In order to have any chance to compete for a division title, the Milwaukee Brewers are going to have to beat the two teams currently sitting at the top of the division.
As the calendar heads toward Memorial Day, the Brewers are clearly not playing as well as St. Louis and Cincinnati, having lost seven straight and nine of 10 to the two favorites in the National League Central.
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The Brewers are playing a sloppy and streaky brand of baseball that will have them in a deep hole if it continues much longer. Sunday’s 5-1 loss in Cincinnati looked all too familiar. This time it was decent pitching with minimal offense, the opposite of Saturday’s good offense with no pitching.
Right now, Milwaukee just can’t put together a complete game.
“No doubt those are very good teams,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of St. Louis and Cincinnati. “We think they are going to be our competition along with Pittsburgh. We need to play well against those teams knowing that’s who we are going to have to beat if we are going to win this division.
“The other teams are doing everything right and we aren’t playing well.”
Rookie right-hander Wily Peralta put together another quality start Sunday, but was burned by one big mistake. After allowing a pair of base hits in the second inning, Peralta surrendered a three-run home run to Donald Lutz.
Peralta settled in after the home run, allowing an unearned run in the third inning when the Brewers had a chance to turn two double plays but threw the ball away twice. Milwaukee’s offense couldn’t muster anything against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo and scratched its only run of the day across on a passed ball in the eighth inning.
“It’s the same thing,” Roenicke said of his team’s struggles against Arroyo. “He keeps you off balance all the time. He throws breaking balls maybe better for strikes than fastballs. He has great command with all of his pitches.
“He’s really good with his offspeed stuff. He understands when he needs to throw his fastball and he spots that well. You hope you can get him when he’s a little off with his command.”
The continued struggles of the pitching staff combined with the general streakiness of the offenses has left the Brewers in a dangerous position with seven games left on the road trip. A four-game series with Pittsburgh looms starting Monday, as Milwaukee will look to prevent the rest of the division from running away.
“I’ve seen what we’ve done the last couple of years, and I still know we can put together good stretches,” Roenicke said. “At this time in the season, it doesn’t take much. It takes one nice stretch. Whether it’s for one week or for a couple weeks and you are right back in it. I don’t worry that too much. I’m always just concerned with how we are playing.
“We can’t make little mistakes against good ballclubs. These guys rarely do it against us and we have to make sure we don’t do it again.”
K-Rod heads to Nashville: After two scoreless outings for advanced Class-A Brevard County, Francisco Rodriguez is headed to Triple-A Nashville to continue his attempted big league comeback.
Rodriguez will pitch Monday and Tuesday for the Sounds with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin in attendance. Milwaukee has until Thursday to call Rodriguez up to the big leagues or grant him his release.
Signed to a minor league contract on April 17, the Brewers had 30 days to evaluate Rodriguez. In two games for Brevard County, Rodriguez didn’t allow a run while walking one and striking out four.