KRod replaces the Ax Man
It’s a tale of two closers. However, it seems very much like the same story, just with a different ending. John Axford took the mound in the ninth inning of game one against the St. Louis Cardinals with a 2-0 lead. He proceeded to walk Matt Carpenter and before getting Lance Berkmann and Carlos Beltran to fly out. With two outs, it looked like the “Ax-Man” of old. Unfortunately, it was anything but. After Rafael Furcal reached on an infield single, Axford walked Skip Schumaker to load the bases. Mat Holliday then singled to drive in Carpenter and Furcal. With the score now tied, Axford gave up a single to Allen Craig that gave the Cardinals a 3-2. Kameron Loe was brought in to relief Axford. Loe retired Yadier Molina to end the inning. The Brewers were unable to stage a comeback in the bottom of the ninth and thus were handed their most disappointing loss of the season.
Axford’s latest meltdown wasted a fantastic outing by starter Mike Fiers. Fiers threw seven scoreless innings while giving up only four base hits. The sixth blown save of the year for Axford was the last straw for manager Ron Roenicke. The Brewer’s skipper announced after the game that Axford would no longer be the designated closer. That spot would now be occupied by Francisco Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who recorded 62 saves in 2008 with the Angels, had been the Brewer’s set up man and had only recorded one save all season.
Rodriguez got his first chance as the Brewers closer in game two. With the Brewers leading 3-2, David Freese led off the inning with a double to right field. Freese advanced to third on a single by Molina. Rodriguez then got Carpenter to ground out to short before striking out pinch hitter, Matt Carpenter. Daniel Descalso popped out to end the game. Rodriguez’s second save of the season preserved the win for starter Randy Wolf. It was Wolf’s first win since April 30 th.
The final game of the series saw the Brewers score four times in the first inning to grab the early lead. Brewer’s starter Tyler Thornburg, filling in for Zach Greinke, allowed two runs in five innings. The Brewer’s bullpen, led by John Axford, held the Cardinals in check and set up yet another save opportunity by Francisco Rodriquez. Rodriguez, pitching for the fifth time in six days, struck out Skip Schumaker to start the ninth inning. Carlos Beltran then doubled to right center. The next batter, Furcal, walked to give the Cardinals two runners on base with only one out. Rodriguez then struck out pinch hitter Mat Holliday. With two outs, Allen Craig walked to load the bases. Rodriguez then walked Freese to force in a run. The run pulled the Cardinals to within one run at 4-3. Fortunately for the Brewers, Rodriguez’s best John Axford yielded better results. Lance Berkmann flied out to deep left to end the game.
By: Scott Kasten
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