Rockies-Brewers Preview

A year ago, the Milwaukee Brewers’ home dominance helped propel

them to their first division crown in nearly 30 years.

It’s early, but they haven’t quite regained that Miller Park

magic.

The Brewers try to bounce back from another home loss Saturday

night against a Colorado Rockies team seeking its fourth straight

victory.

After finishing with the majors’ best home record last season at

57-24, Milwaukee (6-8) has lost four of its first seven games at

Miller Park. A big reason for the slow start is the offense has

seen a drop in production, which isn’t entirely surprising with

Prince Fielder leaving in the offseason to join Detroit.

The Brewers are averaging 4.0 runs with a .227 batting average

and a .278 on-base percentage at home after averaging 4.8 runs

while hitting .277 with a .344 OBP there a year ago.

“It is not for a lack of effort,” Ryan Braun said. “If

anything, we are trying too hard. When you see other guys

struggling, everyone tries that much harder to pick each other up.

We know we will be all right. It is just a matter of executing and

swinging at better pitches.”

In Friday’s series opener with the Rockies, Milwaukee finished

with five hits and a walk in a 4-3 loss. Braun struck out in each

of his three at-bats – his fourth straight game in Milwaukee

without a hit – dropping his home batting average to .154. The

reigning league MVP hit .351 at Miller Park last season as the

Brewers celebrated their first division title since 1982.

Despite its struggles, Milwaukee’s offense could break out of

its funk against Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 10.38 ERA), Colorado’s No. 5

starter. In his season debut against Arizona on Sunday, the

left-hander allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings in a

5-2 loss.

This will be Pomeranz’s first appearance against the

Brewers.

Milwaukee’s offense isn’t the only reason the team is slow out

of the gate at Miller Park, as the Brewers also have some pitching

concerns.

Starter Chris Narveson (rotator cuff) was placed on the disabled

list prior to Friday’s game and closer John Axford has a 10.13 ERA

in three appearances in Milwaukee after posting a 1.15 ERA and

converting all 30 of his save opportunities there last year. Axford

took the loss Friday, yielding Michael Cuddyer’s tiebreaking RBI

single in the ninth inning.

Cuddyer, who was out of the lineup with a bruised big toe until

his game-winning pinch hit, is off to a fast start in his first

season with the Rockies, batting .383 and tying Todd Helton for the

team lead with nine RBIs.

“It’s nice to get off to a good start, no matter where you

are,” said Cuddyer, who had been with Minnesota since 2001. “But

especially going to a new team, it’s good to get off to a good

start. At the same time, we’ve got a long, long, long way to

go.”

Helton hit his second homer Friday, while Ramon Hernandez had

two hits for Colorado (7-6), winner of five of seven. In eight

games against the Brewers since the start of last season, Hernandez

is batting .452 with three home runs and eight RBIs.

Hernandez will look to continue his hot hitting against Marco

Estrada (0-0, 3.00), who is taking the place of Narveson.

Estrada has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this season,

throwing two innings or less in each of his five outings. The

right-hander made seven starts last season, going 3-2 with a 3.70

ERA.

This will be his first career start against the Rockies after

allowing a run over three innings in two relief outings against

them last year.