It took 10 extra days, but the city of Milwaukee was finally able to welcome home their Brewers. Winter weather postponed the opening series in Milwaukee, so the Brewers instead hit the road.
After the tailgating, after the Marquette marching band performance, after the pre-game introductions and after six-year-old Jim Dean threw out the first pitch, the Brewers had a game to play.
The hope was that in familiar surroundings the Brewers would find a spark. That after scoring a combined three runs in the past two games, bats would find ball once again. That their pitching, which hadn’t given up fewer than six runs in those three games, would find the catcher’s glove.
Well, starting pitching was vastly improved. Moose Haas allowed only a run in eight innings of work. And quite frankly, he deserved a win. But neither the offense nor Rollie Fingers did him any favors.
Following a one run, four hit performance yesterday against the Rangers, the Brewers duplicated that effort today, but in 10 innings. Rangers pitcher Dave Schmidt, who allowed four runs and couldn’t last an inning last time out, was suddenly unhittable when facing the Brewers. Oh, the Brewers got a hit — one hit — in five innings, but that was all. And they could only muster three more hits against the Rangers’ bullpen thereafter.
Other than failing to score more than a run for the second consecutive game, the biggest concern has to be Rollie Fingers. The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner lost his first appearance, blew the save in the second and lost yet again today. In the 10th inning, he allowed three runs on four hits and two intentional passes. After three appearances, Fingers now has a 5.14 ERA.
Rollie Fingers is 35 years old. During the stretch run of his magical 1981 season, the veteran closer allowed only two earned runs over the final 36 2/3 innings for a 0.49 ERA. So far this season, he’s allowed four earned runs in seven innings. Think about that. Double the number of runs in less than one-fifth of the innings.
Am I concerned? Damn right, I am. And you should be, too. Rollie Fingers is the bullpen. I have little faith in anyone else in it. If he is washed up, the house falls. The offense will never be able to score enough runs.
Not that they are right now. From the moment Robin Yount was removed from the game on April 13 with a hamstring injury in the fourth inning and two down, the Brewers have scored a grand total of five runs on 20 hits in 34 1/3 innings (or roughly four games). Prior to Yount’s removal, the Brewers had scored 46 runs on 65 hits in only 31 2/3 innings.
Let’s let that sink in. They were scoring 1.5 and runs knocking 2.1 hits per inning with Yount. Without him, an average of 1.3 runs and 5.2 hits per nine innings.
Is there a direct correlation? I don’t know. But those are some scary splits. While they certainly couldn’t have expected to continue hitting at their pace with Yount, they won’t win many games playing at the clip without him.
Game Notes: Charlie Moore injured his groin chasing down a fly ball in today’s game. He’s day-to-day … Don Money hyperextended his left shoulder diving back into 1st in the 8th inning of yesterday’s game and is day-to-day … Robin Yount is still out with a sore hamstring and Jim Slaton is eligible to come off DL in about a week.