by Tyler Lockman, FoxSportsWisconsin.com
Yovani Gallardo’s bid for only the second no-hitter in Milwaukee Brewers history may have fallen short Saturday in St. Louis, but it was just the lift the team needed amid a disastrous road trip.
Having lost seven straight games and batted .157 in that skid, the Brewers were floundering and no one seemed to have any answers. It appeared unlikely that a starting pitcher with an 8.89 ERA over his previous five starts would produce the needed relief.
Maybe it was the pants hitched at the knees or maybe it was a mental breakthrough, but whatever it was, Gallardo got the job done and just may have pulled the Brewers out of a painful malaise.
“It’s huge to get ‘Yo’ back on track,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said after the game. “It’s huge, obviously, [for] this team to get a win after those losses.”
One win does not erase what has so far been a 2-7 trip away from Miller Park, but putting an end to the weeklong misery was a start to turning things around for a team that departed on the three-city jaunt with a .500 record.
As Roenicke noted, it was just as important to get the team’s Opening Day starter out of a funk that had Brewers players, coaches and fans scratching their heads more and more every fifth day. While still using the quickened delivery implemented in his last start, Gallardo just tried to keep it simple Saturday.
“You almost have to go back to the basics,” Gallardo said. “Just see the glove and throw the ball there. It’s as simple as that.”
It helped that the 25-year-old right hander got a few highlight reel plays from the defense behind him, but it was ultimately Gallardo’s ability to manipulate his pitches that held a powerful Cardinals lineup to just one hit in eight innings.
“I was able to throw my off-speed [pitches] for strikes both in and out of the zone and get some weak balls hit,” Gallardo said.
The flailing Brewers offense did not exactly bust its slump in the 4-0 win, as only one run had been scored behind Gallardo. Three hits and a sacrifice fly supplied the insurance runs in the ninth inning, but six hits in the previous eight innings had to be an encouraging change from the one-hit showings seen in two of past three games.
The dominating win, Gallardo’s first against the Cardinals, is undoubtedly a boost to his confidence, but what it does for the team will be seen over the next few days. The Brewers wrap up the series with the Cardinals on Sunday before returning to Milwaukee for a three-game set with the Padres the next day.
While it was nice to enjoy the team’s first win in over a week and Gallardo’s flirtation with history, the next challenge quickly became the focus. Energetic center fielder Carlos Gomez was already talking about it just moments after stepping off the field.
“This was a great ball game,” Gomez said. “Tomorrow is a new game and we’ll try to win again.”
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.”
By Guy Curtright
The Brewers were hoping to get a needed jump-start from the belated debut of big winter acquisition Zack Greinke.
Instead, Milwaukee continued its sputtering start to its promising season.
The former American League Cy Young Award winner gave up five runs (four earned) and lasted just four innings, as the Braves completed a doubleheader sweep with an 8-0 victory on Wednesday night behind a masterful one-hitter by Tim Hudson.
The Brewers’ lone hit was a long double to center field by Rickie Weeks leading off the fourth inning, and they didn’t get their second and final baserunner until Weeks walked on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth.
“With the way Hudson was pitching, it wouldn’t have mattered,” Greinke said when addressing his up-and-down debut performance.
The Brewers, who fell in the first game, 8-3, have lost five in a row, dropping their record to 13-17. That’s hardly the kind of start the team was hoping for after obtaining Greinke from the Royals in a blockbuster trade.
“I didn’t expect him to go out there and throw all zeros,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke of Greinke. “It’s nice to have him back. He is going to compete. But I don’t think it’s fair to think he’s going to go out and be the same guy [right away] that we’ve seen the last few years.”
Greinke, who suffered a cracked rib in a pickup basketball game at the beginning of Spring Training, didn’t get any help from his defense in his Brewers debut and was far from top form after just three Minor League rehab starts.
“For the most part, I pitched decent,” Greinke said. “I had a couple of really bad at-bats, and in the end, it made it look worse.”
Already behind, 2-0, Greinke allowed back-to-back doubles to David Ross and Eric Hinske to start the fourth inning, and Nate McLouth followed with a two-run homer on a 2-0 pitch. Hinske hit a hanging slider, and the pitch to McLouth badly missed its intended location.
Greinke worked around the Brewers’ third error to get out of the inning with no more damage, but departed after throwing 86 pitches in four innings. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out six.
“He wasn’t throwing pitches where he could put away guys, which got him in huge trouble with the pitch count,” Roenicke said.
The Brewers’ defense betrayed Greinke in the first inning, committing two errors. With one out, first baseman Prince Fielder botched a grounder and then Wil Nieves was charged with an error for catcher’s interference. Dan Uggla followed with an RBI single after fouling off several pitches, and the Braves had a quick lead thanks to an unearned run.
Greinke needed 32 pitches to get through the first inning, and the Braves got another run in the second. McLouth walked with one out, moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Hudson and scored on a two-out single by Martin Prado.
The right-hander retired the side in order in the third inning, striking out two. But then came his rough fourth and final inning.
Meanwhile, Hudson (4-2) was dispatching the Brewers with ease. He threw first-pitch strikes to 26 of the 29 batters he faced and had six strikeouts while throwing 102 pitches in his 12th career shutout.
“All in all, I can’t remember the last time a game for me was this nice,” Hudson said.
“This is what I used to see way back when he was in Oakland,” said Roenicke, a former AL coach. “He threw a tremendous game.”
There is nothing even close to tremendous about the way the Brewers are playing right now. Quite the opposite.
“Nothing seemed to go right,” Roenicke said about the second game of the doubleheader.
But the same could basically have been said about the first game, as well.
“I’m not in panic mode or anything,” general manager Doug Melvin said between games. “I still think we have a good team.”
But Melvin was the first to admit, “We need some victories.”
Greinke’s second start will be Monday at home against the Padres. The Brewers hope to be back on track before then.
By Guy Curtright, MLB.com
Adding a left-handed bat, the Brewers acquired outfielder-first baseman Jordan Brown from the Indians for cash considerations and assigned him to Triple-A Nashville.
The 27-year-old Brown had 87 at-bats in 26 games with the Indians last season and hit .230 with seven doubles, no homers and two RBIs. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Columbus, batting .298 with 28 doubles, eight homers and 67 RBIs.
Once a prime prospect, Brown was dropped from the Indians’ 40-man roster over the winter and assigned outright to the Minors. He was hitting .278 with three homers, 13 RBIs and a .373 on-base percentage this season with Columbus.
A fourth-round pick in the 2005 Draft after playing for Arizona in the College World Series, Brown was the Class A Advanced Carolina League Player of the Year in 2006 and the Double-A Eastern League MVP the following season.
By Guy Curtright, MLB.com
Zack Greinke has completed his rehab, and cut his hair. Now, it is finally showtime.
The 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to make his long-awaited first start for the Brewers on Wednesday night against the Braves at Turner Field.
“There is definitely a lot of anticipation,” Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said. “We’re excited about getting him out there and seeing what he can do.
“It’s kind of the equivalent of making a big acquisition [during the season]. We only had CC [Sabathia] for two months [in 2008]. We’ll have Zack for five and hopefully six months.”
Of course, the Brewers should have already had Greinke — obtained in a blockbuster deal with the Royals over the winter — for five weeks. But the right-hander cracked a rib playing pickup basketball at the start of camp and began the season on the disabled list.
“It’s encouraging to get the guys in there that you had planned to have at the beginning,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who was also missing right fielder Corey Hart until last week.
Greinke made three Minor League starts to get ready, the last two for Triple-A Nashville. He worked five innings for the Sounds on Friday, giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking one.
Greinke rejoined the Brewers on Saturday in Houston, still sporting his Prince Valliant haircut. By Sunday, the hair was gone.
“I said, ‘Zack, I thought you were just going to get rid of those things on the side,’” Roenicke said. “But he buzzed it.”
“My hair kept getting in my eyes,” Greinke said. “I couldn’t find a headband that I liked.”
The new look, of course, drew the attention of teammates.
“He went from Luke Skywalker to Pvt. [Gomer] Pyle,” fellow pitcher Randy Wolf said.
“He says he’s more aerodynamic now. He’s quicker,” added Braun.
But the Brewers don’t care that much about how Greinke looks. They care a lot about how he pitches, though. They need him if they are to be contenders in the National League Central as hoped.
“We’re excited about finally being back at full strength and hopefully staying that way,” Braun said.
Greinke will be allowed to throw up to about 90 pitches in his debut against the Braves. He threw 75 in his final rehab outing for Nashville.
“It was pretty good,” Greinke said of that outing. “All my stuff was pretty decent. I was locating pretty good. I was able to use every pitch. None of them were, like, amazing, but they were all usable.
“I’m healthy, for sure. I’ve been healthy for a while now. I just had to get my arm strength.
“It feels pretty good. Maybe I’m where I should be when the season starts. Maybe one start before that. It should be good enough to be able to pitch my game.”
Greinke knows that there would have been a lot of attention on his first start with the Brewers, no matter when it was. But he downplayed any personal expectations.
“I didn’t really think about anything too much. I’m just looking forward to being back,” he said.
After spending seven seasons with the Royals in the AL, Greinke will get to swing the bat regularly in the NL. He had a double for Nashville in his final rehab outing.
“He’s been talking a lot about his hitting prowess,” Braun said.
It’s on the mound, though, where the 27-year-old Greinke will be counted on.
The Brewers hope that he pitches like he did in 2009 with the Royals, when he was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts.
Greinke dropped to 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA last season for the Royals, but no one questions how good he can be.
“His stuff is nasty,” said Eric Hinske, who has faced Greinke more than any other Brave because of his time in the American League. “He has special stuff. Any time you put a Cy Young Award next to somebody’s name, it makes him special.”
The Brewers now will get to have Greinke on their side.
“It’s going to be a big boost for us. No question about it,” Braun said.
“I know Zack is looking forward to getting back,” Roenicke said.
by Richard Dean, MLB.com
With Zack Greinke set to make his Brewers debut on Wednesday, the club’s rotation for next week is taking shape.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will open the three-game series in Atlanta starting on Monday. Right-hander Marco Estrada pitches Tuesday and the right-handed Greinke pitches on Wednesday, five days after the last of his three rehab assignments for Triple-A Nashville.
“Having to do that with Yov now sets him up for the next time he goes will be on five days,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
ight-hander Shaun Marcum, who earned the win on Friday against the Astros with seven shutout innings, will start on Thursday at Atlanta, five days between starts.
“Somebody has to and this is the least amount of movement,” said Roenicke.
by Richard Dean, MLB.com
All systems are go as Zack Greinke will make his Brewers debut on Wednesday at Atlanta with a pitch count around 90.
Recovering from a cracked rib he suffered in Spring Training, the right-handed Greinke made the last of his three scheduled rehab starts for Triple-A Nashville on Friday, throwing 75 pitches — 50 for strikes — in five innings.
“I’m healthy, for sure, I’ve been healthy for awhile,” Greinke said in the Brewers’ clubhouse prior to Saturday’s game. “I’vegot good arm strength. I was looking forward to coming back [to the Majors], I was just trying to get ready.”
Greinke was the 2009 American League Cy Young winner with the Royals. On Friday, he allowed seven hits and two earned runs with seven strikeouts and one walk. He took the loss in a 4-1 defeat to Albuquerque and allowed a home run.
“I felt good,” he said. “I stretched pretty good. All my stuff was decent, I located pretty good.”
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that Greinke felt good during his final rehab appearance.
“He felt like he could throw another 20 pitches,” Roenicke said. “He felt really strong, which is a good sign.”
Greinke said he is about where he would be if he had one start before Spring Training.
“I should be good enough to pitch my game,” said Greinke, who was acquired from Kansas City in a six-player trade. “It’ll be cool. I’m really anxious. I’ve been enjoying watching the games and looking forward to getting back.”
Without Greinke, the Brewers have been getting quality outings from a number of their starters.
“Everyone’s been pitching real good,” said Greinke. “I was like, do they want me back or make me stay down there [Nashville] for a while?”