Brewers have the bats but are still struggling to score runs

MILWAUKEE — A quick gander at some of the individual numbers in Milwaukee’s batting order leaves an impression that the Brewers have one of the more potent offenses in the National League.

The overall offensive results are simply puzzling. How an offense with the ability to be one of the best in baseball – featuring five guys hitting over .313 – can struggle to score runs is a mystery.

Outside of two Carlos Gomez solo home runs, Milwaukee’s offense was lifeless Saturday afternoon in a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh. It’s the third straight game the Brewers have scored two runs, usually not enough with the pitching they’ve been getting.

“I know we are missing Corey Hart, but that’s still a good offense we are putting out there,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “I look at the lineup, write it down every day. You look at it, look at some of the numbers we are putting up, I expect us to score runs.

“It’s puzzling. I think we are certainly  better than what we are showing offensively. Hopefully we get this thing going.”

Other than the two solo home runs, the Brewers didn’t have a guy touch second base after the second inning against Pirates starter Jeff Locke and three relievers. The only real scoring threat came in the second inning when Gomez and Weeks reached on a walk and a single with one out.

Alex Gonzalez and Mike Fiers followed with strikeouts, ending the threat.

“I don’t know, man,” Gomez said about the lack of runs. “It’s a dangerous lineup, everybody knows. The first through the eight, everybody can hit the ball well, also (there’s) speed and power.”

Continuously falling behind early can’t help. Filling in for Kyle Lohse, Fiers allowed four runs on three home runs in four innings of work. The Brewers were down 3-0 after two innings and 4-0 after four.

“It’s hard playing from behind,” Roenicke said. “It beats on you. Every day if you have to go through it, it’s hard. Offense is what builds energy on a team. It works in reverse when the other team is coming out and scoring early.”

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hit a solo blast with two outs in the first inning, leaving the right-hander particularly upset with himself on the mound.

“Just about him,” Fiers said. “We talked about before the game that I wasn’t going to give in to him. He’s beat me in the past. I just wanted to stay away from him, especially a fastball in to him. Make the other guys beat me. Right off the bat, that kind of aggravated me.”

Pedro Alvarez hit the first of his two home runs in the second, extending Pittsburgh’s lead to 3-0. Neil Walker got Fiers for a solo shot in the fourth to put the Brewers behind 4-0. All three came on fastballs under 90 mph when Fiers was behind in the count.

“When I fell behind, they made me pay,” Fiers said. “For the most part I felt great today but there was just three pitches. I had 2-0 count, 3-1 and a 1-0 where they hit the home runs. I have to be better there. I can’t just give in, especially to Alvarez right there with the bottom of the lineup there and I gave in to him with a 3-1 fastball inside.”

With a pair of two-game series with Minnesota left in May, the Brewers must win Sunday’s series finale in order to avoid not winning a single series for the month.

A win Sunday mixed with four games ahead against a team struggling to find answers like themselves in the Twins, the Brewers could get a bit of positive momentum going. But they have only been able to string together a run of good performances once this season.

Right now it seems they take one step forward only to leap back two.

“We have to go get it tomorrow,” Gomez said. “I think we are going to get it because everybody is pissed, but pissed in the right way. We still have a long way to go. I think we can fix that and play the right way.”

While the starting pitching has come under fire and rightfully so, the Brewers’ woes can’t fully be placed on their backs. The offense hasn’t been consistent enough to win games, either.

“We need to play better as a team,” Roenicke said. “Everything needs to get better. These guys continue to work hard, still a positive attitude, you look before the game and I still see energy. I still think it’s going to happen.”

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