1. a. Brewtober has Arrived - Have we decided on a name for this yet? Regardless, the Brewers made the home fans happy over the weekend, bringing the Arizona Diamondback to the brink of elimination with a combination of timely hitting, solid pitching, power and small ball. They pushed the right buttons and they control their fates heading into a hostile environment in Arizona.
These are two of the best home teams in baseball so taking care of business in Milwaukee was an absolute must. The Crew now goes on the road only having to win one game to advance to the National League Championship Series. Something they are very capable of doing.
b. For a guy who can't hit Jonathan Lucroy has come up with some clutch hits for the Brewers this series. He also has two hits, which is two more than Arizona Catcher Miguel Montero's zero. Luc has two hits and two RBIs, both of which came at pivotal points in the game. His squeeze on Sunday plated the first run in a game breaking five run sixth inning and his bloop single on Saturday doubled the lead for Yovani Gallardo and put Milwaukee up 2-0. Not bad for a guy who can't hit.
c. Speaking of masterful performances, Gallardo embraced the spotlight in Game One on Saturday. He scattered five base-runners and struck out nine through eight terrifically pitched innings. Looking back at his return from injury in 2008 and his performance Saturday I don't think there is any doubt that he'll be an option for Game Four (if necessary) in Arizona. That would line up Zack Greinke for a possible Game Five start at home and on regular rest. But if Yo pitches as well as he did on Saturday it would be a moot point anyways.
d. Kirk Gibson has completely mismanaged this series thus far. Twice he's pitched to Prince Fielder with first base open, two outs and a runner on second and twice Prince has burned him. He left Ian Kennedy in too long on Saturday and saw a two-run lead turn into a four-run lead. He gave Brad Ziegler five batters to cost the Diamondbacks game two when it was clear after a four pitch walk to Yuniesky Betancourt that he had nothing.
Hindsight is 20/20 but even in-game it seemed like Gibson was making mistakes.
The game was a statement that the Badgers offense can score on anyone. Montee Ball ran like a man possessed, putting up 151 yards and four touchdowns, most of it coming in the second half. Wisconsin is good, but their defense does still have room for improvement. Mike Taylor and Chris Borland are terrific players and Aaron Henry has become a playmaker at safety.
But the defensive line needs to get better. Injuries have caused problems but it's a deep group. Someone besides Louis Nzegwu needs to step up with David Gilbert out for 6-8 weeks with a broken foot.
3. a. Travelin' Nebraskans - All jokes aside the Husker fan base made it's presence felt in Madison this weekend. They certainly didn't out number Bucky anywhere they went but they were there and, generally, weren't dicks.
They were gracious in defeat and the seeds of a football rivalry have been planted. Every Nebraska fan told me how we need to come down to Lincoln to see that gameday experience. I'm not against it but... it's still Nebraska.
b. One other point that came out pretty strong from the Husker fans I spoke to was that not one of them was surprised by Taylor Martinez's ineffective passing game. In a conference that features Denard Robinson and recently Terelle Pryor teams have some experience with fast, mobile quarterbacks. Martinez will have to beat teams with his arm this year and if he plays like he did Saturday that will be tough.
4. Green and Golden - Not to be outdone, the Packers put on a show against the Denver Broncos. Aaron Rodgers threw the ball to eight different receivers on his way to over 400 yards passing. His four touchdown passes went to four different players and he ran for two more.
The defense was suspect at times, giving up 273 yards through the air to Kyle Orton and over 100 yards on the ground to Willis McGahee. Still they made big plays when they needed to and forced four turnovers, including yet another Charles Woodson pick six.
There isn't a player in the league better than Aaron Rodgers is right now.
5. Your Move, Nation - 4-0 with wins over teams from Colorado, Arizona and Nebraska. Wisconsin as a state outscored their opponents 110-46. It would have been nice to knock off some coasties too but we'll take what we can get. This is truly a golden age in Wisconsin sports. There has never been a time where the Badgers, Brewers and Packers were all at the top of their game.
This is special. Do yourself a favor when one of these teams plays next, be it Milwaukee, Green Bay or Wisconsin: head to a bar, probably any bar. Sit down, grab a burger, a beer if that be your drink of choice and watch the game. Cheer when they score or make a big play because I promise you, you won't be the only one there doing it.