Both the Brewers and Reds needed a great performance in the Great American Ballpark tonight.
For most of the night, both teams got them, as well. Yovani Gallardo faced off against Mat Latos in the opening round of the three-game series, and it definitely promised to be a good match-up. Yovani played tough, going six innings and only giving up two runs. As usual – at least so far in 2012 – the Brewers behind Yo managed to muster only a single run.
A lot of that came thanks to another amazing pitching performance by the opposing pitcher. This time a complete game by Cincinnati Reds right-hander Mat Latos, and his twelve strike outs, that proved too much for the Brew Crew to handle. Latos helped to extend a rather dubious streak for Milwaukee – they have scored only one run in their last 22 innings of play. An anemic offense – including the end of Ryan Braun’s 18 game hitting streak – continued a slide to three straight losses and put them back to seven and a half games behind their opponents, who continue to lead the NL Central with the 3-1 victory on Monday night.
Yovani started the night out well for Milwaukee, and the defense backed him up with a pair of nice double plays to get Yo out of jams from a potent Cincy offense. He struck out five hitters over six innings and looked like the ace the team had been waiting for all season. He earned the loss in tonight’s game by giving up an RBI double, and earning one more in the same inning with a Brandon Phillips sacrifice bunt.
Mat Latos was the real story tonight, as he frustrated Milwaukee hitters the entire night. Most surprisingly was Ryan Braun, who struck out three times to end his hitting streak. The Brewers did not have many opportunities with men in scoring position, and they failed to hit a single time to capitalize on the chances. 0-5 with RISP went the Brewers, and 3-8 went Cincinnati. That’s the story everyone has been reading for weeks in Milwaukee’s season.
In fact, Milwaukee only had four hits on the entire night, and only one of them resulted in a run. That came from a solo home run by Norichika Aoki – his only hit of the night – which put Milwaukee down 1-2 in the top of the 6th inning. Latos bore down on Milwaukee after that, allowing only one hit to Rickie Weeks and a walk to pinch-hitter George Kottaras. He would strike out six more Milwaukee hitters, including the closing K to Rickie Weeks that ended the game.
In a bright spot tonight, Livan Hernandez came into the game for his Brewer debut, and proved he may
be an answer for the bullpen’s suffering. He only faced one batter – Scott Rolen – but mixed his breaking pitches well enough to stem the Reds offensive flow and give Rolen his fourth strikeout of the night. One batter may not be enough to tell, but Livan has been around long enough to know how handle a deteriorating situation.
That’s the best way to describe Milwaukee right now. For three straight games, Milwaukee has failed to score any more than one run, and doesn’t seem capable of or willing to cure their ailing season. They have two more games to figure it out in Cincinnati – if they don’t, they may be looking at a hole too deep to dig out.