Gallardo, Roenicke baffled by short start

MILWAUKEE — Yovani Gallardo says he felt good, but the results speak otherwise yet again.

For the right-hander and the Milwaukee Brewers, it was more of the same Sunday afternoon. Their starting pitcher couldn’t go deep into the game, and the offense struggled to consistently put run-scoring threats together.

Gallardo lasted just four innings, allowed four runs on five hits and threw 94 pitches in a 5-4 loss to the Pirates.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Gallardo said. “I mean, I don’t know how to explain it. I feel good. I felt good last start, also, and I felt even better today.”

Before he was asked about his velocity being down again, Gallardo brought it up himself.

“I know we’re going to talk about the velocity again,” Gallardo said. “But, I mean, velocity is not the issue. I’m sure you ask any guy in here, I’m sure they wish— they would want to have 96 (mph fastball) for their whole career. My mechanics, they’ve been feeling great last start and this start. It’s just a matter of finishing guys off whenever I need to. Just leaving pitches up in the zone whenever I need to locate down.”

Gallardo walked Pirates catcher Michael McKenry with two-outs in the second before hanging a curveball to shortstop Jody Mercer that ended up as an RBI triple. The big blow came in the third when Pedro Alvarez looped a change-up that hit the chalk down the right field line for a two-run double.

“It’s just one of those weird days,” Gallardo said. “Everything felt good. I was throwing change-ups for strikes. When do you guys see that from me? It’s just frustrating. You go out there, have pretty good command of your pitches and the results aren’t there. It’s just a matter of keep moving forward. It seems like I’ve been saying that for quite a while now but there’s not much I can do. I can’t control what happens after I let go of that ball and throw that pitch.”

It would be one thing if Gallardo was the only one thinking he had good stuff, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke echoed the thought and was equally puzzled. Sunday’s loss dropped Gallardo to 3-5 with a 4.79 ERA. He’s never finished a season with an ERA over 4.00 in his career.

“I thought his stuff was good again,” Roenicke said. “Good, live fastball. I thought he was down in the zone with it. He threw a lot of pitches. They foul a lot of balls off. It’s surprising when I think he has good stuff and he struggles to get through four innings like that.

“You make a little bit of progress and then all of a sudden it goes back. But we’ve got to get him to where he’s heading in the right direction. Get him back to where we are comfortable and used to seeing him.”

Milwaukee’s starters failing to go deep into the game has been a season-long problem, one that’s been well-documented. While some of the staff is expected to go through ups and downs, Gallardo is supposed to be the leader and anchor of the staff.

It’s concerning if even he can’t give the Brewers a shutdown start when they badly need one.

“It’s tough, it’s definitely tough,” Gallardo said. “We all know we’re a lot better than what we are playing right now. It’s just frustrating. Just seems like we can’t get things together.

“We just have to turn it around as a team. The starting pitching hasn’t been very good. For us as starters, we have to turn it around. We have to go out there and go seven, eight innings and give the bullpen a break. Let the hitters swing the bats. Let them worry about swinging the bats and putting up runs.”

Does Gallardo have to lead the charge to turn things around?

“I think we all do,” Gallardo said. “Obviously, it doesn’t help that I’m going out there struggling. We all just have to pick each other up. We’ve been struggling, but we can’t let each guy get down on themselves. You have to keep pushing them forward, keep working hard. Not letting guys give up, that’s the main thing.

“I’m not speaking about anybody in here, but once guys give up, going out there and not competing — the guys we have in here, we’re on each other to work on things we need to work on to turn it around. It’s a tough stretch right now. I’m not going to sit here and lie, saying that we’re going out there and doing well. When things are going tough, you just need to work harder and battle through it.”

The Brewers have been unable to snatch the one win needed to win a series and potentially get moving in the right direction. With a pair of two-game series left in the month, Milwaukee won’t win a three or four-game series in the entire month of May.

Sunday’s loss dropped the Brewers to 5-18 in May, one of the worst months in franchise history. Time is running thin to turn things around before it’s too late.

“We haven’t done many things well,” Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said. “We aren’t playing well enough to beat good teams. I think the difference between good teams and us is pretty apparent right now.”

Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.