Midwest Diamond Report - 6/29
Jonathan Lucroy doesn’t need any extra help to make the National League All Star team. The Brewers’ catcher deserves selection because of his play in the first half of the season.
But, some TV spots on Fox Sports Wisconsin, created in part as a parody of political ads, boosted Lucroy while taking satirical aim at the Cardinals and their perennial All Star catcher, Yadier Molina.
Brad Weimer, the Fox Sports Wisconsin producer who created the spots, said he thought the ad was funny, “The Internet likes funny things,” he added.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who played catcher for the Brewers, wasn’t as amused. "I think you have to take it in the nature in which it was meant and it was meant to be geared toward their fan base," Matheny said. "It was just amazing that it was that much directed at our organization. I think that part probably caught me off-guard the most."
As for Lucroy, he said, “I had no idea what direction they were going to take. I just said the line about approving this message and they shot me nodding my head. When I saw it, I understood where they were going, but I also see where the Cardinals could be put off by it.
“As for myself, I would never single out an individual like that. I’m more about trying to make myself better and helping this team win. He (Molina) is the best overall catcher in baseball, has been for a while. I have nothing but respect for him and the Cardinals as a team.”
The bottom line is Lucroy deserves selection. He has spent much of the first half ranked in the top five in hitting in the NL.
He made the transition into the cleanup spot when needed, then into the third spot when manager Ron Roenicke shook up the order, with Ryan Braun batting second.
Lucroy thinks he played better than ever in the first half because the team played so well. “It takes four wheels to move a car,” he said. “If you only have one or two working, the machine doesn’t work well. We’ve had all four wheels working and the machine has run well. It’s easier to contribute when the guys around you are playing so well.”
While Lucroy could have done without the All Star ad, he has become more of a team spokesman and leader in recent years. He often is sought out by reporters after games and serves as the Kwik Trip spokesman for the Brewers.
“It’s not something I seek out,” he said. “I prefer to make my statements with my play on the field, but I try to be cooperative and will speak up when I think it‘s right.” For a full length feature on Lucroy, see Game Day, the Brewers’ program magazine, after the All Star break.
We can’t let this accomplishment pass without noting. Viroqua’s Mitch Stalsberg set a new WIAA state tournament record for strikeouts in one game with 21 in a 2-1 win over Ripon, breaking the mark of Eau Claire's Hud Gelein, who struck out 20 in a WIAA Division 1 state tournament game in 1958.
Stalsberg sat down 21 of the 37 batters he faced by strikeout. His performance came in the semi-final game of the tournament. Viroqua went on to lose 10-0 in the championship game.
The senior lefthander will attend Winona State this fall.
Player of the Week
The Twins have been slumping, but Joe Mauer has been hot with a .417 average and five RBIs in his last six games. For that, Mauer is the MDR Player of the Week.
Other MDR teams’ Player of the Week are:
** the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy, who his .360 with four RBIs for the week.
** the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, who hit .313 with two homers.
** the White Sox’s Alejandro De Aza, who hit .368 in his last six games.
** The Brewers became the first MLB team to 50 wins.
** RHP Matt Garza won his first game since June 7 on Saturday.
** CF Carlos Gomez was day-to-day with a sore neck after colliding with Ryan Braun Saturday. SS Jean Segura was expected to return to action after suffering leg cramps.
** The Cubs played a doubleheader Saturday and will be off Sunday to accommodate the big Pride Parade in Chicago.
** Dallas Beeler did not allow an earned run in six innings and got a hit in his MLB debut on Saturday.
** RHP Jeff Samardzija dropped to 2-7, but continues to be a hot commodity on the trade rumor market.
** The Twins lost their 10th straight road game Saturday.
** The bullpen has a combined 2.04 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit only .196 in the last 11 games.
** INF Pedro Florimon is hitting .093 in 31 games.
** LHP Chris Sale improved to 7-1 with the win in a 4-3 decision over the Blue Jays on Saturday.
** Zach Putnam earned the save Saturday, as the Sox have gone to the closer by committee approach for now.
** OF Adam Eaton returned to the lineup after suffering leg soreness.
All Star selections will be announced later in the Week. The Brewers could have 4-5 players selected.
The first half Northwoods League season ends this week. Races remained tight in the closing days. The Willmar Stingers and Lakeshore Chinooks held leads going into the last couple games. Winners of the first and second halves of the season meet in the divisional playoffs in August.
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