Thursday's Frosty Mug

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 13: Brayan Pena #27, Eric Hosmer #35 and Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals celebrate a 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the 11th inning during an interleague game at Kauffman Stadium on June 13, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Some things to read while being forced to go outside or something.

For the second straight day the Brewer bullpen is in the spotlight, and not in a positive way. The Brewers carried a 3-1 lead with two outs in the ninth last night but John Axford gave up an RBI triple to send the game to extra innings, and Jose Veras forced in a run on a walkoff walk in the eleventh to gift-wrap the Royals a 4-3 win. We've got the recap here if you missed it.

Ron Roenicke didn't sugarcoat the situation in his postgame press conference, saying "somebody out there needs to step up and start throwing the ball". Howie Magner noted that it sounds like his patience is wearing thin. We've got a full transcript of his comments here. Ryan Kartje of FS Wisconsin has a look at the bullpen situation.

For whatever it's worth, the Brewer bullpen does seem to recognize the problem. A day after Francisco Rodriguez used the word "embarrassing" to describe his recent work, John Axford used it again to describe his two-walk outing last night. Kameron Loe chimed in with this tweet:

Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless eighth last night. Before the game Ron Roenicke told reporters he's planning on sticking with his veteran setup man. As has become the routine, Howie Magner turned the story into a haiku.

Other notes from the field:

The Brewers will be trying to avoid the sweep tonight when they send Shaun Marcum to the mound to face Luke Hochevar in the series' final game. Jeremy Warnemuende of has the preview. Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs gave tonight's pitching matchup a five out of ten on his NERD scale.

Last night and Tuesday's losses probably put a damper on folks' enthusiasm a bit, but earlier this week the BCB Tracking Poll showed that 64% of fans think this team can still make the playoffs. That's up 17% from the previous week, and 27% from two weeks ago.

If the Brewers do get swept tonight, some of us will have an easier time handling it than others. @poonix notes that those of us who followed this team in the early '00s (or before) are better equipped for a dramatic change in expectations.

A large portion of this season's downturn can be blamed on the offensive struggles of Rickie Weeks, who had a hit and a walk last night to raise his 2012 batting line to .167/.307/.292. The Brewers are sticking with Weeks, though, and Adam McCalvy explains why:

Yesterday's most awkward conversation had to be this one: Tony La Russa has contacted Ron Roenicke to ask him to be a part of the coaching staff for the NL All Star team (FanShot). La Russa is also bringing his entire staff from the 2011 Cardinals and Mets manager Terry Collins.

Nathan Petrashek of Cream City Cables is in Kansas City this week and has noticed a distinct feeling among Royals fans that Zack Greinke could return to the city next season. He's got some cold water for that theory. If Greinke sticks around in Milwaukee, Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball will have time for multiple installments of "At The Movies Or Whatever with Zack Greinke."

Yesterday I mentioned that California high school outfielder Tyrone Taylor was the Brewers' highest unsigned draft pick, but it appears that's no longer the case. Adam McCalvy is reporting the Brewers are going to announce deals with Taylor and several other players by the end of this week. Jim Callis of Baseball America is reporting that the Brewers have also signed seventh rounder David Otterman to a $141,700 deal, matching he slot value of his draft position.

In the minors:

If you'd like more Brewer coverage today but you're sick of reading, I may have something for you: There's a possibility my weekly appearance on The Home Stretch with Justin Hull on AM 1570 The Score in Appleton is going to be moved ahead a day to make room for WIAA tournament coverage tomorrow. If that happens, I'll run a post here with the updated time.

Finally, congratulations are due out today to Skeared, yesterday's winner in our SB Nation Pick 6 contest. Here's the full leaderboard:

Rank Player Points
1 Skeared 75.4
2 Jeo 71.1
3 icecreamman 71.0
4 Yar Nivek 70.2
5 PCLOUSE7 64.6
6 coolig 60.8
7 Ashcampbell 59.0
8 badgerman59 57.7
9 Noah Jarosh 54.1
10 mamaro68 54.0

Today's action starts at 11:35, so odds are by the time you read this it'll already be time to make your picks for tomorrow.

Around baseball:

Cubs: Designated catcher Koyie Hill for assignment and placed third baseman Ian Stewart on the DL with a sore wrist.
Mariners: Placed outfielder Mike Carp on the DL with a shoulder injury.
Tigers: Placed pitcher Drew Smyly on the DL with a severe blister.

Elsewhere in the division, the Reds won their second straight game against the Indians last night and have picked up at least one game on every divisional foe over the last two days. That's a doubly impressive accomplishment for the Reds when you add in the fact that they've got a stomach virus decimating the clubhouse. You know that and more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.

Of course the big story in baseball this morning came from San Francisco, where Matt Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history as the Giants beat the Astros last night. There's lots of coverage of that out there, so I'll stick to these two notes: Home plate umpire Ted Barrett is the only man ever to be behind the plate for two perfect games, and third base umpire Brian Runge has been a part of three no-hitters (and two perfect games) in 2012.

Speaking of umpires, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN has a very even-handed look at the state of umpiring across baseball.

Today in former Brewers:

Meanwhile, Doug Russell of has a great look back at one of Milwaukee's original ballparks, Borchert Field, and the work being done to preserve its history.

This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History marks the 32nd anniversary of the end of Cecil Cooper's 22 game hitting streak in 1980, the fourth longest streak in franchise history. Today is also longtime Brewer Greg Brock's 55th birthday, and Plunk Everyone notes that his 15 career HBP are the second most ever for a player born on June 14.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to turn right.

Drink up.

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