as a defensive replacement
It took awhile, but with the Brewers' 5-1 win over the Cubs Friday night--coupled with the Mets' loss to the Marlins--the Brewers now have complete control of them going to the playoffs with just two games left. Even better--a win on either Saturday or Sunday guarantees them at least a tie-breaker game with the Mets.
I'll be the first to admit that I thought the Brewers' chances of winning Friday night's match-up were extremely slim--the Cubs' were sending Ryan Dempster--who not only is slated to start the first game of the NLDS for Chicago, but was also 4-0 against the Brewers this year heading into the game. The Brewers were sending Jeff Suppan--who had struggled against the Cubs earlier this year, and had struggled in his last two start.
So when Cubs' outfielder Jim Edmonds tagged Suppan for a solo shot in the 2nd inning to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead, I (and everyone else in Brewers' nation) held my breath...and, again, when Alfonso Soriano started the Cubs' second time through their batting order in the bottom of the 2nd.
The Crew countered in their half of the 2nd, when Jason Kendall doubled in Corey Hart, to tie the game at 1-1. Hart then put the Crew ahead in the 6th, singling in Ray Durham, who doubled off Cubs' reliever Sean Marshall to start the inning.
A wild 7th inning started with Seth McClung batting for himself and getting on via catcher interference; McClung advanced to second on a bulk, and moving to third on a Mike Cameron single. Rickie Weeks, brought in earlier
(can you believe that?
) hit a 3-run insurance shot to left to end the scoring.
Suppan went 5 and only allowed the lone earned run; McClung pitched the last 4 innings, allowed no runs, and got 6 of his 12 outs via strikeouts. Sveum's brilliant use of McClung in long relief not only preserved the rest of the bullpen for the weekend's remaining two games, but reinforced many fans' belief that McClung should be re-signed to a longer term deal in the off season.
Oh, I almost forgot...Ben Sheets
passed his test on Friday and will start Saturday's game (well, as of Saturday morning)--if the Crew can get 3-4 IP out of Sheets, they stand a very good chance of locking up a postseason bid on Ssturday.