Some things to read while looking for your wheels.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ longest losing streak of the season was extended to eight games on Wednesday night as they lost 6-2 to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Derek Harvey of Brew Crew Ball has a recap, if you missed it.
After more than a month on the shelf, Matt Garza’s return to active duty didn’t go as planned. He allowed six runs on eight hits and lasted just three innings Wednesday before giving way to Marco Estrada. Estrada and three other relievers combined to pitch five scoreless innings, but the damage had been done.
Wednesday’s loss wrapped up a 1-8 road trip that saw the Brewers fall from a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL Central to a 3-game deficit. Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth says, “The next few days present either a rebound or a reckoning for your 2014 Milwaukee Brewers and, alas, the latter looks far more likely at the moment.”
The Brewers played Wednesday’s game without Ryan Braun, who returned to Milwaukee to be present for the anticipated birth of he and his wife’s first child. As of this writing, it’s unclear if Braun will rejoin the team tonight.
Other notes from the field:
- The Brewers have a minus-39 run differential during their eight-game losing streak, the second-worst eight-game stretch for any team in baseball this season (h/t @joe_block).
- Brewers hitters are batting .266 on balls in play during the streak, while their opponents are batting .427 (h/t @bachlaw).
- This is the longest losing streak the Brewers have experienced in four seasons under Ron Roenicke, and the longest since they lost nine consecutive games in 2010.
- 2010 was also the last time the Brewers lost a season series to the Cubs. The Cubs currently lead the 2014 series 9-7 with three games to play.
- Matt Clark made his first MLB start on Wednesday and went 0-for-2 before being lifted as part of a double switch.
- Jean Segura flew out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning Wednesday and is now 0-for-16 in bases-loaded situations in his career (h/t @Mass_Haas).
- The Brewers had 10 hits in a game on Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 25 (h/t @joe_block).
This series will most certainly set the tone for the remainder of the season, but Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it won’t matter what the Cardinals do if the Brewers can’t right the ship quickly. With that said, Jalen Knuteson of the Portage Daily Register called this weekend a “golden opportunity” to get back on the right track.
The Brewers are only 5-7 against the Cardinals this season, but overall, they’ve been pretty good against baseball’s best teams. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs noted that the difference in the Brewers’ record in games against teams above and below .500 is one of the smallest in baseball.
The Brewers will have to get through the weekend and likely more without Carlos Gomez, who remains shut down to allow his sprained wrist to heal. He told Daniel Kramer of MLB.com he knows he needs to be 100 percent before returning to action to avoid risking re-injury.
Will Smith pitched a scoreless sixth inning last night, facing two left-handed and two right-handed batters. The Brewers have drawn a fair amount of attention for the volume of lefties in their bullpen this season with Smith, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny and Wei-Chung Wang on the roster at times. This group allows them to play matchups on defense, but they’re not doing it as often on offense. Chris Teeter of Beyond the Box Score notes that the Brewers are dead last in baseball by a wide margin in platoon-advantage at-bats.
Kyle Lohse will pitch against his former teammates on Saturday in his first outing since a disaster start on Sunday. Lohse turns 36 soon and his ERA is up about a third of a run from last season, so Jonathan Judge of Disciples of Uecker suggests his age could be catching up with him. Meanwhile, Matt Klaassen of FanGraphs has a look at how the Brewers have reached this point without a clear ace in their rotation.
Hector Gomez didn’t appear in Wednesday’s game, but earned a September call-up by batting .282 with a .325 on-base percentage and .483 slugging for Nashville this season. Michael Trzinski of Reviewing the Brew has a look at one of the newest Brewers.
In the minors:
- The Midwest League playoffs opened on Wednesday, and Wisconsin now finds itself in a hole in its best-of-three series after a 7-3 loss to Kane County. Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has highlights, postgame audio and more from the game, and Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects has a photo gallery.
- Kane County blew the game open in the fifth inning with a three-run home run from Cubs third baseman Mike Olt, who is with the team on a rehab assignment.
- In the only minor league regular-season game in the organization on Wednesday, the Helena Brewers lost 8-1 to Billings. You can read about both of yesterday’s games in Around the Horn at Miller Park Prospects. Helena wraps up its regular season tonight.
- Meanwhile, preparations continue for the Arizona Fall League without one projected entrant. Yesterday, the AFL announced pitcher Ariel Pena has been scratched from Glendale’s roster (h/t @BrewCrewBall). No reason was given, but @Mass_Haas notes that he left his final start with elbow pain.
- The Cardinals and Pirates went into to the bottom of the ninth inning scoreless before St. Louis outfielder Peter Bourjos hit a walkoff single to give his team a 1-0 victory. The game also featured Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller throwing behind Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen, leading to both benches being warned.
- The Reds managed just four hits in their 6-0 loss to the Orioles. Baltimore pitcher Miguel Gonzalez threw a complete-game shutout.
- The Brewers, as you likely know, lost again to the Cubs.
|Cardinals||76||63||—||@ Brewers, 7:10 p.m.||Wily Peralta vs Michael Wacha|
|Brewers||73||66||3||vs Cardinals, 7:10 p.m.||Michael Wacha vs Wily Peralta|
|Reds||66||73||10||@ Orioles, 6:05 p.m.||Mike Leake vs Chris Tillman|
Meanwhile, the Braves won on Wednesday to further tighten the race for the final Wild Card spot:
|Brewers||73||66||—||vs Cardinals, 7:10 p.m.||Wily Peralta vs Michael Wacha|
Here’s another factor contributing to the Brewers’ uphill battle in September: Andrew Simon of Sports on Earth notes that the Cardinals have one of baseball’s easiest remaining schedules. The Brewers are the only team on their calendar with a record above .500.
With that said, not everyone is selling at this point. 26 of the 61 members of ESPN’s Forecaster panel are still picking the Brewers to win the NL Central, with 17 more projecting them to secure a wild card berth.
And here’s today’s reminder that things could be worse: Rockies blog Purple Row is tracking a “magic number” for Colorado to avoid 100 losses this season.
I’ve already mentioned the Reds loss above, but it contained an interesting statistical sidenote: September call-up Jake Elmore entered the game in the eighth inning and became the 26th player to play shortstop alongside longtime second baseman Brandon Phillips. I have yet to figure out how to look, but I suspect a similar number of Brewers have played shortstop with Rickie Weeks at second.
Finally, with help from the Baseball Reference Play Index, we’d like to wish a happy birthday today to:
- Madison native Pat Neshek, who turns 34. Neshek has pitched in eight MLB seasons as a member of four teams, including the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals.
- 2000-02 Brewer Luis Lopez, who turns 44.
- 1985-86 Brewer Paul Householder, who turns 56.
- 1970-71 Brewer Bernie Smith, who turns 73.
Plunk Everyone notes that Lopez’s 26 career HBP are the fourth-most ever for a position player born on Sept. 4, and Neshek’s seven career hit batsmen lead all active pitchers born on this date.
Today is also the seventh anniversary of Francisco Cordero picking up his 40th save in 2007, becoming the first Brewer ever to reach that mark, and the 22nd anniversary of Dan Plesac’s 133rd and final save as a Brewer in 1992. Follow the links for those events’ respective entries in Today In Brewer History at Brew Crew Ball.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to zoom in further.
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