MILWAUKEE — Although the Brewers would lose this game by three runs, fingers would be pointed at third base coach Harry Warner after the game for a rally that ended too soon.
With one down in the bottom of the eighth, Robin Yount had just hit an RBI single to bring the Brewers to within a run. With runners at the corners, Earl Weaver went to Tippy Martinez to face Cecil Cooper.
Cooper hit a fly ball to medium center. Rookie John Shelby started back and then charged. Bob Skube, pinch running for Ed Romero, tagged from third. Shelby threw a one hop strike to the plate to nail Skube for the inning ending double play.
“If the ball is off line six inches one way or the other,” Skube would say after the game, “I’m safe. It was a perfect throw and it was still a close play.”
But the question being asked of Warner: Why was Skube sent in the first place?
“You… never come up and talk to me when something goes right,” an angry Warner responded. “That kind of play has happened right 40 times this year, but nobody talked to me then. You’re just a bunch of…. And you can print that!”
Warner may have had a point. And maybe we’re pointing the finger at the wrong coach. Why was Skube in to run when the speedy Marshall Edwards was also available for the job? Edwards may be only a shade faster than Skube, but it’s a shade that likely makes a difference.
In the end, the play probably didn’t matter. The Orioles added two more in the ninth and the Brewers failed to put together a rally. It wasn’t theirs to win.
But this… is a problem. The Brewers now lead the Orioles by only two games in the AL East. With only seven games to play, the Brewers finish up the season on the road. Next come three games at Fenway Park against the third place Red Sox. Then the Brewers finish up the regular season with four games at Baltimore.
“Losing two of three to Baltimore shouldn’t change any of our thinking, we are still two games up,” an optimistic Kuenn assured us. “And even though we lost two here it doesn’t mean the world is going to end. We have seven to play and so do they. And we play four against each other. We still have the big advantage.”
If you say so, Harvey. But it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Rollie Fingers Update: Fingers threw between 35 and 40 pitches before today’s game and said he felt pain but his forearm didn’t tighten up. “If I can take care of half the pain I feel,” Fingers said, “then I can go out there. I’ve worked with a little pain before but it is still too sore.”