Brewers to use closer-by-committee approach

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Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was hoping for some stability when he removed John Axford from the closer role early last week, but he hasn’t had any such luck. Francisco Rodriguez blew two save chances against the Phillies this week while allowing six runs on five hits and three walks over just 1 1/3 innings, so the Brewers are going back to the drawing board.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Roenicke plans to use a closer-by-committee approach for the time being.

“We’re going to go with whatever we see in the game and who fits that slot,” said Roenicke. “Unfortunately, it’s come to that. I’d rather have a set bullpen. But we’re going to match up and see how we do that way.”

As for who may get the ball in a save situation, Roenicke told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that everyone is under consideration, including veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez. Livo, who is in his 17th season in the big leagues, notched his first career save back on May 5 as a member of the Braves.

While seeing a crafty junkballer like Hernandez try to lock down some save chances would be pretty entertaining — and likely terrifying for Brewers fans — it might not be long before Axford gets his old gig back. He has tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings since being removed from the closer role, including three strikeouts over two shutout frames in the Brewers’ extra-inning loss to the Phillies yesterday.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.