The Milwaukee Brewers are in serious trouble of falling out of the NL Central race as they head out West for a big road trip starting today at Arizona. The Brew Crew were America's darlings this season as players such as J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder made the All Star Team. Fielder also recently made the cover of ESPN the Magazine. Now their dream season is about to fall apart.
They were sitting pretty all season in first place until last week when the Cubs took over first place. With the Cardinals and Cubs fighting for first, the Brewers are now on the outside looking in. The demise of the Brewers is in part due to their lack of quality starting pitching. Their big free agent, Jeff Suppan, has fared poorly all season and their ace, Ben Sheets, has been injured and won't be back until the end of this month. Chris Capuano continues to lose and pitch poorly and they have lost his last 16 starts.
Yesterday was a great example of what has gone wrong for Milwaukee. With home runs by Bill Hall, Ryan Braun, and Fielder, the Brewers jumped to a 5-0 lead over the Reds. Capuano cruises along through 5 innings until he gets hammered again. Disaster always follows him around the 5th or 6th inning in every start as he starts to give up homers, hits batters, and loses command of the strike zone. The Reds rallied to tie the game until Hardy hits a homer to give them the lead at 6-5.
Manager Ned Yost keeps reliever Scott Linebrink in the game in the 8th even though he has Derrick Turnbow available. Linebrink loads up the bases and pinch hitter Javiar Valentin is up next. Valentin is hitting .213 when facing a lefty. So what does Yost do? Does he bring in a lefty reliever or keep Linebrink in the game? Unfortunately for the sellout crowd, he stayed with Linebrink who gave up a 2 run double to Valentin as the Reds go on to win 7-6. Criticism of Yost is at an all time high. The fans are disgruntled and calling for his head. He is as popular in Milwaukee as Bud Selig is in San Francisco.
Although the team is in a downward spiral, the fans in Milwaukee should not despair too much. They should be grateful that they are in a pennant race this late into the season, which you can't say for a lot of teams. With youngsters like Fielder and Ryan Braun, this team leads the National League in home runs. The best solution for them is to try to hold on until Sheets can return and pitch every fifth day. For now, the only way for them to start winning is to try to outslug opponents.