Closer ends rumors about health; third day off for Helms
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
With 41 steals this season, Scott Podsednik is eyeing the Brewers record of 54. (Peter Zuzga/AP)
MILWAUKEE -- Dan Kolb is closing on, and Scott Podsednik is running down some major Brewers milestones.
Kolb notched his 30th save and Podsednik stole his 41st base of the season in Wednesday's win over the Cubs, leaving both men within striking distance of the team records in those categories.
"I'm going to have to hustle to get there," Podsednik said.
He was right. The all-time Brewers stolen base record is 54, by American League Rookie of the Year Pat Listach in 1992. The franchise record is 71, set by Tommy Harper in 1969 during the Seattle Pilots' only season before moving to Milwaukee.
Kolb is seven saves shy of the franchise record held by Bob Wickman, who converted a record 37 in 1999. Kolb and Wickman are among seven pitchers who have saved at least 30 games in a season for the Brewers.
Danny Kolb / P
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"As far as the record goes, I could care less," Kolb said. "I just wanted to get to a point where I could establish myself. But to be able to get there [and set the record] in my first full year, that would mean something."
Going into Thursday's series finale, Kolb had a 1.45 ERA and had converted 30 of 31 save opportunities this season. He has converted 51 of 54 save opportunities since joining the Brewers last June.
"When was the last time we won a game and Danny didn't save it?" manager Ned Yost asked.
It was back on July 10, a 5-0 win over the Reds at Miller Park. Kolb has saved 30 of the Brewers' 49 wins through Wednesday.
"He kind of came out of nowhere," said lefty Chris Capuano, who improved to 5-5 with Wednesday's win. "He's up there now with the best -- it's him and Gagne."
Gagne is the Dodgers' Eric Gagne, whose record consecutive saves streak was snapped this season at 84.
Kolb and the Brewers avoided salary arbitration during the offseason by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Kolb will be eligible for arbitration again this year, and his agent Scott Boras will likely ask for, and get, another huge raise.
"This is where I want to play," Kolb said. "I look for things to be taken care of in the offseason and, for now, I'm going to keep going out there and doing my job. That's what it's about."
Ace right-hander Ben Sheets is in the same situation, eligible for salary arbitration and expecting a big payday. Because of that, both men have been the subject of trade rumors, though Brewers general manager Doug Melvin shot down the Sheets to New York rumors early on and said he would not trade away the franchise's cornerstone.
Kolb's name continues to come up in rumors. According to a report this week in the Contra Costa Times, a Milwaukee scout has been tracking the Giants, who, according to manager Felipe Alou, could use bullpen help.
The non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, though Melvin said after acquiring Russell Branyan this week he does not expect to make any more deals.
"I have no control over it so I can't sit back and worry about it," Kolb said. "As long as I'm here I need to do my job."
Bringing it: Kolb has gotten the job done this season as an efficient ground ball pitcher, but after hearing some false rumors this week about the health of his right arm, he decided to turn up the heat on Sammy Sosa Wednesday night.
Kolb struck out Sosa on three pitches, all fastballs including a 98-mph strike three. He retired Sosa, Moises Alou and Derrek Lee in order to close a 6-3 Brewers win.
"I've heard a few things go around so I decided it was time to put an end to it," Kolb said. "Any time I want to, I can do it. I haven't done it this year because it's been easier not to."
The Brewers had lost four in a row, so Kolb had not pitched since July 23. He also had four days off prior to that.
"I hadn't thrown in a while so it wasn't a big deal if I went out there and threw 20 [pitches]," he said. "I just went out there and let it fly."
Wes Helms / 3B
Weight: 230 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Cleaning up: Wes Helms was out of the lineup for the third straight day in favor of third baseman Branyan, who once again batted cleanup.
"He doesn't look like a guy who's going to hit for a great average," Yost said of Branyan, "but he looks like a guy that can walk up there and get a hold of one at any time, if somebody makes a mistake."
Roster note: Outfielder Chris Magruder, who was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Branyan, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Local signing: The Brewers signed non-drafted right-hander Ben Stanczyk to a minor league contract and assigned him to Helena in the rookie Pioneer League.
Stanczyk, a 21-year-old from nearby Waukesha, Wis., pitched three seasons for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was the Horizon League's Player and Pitcher of the Year in 2004. He was the first player in league history to earn the honor.
"Ben really deserves this chance and he probably should have been drafted in the spring," said UWM assistant head coach Scott Doffek.
Stanczyk attended Thursday's game with his family.
Full house: All four games against the Cubs were sell-outs, and eight of the last 10 games at Miller Park have been played in front of a full house.
Going into the series, the Brewers had 32 sell-outs in 288 games at Miller Park including 20 in 2001, three in 2002, four in 2003 and five this season.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.