It looked, for four innings, like nothing could get better for Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum in his return to the mound after eight weeks on the shelf due to elbow tightness.
Through four innings, he had allowed just one hit, looking very much like the top-of-the-rotation pitcher the Brewers hope to have for the remainder of the season. But after an out-of-character error in center field by Carlos Gomez, Marcum’s outing quickly fell apart.
First, a double scored Neil Walker, who had reached on the error. Then, with two outs, Marcum allowed three straight hits, each of which yielded a run. In the blink of an eye, Marcum’s outing had gone from a one-hit shutout to a four-run deficit.
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Still, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was pleased with how the outing had gone overall, even if a few fifth-inning at-bats hadn’t gone his way.
“Shaun was throwing so well that I think he should’ve gotten out of it with little damage,” Roenicke said. “Get the pitcher (Pittsburgh’s Jeff Karstens) out, big at-bat there. But I was really happy with the way he threw the ball — the first four innings (were) outstanding.”
After five innings of work, the fifth of which hadn’t gone his way, Marcum’s first start back in the Brewers rotation didn’t quite go as planned. He allowed four runs in five innings, raising his season ERA — which had been dormant for the longest time — to 3.19. And even with zeroes from relievers Jose Veras and Livan Hernandez in the game’s final three innings, the Brewers couldn’t muster enough to take game two of their series with the Pirates.
Still, with Marcum throwing 88 pitches after being out for so long, Roenicke was pleased with the longevity of his top-flight pitcher.
“I think it is (tough to come back after that long off),” Roenicke said. “Trying to get him to finish the inning … but you don’t know in your first outing, you start getting up in pitches, it could’ve been a little fatigue for those last three hitters. That could’ve had something to do with it. But he threw the ball well.”
Marcum’s loss in his return gave him his fourth loss of the season in a campaign that’s been put on hold for the past two months. He’s 5-4 on the season.