The final Card of the Day. Rollie has a way of making everything look cool. He made the handlebar mustache look cool. And now I want that jacket!
MILWAUKEE — For the second consecutive day, the Brewers mounted a late rally to push the Red Sox to extra innings. Unlike yesterday, however, the Brewers couldn’t pull out the win for the home crowd.
“With the count 2-0, you have to figure he’s looking for a pitch to jerk,” Bernard said of his approach.
Rice hit a bouncing ball up the middle for a hit to score Glenn Hoffman for the eventual winning run.
“I am a ground ball pitcher,” continued Bernard. “I got a ground ball out of Remy. I got a ground ball out of Rice. He just hit it in the wrong place, no one was there to catch it.”
After Paul Molitor hit a home run to tie it in the eighth, the second dramatic late-inning home run to tie a game in as many days, it seemed the Brewers would pull out another big win. But they stranded two runners in the ninth and couldn’t get a runner past first in the 10th.
The good news is that the second place Baltimore Orioles also lost to remain two games out. Of course, the bad news is also that the Baltimore Orioles lost. The Brewers missed an opportunity to finally gain a game.
The other bad news is that embattled reliever Rollie Fingers still isn’t progressing from his forearm injury. He participated in his third throwing session in five days today, and was able to throw 30 pitches before his arm stiffened instead of 20. But there’s still no timetable for his return.
“It’s the same as the other day,” said manager Harvey Kuenn, “so we will wait and see what develops. If he can come back and pitch it’s a bonus. At this point, you have to figure that you won’t be able to use him for the rest of the year.”
Not what we were wanting to hear, Harvey. Hopefully there’s a miracle left in that arm.
MILWAUKEE — Remember those four games in New York last week where the Brewers sustained three of their toughest losses of the season? Yeah, that’s kinda history.
Thanks to a nine-run eighth, the Brewers roasted the Yankees again to complete a three-game sweep in which they outscored humbled New Yorkers 34-5.
“This just shows we aren’t nervous,” said Gorman Thomas, who connected on two doubles and his league-leading 37th homer to lead the Brewers’ attack. “I know certain people have been saying that we’re feelin’ the pressure, that the noose is around our neck. This just shows we’re not feelin’ it. We know that pressure is put on yourself. There is no pressure at the top.”
It was merely a 5-1 Brewers lead until the eighth inning. The Brewers connected on seven consecutive hits (including four doubles and a home run) and eight consecutive baserunners before the first out was recorded by the third Yankees pitcher of the inning. Then, just as it seemed the Brewers would finally put the Yankees out of their misery, Gorman hit his two run homer.
The offense this season has been bordering on historic. The Brewers have a shot at becoming the first team since the 1936 Yankees to have five players drive in at least 100 runs. Cecil Cooper (114), Gorman Thomas (107) and Robin Yount (101) are already there, while Ben Oglivie (95) is certain to join them. Ted Simmons (86) is the only question mark.
Just as amazing, the top three in hits in the American League are all Brewers: Yount (194), Cooper (188) and Paul Molitor (183).
“It’s like trying to fight an octopus,” said Brewers starter Don Sutton, who missed the offensive barrage while he was icing his arm after coming out of the game. “You may be able to stop two, three or even four of the guys, but you know they’re never going to be able to stop them all. They just wrap those arms around you and you can’t shake loose from those tentacles.”
The Brewers may see the second place Orioles with the same level of frustration. Baltimore won again to remain two games back. The Brewers just can’t shake loose.
But now, of course, it gets interesting. Both teams have 13 games remaining, with seven games against each other. The Brewers next host Boston for three games before the Orioles come to town for three. Then it’s a brutal stretch to finish the season in which the Brewers play three in Boston and four in Baltimore.
This thing is far from over. It’s times like these that the Brewers need their closer, Rollie Fingers. He threw on the side again today, but without success.
“It was the same old thing,” Fingers said. “I stopped after 20 throws when the stiffness came. And the only good thing was I threw a little harder this time than [on September 17]. I had a little more velocity.”
Fingers will throw again in a couple of days. Doctors have said he’ll miss a minimum of six more games.
“It feels a little better every day but it’s slow,” Fingers said. “I am hoping to be ready by [September 24 or 25] for Baltimore. That gives me another six days.”
The team is 10-7 without Fingers in the bullpen, but the biggest test is yet to come.
MILWAUKEE — The last time the Brewers faced the Yankees was last week in the Bronx when Milwaukee lost three of four, including three of the toughest losses of the season. This time… was much different.
The Brewers jumped out to a 5-0 first inning lead on starter Stefan Wever when Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper doubled in a run before Gorman Thomas brought home three more with his league-leading 36th home run of the season.
It was a fun game for the Crew and their fans from that point forward. By the end of the third it was 9-0 and the Yankees were making no signs of putting up a fight.
Yount, putting together his closing arguments for AL MVP, went 4-for-5 with his career best 24th home run and four RBI. He now has 98 runs batted in on the season.
But while the offensive display was awesome, the story of the game — and possibly the season so far — was starting pitcher Mike Caldwell. Once seen as past his prime, a cancer on the team, and a pitcher who should be dumped for whatever they could get before Harvey Kuenn arrived, Caldwell now has 16 wins.
Caldwell’s won six in a row overall, but he’s also 12-3 lifetime against the Yankees. Not surprisingly, it is the highest winning percentage among any starting pitcher against these Yankees.
“My confidence is at an all-time high,” Caldwell said. “I am throwing good pitches, they are scoring runs and I am getting some breaks.”
After winning three of seven on the recent road trip, it was important to get off to a good start. But this?
“Everybody was starting to get down after the rough road trip,” Kuenn said. “By everybody I don’t mean the players but other people. I’ve said time and time again that these guys can come back. I think you’d have to say they came back in grand fashion.”
And it was good timing. The Baltimore Orioles, who are riding a 24-5 stretch to put pressure on the Brewers, finally lost today. It’s the first time the Brewers have picked up a game on the Orioles since September 8.
“I feel good about the way we’ve played lately,” Yount said. “If you look at the standings you would think we lost a big lead. I have to think the Orioles are frustrated after playing so well the last month and still being two games behind.”
So the Brewers get a little breathing room, even if temporarily. It won’t get any easier. After two games with the Yankees, the Brewers close out the season with 13 games against the second place Orioles and third place Red Sox, six at home and seven away.
The Brewers will need all of the room they can get. Not only is the schedule brutal, but Rollie Fingers revealed today that the soreness in his forearm may prevent him from pitching until the postseason.
Assuming, of course, that the Brewers get there.
DETROIT — The Brewers finally broke a painful three-game losing streak, yet their lead in the AL East still shrunk. That’s the way things are going right now.
Don Money carried the Brewers’ offense, hitting a solo home run in the sixth and a two-run triple in the seventh. Doc Medich and Jim Slaton kept the team in the game by limiting the Tigers to three runs on 10 hits and four walks.
“We needed the win tonight,” a relieved Harvey Kuenn told the Milwaukee Sentinel. “The way we dropped the last couple games this proves to be a big win.”
It could be. It’s nice to see some life after possibly the most agonizing three-game stretch of the season. But even more importantly, the Baltimore Orioles are gaining.
Yes, even when the Brewers win, the Orioles move up. Baltimore swept the Yankees in a double header today, coming from behind late in both games to pull to within 1 1/2 games of the Brewers for the division lead. It is the Crew’s smallest lead since August 6.
Had the Brewers lost today, the lead would have been down to a half game. So was it big? Enormous. But there are 19 games remaining. Can they hold off the Orioles that long, possibly without Rollie Fingers?
The season could very well come down to a four-game show-down in Baltimore, the final regular season series. Stay tuned.
DETROIT — The news coming in from Tiger Stadium kept getting worse and worse.
Well… It happened again. But worse.
This time, Ladd had a lead. This time, he walked Larry Herndon to lead off the inning to bring the winning run to the plate. And then he allowed the home run, this time a two-run shot by Lance Parrish.
The Brewers miss Rollie Fingers. It’s painfully obvious. Three of the team’s last four losses could have been prevented with Fingers on the mound.
A diplomatic Harvey Kuenn understands the impact of Fingers: “He could have made a difference. Anytime you have Rollie in the pen and you’re ahead by one run, you certainly have the edge.”
Then Harvey dropped a bomb: “At this point, we really don’t know if we’ll have him or not. We’ll have to move things around if he doesn’t pitch anymore. He have to have someone pick up the slack.”
WHAT??!! First, Fingers was out for a few days. Then a week. Then another week. Now for possibly the season? What have we seen that tells us the Brewers have anyone who can step up and come even close to picking up the slack?
Then, the trifecta of bad news. The Baltimore Orioles came from behind to beat the Yankees 8-7 and pull to within two games of the Brewers.
Kuenn tried to stay calm: “All I can say is we have to come back and beat them tomorrow. We still have a two game lead.”
Sure. Now. But without Fingers, does anyone think this team can hold off the Orioles for 19 more games?