Some things to read while counting the minutes.
The Brewers carried a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning last night but it was not enough as John Axford blew his sixth save of the season and the Brewers lost 3-2 to fall to 2-2 in their "make or break" nine game stretch. Nicole has the recap, if you missed it.
Axford allowed the three runs last night on three hits and a pair of walks, and has now allowed 15 runs (14 earned) on five homers and walked nine batters in his last 14.2 innings. He was booed off the field after failing to record the third out and told Adam McCalvy last night's outing was "the most awful outing I've had all year." Chris Cwik of FanGraphs has a look at what's gone wrong for him. Axford had two strikes with two outs against each of the last four batters he faced but couldn't put them away.
It seemed unthinkable before the season, but Axford's days as a closer may be numbered. Ron Roenicke admitted last night that the team discussed what to do with the role last night and will again today. Francisco Rodriguez has allowed just one hit in his last five innings and told Ryan Kartje of FS Wisconsin that he still hopes to pitch the ninth inning again.
Last night's blown save took a win away from Michael Fiers, who pitched seven scoreless innings with four hits, four walks and four strikeouts over 111 pitches. He's posted a 0.78 ERA over his last five starts.
Other notes from the field:
- The Brewers missed an opportunity to gain ground in the Central last night as the Reds and Pirates both lost.
- Corey Hart's solo home run last night traveled 435 feet according to the team and Hit Tracker Online has it at 433. Either way it's the longest home run by a Brewer in July.
- Hart, by the way, has a ten game hitting streak. Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-4 to snap his streak at nine games.
- Elsewhere in streaks, Rickie Weeks went 1-for-4 last night but was held without an RBI for the first time in seven games. That was the longest such streak by a Brewer this season.
- Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn allowed a single run and struck out ten over seven innings. He was The Platoon Advantage's Pitcher of the Night.
- Ryan Braun's ninth inning double was his 998th career hit.
- Nicole has Ron Roenicke's postgame comments.
- Last night's game was televised in Japan, and featured ads for a Japanese spa behind home plate.
- The Italian won the sausage race.
The series continues tonight at Miller Park when Randy Wolf takes on rookie starter Joe Kelly. Clark Goble has the MLB.com preview and noted leisured gentleman Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs gave tonight's pitching matchup a five out of ten on his NERD scale.
Somehow, though, yesterday's on-field meltdown wasn't even the day's biggest news. The Brewers sparked an all-day speculation frenzy when they announced late in the morning that Zack Greinke would skip his scheduled start on Wednesday, but then waited until Ron Roenicke's afternoon press conference to not really explain why aside from saying he needed to "recharge his batteries." Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball has a recap of the day's timeline.
At any rate, Tyler Thornburg will start on Wednesday and Greinke is expected back in the rotation for the July 24 game against the Phillies.
Here's much more on Greinke:
- The initial rumor yesterday was that Greinke was close to being traded, but Nathan Petrashek of Cream City Cables speculated that an extension could be in the works.
- Doug Melvin told FS Wisconsin last night that he only thinks this is a big deal because of the potential trade implications.
- At any rate, messing with Greinke's routine again probably isn't going to help the Brewers retain him as a free agent.
- Meanwhile, Jon Heyman is reporting (via MLB Daily Dish) that the White Sox are interested in acquiring Greinke.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution downplayed Greinke's value and said he can't justify a team paying him $20 million per season.
- Meanwhile, the Phillies are believed to be willing to offer Cole Hamels "at least $120 million."
- Jeff Sullivan of Baseball Nation might have the best story I've seen about Greinke and what we do or don't know about him.
At least the Brewers are still getting solid and consistent performance from Yovani Gallardo, who has posted a 2.84 ERA and pitched at least six innings in each of his 14 starts since May 1. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs listed Gallardo as having baseball's 49th highest trade value.
Brewer pitchers only recorded six strikeouts last night (four for Fiers and two for Axford), but entered the game having set franchise records with 57 strikeouts in their last four games and 44 in the Pirates series. (numbers likely via Elias)
In the minors:
- The affiliates went 1-1 on another rain-shortened night, with Mark Rogers allowing just one run on four hits over seven innings in Nashville's 3-1 win over Round Rock. You can read about that and more in today's Minor League Notes.
- Stars pitcher Darren Byrd has a photograph of the flooded dugout at Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville.
- Nashville broadcaster Jeff Hem has an interview with Sounds manager Mike Guerrero.
If you're heading out to Miller Park tonight or tomorrow, try this and let me know how it goes: The Brewers are serving "St. Louis-Style Rib Tips" at the Chef's Table stand during the series.
If you'd like more Brewer coverage today but you're sick of reading, consider listening to me talk about the Brewers via one of these options:
- At 5:15 today I'll be making my weekly appearance on The Watercooler with Jimmie Kaska on Sports Radio 1400 in Eau Claire.
- I'll go straight from there to a 5:30 spot on The Sports Den with Downtown Ollie Burrows on SportsFan 100.5 in Wausau.
Finally, congratulations are due out this morning to Ashcampbell, yesterday's winner in our SB Nation Pick 6 contest. Here's the full leaderboard:
Tonight's first game starts at 6:05, so there's still plenty of time to make your picks for today.
Every year we have a conversation about the Home Run Derby and its perceived impact on the second half performance of its contestants, real or imagined. The people who want to argue its drawbacks got a little more ammunition last night as Jose Bautista, who swung at 56 pitches in the derby, left the Blue Jays game and is expected to go on the DL with a wrist injury.
In former Brewers:
- Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation listed Chris Capuano as baseball's tenth most underrated player.
- Jeremy Blachman of NotGraphs had a hard time finding reactions to Ben Sheets' Sunday performance on Twitter.
- The Hank Aaron jersey at the Smithsonian might be a fake.
Sometimes I use the Royals as an example of how things could always be worse. Here's a healthy dose of perspective, though: The Royals lost last night to drop to 277 games under .500 all time, a new franchise record. The Brewers, after losing last night, are now 280 games under.
One upside to an entire summer without rain is that we haven't had to worry about leaks in the Miller Park roof. The Marlins haven't been so fortunate, though, and Nats Enquirer has a screenshot of water flowing in through their closed roof last night.
Ever wondered if you could make it as a professional scout? Bob Fortus of the New Orleans Times-Picayune was allowed to tag along with a scout for a game and documented the process.
This morning's edition of Today In Brewer History marks the 21st anniversary of a 1991 game where the Brewers drew 15 walks en route to a 6-1 win over Randy Johnson and the Mariners. Today also would have been 1961-64 Milwaukee Brave Roy McMillan's 83rd birthday, and Plunk Everyone notes that his 57 career HBP are the most ever for a player born on July 17.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I want some ice cream.