Phillies-Brewers: 5 things you need to know

Phillies-Brewers: 5 things you need to know
April 9, 2014, 11:15 am
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Well played, Ryan Braun.

The Brewers' rightfielder told reporters last weekend that his right thumb was so injured that he literally could not keep his grip on the bat or the ball.

And then, in typical Braun fashion, he beat the Phillies by himself in Tuesday's home opener.

Here are five things you need to know ahead of Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. game on The Comcast Network.

1. All-around game
Braun saved several runs for Milwaukee with an inning-ending, diving catch on a Carlos Ruiz line drive in the second inning Tuesday. He then came up with two men on in the following half inning and blasted a three-run homer.

Braun would go on to homer three times and drive in seven of the Brewers' 10 runs in a 10-4 Milwaukee win.

Braun now has 17 homers and 37 RBIs in 44 games against the Phillies. He's the third-fastest player ever to 17 home runs vs. the Phillies, behind only Eric Davis and Vladimir Guerrero.

Why pitch to this guy again in the series?

2. Missed spots
Phillies pitchers in general and Kyle Kendrick in specific left too many balls out over the heart of the plate in the series opener. Two of Braun's three home runs came on pitches on the middle or outer half of the plate.

That's not how you retire Braun, especially when his thumb is banged up and any additional sting from an inside pitch might make him reconsider taking the bat off his shoulders again in the at-bat.

Braun has exceptional plate coverage despite standing far off the plate because of a flat, level swing. That's common among the Brewers -- Carlos Gomez is a classic bad-ball hitter who swings at everything, the offensive version of an "effectively wild" pitcher. Same goes for Jean Segura, whose first-inning single off Kendrick was on a pitch at his ankles.

Phillies pitchers have to be more careful in this series because it sure seemed like more a problem of execution that preparation.

For the record, the Phillies have now failed in a shutdown inning four times in seven games. Four times they've taken a lead only to surrender a run in the following half inning.

3. Just browsing
The Phillies did do something well Tuesday -- they took pitches. The Phils forced Kyle Lohse -- who has averaged just 15.1 pitches per inning since 2013 -- into 28 pitches in the first inning. And they removed him from the game after five frames and 107 pitches.

Carlos Ruiz, Domonic Brown and Marlon Byrd really made Lohse work. Each of those three players saw 24 pitches in five plate appearances and were the main reasons that Lohse walked five batters.

4. Hernandez vs. Garza
Roberto Hernandez and Matt Garza make their second career starts for their respective teams.

Hernandez won his Phillies debut last week in Chicago, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings. He was lifted after just 73 pitches, which caused some confusion but turned out to be the right move by Ryne Sandberg.

Hernandez, who is prone to serving up the long ball, must be extremely careful with the confident hitters in this Milwaukee lineup. Right now, that seems like everybody -- Braun, Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy. Even Aramis Ramirez, who went 0 for 5 Tuesday, is hitting .367 on the season.

Garza had no-hit stuff last week at home against the Braves ... literally. Garza carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when Chris Johnson erased that and the shutout with a solo home run. Garza would allow just two hits and the lone run over eight innings.

Whether it was the adrenaline of making his first start in a new park or early-season freshness, Garza was routinely hitting 95-96 mph on the radar gun.

In other words, it could be a long night for the Phils' offense. Aside from Byrd, current Phillies have hit a combined 11 for 66 (.167) off Garza with no homers and three RBIs.

5. Reevaluating Revere
Ben Revere is still hitting (.303), but he made his second error of the young season on Tuesday on a deep fly ball by Mark Reynolds. He also made a miscue at Wrigley Field on a liner to center, and it may be time we adjust our expectations for Revere in center field.

Does Revere have elite speed? Yes. Is he capable of tracking down balls most outfielders wouldn't? Yes. Was last year's diving stab at Great American Ballpark one of the best defensive plays by a centerfielder in the last decade? Absolutely.

But Revere plays very shallow, has slightly delayed instincts and is inconsistent in his route-running. When you combine that with an arm that scares no one, the Phillies still aren't getting what they want or need defensively from their outfielders.

 

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