Though it has become incredibly rare of late, the Brewers lost a heartbreaking game at Miller Park tonight, 2-1.
It was a loss that had to be earned.
Even though the race is far from tight, there is nothing more important than beating a divisional opponent in the latter stretch of the season. Games this late – and this important – require discipline, execution and total team efforts. The Brewers managed to do none of these things.
Give credit to the Cardinals tonight. They needed a win in a big way and pulled a fast one on a Brewers team that could not figure out Edwin Jackson. The last time the Brew Crew faced Jackson, he took one for the team with Milwaukee hanging seven runs on him in a blowout victory.
Jackson got his revenge tonight. He pitched a very effective game today, and frustrated the middle of the line-up to the tune of 0-14 for the game. Jackson only struck out three, but he effectively shut down the big bats when he needed to, and the potent Brewers offense fell surprisingly flat. He even gave himself run support, knocking in an RBI in tonight’s game.
On the flip side, Shaun Marcum was a victim of circumstance. Marcum pitched a good game, but as Ron Roenicke said in his post-game comments, he just didn’t get the breaks his way tonight. Things were going swimmingly for Marcum until the fifth inning, when two consecutive errors – one on Hairston and one credited to Fielder – led to the only two runs for St. Louis. Both runs were unearned for the right-hander, but he still “earned” the loss.
The sad truth is that, in baseball, you can play really well and still lose. Marcum is a prime example of that tonight. It was poor execution all the way around that beat Milwaukee tonight. Poor at-bats from the middle of the line-up, errors in the field and the single worst bunt I have ever seen all add up to a close loss in a game that could have sent a message to the rest of the league. These little yips are not indicative of any larger issues – other than Betancourt’s offensive production capabilities – but they are a little troubling to see pop up now. Now is supposed to be the time that a dominating team pulls away and builds momentum for the post-season. It’s disconcerting to see Milwaukee struggle out of the gates in such a stand-out series. My only hope is that this is just a “go get ’em next time” bump in the road, and not the start of something worse.
The Brewers will get a chance to bounce back tomorrow when Randy Wolf takes on Jake Westbrook. Wolf is undefeated in August thus far, and if the Crew wins it will be the most successful month in franchise history. Something tells me things will swing back our way on Wednesday.