Zack Greinke pitched a fantastic game today, but a surprising implosion of the back of Milwaukee’s bullpen led to a 3-6 Brewers defeat at the hands of half of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. There’s no narrative we can really attach to Game 18 of the Cactus League season besides the fact that the result was not particularly meaningful or enlightening in any way, so we’ll just jump to the usual series of notes:
— There was a lot of talk about Zack Greinke’s start, and rightfully so. While we’re still two weeks from Opening Day, the right-hander looked ready for the regular season today, pitching into the sixth inning while allowing only three baserunners (two singles and a hit batter) and striking out nine. Greinke has been working on a cutter this Spring (he has barely thrown the pitch in the past, if at all), and he threw it quite a bit today, getting a lot of weakly-hit balls in addition to the strikeouts. Greinke’s strikeout and walk rates were among the best in the majors last year, but he always seemed to get hit harder than a pitcher with his stuff and command should. If his cutter can be anywhere close to as effective today, he could be in for a very special season.
— Four of the Angels’ six runs were surrendered by John Axford, thanks to a couple hits, a couple defensive miscues (two errors and an infield single that deflected off Axford’s glove), a walk, and a wild pitch. Axford certainly wasn’t at his best today, but there isn’t any real reason to be worried: The stat line makes things look worse than they actually were.
— Francisco Rodriguez was also hit around a bit, surrendering a single, homerun, and triple in the eighth inning while striking out one. It appears the Brewers’ late inning corps just had a bad day, and nothing more. Don’t panic.
— In three trips to the plate, Ryan Braun had a walk and a single, and looks like he’s beginning to heat up as he gets closer to a normal Spring workload. Yes, he’s still hitting .105, but the sky isn’t falling here, either.
— It would have been very interesting to see Albert Pujols play against the Brewers as an Angel, but he was with the other half of the Angels’ split-squad. Oh well, it’s hard to complain about the Brewers not having to face Albert Pujols.
The Brewers resume action tomorrow afternoon, with Randy Wolf starting against the White Sox in Maryvale.