron Loe. In the first eleven games this season he's appeared in seven of them. SessileFielder aptly summed up the nature of the concern in the top of this series of tweets.

The Brewers are playing some excellent ball right now. A true test will be the series in Philadelphia next week and the series vs the Reds the week after. They currently hold second place in the NL Central, 1.5 games behind the division-leading Reds who lost last night in walk-off fashion to the Padres.

On a side note, Jim Breen of Bernies Crew wrote an excellent piece on Brewers fans hopes for a Prince Fielder extension. A truly well-written article, I told him it's one of the best I've seen on his site since I started frequenting it. He's also correct in his analysis.

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