Former Milwaukee skipper Ned Yost's common refrain that the Brewers "are what we are" has been painfully obvious the last two days.
The Brewers' all-or-nothing offense has produced next to nothing during the first two games of their National League Divisional Series against Philadelphia the past two days.
Milwaukee has managed three runs on seven hits with 16 strikeouts in 18 innings, scoring a combined two runs and registering four hits versus starters in left-hander Cole Hamels and righty Brett Myers.
Obviously one has to give Hamels, Myers and the rest of the Philly pitching staff a ton of credit, but three runs on seven hits in two games! That's too much credit.
The Brewers, who win via the home run ball, aren't getting those either. No matter what they've done, nothing has worked. They either swing and miss at bad pitches late in counts or fail to get good wood on supposedly good pitches early in counts.
Despite those anemic numbers, Milwaukee had chances to win Game 1 but Mike Cameron, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart struck out against closer Brad Lidge in the ninth inning. In Game 2, they had a run in and the bases loaded in the first, but Hart swung at the first pitch—after Myers had already walked three batters (one intentionally)—and grounded into a double play.
One can only dream of having a lineup such as Philadelphia's: big lefty boppers such as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and switch hitters in Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. But the Brewers don't have that luxury and thus fewer options.
Maybe if they had somebody like Myers in their lineup? He made CC Sabathia throw 19 pitches in his first two at-bats. A pitcher with a .069 batting average this year walked, flew out and singled. Now there's a contact hitter.
The numbers show that Milwaukee hurlers were forced to throw 164 pitches in eight innings, while in stark contrast the Phillies mound corps made only 118 pitches in nine innings.
Yost didn't have the answers for Milwaukee's early September swoon, and the Brewers hitters sure haven't found many since. But seven hits in two games—three of them by Ryan Braun—haven't and won't cut it.
If they don't figure something out by Saturday and Game 3, the Brewers' playoff dreams will shatter just as Fielder's bat did in the eighth inning (see accompanying photograph).