July 15th, 2012
Saturday night Victoria and I had stayed at her aunt’s house in Sussex, which makes it a little easier with a day game after a night game. We left the house at 10:00, got some breakfast, and then headed to Miller Park. We were parked at 11:25 and went to the bus parking to meet up with some people from Fort. They had brought a bus from Fort Atkinson to celebrate a friend from high school’s birthday (Justin). I played a game of bags (which I won), had a few beers (which I drank), and then decided it was time to head inside. It was really hot (again) and Victoria and I agreed that we probably wouldn’t be watching much of the game from our seats.
We got inside at 12:30 and went to section 209 to get game photo number 88. As these numbers get bigger the number of days become fewer that I have until I’ll have to rejoin the workforce and figure out what I want to do with my life. I’m a procrastinator so I’m really hoping the season lasts longer than 162, for more reasons than one.
Victoria and I went down by section 111 and watched the first four innings from the concourse. On Sundays the Brewers usually make nine kids extremely happy with the Major League Moment. Lucky winners (you have to register at PNC banks) get to join the Brewers for the national anthem at their position on the field. This Sunday was family day, so there were more than just nine, and it was most all of the active players’ kids, as well as Craig Counsell’s kids. It was pretty cool, and Yovani Gallardo got to stand with his son (Yovani Jr.).
Here they are just before Yovani Jr. left the mound. You can tell that Yovani Jr. had been sliding on the infield before the game because his pants are pretty dirty. I suspect having a major leaguer as a parent has its drawbacks (not seeing much of them for 7 months of the year), but there are also times when it’s got to be pretty cool.
Speaking of Yovani Gallardo; he was spectacular on Sunday. He struck out two in the first inning and was on his way to an impressive stat line. Here he is throwing out the first pitch of the game:
Aoki was batting leadoff and the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first was hit down the right field line for a double.
Nyjer Morgan was up next and he executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, getting Aoki to third base with less than two outs.
With that lead-up you’d think the Brewers scored at least one run in the inning. Spoiler alert; they did not. Braun went down looking at strike three and Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging to end the frame. In the top of the second Casey McGehee grounded one up the middle that was fielded by recent call up Jeff Bianchi (pronounced “BE – YANKEE”). He fielded it near the second base bag and threw on the run to retire the former Brewer. I like that he’s airborne, you can see his shadow and the shadow of the baseball.
It remained scoreless until the top of the fourth, when MVP-candidate Andrew McCutchen hit his third home run in as many games. He went three for four and has his batting average up to .371. He’s having a great season and he’s fun to watch. Now if only he could somehow find his way onto the Brewers roster I could speak even more highly of him. Here’s McCutchen (22) after touching home plate and giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
After the top of the fourth inning Victoria and I headed back up to the loge level. I went down and stood in front of the press box while Victoria went and got some nachos. We devoured them and agreed that they’re one of the best things to eat at Miller Park, if not THE best. I might still have to lean towards the Polish topped with caramelized onions, but it’s close. The nachos were messy and magnifilicious at the same time. The fact that we couldn’t see a single chip was a good indication the nachos were going to be messy.
We stayed in front of the press box for the next few innings and in the sixth Nyjer Morgan led off with a single up the middle. Braun followed with a single to right field:
Nyjer rounded second and headed for third but for some reason Pirates right fielder Garret Jones thought he could throw Morgan out. He missed the cutoff man and when Nyjer was pulling into third base Ed Sedar pointed towards home plate (and I’m guessing was yelling at T-Plush to “Go Home!!!”)
Braun was able to go all the way to third base due to the off-line throw from Jones. The Pirates brought the infield in to try and keep the Brewers from taking the lead. Aramis Ramirez, however, got the job done and hit one up the middle to score Braun.
After a Corey Hart strikeout Rickie Weeks and Martín Maldonado both doubled, increasing the lead to 4-1. Maldonado’s double resulted in a close play at second. Here he is sliding/belly-flopping into second base. You can see the ball on the right side of the photo. I know it’s not the clearest picture (I think my camera focused on the screen) but I thought it was still funny/cool.
Yovani Gallardo pitched through the seventh inning, and finished the day with this line: 7 innings pitched, 4 hits allowed, 0 walks, 1 run (earned) and FOURTEEN STRIKEOUTS!!! This puts him into a tie for second place in franchise history for most strikeouts in a single game. Justin, who’s birthday tailgate I visited, witnessed Ben Sheets striking out 18 Atlanta Braves back in 2004.
Victoria and I left our spot in front of the press box and went to our seats during the seventh inning. I watched the first pitch to McGehee from the bottom of the staircase behind section 221, then tried to climb all the stairs before the next pitch. I failed. I turned around just after the 0-1 pitch hit Maldonado’s glove. It was a foolish mistake and it cost me a chance at setting a new (personal) high mark in consecutive pitches seen.
K-Rod came on for the eighth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, while striking out two. Axford retired three of the four he faced in the ninth inning, and the Brewers won the game and the series. Final Score: Brewers 4 – Pirates 1. Here’s the final pitch of the game. McGehee grounded out to Rickie Weeks to end it. If you look closely you can see the ball hiding behind McGehee’s bat and where the ball had hit the ground (just to the left of McGehee’s left leg).
It would’ve been nice to sweep the Pirates, seeing as the deficit would be 5 games rather than the 7 games it is after the 2-1 series win. A series win is still important, though, so I can’t complain.
One last picture. Early in the game Victoria and I had independently spotted a couple of fans dressed like they were on fire. I’m not sure if they made it on TV but it would’ve been a cool lead-in from commercial to let the viewers at home know how uncomfortable it was (at times).
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I went to Saturday’s game with Victoria and her parents. The three of them met me in Sussex, where I left my car, and then we made our way to Miller Park. We’re staying at Victoria’s aunt’s place in Sussex for the night, so it made sense to just drive one car to the game. We got to the parking lot at 3:05, and headed back to the Molitor Lot on the other side of the interstate. Right next to the interstate they have a Brewers M on one side of the road and a ball and glove logo on the other side. Here’s the Brewers M with the Miller Park Way exit above it.
We went to the Molitor Lot to meet Victoria’s friend Natalie and the enormous tailgate that her family puts on. This was the 9th Annual King of Brewer Events. Natalie lives in Phoenix and Dustin and I had lunch with her when the Brewers played out there in May. Victoria has been friends with Natalie since college, and we’re all grateful that they allowed non-family members to join in the festivities. When we arrived they had already fired up all three grills, and soon we had the first course, if you will. Below is grilled chicken and pineapple skewers. The pineapple had been brushed with cinnamon, and the chicken had been marinated. If this was all there was I would’ve been satisfied. There were also marinated grilled steak skewers, which are not pictured, but were also delicious.
After the chicken and steak were demolished they moved into sausages. I don’t know if they patented this next skewer, but they should. Here you have a “Sausage Race on a Stick”, well, a bunch of them. The far left skewer, for example, going nearest to farthest segments of: Bratwurst (racing sausage #1), Polish (#2), Italian (#3), Hot dog (#4), and Chorizo (#5).
They also had whole sausages, distinguishable by taste (or the convenient labels).
I had a Polish, a Sausage Race on a Stick, and potato salad. Miller Park awaits in the background:
There were three designated grill masters; Roger, Joe, and Tony (Natalie’s dad). Well done grill masters, well done.
Natalie’s second cousin, Cassie, made some cancer ribbon cookies to celebrate her mother’s (Renee) triumph over cancer, and to commemorate my mission as well. The sign on the right says celebrate survivors.
Victoria made a cheeseburger cake. Say WHAAAAAAAAT!?!?!
We did have a group picture taken that contains 50 or so people who attended the event. It wasn’t taken with my camera so I don’t have it yet. I can hopefully use it in Sunday’s post.
Around 5:30 we started packing up, and after dropping off our cooler at the car we made our way towards Miller Park. We stopped outside the home plate entrance and had a nearby fan take a picture of the four of us. Victoria’s parents (Terry and Deb) are on the left, and Victoria and I are on the right.
I wasn’t sure if the front row of any sections would be empty, let alone the one I needed (210). It worked out well and even though the game was set to start in 15 minutes there was a spot in the front of section 210 where I could stand. Game photo number 87:
I was in my seat five minutes before first pitch and Victoria and her parents arrived just before Marco Estrada delivered a strike to Drew Sutton.
The Brewers got on the board in the second inning. Aramis Ramirez led off with a double and Corey Hart followed with a triple.
Here’s Hart just before sliding safely into third base.
Rickie grounded out to the shortstop but drove in Hart in the process. The Brewers didn’t hold the 2-0 lead for long as the Pirates tied it in the top of the third. Andrew McCutchen hit a two run home run on an 0-2 pitch, and the score was knotted at two. The Brewers came right back in their half of the third and scored twice, giving them a 4-2 lead. Ramirez reached on an error and Aoki scored on the play then Hart hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Braun.
The Pirates scored once in the sixth, twice in the seventh, and once in the eighth. After the third the Brewers only mustered two hits and weren’t able to score. Final Score: Pirates 6 – Brewers 4. It was a frustrating game because they had the lead heading into the seventh, but couldn’t close the door. Brewers pitchers did amass 15 strikeouts, Estrada accounting for 11 of them in five and two thirds innings. He retired 17 batters in his outing, and ~ 65% went down via the K. Nicely done Marco. They keep tally of the strikeouts above the right field loge bleachers. 15 is the max that can fit, so who knows what happens when they go over (probably nothing). All the K’s used to be blue, but just recently they changed it so that every third K is orange. It makes them a lot easier to count.
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