Brewers suffering ugly trend early in games
DENVER — Before Monday's matchup with the Rockies began, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was asked about how the struggles of Colorado's starting staff compared to the struggles of his own bullpen.
He quickly explained that, although losses in the eighth and the ninth innings have been particularly hard to stomach this season in Milwaukee that losses rooted in the first few innings of a game might even be worse.
"If you have a bad starting staff, you're never in games," Roenicke said. "That's hard. We talk about how hard these have been to lose in the eighth or ninth, they're really difficult when you're losing in the first three innings."
Two games later, Roenicke has a very good idea what it feels like to lose games in the first few innings.
In Tuesday's game, Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf had only recorded a single out — which came on a sacrifice bunt — before the Rockies had already put up four runs on the board. With one-third of an inning down, Wolf was already on the mound talking to pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Wolf, however, would last until the sixth inning, where he was taken out after giving up 10 hits and six earned runs, while striking out just one batter.
"I had little or no idea where the ball was going today," Wolf said. "When you're out there kind of guessing where the ball is going to go, it's pretty tough to pitch."
But those struggles were like déjà vu for the Brewers, who lost Monday's game in similar fashion, even after they attempted to mount a comeback in the late innings.
In Monday's game, with Milwaukee's hottest pitcher — Mike Fiers — on the mound, Fiers turned in his worst outing of the season, lasting just 2.2 innings and giving up eight earned runs on nine hits. It was Fiers' first outing that lasted less than six innings since June 3, and at no point this season had Fiers lasted less than five innings before Monday night.
All in all, in the first three innings of both games combined, the Brewers gave up 13 total runs — a total that was too much for even the high-powered Milwaukee offense to overcome.
"Obviously you don't want to get behind like that and you know you have to score a lot of runs," Roenicke said on Tuesday. "But in this ballpark, you should always feel like you're going to score a lot of runs. Our offense, no matter how far we get behind, should always feel like we can come back and we can score runs. It's a little different when you go to some ballparks where you know that doesn't happen. But here, four runs down, so what?"
In a ballpark like Coors Field — known for being one of the best hitter's parks in baseball due to the thin air almost a mile above see level—offenses have been known to string together runs, even in the late innings, as Roenicke said.
But through two games of the series, the elements have only hurt the Brewers, as — despite two impressive comeback attempts on offense — poor starting efforts in the game's first two innings have again put Milwaukee in a desperate situation to avoid a sweep for the second series in a row.
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