MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Brewer manager Ron Roenicke does not use the word collapse. He doesn’t call it slump or struggle. Managers never use those words.
“In a long season, it is common that virtually all phases of the game go at times,” Roenicke said before the series opener with the charging Cardinals.
But all phases all at once? Call it what you will, but what has happened to the Milwaukee Brewers is an unmitigated collapse. And what is shocking is that it all occurred in the space of just two weeks.
In mid-June, The Brewers appeared to be pulling away from the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds, who couldn’t get out of their own way. The Brewers made a statement early, winning 9 games in a row in early April and built a sizable lead. On June 28, they were 19 games over .500.
The Cardinals on June 28 were in the midst of a rugged west coast trip and would start the month 44-39, six full games behind the Brewers.
Since then the Brewers have channeled the 1964 Phillies, losing 10 of 11 games (the one win was 1-0) while the Cards have won seven of the first 11.
The Brewers skipper was asked before the series opener how big he thought the three-game set was. “It’s just another series. We have to turn it around. I told the guys we have to win games, we’re not just playing one team (the Cardinals). We have to beat other teams too.”
Before Friday’s game, Roenicke announced he was moving Marco Estrada from the starting role to the bullpen and bringing up minor league pitching sensation Jimmy Nelson to start Saturday against the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright. “Marco wasn’t happy about it; I wouldn’t want him to be. But I believe in shots in the arm for teams (that are going poorly). Anytime you do something to get the players excited, it helps. (Marco’s pitching) wasn’t the only thing that isn’t going well, but I felt I had to make a change.”
But Friday night brought more of the same for the bewildered Brewers, as the Redbirds erased a 6-0 deficit for a thrilling 7-6 win on Matt Holliday’s bomb to left with two outs in the ninth. It was the largest lead the Brewers have blown this year.
Milwaukee now leads the Redbirds by one game and the charging Cincinnati Reds by 1.5. This is the closest they have been since the first two weeks of the season.
One Milwaukee sportswriter, stunned by the Friday night loss, summed it up perfectly. “For the first three months of the season, they couldn’t do anything wrong. Now they can’t do anything right.”