The Brewers Just Stole Another Base…

When the Milwaukee Brewers win games, typically it comes by way of the home run.

The Brewers did whatever they wanted to on the base paths with Michael McKenry behind the plate on Monday. Photo Credit: David Hague

The Brewers did whatever they wanted to on the base paths with Michael McKenry behind the plate on Monday. Photo Credit: David Hague

Monday’s game was not your typical Brewers-Pirates game, except for perhaps the end result.

Milwaukee stole six bases, hit no home runs and the Pirates committed three errors (all in the seventh inning with two by A.J. Burnett) as the Brewers extended their dominance over Pittsburgh with a 5-1 at PNC Park.

Burnett had fewer strikeouts (six) than innings pitched (seven) for the first time this season and took the loss to drop to 3-4 on the season. He wasn’t particularly bad, but on a night when Pittsburgh needed its ace at his best he was far from it (though he did do well to work out of what could have been a disastrous first inning).

To make matters worse, the Pirates made Marco Estrada look like an ace. Estrada allowed just three hits with five strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.

Put all of that aside though, because the stolen bases were the story. With Russell Martin still nursing the issue he’s having with his neck, the catching duties were left up to Michael McKenry and the results were not promising. He and Burnett have not played together much and it showed as the Brewers took advantage of both of them seemingly whenever they got the chance.

Jean Segura stole three bases, Norichika Aoki took two and Carlos Gomez had one with all six coming with Burnett on the mound. Segura had three hits to settle into the National League lead for batting average (.368) with Gomez right behind him at .367.

Burnett was not doing much to keep the runners close, and when McKenry had to make a throw it was usually a bad one.

If Martin’s neck continues to be a thing, it is not too far-fetched to think Tony Sanchez’s next call won’t be to the taxi squad with McKenry putting on defensive displays like the one on Monday. That’s just my opinion.

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For those of you keeping score, that’s 72 losses in 97 games for Pittsburgh against Milwaukee since the start of the 2007 season.

**

Travel issues prevented me from making it to PNC Park on Monday but I will be there for Tuesday’s game. Jeff Locke is scheduled to start for the Pirates and will look to extend his recent streak of solid pitching. I usually get to the park around 3 p.m. and am finished with pregame interviews by 4. Have any questions you would like answered? Tweet me (@TomBraggSports) and I’ll see what I can do to get them answered (provided they’re not asinine and won’t get me kicked out of the clubhouse/beat up).

Author: Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg is a beat writer and analyst for PiratesProspects.com. He is the former sports editor of the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and has worked at the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and the (Ashland, Ky.) Independent. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers all over West Virginia and he has written for The Associated Press with stories posted to several major media outlets (ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, FoxSports.com). Tom graduated from Marshall University in May 2010 with a degree in Print Journalism. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomBraggSports

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  • http://twitter.com/AJ21PSU AJ21PSU

    It looks like Jeff Locke has been pretty good, in a small sample, in keeping runners from stealing. Is his pickoff move really that good, or is he just really quick to the plate?

    Also, a potential question for Hurdle. Any chance Martin is back for this game or if Sanchez gets called up?

  • Blue Bomber

    McKenry has been embarrassing behind the plate this year. Word is out to run on him at will (John Buck, JOHN BUCK stole a base on Sunday!?). I completely agree with your analysis that if Martin can’t start soon they should bring up Sanchez. I think you can pick your spots to use McKenry as a backup, but he has looked exposed over the last couple of games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.gahagen Brian Gahagen

    How much better than McKenry is Sanchez defensively? I think this would have been a perfect time to find out. I like the Fort but he is a ok bat but can’t throw a runner out to save his life. He is a backup catcher at best. Why not give that job to someone who is defensively superior and don’t even being up the Mercer situation. Keeping OLD MCDONALD on the farm is absolutely ridiculous.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Sanchez won’t have problems throwing out runners. Some of that last night was on Burnett, but Sanchez has a better arm than McKenry, so he would help the situation.

    • joe g.

      McKenry lacks a major league arm. Actually, it’s pretty bad. There are high school players that will never play pro baseball that can make the throw to second better than him. He tried to make a snap throw to 1B Sunday and it was laughable. It’s too bad because he seems like a great guy.

  • vanderbilt

    Who has the better arm in the minors? Sanchez, Paulino or Stallings? Maybe we should put Pedro behind the plate! He has a gun for an arm!!!!!

    • leadoff

      Paulino, has the best arm in the system, an absolute cannon.
      Sanchez is very strong and accurate.
      Sanchez has excellent footwork also.

  • leadoff

    I watched both McHenry and Sanchez catch a lot in ST and to me there is no comparison, Sanchez is far superior. I believe that Hurdle’s patience with McHenry has to be reaching the end point.
    I know that McHenry works hard on his throwing, I watched him practice in ST and he was terrible, he simply can’t throw, if he gets someone out it will be luck.
    He was in right field one day and he had a guy standing at the right field line, he was practicing coming out of his crouch and throwing to SB, the only problem was the guy standing at the foul line rarely saw a ball he could catch, McHenry nearly nailed someone in the right field stands a couple of times.
    Why they don’t like Sanchez is beyond me, he has a cannon for an arm, can hit, can handle pitchers, oh and he can catch. I guess they don’t want him here as a backup, but McHenry is going to force them to make a move they probably don’t want to make.

  • moose7195

    A lot of people like McKenry because of the occasional power but this man is not an everyday catcher. He doesn’t hit for average and I’ve been down on him since last year due to his ability to go on long cold streaks between homers. Sanchez might not hit .230, and he probably wont produce as many home runs. But the scouting report says that he can throw people out, and runs saved are just as good as runs created. Give the kid a chance to learn the Big League game from Martin and see if he can reach his potential.

    • leadoff

      I am sure the Pirates know that Sanchez is a better catcher than McHenry, the problem is that he won’t get much playing time behind Martin, unless Martin is hurt, which he is.
      What they should do is shuttle Sanchez up and down when he has a chance to play in the majors, like now when Martin is not full strength, right now Sanchez should be catching, should have been when Martin went down and Martin should have been put on the 15 day DL. McHenry should be backing Sanchez up, I understand the Martin situation, but Martin should not have made the decision, the Pirates should have just DL’d him when he said he was hurt, not wait around for him to feel better.

  • dirtydavid4

    Sanchez has no chance unless of injury he hasn’t spent his 8 yrs in the minors getting ready before they will play in the bigs.