If it wasn't for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, baseball fans around here might not know what it looks like for somebody to reach the seats. Granted, it was a Lambeau Leap after Rodgers scored a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, but that's the sad plight that bewildered Brewers fans have found themselves in of late.
Milwaukee's anemic offense continued to flail away for most of Wednesday afternoon's series and home stand finale against Cincinnati, producing mostly easy groundouts (10) and pop-ups (three), compounding the former because three of them produced double plays. However, the Brewers claimed a major victory in that they only struck out three times.
The bottom line is that Milwaukee scratched across two runs in the eighth and pulled out a much-needed victory, a 4-3 decision over the pesky Reds. However, the Brewers' hitters continued to scuffle, recording only five hits until they compiled three in the big rally—and one of the hits (fifth inning) and an RBI (third) came from starting pitcher CC Sabathia.
J.J. Hardy, the one guy in the lineup who had been producing, got into the woeful act, bouncing into two double plays, including an inning-ending grounder to third with the bases loaded in the fifth. It was a nice play by Edwin Encarnacion to start the twin killing, but it was par for the course for the snake-bitten Brewers.
Then Tony Gwynn bounced into a 4-6-3 double play with the bags full and nobody out in the eighth, which brought in the tying run. But again, no big inning or extra-base hits that could have broken the game open and/or provided cushion for an equally beleaguered bullpen.
It was the home team's first earned run of the game after two gifts from the Reds. But then Mike Cameron singled to left to bring in Ryan Braun for the game-winner, which also prevented Sabathia from absorbing his first setback in a Milwaukee uniform.
A win, any win, this time of year is big. But this club hasn't manufactured runs nearly enough this season—and will need to in a potential playoff appearance--like it did Wednesday.
A puzzling lack of power has infected this all-or-nothing club since the calendar turned to September: Cameron and Corey Hart last hit long balls Aug. 30th at Pittsburgh, while Braun belted his last one in the first inning the day before against the Pirates. Bill Hall's last dinger came Aug. 26 at St. Louis and Prince Fielder hasn't reached the bleachers since back-to-back nights at San Diego on Aug. 12-13.
Besides Hardy's three dingers in his last eight games, only Gabe Kapler's perfect-game buster against San Diego and Jason "No Power" Kendall and pinch-hitting Ray Durham versus the Reds have popped homers during the Brewers' dry spell.
Milwaukee did make positive strides in that it made Cincy starter Bronson Arroyo actually work, forcing him to throw 120 pitches in seven innings. But he didn't pay for any of them. He's been a hot pitcher since a rocky 0-3 start, but Arroyo doesn't conjure up thoughts of Cy Young awards.
However, he did show the Brewers how to bunt with a lead-off single in the seventh, another weapon that Milwaukee appears unwilling or unable to incorporate into its attack despite its offensive troubles.
Jerry Hairston's three-run homer to left in the fifth put Cincinnati up 3-1 and showed that Sabathia isn't invincible, and for a struggling team like Milwaukee it almost proved to be another mountain the Brewers couldn't climb.
Maybe their eighth-inning production will spark them as the Brewers embark on a 10-game road trip that takes them to hitter-friendly environments in Philadelphia, Chicago and Cincinnati.