Offense struggles as Brewers fall again

12 04 2008

I was fully prepared to write this article and complain about how much first pitch-swinging the Brewers did against the unknown Nelson Figueroa.  The offense was so anemic again, and I simply assumed that had to be the answer.  It had been in the past few games.

I started to look at each individual at-bat on MLB’s Gameday, and I was very surprised.  The Milwuakee Brewers only swung at the first pitch 18%, or six times out of thirty-three at-bats.  That’s a very good number to get a pitcher’s pitch-count up quickly.  In case you were wondering, Gabe Gross swung at the first pitch three out of the four times he came up to the dish.  I’m pretty sure he’ll be packing his bags once Mike Cameron comes back from his suspension.

Why is the offense unable to string any hits together?  Why is Nelson Figueroa, who is frankly not very good at all, able to no-hit the Crew until the fifth inning?  There are a couple reasons that I will posit.  First, the Brewers are collectively pressing way too much to get the offense going.  It seems counterintuitive, but when you struggle at the plate, you have to relax and try to hit the ball the opposite way a bit.  The Crew is not doing that, especially Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Billy Hall.  Secondly, the Brewers are still striking out too much.  I understand that the team will always strike out a lot, as it is in their character, but they cannot be trying to hit a home run when down two strikes.  The only two players that are shortening up their swings are Jason Kendall and, surprise, Rickie Weeks.

The Milwaukee Brewers have one of the most potent offenses in the league.  Excuse me, they have the potential to have one of the most potent offenses in the league.  Right now, they only have one player hitting over .260, and that is Jason Kendall.  That is not acceptable.  Someone needs to do something to get this offense going.  Maybe everyone should go with the baggy pants.  Maybe they should turn their hats inside out and go with the rally cap right away.  I have no idea.  Something needs to change though.

Anyway, on to Manny Parra.  Today was not one of his brighter days.  He actually looked very good through three innings, but he completely lost it in the fourth.  I hope he is not the second-coming of Dave Bush.  Manny has far better stuff than Dave, but he needs to be more consistent.  I was very disappointed with Manny today.  Hopefully he will have the chance to pitch once more in a big league uniform before Yovani Gallardo comes back.  I would love to see Manny stay on the big league squad.  I’m just not totally convinced he deserves it yet.

Records: Brewers (6-4); Mets (5-4)

Hero of the Game: David Riske

I thought David Riske did a fantastic job controlling the damage after he entered the game in the fifth inning.  Manny Parra had just given up three runs in the fourth, and the New York Mets had a lot of momentum on their side.  Riske came in and gave the Crew two scoreless innings and kept them in the game.  He allowed the Brewers to pull to a 2-3 deficit before Salomon Torres gave up a run in the seventh.  Riske does not have overpowering or overly-impressive stuff, but he simply gets it done.  A tip of the cap to you, David.  Nice work.

Goat of the Game: the Milwaukee Brewers offense

I was going to give this to Manny Parra, but the entire offense takes the cake on this one.  The pitching staff only allowed four runs, but the Brewers could not pull the game out.  Why?  Because they got two hits all game.  Two.  I discussed the problem with the offense above, so I will not do it again.  Yet four runs is not all that much to ask from an offense, especially one that has a lot of power like Milwaukee’s.  Especially against Nelson Figueroa.  Ugh, the game was just brutal.  Put some hits together boys!

On Tap

Ben Sheets vs. Johan Santana.  12:30pm CT.  That is all you need to know.

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