Worgull: Offensive Offense

With the Brewers looking to make a statement in a four-game series against the Central-leading Chicago Cubs, the only statement that the Crew made was that their offense was not ready to handle the pitching prowess of their rivals to the south.

MILWAUKEE – The last week of July was shaping up to be a coming-of-age party for the Milwaukee Brewers and its playoff-thirsty fan base. Coming out guns blazing during a seven-game road win streak after the All-Star break, the Brewers caught the Cubs last Saturday and entered their important four-game series just one game back in the division.

Throwing their dueling aces in CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets in games one and two and stellar Manny Parra and Miller Park's No.1 fan Dave Bush in games three and four, the Brewers expected to be in prime position to enter August with a little head of steam.

Without question, the Brewers adopted the company tag line "a baseball season isn't a sprint, it's a marathon" over the course of the last 96 hours, as they managed to negate all of the positive vibes from a successful road jaunt.

Blame it on being overmatched by the best team in the National League or putting too much pressure on its shoulders, but the Brewers' stagnate offense has turned back the clocks, as a one-game deficit is now, once again, back to five.

Look at the numbers and it's simple to see why the Cubs gave the Brewers a huge dose of humility after sweeping the Crew in Milwaukee for the first time since May 2003. In the four- game massacre, the Brewers were outscored 31-11, were 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position, and struck out 43 times compared to only seven walks.

On the same accord, the Cubs struck out only 27 tmes compared to 17 walks.

"They did everything right this series," manager Ned Yost said. "They pitched great, they made every play defensively (and) they found every hole offensively. Everything went right for them. …These were four games where we got out played. We got spanked. We are a better team than what we showed the Cubs this four-game series."

Except for Prince Fielder (who went 6-for-13 with two homers in the series), the power outage was wide spread. Corey Hart was 2-for-12 before getting the day off Thursday, the leadoff spot was 3-for-14 and Ryan Braun, who had back-to-back four-hit games in St. Louis, went 4-for-15.

It got so bad for the offense that Braun tried to bunt his way on in the seventh, but it turned into an easy out for Cubs' catcher Geovany Soto and Fielder slammed his bat into home plate after a fly out in the ninth, breaking his lumber into two pieces and drawing plenty of hazing by the overwhelming majority of Cubs' fans in attendance.

"Nobody is happy after a game like this and I would be upset if they were," Yost said. "We don't like the fact that we let their fans come into our park and have a four-day party, but that's our fault."

This series was supposed to be the culmination of the Brewers turning the table on the Cubs after the debacle that happened to the Crew last season.

Leading the Cubs by 8½ games on June 23, the Cubs caught Milwaukee by the first of August and went on to claim the division. This year, the Brewers trailed the Cubs by that same 8½-game margin June 16 and, by going 24-11 since that date, drew even with Chicago six days ago, which now seems like an eternity ago.

Now the Brewers head back for a daunting August schedule where they play 17 of their 27 games on the road. After going 9-18 last August, Brewers fans hold onto the optimism that this is a different ball club than a season ago and there is still two months of the season to go.

If the Brewers could make up five games on the Cubs once this season, they can do it again, especially with these two teams scheduled to meet six more times.

"In September, this would hurt," Yost said. "But we have plenty of time to recover from this and get back on track and right the ship."


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