Brewers monthly recap: July
July record: 9-16
Andrew Gruman's player of the month: RF Ryan Braun (.277, 3 HR, 5 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI in 22 games)
It wasn't a very good month offensively for the Brewers, as Braun was just one of two regulars to hit over .250 and the only one over .270. Braun was hitting .343 for the month on July 26, but Milwaukee's right fielder is currently mired in an 0-for-16 slump at the plate. With eight multi-hit games and 10 extra-base hits, Braun was the Brewers' most productive hitter during July.
Andrew Gruman's pitcher of the month: RHP Matt Garza (2-2, 2.53 ERA, 9 BB, 19 K, 32 IP in five starts)
Garza posted a 2.53 ERA in July despite one start in which he allowed five earned runs in just 1/3 of an inning. That's how good he was in his other four starts, giving up two or fewer runs and lasting at least seven innings in each of them. Garza started the month with a 1-0 victory in Cincinnati and followed that effort up by taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a game the Brewers eventually lost to the Phillies. After the worst start of his career came in Washington on July 29th -- he threw 42 pitches and recorded just one out -- Garza bounced back to allow just two hits and one run in eight innings against the Mets. Facing his former team Tuesday, Garza held the Rays to just one run in seven innings.
If the Milwaukee Brewers end up missing the postseason, they will look bat at July as one of the reasons why. The Brewers entered the month with a 6 1/2-game lead in the National League Central and head to August with a two-game lead over St. Louis after posting a 9-16 record in July.
Milwaukee lost nine of its first 10 games in July before routing the Cardinals on the final day before the All-Star break. After losing two of three in Washington coming out of the break, the Brewers swept the Reds and won the first game of a series against the Mets for a four-game winning streak. They appeared set to extend the streak to five, but closer Francisco Rodriguez blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning to send the Brewers to a 3-2 loss.
The Brewers dropped three of their next four games, scoring two runs in the three losses. Ending the month on a high note, Milwaukee came away with a 5-0 victory over David Price on Wednesday.
What caused Milwaukee's struggles in July? Mostly the lack of consistent offense. The Brewers scored the fifth-fewest runs in the National League in July, as they lost 11 games in which they plated two runs or fewer.
On the pitching side, the Brewers' starting rotation had a 3.63 ERA in July, sixth best in the National League. Mostly due to the struggles of Will Smith and Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee's bullpen had the second highest ERA in baseball during July at 4.48.
The month ahead is treacherous for the Brewers. Starting with a critical three-game series in St. Louis, 20 of Milwaukee's 27 games in August are against teams currently in the postseason hunt.
After facing the Cardinals, the Brewers return to Miller Park for a tough six-game homestand against San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then it is back out on the road for four games in Chicago against the Cubs and a trip to Los Angeles for a weekend series against the first-place Dodgers.
The next homestand doesn't get any easier, as Toronto and Pittsburgh come to Milwaukee. A six-game trip to San Diego and San Francisco concludes August for the Brewers.
Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter