MILWAUKEE — The mood of a clubhouse as bags are packed for a road trip can usually can be a pretty telling sign of how the previous homestand went as a whole.
The Milwaukee Brewers have had three homestands thus far, all to one extreme or the other. As bags were packed in preparation of Thursday’s trip to Cincinnati, Milwaukee’s mood was one of frustration after a 4-1 mistake-ridden loss to Texas wrapped up a 3-6 homestand.
With a chance to salvage things and head out on a 10-game road trip against divisional opponents with a two-game sweep over one of the best teams in the American League, the Brewers made a couple of crucial baserunning mistakes and could muster just one run on 12 hits.
“Those numbers, you would think you would get more runs because of it,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “We had a couple of opportunities. Holland knows what he’s doing. I think he steps it up when he has runners on base. All of a sudden you see the 95’s. He has good stuff, he can get out of jams.”
The mistakes weren’t limited to the offense and baserunning, as starter Kyle Lohse paid for the balls he left up in the zone Wednesday night. The Rangers put two on with infield singles to start the game, and Adrian Beltre made it 1-0 with a single on a change-up up in the zone.
Normally one of his better pitches, Lohse fought his changeup all night. After working out of trouble and allowing just one run in the first inning, Lohse gave up solo home runs on changeups to Ian Kinsler in the second inning and Mitch Moreland in the third inning.”
That was the pitch that hurt me,” Lohse said. “I left one up to (Beltre). I left one up to Kinsler. I left one up to Moreland. I have to do a better job of executing right there. I thought ‘Luc’ called a great game. I just have to execute better.
“You get out of that first with one run and then I make two mistakes, one each in the second and third inning, that puts a team in a hole. Against a guy that’s going pretty good, it’s tough to scratch back.”
The Brewers have scored a total of 14 runs in Lohse’s seven starts, with seven runs coming in his lone win. Lohse – who lost just three games last season in St. Louis – has received just two runs of support in his four losses this season.
But Milwaukee had chances to score against Rangers starter Derek Holland. In the third inning, Aramis Ramirez hit a two-out single to center, and it appeared Jean Segura would score easily from second base on the play.
Segura thought so too, and he slowed up coming into home plate. Rangers centerfielder Leonys Martin fired a bullet to the plate and Segura was called out, though replays showed he might have been safe.
Regardless, Segura slowing up cost the Brewers a run.
“He slowed up a little bit because they deked him,” Roenicke said. “He should have ran hard and slid.
“It’s ‘Siggy’s’ responsibility to run hard because you don’t know what’s going to happen on the play. It may be a low throw, they cut it and they get one of our other guys trying to take a bag and you have to score before he’s (out). It’s always the responsibility of the runner to run hard in those situations. When you have two outs, you can’t afford to have them cut the ball and have them get a guy out before you cross home plate.”
In the sixth inning, Ryan Braun led off with a triple and scored on a Ramirez double to make it 3-1. With nobody out, Ramirez – who is still slowed by his knee injury – attempted to take third base on a wild pitch and was thrown out for the first out of the inning.
“That’s just a judgement call,” Roenicke said. “He thought he could make it easy. Sometimes you see things a little different. Anytime a ball bounces off a catcher and it rolls off, your instincts take over as to whether to go or not. Aramis is trying to be careful on the bases and he read that he could make it.”
After going 1-5 on their first homestand and 6-0 on the second, the Brewers started this nine-game homestand with two wins over Pittsburgh before dropping five in a row. The losing streak was snapped with a win Tuesday night, but Wednesday’s loss ended things on a sour note.
“It’s a long season and I don’t think we are always going to have good series at home,” Roenicke said. “Some of it is who you are playing. We played St. Louis when they are hot, which is a great team. And this team is leading their division in the American League. This is a great team. I don’t ever want to go 3-6 on a homestand but sometimes the teams you are playing, if they are playing well, then you are going to have a challenge.”
The road ahead doesn’t get any easier as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and St. Louis loom over the next 12 days. Though it’s still May, this trip is important simply because it’s against three teams ahead of them in the division.
“We can really gain some ground on these guys if we can win some games here,” Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting after it.”