Milwaukee offense shows signs of life in 11-10 loss to Cincinnati

Milwaukee’s offense showed signs of life, but it wasn’t enough for the Brewers to avoid an 11-10 loss to Cincinnati on Friday night at Miller Park.

The Reds lit-up starter Jimmy Nelson, tagging him for a season-high 10 runs on 11 hits in just 3 2/3rds innings. It was the second-shortest outing of the year for Nelson, who is having the best season of his career.

On the other side, Homer Bailey, who had given up 10 runs in his last start, kept the Brewers bats at bay, going five innings and allowing just two runs on five hits. But the bullpen had a night to forget, especially Blake Wood. He gave up five runs without recording an out in the sixth inning, including a three-run homer by Eric Thames. He was replaced by Michael Lorenzen, who would give up two more runs in what turned into a 7-run sixth inning for Milwaukee.

The Crew trailed 10-9 heading into the seventh, when the Reds got one of the runs back courtesy of a Tucker Barnhardt home run off reliever Carlos Torres. The run proved to be the game-winner as Milwaukee got a homer from Jonathan Villar in the ninth but nothing else.

Milwaukee’s 10 runs were the most its scored since putting up 11 against Chicago on July 6, and the first time in 14 games it scored more than four runs.

The loss was the sixth straight for Milwaukee, who fell into a tie with Pittsburgh for third place in the NL Central. Both teams trail St. Louis by two games and Chicago by three.

The Brewers and Reds will matchup once again Saturday night in Milwaukee.

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 fall 5-4 to St. Louis

Brent Suter couldn’t keep his success from July going in August, as Milwaukee (56-53) fell 5-4 to St. Louis (53-54) on Wednesday night.

An injury replacement for Chase Anderson, Suter gave up six runs all of last month, but the Cardinals tagged him for five in his first start this month. Suter made it 5 1/3 innings, giving up the five runs, including a pair of home runs, on eight hits and striking out seven. He took the loss to fall to 2-2 on the year.

On the other side, Milwaukee once again jumped on the board early with a home run from Eric Thames in the first inning. But after that, Luke Weaver largely shut them down, holding the Brewers scoreless until a seventh-inning single from Hernan Perez. Weaver’s final line showed him giving up just the two runs on five hits and striking out eight. He improved to 1-1 for the season.

A two-run homer from Jesus Aguilar in the eighth inning got Milwaukee within one, but that’s as close as the Crew would get.

The loss proved to be a wasted opportunity for Milwaukee, as Chicago lost 3-0 to Arizona. It leaves the Cubs lead in the NL Central at 2 1/2 games on the Brewers with 53 games to play.

Milwaukee and St. Louis will close out the three game series on Thursday afternoon at Miller Park.

Thames hits two homers as Brewers beat Orioles on Independence Day (postgame audio included)

MILWAUKEE | The Brewers offense provided its own fireworks on the 4th of July. Four Milwaukee homers, two by Eric Thames, and a solid pitching performance by Jimmy Nelson vaulted the Crew to a 6-2 win over the Orioles. The Brewers improve to 46-40 and have a 3 1/2 game lead over the 2nd place Cubs in the NL Central.

Nelson on not looking at divisional standings

Thames, who may be coming out of a prolonged slump after a two-day stint on the bench last week, belted a 402 foot blast over the right field wall in the 5th inning. Thames went deep again in the 7th. Thames has gone deep 23 times this season.

“I relaxed for a few days. I was hanging out with (hitting coach Darnell Coles) a lot talking mechanics,” Thames said.

Thames on days off helping him

Counsell on Thames playing well after off days

Stephen Vogt and Travis Shaw also homered for the Brewers and Nelson (7-4) continued his resurgence, winning for the fifth time in six decisions. He gave up six hits and an unearned run in seven innings. He struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter.

“The first six innings, he was in as good a groove as we’ve seen him this year,” Counsell said.

Nelson held the Orioles in check even without strong command of his fastball.

“I didn’t have my best fastball today, but I was able to throw my off-speed stuff for strikes, especially early in the game,” Nelson said.

Nelson on not being satisfied with recent performances

Nelson on pitch breakdown

He credited battery mate Vogt, the veteran whom the Brewers claimed off waivers from Oakland last week, for his pitch calls and defense behind the plate.

“We were on the same page and that was the first time he caught me,” Nelson said. “He blocks everything. He is tough as nails back there.”

Nelson on vogt calling impressive game

Counsell on vogt hot start with club

The Brewers jumped ahead on Vogt’s two-run homer in the second off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4). Vogt has three home runs since joining the Brewers. With two outs in the inning, Shaw hit a solo shot as the lead ballooned to 5-0.

Shaw started after leaving Monday’s game when hit on the left hand by a 93 mph pitch in the second inning. Shaw initially stayed in the game but left in the fourth with a contusion. .INF Eric Sogard didn’t start due to ankle soreness. “He was running the bases in Cincinnati and had to stop real quick at third base, so it’s still a little bit sore,” manager Craig Counsell said. OF Ryan Braun got the day off to rest.

The Brewers will try to sweep the Orioles on Wednesday night at Miller Park.  Matt Garza (3-4) will be on the mound for the Crew. Garza is 9-1 with a 3.11 ERA in 13 career starts against the Orioles but has not faced Baltimore since May 27, 2014.

 

Davies struggles, offense sputters in 7-3 loss to Pirates

MILWAUKEE — The Pittsburgh Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead and ultimately hung on for a 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night.

Brewers starter Zach Davies was tagged for all seven runs scored by the Pirates, allowing 10 hits in the process. He left after five innings of work, having yet to make it into the seventh inning this season. In fact, Davies only has three games this season in which he’s thrown six innings. Davies has now allowed 14 earned runs in 15 innings over his last three starts.

“I should be ready from pitch one,” Davies said. “I’m kind of over the mechanical, the sequencing, all those kind of excuses. I think it’s just time to go out and compete.”

But Tuesday night’s loss wasn’t solely on Davies. The offense stranded 21 base runners, with Eric Thames and Manny Piña each going 0-for-5 at the plate. Thames’ last hit was on June 17, making it on base just once since.

One of the few positives for Milwaukee was outfielder Nick Franklin’s two RBI, one of which came on a second-inning home run and the other with an RBI double in the third.

Thames reaches career milestone in win over Padres

MILWAUKEE — When the Milwaukee Brewers signed first baseman Eric Thames to a three-year, $16 million contract, they were simply hoping for production. So far, he’s made that contract look like a bargain.

Thames blasted his 19th home run of the year in Friday night’s 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres, hitting a milestone along the way. His walk-off home run in the 10th inning was the first of his Major League career.

But Thames wasn’t the only one to go yard in Milwaukee’s fourth-straight win. Travis Shaw hit a solo home run in the second inning, followed by Keon Broxton’s three-run dinger in the fourth that erased a 4-0 deficit. Manny Piña would add another solo bomb in the eighth prior to Thames’ game winner.

Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra struggled with command on the mound, walking four batters in six innings of work. That lack of command led to four runs (three earned) scoring for San Diego, including a pair of home runs. The Brewers late-inning relievers shut the door on any comeback attempt for the Padres, with Corey Knebel striking out a pair in his single inning of work. Jared Hughes picked up his third win of the year after pitching a scoreless 10th.

Brewers power past the Cardinals 6-4

Milwaukee powered its way to a 6-4 win at St. Louis on Thursday night.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, centerfielder Keon Broxton tied things up in the second with a two-run homer that traveled 489-feet – the longest home run in Busch Stadium history. It was also the second-longest homer of the year in the Major Leagues.

“Oh, my gosh. Wow,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said when told afterwards where Broxton’s effort stacked up. “That’s rare air.”

Milwaukee wasn’t done with the long ball, though. With the game tied at four in the ninth inning, first baseman Eric Thames jumped on an 0-2 pitch and drilled it to right field, where it hit the top of the wall and bounced over for a two-run homer.

“(An assistant) and I were discussing whether we should pinch run for (Jesus) Aguilar, (who was on first base),” Counsell said. “When (Thames) hit it, I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ (Thankfully) it got over. I was glad that decision didn’t come back to haunt us.”

Oliver Drake came on in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save, the first of his big league career.
Milwaukee finished its seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record and is now 19-13 away from Miller Park this year.

“It’s another road trip we pulled a winning record from and continued to play good baseball,” Counsell said. “And really just continued to be resilient.”

The win pushed Milwaukee four games over .500 at 36-32, and the team now holds a 2.5 game lead on the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central.

The Brewers will return home on Friday night to open a weekend series against the San Diego Padres.

Rain delays can’t slow Brewers in 7-6 win

ST. LOUIS — The Milwaukee Brewers withstood two rain delays to down the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

First baseman Eric Thames had a big hand in Milwaukee’s win, blasting his 17th home run of the year paired with three RBIs. Most of the game’s offense came in the first two innings, with the Brewers and Cardinals battling back and forth to a 6-4 Milwaukee lead.

“We did a good job again jumping on a starting pitcher early before he got in it, and before he looks up we’ve got six on the board against him, against a really good starting pitcher,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s been a little bit of our formula this year, and then we hung on.”

Milwaukee tagged Mike Leake for nine hits and six earned runs, although he stayed in the game for six innings. Brewers starter Matt Garza returned from the 10-day disabled list to throw five innings of four-run ball. He allowed five hits and struck out four.

The bullpen has been an issue for the Brewers this season, losing a Major League-high 18 games. Designating Neftali Feliz for assignment was meant to cut down on late runs scored, but Jacob Barnes didn’t make things any easier for the Crew, giving up two late runs.

Brewers shut out Dodgers to avoid series sweep

MILWAUKEE — Zach Davies threw six-plus innings of shutout baseball, backed up by Eric Thames and Domingo Santana home runs to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday afternoon.

Davies allowed just three hits on the afternoon, striking out six batters and helping lower the ERA of Milwaukee’s starters to 1.32 over the last 10 games. After back-to-back bullpen collapses against the Dodgers, Milwaukee avoided the series sweep.

“They’re all in a very good place right now,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s a good feeling when we send a guy out there that’s on top of his game. I feel these guys are on top of their game and we’re getting to see quality outings, for sure.”

Closer Corey Knebel notched his fifth save of the year after blowing his two previous save opportunities. Prior to last night’s game, Milwaukee’s bullpen had given up 16 games — the most in MLB.

The Brewers bats were the only ones making any noise in Sunday’s contest, with Thames going yard in the first inning and Santana following suit in the eighth.

Pitcher Matt Garza was re-evaluated after suffering a chest contusion in Saturday’s 10-8 loss. He relayed the message from his doctor stating that it’s an injury that could get worse by Thursday (his next scheduled start) or it could dissipate.

Guerra, Thames lead the Brewers to a 7-1 win over the Mets

The Milwaukee Brewers jumped on the New York Mets early and cruised to a 7-1 victory Wednesday night at Citi Field.

A fast starting team for much of the year, Milwaukee scored three runs in the first two innings against the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, including a two-run homer from left fielder Eric Thames. It was his 14th on the year, but his first since May 9.

“He’s clearly in a good place,” Manager Craig Counsell said of Thames, who has battled strep throat and leg issues of late but is starting to feel better. “The home run was really well hit. I thought he just missed another one. It’s good to have him. Obviously, he’s a run producer. He’s an important run producer for us. Having him back swinging good is a big sign for our offense.”

Thames and leadoff man Eric Sogard set the table most of the night, as they battled deGrom during every at-bat. Between the two, they went 3 of 5 with five walks and four runs scored.

While deGrom struggled, giving up all seven runs in just four innings of work, the Brewers got another really good outing from Junior Guerra. In just his second start since coming off the disabled list, Guerra threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out four to pick up his first win of the year.

The victory kept Milwaukee 1.5 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

Counsell’s bunch will look to salvage a split of their four-game set with the Mets Thursday afternoon. First pitch is at 12:10 p.m.