Phillips hits slam, Reds rally against Brewers
Many people who ventured into other areas of entertainment were drawn back by 11 victories in 15 games and the inevitable loyalists’ hope that their beloved team could scratch its way back into contention.
After all, the Milwaukee Brewers were playing the team directly in front of them in the standings, the Cincinnati Reds, and had a bunch more meetings remaining against them and the first-place St. Louis Cardinals.
So hope, even though much of it was generated by victories over Pittsburgh and Washington, trumped what most people following this team had learned through its first 100 games: The Brewers had not been consistent enough to make the playoffs.
That hope may have turned to dust not even 48 hours after it hit its peak.
The Brewers had a dramatic late-inning triumph against the Reds to open this series, but then dropped a gruesome second game in embarrassing fashion with their ace on the mound and lost another laugher Wednesday afternoon in the finale, 10-2, because of a couple of bad innings and their inability to consistently produce runs.
The Brewers were outscored, 24-9, in the series at Miller Park.
With 59 games left in the regular season and 2½ days before the non-waiver trade deadline, these last two defeats hurt even if they’re not enough to pack up the gear and abandon the season.
The Brewers, banged up by injuries and tired bullpen arms, now get a much-anticipated off-day. The club entered the all-star break having played 20 consecutive days and came out of the break with 14 consecutive games without rest.
“The last two games (are deflating),” manager Ken Macha said. “But we’re not at 100 percent either. We’re missing a guy (Corey Hart) right at the top of the league in home runs and (runs batted in). Our bench is depleted. . . . We got some guys out of position a little bit, out of the roles they should be in. That hurt us.
“The other thing is the schedule that we had, the 20 in a row and all these games in a row. We’re in need of a day off here.”
Wednesday’s backbreaker was Brandon Phillips’ eighth-inning grand slam that landed in Bernie Brewer’s slide above the left-field bleachers, about 450 feet from home plate, sending hoards of fans toward the exits upon its landing.
Those who left early missed Prince Fielder being called out on strikes and slamming his helmet to the ground, leading to his ejection from the game by home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro.
It also didn’t help that an inning before a potential rally was quashed when Brewers centerfielder Carlos Gomez was thrown out inexplicably trying to stretch a double into a triple with nobody out and the team down three runs, a cardinal baseball sin.
The Reds did damage before that in the sixth, when the first six batters reached against left-hander Chris Narveson and right-hander Kameron Loe. Five of them scored, one on a Joey Votto single, another on a Jonny Gomes double, two more on Miguel Cairo’s double and the last on a squeeze bunt by Ryan Hanigan.
“They were hitting them on the ground but they were hard,” said Loe, who came into the game having allowed one earned run in his last 11 2/3 innings. “I thought Narveson pitched a pretty good game; I just didn’t do my job when I came in.”
Macha, who rarely signifies the importance of a game or a series before they are played, said before the first game Monday that it would be a significant achievement to win at least two out of three from the Reds.
That didn’t happen, but now the next 13 games come against teams well below .500, much like the Pittsburgh and Washington teams that started this whole recent wave of optimism.
“We’re trying to get (to) .500,” Macha said. “We got to (five games under) and now we went a couple steps backward again. Winning series is the big thing. We just have to look at the Houston series (Friday) and try to win that.”