May 6th, 2011
Braves 2, Brewers 1
Via Associated Press
How much bad news can one baseball team take?
As if it weren’t enough that the offense was shut down again Thursday night and the Milwaukee Brewers lost their sixth game in a row, they also suffered another casualty in what has become an incredibly injury-riddled year.
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan, just off the disabled list two days earlier, suffered a fractured left middle finger bunting a pitch in the eighth inning and is expected to be sidelined 2-4 weeks.
“We’re going to see what we’re made of, what kind of character we have,” said reliever Kameron Loe, who served up the game-winning home run to Martin Prado in the eighth inning as the Atlanta Braves pulled out a 2-1 victory at Turner Field to sweep the four-game series.
Manager Ron Roenicke wasn’t certain what the club would do to replace Morgan. When Morgan rejoined the club after recovering from a thigh injury, outfielder Brandon Boggs was sent outright to Class AAA Nashville and the Brewers were waiting to hear if he would accept the assignment.
Morgan was so disconsolate over the injury, suffered when the finger was struck by the ball on a sacrifice bunt, he sat for several minutes in front of his locker, a towel draped over his head. He then stormed around the clubhouse in outward frustration.
“It’s tough,” said Roenicke. “It’s not going good and we were all looking forward to getting the team back to full strength. Nyjer’s a big part of that. He was a big part early on when we got going. He’s a spark to our lineup; he does a good job defensively.
“He goes down with an injury, then we get him back and all of a sudden another one.”
Either the Braves have the best starting rotation in the majors or the Brewers’ offense is in big, big trouble. The Brewers scored just six runs in the four games, collecting only 20 hits and batting .160 as a team.
But the offensive slide began at the outset of the losing streak in the last two games in Houston. During the six losses, the Brewers have scored seven runs with a .176 team batting average. Over that stretch, they have two hits in 36 at-bats (.056) with runners in scoring position.
“We’re seeing some guys that are really throwing the ball good against us,” said Roenicke. “And I think sometimes when you’re not hitting you go out of the (strike) zone and the pattern that you’re usually good in because you’re trying to create something.
“Sometimes you’re not patient enough, but I thought we had a lot of good at-bats tonight. When we have the chance, we’re not getting that hit.”
In the process, a fine outing by starting pitcher Shaun Marcum was wasted. Marcum again was tremendous, holding the Braves to a second-inning homer by Eric Hinske during his seven-inning stint.
Marcum allowed five hits and one walk while striking out eight, only regretting the 0-2 fastball to Hinske that was badly misplaced.
“It was supposed to be up and in,” said Marcum. “It was more middle, middle. Not a good pitch at all. That’s what hitters are supposed to do with mistake pitches – hit ‘em out of the park.”
Marcum, who lowered his earned run average to 2.06, had thrown only 98 pitches through seven innings, but Roenicke summoned Loe nevertheless.
“That’s a decision we wrestle with at times, whether to put him back out there or not,” said Roenicke. “I’m still really comfortable when I’m bringing in Loe and really comfortable when I’m bringing in ‘Ax’ (John Axford).
“I felt that Shaun did a great job and we didn’t need to push him anymore.”
Loe, who took the loss in the first game of the skid, fell behind in the count, 3-1, to the first hitter he faced, Prado, who socked the next pitch out of the park for his third homer. Prado hit an 88-mph sinker that didn’t sink.
“I left it up,” said Loe. “It was the worst pitch I threw all inning. We’re struggling right now and part of it is we’re not getting ahead of hitters, and walking hitters. Strike one is huge. I know I haven’t been doing a good job of getting strike one.”
The Brewers scored only an unearned run in six innings off Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy, who struck out a career-high nine. Three relievers worked an inning each, contributing two strikeouts apiece as the Brewers whiffed a whopping 15 times.
“You’ve got to give those guys some credit,” said Marcum. “They threw the ball really well against us. They have a great pitching staff over there. We’re out there battling, doing everything we can. Things just aren’t going our way right now.
“The way things have been going, we needed a win. That was a tough one to take right there. Everybody’s spirits are up. We realize we’ve got a lot of baseball left in us and we’re a lot better than the way we’re playing. We know it’s going to turn eventually.”
By Jesse Sanchez, MLB.com
Something has to give when the Cardinals and the Brewers square off for the first time this season Friday in St. Louis.
Cardinals slugger Lance Berkman, who went 1-for-2 with a home run in Thursday’s 6-3 victory against the Marlins, ranks among the National League leaders with 10 home runs. He leads the Major Leagues with 32 RBIs and is hitting .392 for the season.
“I’m just going up there and trying to have good at-bats,” Berkman said. “It’s been a good run.”
Opposing Berkman is Brewers starter Randy Wolf, who is 3-0 in his past four games, all quality starts. He received a no-decision at Houston on Friday, but allowed just four hits and one earned run in seven innings.
Here’s what else to consider entering Friday’s NL Central showdown:
• Berkman has hit safely in 18 of 21 games and has reached base safely in 25 of 29 games.
• Wolf has allowed only four earned runs in 33 2/3 innings over his last five starts.
• Berkman sports a .321 career batting average in 150 career games against the Brewers.
• Wolf has shut down Berkman in the past, limiting him to just three hits in 27 at-bats and holding him to a .111 batting average in his career against him.
Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia could be the difference Friday. Garcia won three of his first four starts as he allowed a total of four earned runs. But he has allowed six earned runs over 11 1/3 innings in his last two outings, both no-decisions.
He was charged with three earned runs on five hits in six innings against the Braves in his last start.
Overall, Garcia is 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA in his career against the Brewers.
Brewers: Going solo with the long ball
Each of the Brewers’ last eight home runs have come without a runner on base. Overall, 21 of the club’s 32 home runs this season have been solo shots.
• Pitcher Manny Parra, who had back problems in Spring Training, has been shut down after an examination by team physician William Raasch revealed an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his elbow as well as a flexor tendon strain. He will not be allowed to throw for a week.
Cardinals: Looking to turn it around at home
The Cardinals are 2-3 this month following the four-game split against the Marlins this week in St. Louis. Overall, the club is 8-8 at home in 2011 and will play nine more games at Busch Stadium this month. The club is 10-6 on the road.
• Cardinals reliever Bryan Augenstein, who strained his right groin in a game against the D-backs on April 12, threw for the third straight day. There is no timetable for his return.
Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker, who is out with a right triceps injury, has been taking ground balls but has not yet been cleared to throw or hit. He could begin hitting on Sunday. … The Brewers recalled Mike McClendon from Nashville on Thursday and optioned right-handed reliever Sean Green to Triple-A Nashville.
By Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel
The bad news just keeps coming for the Brewers.
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan has a fractured left middle finger and is expected to be out 2-4 weeks. Morgan was struck on the finger while executing a sacrifice bunt in the eighth inning of th 2-1 loss to the Braves, th Brewers’ sixth conscutive defeat.
Morgan had just returned from the DL after recovering from a thigh bruise and now this. He was completely disconsolate in the clubhouse after the game and couldn’t talk with reporters.
This has been an injury-riddled mess of a season for the Brewers and there doesn’t seem to be any end to it.
I have no idea what the Brewers will do to replace Morgan. They just outrighted Brandon Boggs to Class AAA Nashville when Morgan returned and I don’t know if that can be revoked. Boggs had 72 hours to decide whether to accept the assignment or declare free agency.
“We’ll see what we’re made of,” said reliever Kameron Loe, who surrenderd the game-winning homer to Martin Prado in the eighth. “We’ll see what kind of character we have.”