Brewers: Milwaukee falls 4-2 at San Francisco

For the second time in three games the Milwaukee Brewers wasted a very good outing from their starting pitcher and fell to the San Francisco Giants, this one a 4-2 setback on Wednesday afternoon.

After giving up a run in the first inning, Matt Garza settled in, going five innings, allowing five hits and striking out six. Reliever Josh Hader pitched a scoreless sixth inning but Jacob Barnes and Carlos Torres were exposed for three runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

Milwaukee may have been able to overcome that, but its offense did not make the trip to San Francisco. The Brewers managed just six runs in the three-game series, including two on Wednesday, which came courtesy of a Travis Shaw double in the first inning and a solo homer from Stephen Vogt in the bottom of the ninth.

The loss dropped the Crew three games back of Chicago in the NL Central and 3.5 games back of Arizona in the race for the final Wildcard spot.

It doesn’t get any easier for manager Craig Counsell’s club as they’ll finish off the nine-game road trip by visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game series starting on Friday. LA has the best record in all of baseball and have lost just 14 home games all season.

Brewers rally in 7th for 4-3 win over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — The Milwaukee Brewers used a combination of defense and small ball to produce a seventh-inning rally to top the San Francisco Giants 4-3 Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

Down 3-2 in the seventh, Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw delivered his 81st RBI of the season to put Milwaukee on top for good. It started with a Neil Walker double that put Eric Thames on first base, finished off with a Ryan Braun sacrifice fly. Shaw’s liner resulted in a double and another run across the plate.

“We didn’t do it with a homer tonight. But you string together hits,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That got the job done. You have to string together consecutive at-bats, I think, in this park. Four guys put together good at-bats.”

Milwaukee has hit 184 home runs this season while opponents have totaled 154 long balls against the Crew.

Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson had a respectable outing, but was pulled after 5.0 innings after walking three batters. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits while striking out six.

“I think [Nelson] had good stuff tonight,” Counsell recalled. “There were some times he lost some pitches, kind of gave them some free pitches…It certainly was a night where Jimmy had to battle through things.”

Milwaukee and San Francisco finish off the series Wednesday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. CT.

Counsell in good position to win NL Manager of the Year

Craig Counsell is starting to gain national recognition for the job he’s done this season as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. Counsell has led the Brewers to a 65-60 record and only two games out of the National League Central Division race and two and a half games out the Wild Card hunt.

This was a Brewers team thought to be in the second year of a rebuild. The team was only projected to win 72 games this season, but are currently on pace to win 84-85 games. Milwaukee has overachieved in almost every aspect this season.

The starting pitching has been one of the better rotations ERA wise in the national league pretty much the whole season. The bullpen has gotten stronger since general manager David Stearns made a few deadline deals to add veteran arms to the back-end of the bullpen.

Young players such as Domingo Santana and Orlando Arcia have also had break-out seasons, which has helped fuel the Brewers offense. Travis Shaw, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox this winter, has also been having his best season as a pro.

Counsell’s biggest competition will be Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Roberts has led the Dodgers to the best record in baseball at 87-35. The team is currently on pace to win 116 games, which would be one of the best regular seasons in Major League Baseball history.

Roberts shot at winning the award could be hurt by the star-studded Dodgers roster and the fact that they have the highest payroll in baseball. Some voters will probably hesitate to vote for him since he won NL Manager of the Year last season.

As long as Counsell and the Brewers don’t have a monumental collapse in September, he should be the favorite to take home Manager of the Year honors.

 

Garza rocked by long ball in 8-4 loss

DENVER — Home runs have plagued Milwaukee starter Matt Garza in his time with the Brewers and that didn’t change in Friday night’s 8-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

Garza had given up just nine home runs heading into the month of August, undoing that progress by surrendering eight over his last four starts. That includes three given up in Friday’s loss to the Rockies. He allowed eight total runs over 4.1 innings pitched.

“To me, the first four innings I thought [Garza] pitched pretty well,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “There’s a scenario where he’s really given up one run through four innings there, in my opinion. The fifth inning they got some balls up in the air pretty good, but I think he’s still got some good games in him.”

Rockies left fielder (and former Brewer) Gerardo Parra went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI, including a solo home run off Garza in the fifth inning. Colorado was paced by German Màrquez, who tossed 5.2 innings and allowed four earned runs on seven hits. Like Garza, Màrquez gave up three home runs, though all without runners on base.

The loss drops Milwaukee in to third place in the National League Central standings, 2.0 games behind the leading Chicago Cubs.

Milwaukee overcomes early deficit to beat Pittsburgh 7-6

Powered by five home runs, the Milwaukee Brewers came back from an early deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.

Manager Craig Counsell’s team trailed 4-0 entering the bottom of the third inning when their bats finally woke up. Centerfielder Keon Broxton drilled a solo home run, which was followed by a two-run shot from second baseman Neil Walker.

Things stayed 4-3 until the sixth inning, when third baseman Travis Shaw tied the game with his 26th homer of the year. The Pirates answered that with a run in the seventh, only to see Broxton hit another solo shot to tie things up in the bottom of the frame. After an Adam Frazier single gave Pittsburgh a 6-5 lead going to the bottom of the eighth inning, the Brewers showed off their resiliency as catcher Manny Pina hit a two-run homer that proved to be the game-winner.

The victory was the fourth straight for the Brewers, who improved to 2-43 this season when trailing after seven innings, and in doing so moved into sole possession of second place in the NL Central, 1 ½ games back of Chicago and a game in front of St. Louis.

After a rough first three innings, Jimmy Nelson settled in, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits while striking out seven. Anthony Swarzak picked up the win, while closer Corey Knebel earned his 24th save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Milwaukee now hits the road for nine games, starting Friday night in Colorado.

Brewers beat Reds on walk-off wild pitch

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers ended a six-game losing streak Saturday night, beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 on a walk-off wild pitch in the 10th inning at Miller Park.

After an Eric Thames solo home run in the sixth inning tied the game at 5-5, the Brewers were looking for some magic during a bases-loaded at-bat with Ryan Braun in the 10th. Eric Sogard had reached on a double, followed by consecutive walks to Jesus Aguilar and Eric Thames.

That magic came in the form of a wild pitch from Tim Adleman which traveled far enough away from the plate that Sogard was able to dive in from third base to beat the tag at home plate.

“I think you’re kind of expecting a walk-off hit to break a streak, but you take it any way you can get it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I think you can tell by the celebration we had that we needed it.”

The win not only snapped the six-game skid, but pulled Milwaukee within 2.0 games of the National League Central lead with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals tied at the top of the division.

Corey Knebel was credited with the win, tossing two innings of one-hit baseball while striking out three. All five Reds runs came off starter Brent Suter, who allowed three home runs over his five innings of work.

Brewers losing streak now at four games after 4-0 loss to Minnesota

Milwaukee fell for a fourth-straight time on Wednesday night, this one a 4-0 setback to Minnesota at Miller Park.

The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against 44-year-old Bartolo Colon, who scattered five hits over seven innings of work to get the win and improve to 4-9 on the year and 2-1 since signing with the Twins in early July. Milwaukee had just six base runners all night, and went 0-4 with runners in scoring position. It was the 13th straight game where the Crew failed to score more than four runs.

“There’s frustration, of course. I think when you do struggle to score runs there is frustration,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s OK and that’s natural. But you’ve got to come back tomorrow and understand that there is a lot of opportunity in front of us. When you wake up tomorrow, that’s how you see it.”

Like much of the second half of the season, Milwaukee got good enough pitching to win. Making his second career start, Brandon Woodruff allowed two runs over 5 2/3rds innings of work but ended up taking the loss. Reliever Jacob Barnes gave up the other two runs on the night.

While the loss didn’t drop them further back of the Cubs in the NL Central – Chicago’s lead is still at 1.5 games – the Brewers do have some company in second place, as St. Louis beat Kansas City 8-5 to pull into a tie with Milwaukee.

The Brewers will try to salvage one game of their four-game interleague series with the Twins tonight at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

What this Brewers offense is missing

The Brewers have undoubtedly played better than anyone expected this season, and are still in the hunt for the National League Central title. This has lead to Brewers general manager David Stearns making some moves to sure up the Milwaukee bullpen, which emerged as the team’s weakest unit.

The team has struggled since the All-Star break going 9-14 in that time. The starting pitching has been relatively good all season, and the bullpen has made strides as of late. What is really plaguing the Brewers is the fact that the offense isn’t hitting home runs and not scoring runs in general.

David Stearns mentioned how he would continue to look at every option available to improve this ball club. I’m sure he’ll continue to scour the waiver wire and look to make deals during the waiver trade deadline.  He could also continue to bring up younger players from the minor league in hopes of a spark. Which might not really happen until September.

Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips are two highly touted prospects, but both have shown that the Brewers need to be patient with their progression as they’ve both struggled in their limited time at the big league level.

There has been a lot said lately about how the Brewers have struggled to score runs especially when they aren’t hitting home runs. That is true, but the team is struggling to even get on base at the same time. What I think this Brewers team is missing is a true lead-off hitter. Jonathan Villar was the Brewers lead-off man for most of last season, but he has been anything but productive so far this season.

Villar is hitting .216 this season with 8 home runs and 32 RBIs. He does have 20 stolen bases, but has shown a lack of concentration on the bases too many times in his career. He has also struck out 111 times this season, which is over 34% of his at-bats. His on-base percentage of .276 is terrible for a traditional lead-off hitter. He has also committed 11 errors this season, which doesn’t help his case.

Eric Sogard has also seen quite a bit of time in the lead-off spot since mid-May. He was fitting the role nicely up until he went on the disabled list just before the All-Star break. Since returning to the lineup a little more than two weeks ago, he has really struggled. Since July, Sogard is a combined 3-39 for a batting average of .077 during that time period. The Brewers have to monitor his playing time because he is coming off of knee reconstruction surgery.

The Brewers don’t really have many other options. Eric Thames and Domingo Santana have seen some time at the top of the order, but Craig Counsell and the Brewers would prefer them lower in the order. Keon Broxton has also gotten starts in the lead-off spot, but has struck out at too high of a clip to be a good candidate for the position. The Brewers could try Orlando Arcia at the top spot in the order, but Craig Counsell seems content with batting him in the seventh or eighth spot.

Without a consistent lead-off hitter, the Brewers offense will continue to struggle as long as they aren’t hitting the long ball. For my money, I’d pull the trigger on calling up top prospects Lewis Brinson and/or Mauricio Dubon and let them find their swings at the major league level.

 

 

 

 

Brewers hang on to give Nelson first career win vs Cardinals

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers maintained an early lead to top the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Tuesday night, giving Jimmy Nelson his first career win against the division rival.

In his previous 10 attempts, Nelson held a 0-8 record and 7.01 ERA against the Cardinals. He bucked that trend by throwing six innings of two-run ball, in which he struck out seven St. Louis batters. The bullpen came in to aid Nelson’s performance, shutting out the Cardinals over the final three frames.

“The Cardinals are always in it, no matter how many games they are back,” Nelson said. “Those guys always battle. They have a good core of guys over there, and they have a good team.”

In addition to Nelson’s personal success, Milwaukee was able to end a drought as a team. They had previously gone 0-for-31 with runners in scoring position — a trend that ended in the first inning thanks to a Domingo Santana RBI single. Ryan Braun and Manny Piña drove in the other two Brewers runs.

“The streak’s over,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell joked. “It ended up being a big hit, got Manny up there, and we got another one. It was a big part of the win, for sure.”

Tuesday’s win helps the Brewers’ chances of winning the series — an area in which they’ve struggled against the Cardinals. St. Louis has won the previous 13 series in Milwaukee, dating back to 2012.

Cubs outlast Brewers to win in 11th inning

MILWAUKEE — Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward will get credit for the 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, but the 11-inning loss was set up by some early control issues.

Junior Guerra was pulled after three innings due to a slow start that saw the Opening Day starter walk four Chicago batters. His replacement, Josh Hader, fared much better, throwing three innings with six strikeouts and just a single walk issues. Hader showed his versatility after getting work out of the bullpen in Friday night’s win.

A factor leading to Milwaukee’s loss in Saturday’s rematch can be summed up by their record with runners in scoring position over the first two games of the series: 0-for-16.

“I don’t think we created enough opportunities to score tonight,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “Expecting two-out hits every night to score runs, we have to do a little better than that.”

Milwaukee’s only offense came in the form of a first-inning RBI double from Ryan Braun. Chicago kept playing to its opportunities, finally breaking through in the seventh inning with a Kris Bryant RBI single that tied the game 1-1.

Then came the mistake that mattered.

Jared Hughes, who came in to pitch the final two innings for Milwaukee, left a slider up in the zone for Heyward, who blasted the ball out of the park with what would prove to be the winning run.

“I wish I could have that one back right there,” said Hughes. “I missed over the plate and Heyward went down and did a good job of hitting it hard. Overall, if we keep pitching like that, I think we’re going to be OK, though.”