In what has turned into a lost season, the Milwaukee Brewers have lost their fair share of games in which they’ve played poorly.
Those are the losses that keep manager Ron Roenicke awake at night. Sure, losing is welcomed by nobody inside Milwaukee’s clubhouse, but losses like Sunday’s in Colorado are at least easier to swallow.
Though Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Rockies clinched yet another series loss and dropped Milwaukee to 18 games under .500, Roenicke was pleased with the effort his team put forth.
“It’s tough when you play well and you lose,” Roenicke said. “(But) for us to come back, go ahead, guys are still playing hard. We are still playing confident, and we think we can win. That’s the biggest thing — the confidence to know you can play with anybody.”
After using a pair of two-out hits and a solo home run from Norichika Aoki to take a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning, the Brewers quickly saw their lead evaporate. Cruising into the sixth inning, Brewers right-hander Donovan Hand surrendered solo home runs to Corey Dickerson and Michael Cuddyer to even the score.
Michael Gonzalez gave up a two-out solo home run to Dexter Fowler in the bottom of the seventh, but Yuniesky Betancourt gave Milwaukee the lead back with a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning.
Facing John Axford, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki battled to a full count before ripping a 3-2 curveball just fair down the left field line for a leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cuddyer followed with a double just fair down the right field line, scoring Tulowitzki to tie the game.
After jamming Todd Helton into a fly ball to left field, Axford bounced a curveball that Jonathan Lucroy was unable to block. Cuddyer went to third on the wild pitch and scored what turned into the winning run on Nolan Arenado’s single to center.
“They did a nice job of hitting,” Roenicke said. “Ax comes in the game and Tulowitzki stays on a 3-2 curveball and hits it down the line. Cuddyer’s at-bat — this guy is a professional hitter. He knows what he’s supposed to do and at all costs he’s going to get the guy over, and he hits a bullet the other way.
“Sometimes you face some guys who know what they are doing, they come through, and you lose because of it. But I liked the way we played.”
With the goal of contending for the playoffs long out of reach, the Brewers are focused on playing good baseball more often than not for the rest of the season. Roenicke doesn’t believe it will be a tough sell, knowing his clubhouse still is fighting to play well each day.
“I think these guys have it in mind,” Roenicke said. “They want to win as many games as we can here going on. Also, we want them to have a good year. With two months to go, a lot of things can happen. Some of them could have very good years; some of them are having good years and need to continue it.
“There are a lot of things to play for. I want us to play well as a team because I think it’s important going into next year that they know this group of guys, when we get everyone back and are at full strength that we are a good ball club.”
Looking good: Because the Brewers didn’t need to use him over the weekend in Colorado, Tyler Thornburg is on track to start the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader in Chicago.
Barring a short outing from Kyle Lohse on Monday, Thornburg will make his first start of the season against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Thornburg, 24, is 1-0 with 2.95 ERA in six relief appearances this season for the Brewers. In three career starts, Thornburg has a 5.14 ERA over 14 innings.
The right-hander has found success at the big league level this season despite his struggles at Triple A. Thornburg carries a 0-9 record with a 5.79 ERA in 15 starts for Nashville this season.