The Milwaukee Brewers’ original preferred script for Wednesday’s
series finale may have involved a dominant start by Zack Greinke
and timely hitting by Ryan Braun, followed by John Axford shutting
down St. Louis in the ninth to convert a save.
In the Cardinals’ version, Matt Holliday might have provided the
None of those scenarios appear likely to occur.
After removing Axford from the closer’s role and opting to skip
Greinke’s turn in the rotation, manager Ron Roenicke will give the
ball to rookie Tyler Thornburg to face the Cardinals in a getaway
day contest that Holliday and Braun could both miss due to
Greinke started three straight games surrounding the All-Star
break – made possible by a first-inning ejection in the first of
those outings – but may have been thrown off his game as he allowed
10 runs in eight innings over those three starts.
“We probably put too much on him, thinking he’d be fine, and he
wasn’t,” said Roenicke, who hopes to start Greinke again next
Tuesday at Philadelphia.
In this contest, his turn will be taken by Thornburg (0-0, 7.36
ERA), who made his major league debut in a spot start against
Toronto on June 19, allowing five runs – all coming on four homers
– in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander got sent back to Triple-A
Nashville following that contest.
He returned to the big leagues Saturday with two innings of
relief against Pittsburgh. He gave up one hit, but it was a home
run to former Brewer Casey McGehee.
Axford didn’t surrender any homers in Monday’s series opener,
but he did blow his sixth save of the season in Milwaukee’s 3-2
defeat. On Tuesday, Roenicke announced that for the time being
Axford will pitch in lower-pressure situations to regain
confidence. Francisco Rodriguez, who has 293 career saves, will
handle ninth-inning duties.
“It’s certainly what he wants to do,” Roenicke said of
Rodriguez. “And he is – he’s a closer. He’s a great closer. I think
Frankie’s such a professional that whether I have him setting up or
whether I have him closing, he knows how important he is to our
team to win.”
Rodriguez got an opportunity right away Tuesday. He allowed hits
to David Freese and Yadier Molina to open the ninth, but got out of
the jam as the Brewers held on to win 3-2.
Both teams’ No. 3 hitters left the game hurt. Holliday departed
with a left thigh contusion after getting hit by a pitch in the
first inning, and Braun was removed with a right adductor strain –
an injury he said wasn’t serious – in the seventh.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was similarly optimistic about
Holliday, whose 15-game hitting streak remains intact, though both
managers could opt to sit their sluggers in a day game after a
“He’s been working with the trainers and they seem to think that
he’s come a long way since he left the game, so he’s feeling a lot
better,” Matheny said.
Curiously, Milwaukee (43-47) is 5-0 this season when Braun
doesn’t play. The Cardinals have won two of the three games
Holliday has missed, though they’ve totaled only seven runs in
St. Louis (47-44) will give the ball to Adam Wainwright (7-9,
4.62). The right-hander is 7-5 with a 2.20 ERA in 22 appearances –
15 starts – against the Brewers, allowing three runs or fewer in
each of the last 10.
He made his season debut after recovering from Tommy John
surgery April 7 at Milwaukee, and allowed three runs over 5 2-3
innings of a 6-0 defeat.
Wainwright, who has alternated wins and losses in his last four
starts, is trying to bounce back after losing his first outing of
the second half. He yielded four runs in 6 1-3 innings of Friday’s
5-3 defeat at Cincinnati.
The Cardinals have lost four of five, their worst stretch since
a season-high five-game losing streak May 29-June 3.