Brewers 7, Diamondbacks 8 (11 innings): Two innings for John Axford

Tom Lynn

To add to the miserableness more, the Brewers lost yet another player to injury today.

Win: Tony Sipp (1-0)
Loss: John Axford (0-1)
Save: Heath Bell (1)

HR: Gonzalez (1), Hill (2), Hinske (1)

MVP: Norichika Aoki (.464 WPA)
LVP: John Axford (-.267)

Fangraphs Win Expectancy Graph
Box Score

The Brewers started this game without four of their five best hitters in the lineup. Corey Hart is still out for a while, Aramis Ramirez is on the DL now, Ryan Braun is still dealing with his neck issues apparently, and Jonathan Lucroy started the game on the bench in favor of Martin Maldonado. Then one of the Brewers hottest hitters, Jean Segura, left the game after being cleated in the thigh by Gerardo Parra on a slide into second.

Somehow, they still almost won.

The Diamondbacks drew first blood in the third inning with Paul Goldschmidt driving in two on a single. The Brewers got those two back on a Norichika Aoki double that brought in Yuniesky Betancourt and Martin Maldonado in the bottom half of the third. They then took the lead in the fourth on an Alex Gonzalez solo home run that just made it fair in left field.

The Diamondbacks took back the lead with two runs in the 6th inning, then scored a couple more in the seventh via an Aaron Hill two run homer. The Brewers scored one in the seventh as Betancourt scored on a Carlos Gomez ground out to make the score 6-4.

Then, with as bad as a lineup as the Brewers have had on the field in years, they somehow came back in the ninth inning. Josh Prince led off with career hit number one, a double, and was immediately driven in by Norichika Aoki to cut the lead to one. Aoki then stole second. Carlos Gomez almost drove in Aoki with a hard bouncer down the third base line, but Arizona third baseman Eric Chavez snagged it on a dive and threw out Gomez without Aoki advancing. That brought up Jonathan Lucroy, who, on a 2-2 count, looked at a called ball that should have been strike three. Two pitches later, he hit a game tying single. The Brewers couldn't take the lead, so we got some free baseball.

With a tie game in extra innings, which Brewers relief pitcher do you bring in? One that's been pitching well? Nah, Ron Roenicke chose John Axford. Axford made it through the 10th inning without giving up a run despite to long fly balls that fell just a few feet short of the wall. So Roenicke decided to give John Axford another inning.

That didn't work so well. Eric Hinske hit an absolutely massive homer that scored two. The Brewers couldn't recover in the bottom of the inning despite scoring a run. The Brewers had nobody left on the bench except the injured Ryan Braun with runners on the corners and two outs. So Kyle Lohse had to pinch hit. He struck out. Thanks, Brewers management.

What do you do with John Axford anymore? One thing is clear, he shouldn't be pitching, especially not in big situations. Hitters are seeing his pitches clearly, that's apparent. Even his outs--outside of strikeouts--are on well hit balls. Has he even induced a weak grounder yet this year? He probably shouldn't even have pitched the first inning today. He absolutely shouldn't have pitched the second.

Norichika Aoki had a great day today, going 4-6 with a double, a run, three RBI, and a stolen base. Rickie Weeks, on the other hand, had a terrible day. He went 0-5 with three strikeouts.

It's incredible that the Brewers came this close to winning with that bad of a lineup. If they had another actual hitter on the bench, they might still be playing. They aren't. That's due to bad play, injuries, and bad team management. That is so demoralizing.

The Brewers should see a cure for their ills tomorrow as they begin a series against the Cubs, but the way Milwaukee is playing, who knows? It's an afternoon game tomorrow with a 1:20 start as Marco Estrada faces Edwin Jackson.

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