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Tuesday's Frosty Mug: News, Links And Notes From Monday's Carnage

July 16, 2012: Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford (59) wipes his face after being pulled from the game during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
July 16, 2012: Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford (59) wipes his face after being pulled from the game during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

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 series continues tonight at Miller Park when Randy Wolf takes on rookie starter Joe Kelly. Clark Goble has the 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:

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:

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:

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

Rank Player Points
1 Ashcampbell 88.3
2 BrewCrewBrian 79.4
3 coachseibel 65.1
4 infinityera 59.1
5 PCLOUSE7 59.0
6 Yar Nivek 55.6
7 texwestern 55.4
8 airfigaro 52.4
9 MadtownTim 50.9
10 aaronetc 49.6

Tonight's first game starts at 6:05, so there's still plenty of time to make your picks for today.

Around baseball:

Red Sox: Designated infielder Brent Lillibridge for assignment.
Reds: First baseman Joey Votto will miss 3-4 weeks following surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

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:

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.

Drink up.