10/13/11 8:18 PM ET
Extending NLCS good for Brewers' business
By Adam McCalvy and Jordan Schelling / MLB.com
Roenicke defends Kotsay, starts him again
ST. LOUIS -- He was asked about a temptation to start Craig Counsell, who has an excellent track record against Cardinals Game 4 starter Kyle Lohse. But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke answered instead with a strong defense of his decision to start another veteran bench hand, Mark Kotsay, in Game 3.Kotsay started again in Game 4, this time over slumping Brewers right fielder Corey Hart. Roenicke billed the move as simply a matter of production; Hart was 1-for-12 in the National League Championship Series. "I know you guys hammered me for Kotsay yesterday," Roenicke told a roomful of reporters on Thursday afternoon, "but you know, Kotsay is a good outfielder. I didn't put somebody out there who was a bad outfielder. I just didn't have Carlos Gomez in there. Carlos is a fabulous outfielder. "I feel good with Kotsay in the outfield. And I like his offense. Really, what it comes down to is Kotsay vs. Nyjer [Morgan]. It wasn't 'Gomey,' because Gomey is great in the outfield but he doesn't play against right-handers. He hasn't started against a right-hander in, I don't know, four months?" Both of Kotsay's starts against the Cardinals came against right-handers, Chris Carpenter on Wednesday and Kyle Lohse on Thursday. Kotsay entered the night 1-for-13 against Lohse, and Hart was 2-for-17.
Hart was battling an illness at the start of the NLCS, but said Wednesday night that he was feeling fine.
"Corey's scuffling lately, and he scuffled against Lohse," Roenicke said. "So I talked to him last night after the game, and it sounded like putting Kotsay out there was a good way to go about it."
Kotsay had a mixed Game 3. He was doubled off second base and couldn't convert a key out in center field in the first inning, but walked twice in the game and homered. The non-catch was a key play in the Brewers' 4-3 loss, and Roenicke's decision to play the 35-year-old was key fodder for columnists."[Lineup decisions] get tough in the playoffs, because you can't ride things out if a guy is in a little funk," Roenicke said. "Sometimes you want somebody in there that has a chance to get hot. Kotsay did what he was supposed to do yesterday. He got a home run and two walks in front of our big boys. That's what he was supposed to do. OK, he got caught off second base. 'Kots,' I know, wasn't happy about that play, but he did what he was supposed to do."
Roenicke has seen hitting win in the playoffs
ST. LOUIS -- It was their pitching that helped the Brewers to the National League Central title and got them to the NL Championship Series. And pitching typically is the key ingredient to winning championships.
But can the Brewers advance to or even win the World Series without it? Manager Ron Roenicke thinks so, because he has seen it happen before firsthand.
"When I was with the Angels, we won the World Series in 2002 [with] hitting, great hitting," Roenicke said. "We absolutely killed the ball in the playoffs. We had a great bullpen. Starters, OK. So I've seen it where you don't have to have great pitching. It doesn't happen very often."
In 2002, the Angels -- with Roenicke as third-base coach -- averaged 6.3 runs per game over 16 postseason contests. And their pitchers allowed 5.06 runs per game. Through eight games this postseason, the Brewers were outscored 47-38, averaging just 4.75 runs per game while giving up 5.88.
NL Most Valuable Player Award candidates Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder helped the Brewers put up strong offensive numbers this year, but the additions of starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, along with a solidified back end of the bullpen, made Milwaukee a playoff team.
Since they've reached the postseason, though, the Brewers have seen the offense carry the pitching staff more often than not. Yovani Gallardo was dominant against the D-backs in the NL Division Series, but even he struggled in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cardinals.
Every other starter has struggled.
"The playoffs, you don't know what's going to happen," Roenicke said. "[In Game 3], I thought [it would be a] low-scoring game, and [after] the first three innings, I'm going, 'Wow, where is this thing going?' ... I think it's going to be pitching, and sometimes it isn't."
Greinke honest to the end
ST. LOUIS -- Zack Greinke just can't help himself. Asked a question, he answers honestly, even if it means offending someone. Even if that someone was a collection of Minor Leaguers in Springfield, Ill., five years ago.Greinke's aversion to political correctness is what led to his comment earlier in the National League Championship Series about "sometimes phony" Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, landing him in hot water with everybody from Tony La Russa to Greinke's wife, Emily. The well-intending Greinke may have done it again Thursday when he was asked an out-of-left-field question about his complete-game win for Double-A Wichita against the Springfield Cardinals in 2006. "Yeah, I don't think that season was that important for anyone really," Greinke said. "It was just a regular season in the Minor Leagues, and the Springfield [game], our manager, Frank White, he thought it was the best game he saw me throw. I thought I just did normal stuff, and they were really bad that game. Just the Springfield team wasn't really that good, I didn't think." That elicited some laughs, but Greinke was straight-faced. "So I thought that like 80 percent of it was their team and 20 was me pitching good," he said. It may be true; that team was 66-72, third place in the Texas League's East Division. Mariners infielder Brendan Ryan is the only position player on the team now a Major League regular. Cardinals closer Jason Motte was on that team, just converting from catching to pitching. Greinke will have a much tougher test on Friday when he starts against the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.