MILWAUKEE -- On the same day the two millionth fan passed through the Miller Park turnstiles, the Brewers touted their ticket-sales pace on Wednesday, saying the club had already sold more tickets for 2011 home games that it did for all of 2010.The team also said it had set a franchise record by selling more than 627,000 group tickets this season, breaking the mark of 623,622 sold in 2008. "Our fans have demonstrated their tremendous passion for the Milwaukee Brewers and their support has played a key role in providing the best home field advantage in all of baseball," Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said in a statement. "We still have plenty of good seating options available for remaining home games and encourage fans to plan accordingly." The Brewers drew 2,776,531 fans to Miller Park in 2010, ranking 11th of the 30 Major League teams. They own baseball's best home winning percentage (.727, thanks to their 40-15 record entering Wednesday) and averaged 36,230 fans through the first 55 games. The Brewers needed to average 38,746 fans over their final 26 games, including Wednesday's, to top three million fans for the third time in four years.
Braun says plunkings 'over and done with'
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said he had turned the page Wednesday after absorbing a purpose pitch the previous night, but not before disputing Cardinals manager Tony La Russa's spirited lecture about the ethics of pitching inside.La Russa argued that the high-and-tight Takashi Saito pitch that struck St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols in the left hand in the seventh inning Tuesday required a "message" to be sent to the Brewers and Braun. So Cardinals reliever Jason Motte fired consecutive fastballs inside on Braun, the second of which struck Braun in the back. "I get it," Braun said. "I certainly understand where [La Russa] is coming from. But at the same time, any good hitter in this league has to be pitched up and in at times. I get it, Prince [Fielder] gets it. You have to throw Albert that way, you have to throw Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman [that way]. You can't allow guys to be comfortable. Occasionally, you have to make that pitch. "Nobody ever wants to hit anybody. Clearly, we weren't trying to hit Albert [with runners] at first and third, nobody out and Holliday and Berkman coming up next." La Russa said his issue was not that the Brewers pitched Pujols inside, it was that they pitched him inside and high. La Russa counted at least four questionable pitches in the first two games of the series. "They got him real good," La Russa said. "I don't know what it's going to take -- a broken jaw or a fractured hand? Unintentional -- it is unintentional, but it's intentionally thrown up and in, and that's a dangerous thing. Just get the ball down, like we did [against Braun]." Asked about La Russa's argument that when pitchers go up and in, it requires an answer, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, "I don't buy that." "You have to pitch him in with strikes. And if you pitch a guy in with strikes, balls are going to get away from you at times," said Roenicke, who saw his Angels pitchers do it for years against Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez. On Wednesday morning, La Russa extended the feud to the broadcast booth. "You would hope the guys that work for the Brewers have enough guts and enough integrity to call the game as it is instead of worrying about their paycheck, which I understand isn't true," La Russa told reporters, a swipe at former Brewers catcher and current television analyst Bill Schroeder. La Russa subsequently called Schroeder to clear the air. "A totally amicable conversation," Schroeder said. "There's mutual respect there." The key, the Brewers figured, is that La Russa had directed the conversation into a debate about the ethics of pitching inside, and not about the very real possibility that one of the Cardinals' best relievers, Motte, and starting catcher Yadier Molina face the possibility of suspensions after Tuesday's game -- Motte for throwing at a batter, and Molina for making contact with plate umpire Rob Drake after being ejected in the 10th inning. A deft deflection by the veteran Cardinals manager, one Brewer argued. Both Pujols and Braun were in the lineups for Wednesday's series finale. Braun said he was "fine" because Motte's pitch did not deliver a direct hit. It instead deflected off Braun's left arm and got him on the left side of his back. "Its over and done with," said Braun, who actually enjoys the tension between the teams. "From a competition standpoint, it makes it more enjoyable. They have a good team, we have a good team. We expect them to be in it until the end. It just makes the competition that much more fun.
"You don't want to get hit, but yesterday's over. Whatever. They did what they felt they needed to do, and in my opinion, you move on. You don't want to get in a beanball war. That's not fun and it's not safe."After Wednesday, the Brewers and Cardinals still meet nine times in the 2011 regular season.
Roenicke: Weeks is making progress
MILWAUKEE -- Rickie Weeks' media blackout extended into a second week on Wednesday, when the All-Star second baseman remained unavailable to discuss a severely sprained left ankle suffered July 27 against the Cubs. Weeks is "still a long ways away," manager Ron Roenicke said.But Roenicke cited some progress. Weeks is off crutches and walked onto the field Tuesday for the team photo without the walking boot he had been wearing since his injury. "I was surprised," Roenicke said. "He looked good." The timing of Weeks' comeback is key. The team's original estimate was that Weeks would miss two to six weeks. The Triple-A regular season ends Sept. 5, five weeks from the date of Weeks' injury. "For the question of how to get him in shape, the timing can be important there," Roenicke said. "Once he's ready to go, if we don't have any places to send him, it's going to make it a lot more difficult for us."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he wasn't sure whether the Brewers would use off-days in August and September to line up certain starting pitchers for key series against contenders. So far, Roenicke and Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz have simply left the five starters in order. The statistical reasons for changing that strategy would have to be very strong, over a significant number of games, to prompt a change, Roenicke said. A new rule came into play Tuesday night, when Roenicke sought explanation for why both benches were warned after Ryan Braun was struck in the back. Major League Baseball sent a memo -- Roenicke says he missed it -- decreeing that managers are no longer allowed to question such calls. "They're doing it to speed up games, because there are a couple of managers that, every time there was a warning, it was a 10-minute slowdown to the game," Roenicke said. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan has surpassed Braun for the lead in balloting for the Brewers' "We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year." Fans can vote at Brewers.com/WeEnergies through Sept. 11.
Outfielder Brett Carroll -- designated for assignment over the weekend after the Brewers acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. in a trade -- refused his assignment to Triple-A Nashville and elected free agency instead.
The Brewers formally announced a Minor League agreement with veteran left-hander Randy Flores.