BALTIMORE — There once was a simpler time. Long ago, it seemed, when the Brewers needed to win only one of four games to make the playoffs. These days are no longer simple.
Doc Medich and the Brewers lost the third consecutive game against the Orioles on Saturday by a score of 11-3. Each game fell, one by one, as if at the hands of a firing squad. The Orioles have come at the Brewers with an all out assault. A massacre. In the first three games of the series, Baltimore has outscored the Brewers 26-7.
The game began with a familiar tone. The Orioles struck first in the opening inning, scoring on a double by Eddie Murray, a single by John Lowenstein and on a Medich balk that brought home Murray. In fact, this was the second consecutive game in which the Orioles scored three runs in the first.
The Brewers may be “Harvey’s Wallbangers,” but they won’t win many games when they start out in a 3-0 hole. The Crew battled back initially with two runs on a Gantner single in the second, and tied the game on an Oglivie homer in the fourth. But once Medich gave up four runs in the bottom of the fourth, the Brewers’ fight was gone.
Medich should stick to medicine, because he did not look like a Major League pitcher on this day. He allowed five earned runs on eight hits and two walks in three innings of work. Not the type of performance the Brewers needed from their starting pitching.
But let’s not ignore the feeble attempt by the Brewers offense. Milwaukee has yet to put more than three runs on the board in any of the first three games of this series. The Orioles, by contrast, scored three or more runs in five different innings during the past two games. Once starter Scott McGregor was removed from the game in the fourth, the Brewers managed only two hits in the final 5 2/3 innings off of reliever Sammy Stewart.
While relief pitching was inconsequential for the Brewers on this day, it can’t be ignored that Dwight Bernard gave up four runs on six hits in one inning of “work” (used loosely). Bernard has allowed at least a run in each of his last four appearances, none being longer than an inning. Once with an ERA of 2.94 through August, the struggling reliever has allowed more than 10 runs per nine innings since.
The Brewers aren’t clicking at the plate; they aren’t getting starting pitching; and relief has been awful.
That said, anything can happen in one game. And after losing three straight, don’t the odds need to be finally shifting in the Brewers’ favor?
Some may say the Brewers are like deer in the headlights. Others may say they are simply a talented yet complacent team, performing better when the pressure is on. Still others may call the Orioles a team of destiny.
I’d like to think that this season is no fluke. The Brewers are great. And their prized late season acquisition will come through. The offense will score runs. It has to happen.
It can’t get bigger. And a loss couldn’t be more painful.