MILWAUKEE — The bad record the Milwaukee Brewers have been spinning on loop for the last 12 games played yet again at Miller Park on Monday night.
This time the starting pitcher putting the Brewers in an early hole was Yovani Gallardo, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings.
Again Milwaukee put runners on base, but three double plays killed any kind of momentum toward a big inning. Maybe the only thing different Monday from most of the previous 12 games was the fact the Brewers didn’t let the game get out of hand.
By the time Gallardo was pulled, the damage was done. Miami scored six runs in the first three innings and sent Milwaukee to a 6-4 loss, the Brewers’ 12th defeat in its last 13 games.
The Brewers have trailed by multiple runs during the first four innings in 11 of those 13 games.
"You would obviously like to play from in front, give your starter some cushion to go out there and play," said Brewers first baseman Mark Reynolds. "But it seems that everything that can happen that’s bad, happens. Bloopers, homers, whatever. It’s just one of those ruts, and if we don’t get out of it soon, it’s going to be tough sledding here."
It was clear early that Gallardo just didn’t have it Monday night. After watching as his offense overcame him allowing a first-inning run to give him a 2-1 lead, Gallardo gave up back-to-back home runs to start the second.
A two-out RBI single from Christian Yelich in the second inning added another to the board, while Giancarlo Stanton’s 37th home run of the season put the Marlins up 5-2.
Miami’s final run of the game was unearned, as Marcell Ozuna reached on an error by Aramis Ramirez and scored on a one-out double by Garrett Jones in the third.
"The ball was just up once again," Gallardo said. "It was up in Chicago, and it was up today. That was basically it. You can’t pitch at this level throwing the ball up in the zone."
Milwaukee’s veterans are struggling to step up and save the sinking ship. Gallardo has a 10.39 ERA over his last two starts, while the starting pitchers have a 6.95 ERA over the last 13 games.
Subtract Mike Fiers’ two starts from the equation and the other starting pitchers have a 7.91 ERA in this dreadful stretch.
"These past two weeks have been tough for all of us all around," Gallardo said. "We have to figure out a way. As far as (the starting pitchers), we set the tone for the rest of the guys around us.
"Obviously today I didn’t do the job I was supposed to do. It was just never there. It’s not easy for the guys to come back from being down four runs that early in the game."
The energy inside Miller Park was lacking from the start. Although the crowd was announced at 31,203, far fewer actually showed up to the game. But it didn’t take long for those inside the ballpark to voice their frustrations.
They booed as Gallardo gave up nine hits and cheered when manager Ron Roenicke popped out of the dugout to yank the right-hander with two outs in the fourth.
"It’s frustrating," Reynolds said. "We can’t find any holes. We can’t make the pitch when we need to. We can’t get the big hit when we need it. It’s just a culmination of frustration.
"We’re all feeling it. We’re human. We know the fans are booing us for a reason. We’re not getting it done. We’re not giving them much to cheer about. We’re trying our hardest out there, we’re just not getting any breaks."
With 18 games remaining, the Brewers now find themselves 1 1/2 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for the final wild-card spot.
The wild card is pretty much all Milwaukee is playing for, too, as St. Louis is now six games ahead of the Brewers in the National League Central.
As the losses pile up and the frustration-level rises, one can’t help but wonder if the Brewers themselves will soon begin to doubt whether they can get going before time runs out.
"Obviously that stuff creeps in, but the cliche — turn the page," Reynolds said. "I mean, we can’t seem to do anything right right now, but at the end of the day, we’re not out of this. We’re still a game or two out of the wild card. We’ve set it up tough for us, but we just have to come out and do all the little things right, make the pitches when we need to and get the big hits.
"It seems like earlier in the year, we were doing that in every game, and now it’s magnified because of how late in the season it is. We’re going to keep at it, and see where we’re at at the end of September."