The Cardinals and Reds were both dealt some tough blows on the injury front today, but the Brewers are doing their part to let them hang around in the National League Central. The Phillies defeated the Brewers 9-1 this afternoon at Miller Park in Milwaukee to complete a four-game sweep.
Matt Garza was the story early on in this one, as he didn’t give up his first hit until Jimmy Rollins led off the top of the seventh inning with a single. The Brewers held a 1-0 lead before Garza was pulled with two on and two outs in the eighth inning. It was all downhill from there, at least if you are a Brewers fan. The Phillies ended up scoring seven runs in the inning and sent 12 batters to the plate. Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cody Asche, and Domonic Brown all drove in runs in the stunning rally. Howard added a two-run homer in the ninth to officially make it a laugher.
The Brewers have now lost five games in a row and nine out of their last 10. While Ron Roenicke’s club still owns the National League’s best record at 52-41, they are now just one game up in the loss column over the second-place Cardinals. The two clubs will finish off the first half with a series this weekend in Milwaukee.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.