Brewers hit rock bottom
There was the lopsided sweep by the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park in April, when the Brewers were outscored, 25-4. There was the series in San Diego the following week when the Padres shut them out in three of four games.
A then-struggling Atlanta team came to Milwaukee in early May and routed the Brewers in three games by a combined score of 28-7, followed by a decisive three-game sweep by Philadelphia. And there was the four-game travesty against San Francisco in early July that some thought would lead to the firing of manager Ken Macha.
But, considering the circumstances and the opponent, not to mention what happened to their starting pitcher, this might have been the Brewers’ biggest debacle.
Finally ending their long scoreless streak only to fall apart after left-hander Randy Wolf was struck by a line drive in the seventh inning, the Brewers fell, 5-2, Sunday to get swept by the rebuilding Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park and extend their losing streak to five games.
Afterward, the only solace to be found in the visiting clubhouse was that X-rays were negative on Wolf’s left wrist, leaving an initial diagnosis of a bad bruise. But he’s not out of the woods yet. Wolf will have an MRI in Milwaukee on Monday to determine if there’s a hairline crack that X-rays sometimes miss.
Wolf immediately left the game after being struck by Hunter Pence’s liner and said he expected the worst.
“That thing hit me really square,” said Wolf. “Those are scary because those are the ones that are hard to see. They come at you pretty fast.
“It got me right on the bone. When you get hit that hard, you initially think it’s not good news. So far, it’s good news. I’m able to move it and stuff. We just want to make sure everything’s OK before we move forward.”
Wolf left the field immediately after being struck.
“I just knew I wasn’t going to pitch,” he said. “It swelled up right away. I knew I was out of the game. No use wasting any time. I’m not Wolverine. It’s not going to recover right away.”
That movie reference showed Wolf’s keen sense of humor but what happened to the Brewers after his departure was no laughing matter. At the time, the Brewers led, 2-0, courtesy of the two-run homer by Corey Hart off lefty Wesley Wright in the sixth that snapped the Brewers’ 28-inning scoreless streak.
Hart’s homer also ended a 0-for-22 drought for the Brewers with runners in scoring position.
Replacements for injured pitchers are allowed to warm up as long as they deem necessary, but Kameron Loe admitted he didn’t take full advantage. That became obvious when he threw eight pitches, all for balls, to walk Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson and load the bases.
“I had plenty of time to warm up,” said Loe. “I just don’t think I utilized it. I hadn’t come in, in that situation, anytime in my career. I rushed through it.”
Macha summoned left-hander Zach Braddock to face Brett Wallace, a left-handed-hitting rookie playing in his second major-league game. Astros manager Brad Mills countered with right-handed-hitting veteran Jason Michaels.
Braddock fell behind in the count, 2-0, before throwing a 92-mph fastball that Michaels lofted into the cozy Crawford Boxes atop the left-field scoreboard for a grand slam that changed the game. The Brewers’ slumping offense went quietly after that, finishing with four hits for a total of 14 in the three games.
“You’re not going to win many games with two runs,” said Macha. “It’s just the way things are happening. ‘Wolfie’ gets hit on the wrist and three hitters later we’re behind the 8-ball again.”
The Brewers seemingly have been behind that 8-ball since opening day. The five-game losing streak has wiped out the prior five-game winning streak and put them 10 games below .500 (48-58) once again.
Or, as Loe put it, “When it’s bad, it’s bad.”
“We needed a boost today,” added Wolf. “Unfortunately, we had crazy circumstances happen that were out of my control.
“It’s been a very, very strange year. You’ve got to do your best to stay positive. It’s been a very weird year for me; it’s been a very weird year for the team.
“At the same time, there’s nothing gained by self-pity. You’ve got to move on and do the best you can.”