Miller Park flooded

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In the past, when snow, storms and floods have made baseball an
impossible task someplace, Miller Park in Milwaukee has pinch-hit as
the “home” park for the affected team. Now, it seems, it may need a pinch-hitter of its own:

Miller Park sustained significant flooding after a band of severe
storms slammed Milwaukee late Wednesday night and early Thursday
morning, and crews have worked around the clock since then to clean up
the mess and replace damaged carpet, drywall and furniture . . . The
key concern on Sunday afternoon was the electrical system. As the
Brewers were playing the final innings of their 3-2 loss in Detroit,
power was just being restored at Miller Park, substation by substation.

Water rose knee-high in several areas of the ballpark’s service
level, which includes office and storage space for the Brewers,
Sportservice and the sheriff’s department. It was only ankle-deep in
the main areas of the clubhouse, according to a team spokesperson,
sparing the equipment left behind in the players’ lockers . . . “I’d
say it’s functional, but not normal,” Brewers assistant general manager
Gord Ash said. “It’s a big deal, and it’s probably going to be a period
of time before it’s taken care of.”

The immediately affected series is against the Twins. Sense would
dictate that it be shifted to Minnesota. It’s close, it will be empty,
and there’s no chance whatsoever of a rainout. I’m sure some Brewer
fans would complain about losing a couple of home games, but it seems
like it would be well worth it if it gave crews a little more time to
fix all of the damage.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.