MILWAUKEE — A tough season rolled on for the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, as another loss came as a result of sloppy play.
Scripted like so many of the 51 losses before it, the Brewers wasted a stellar performance in one aspect of the game due to failures in the other two.
Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny gave Milwaukee six stellar innings in a spot-start, but a pair of throwing errors by Juan Francisco led to both New York runs and the Brewers were three-hit in a 2-1 loss.
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“Any loss like that … it’s always tough,” Gorzelanny said. “Those are always tougher to lose than it is to lose 7 or 8-0. It’s gut-wrenching a little bit but you’ve just got to hang with it and move on to the next day.”
Making his second start of the season, Gorzelanny didn’t allow an earned run in six innings, his longest outing since July 6, 2011. Filling in to give Wily Peralta a few extra days to rest his strained left hamstring, Gorzelanny didn’t walk a batter and struck out a season-high eight batters.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is now considering keeping Gorzelanny in the rotation. Milwaukee will be able to set up its starting rotation for the second half of the season with the All-Star break coming up, but the Brewers need to fill Friday’s start in Arizona first.
Right-hander Donovan Hand was scheduled to pitch against the Diamondbacks on Friday, but Gorzelanny now could make that start with Hand providing help to the taxed bullpen over the next few days.
“His stuff is better than what I remembered as a starter,” Roenicke said of Gorzelanny. “The fastball is really live. He mixes in the other pitches whenever he wants to and can keep them down low in the zone. That’s huge for those guys trying to keep them out of the air and from driving the ball.”
A starter for the first five years of his major league career, Gorzelanny has a career 4.55 ERA as a starting pitcher, while his ERA is 3.11 as a reliever.
“It’s something I’ve done most of my career, and I enjoy it, but I’m here to do what they need me to do,” Gorzelanny said. “Whether they want me to start again or go back to the bullpen, I’m happy with whatever.
“You take a different approach out there. Being a reliever, you’re trying to make outs quickly and throw the kitchen sink at them. Being a starter, you’re trying to set up guys, make good pitches and not get into patterns each time you face a guy.”
With two outs in the fourth inning, the Brewers appeared to have gotten out of the inning when Carlos Gomez threw a missile to second baseman Rickie Weeks with Mets first baseman Josh Satin trying to stretch a single into a double. Replays show Weeks clearly tagging Satin on the second swipe before he reached the base, but second base umpire John Hirschbeck called Satin safe, presumably only seeing the first tag attempt.
Gorzelanny then got Mets left fielder Andrew Brown to hit a slow roller to third base that Francisco charged but threw away, allowing Satin to score.
In a game that ended 2-1, a run scored off a blown call and an error is tough to swallow.
“I’m not saying that was an easy call,” Roenicke said. “He gets to look at the first swipe that he misses him on, pretty tough to stay with him and see the next part of it. It’s easy to see when you go back and look on replay, but he doesn’t have that. When it’s in fast motion, it’s tough to see. But, it hurt us.”
In the sixth inning, Mets right fielder Marlon Byrd hit a similar ground ball to Francisco, who again threw it away. Byrd went to second base and eventually scored on Satin’s double to right field.
While both plays were ruled hits with the errors coming on the errant throws to allow the base runners to advance, Francisco didn’t look comfortable on either of them.
“I don’t think you ever want to eat (the ball) because if he makes the throw on the line, it’s going to beat the runner,” Roenicke said. “I think both times, if you throw it on the line, I think they are out.”
Francisco now has four errors in three starts at third base for the Brewers. He’s looked comfortable at first base, but he has struggled a bit at his natural position of third base. The reports the Brewers got when they traded for Francisco indicated he had the ability to be a plus-defender at third base, but he has yet to show it in a small sample size.
“On those plays he doesn’t (look comfortable),” Roenicke said. “On the others he looks really good. The ball that’s hit right at him, the throw over, he looks confident throwing. The footwork on some plays when he’s coming in, those are the ones you have to work on.”
Offensively, Milwaukee managed just three hits off Mets starter Jeremy Hefner. Jonathan Lucroy’s solo home run in the seventh inning was the only hit to leave the infield, as Sean Halton and Norichika Aoki both collected infield hits.
Though the loss dropped the Brewers back to 17 games under .500, Gorzelanny’s performance gives Roenicke another option in the starting rotation. The skipper admitted adding a left-hander to the starting staff is tempting, since the Brewers currently have all right-handers in the rotation.
“I think it’s nice to see a lefty go in there once in awhile and change their lineup around,” Roenicke said. “It depends on who you are playing, whether that fits or not. Sometimes you look at these lineups and they kill left-handers. We’ll look at Arizona a little closer and see what it looks like.”