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Brewers beat 6/28

June 28, 2010

Dutch heritage has Axford watching Cup

MILWAUKEE — Even with the United States and Mexico eliminated, at least one person in the Brewers’ clubhouse still has a rooting interest in the World Cup.

Closer John Axford, a native of Ontario, Canada, is pulling for The Netherlands, which beat Slovakia, 2-1, on Monday to advance to the quarterfinals against Brazil.

Axford is of Dutch heritage on his mother’s side of the family, and his grandparents immigrated to Canada before she was born, just after World War II.

“I remember being younger, we’d always get together for the games and watch them because my grandfather was really into it,” Axford said. “If he had his way, I’d definitely play soccer over baseball.

“I played soccer in elementary school. He actually taught me to kick with my left foot before I could learn with my right because he said, ‘Everyone kicks with their right, so you’ll learn with your left first.’ “

Axford said his mother was either the first or second member of her family born in Canada, though he could not remember if she or his uncle was born first.

While Axford has not been able to keep up on the World Cup as much as he would like — he did not watch The Netherlands play on Monday — he knows the excitement will only grow if the team continues to advance.

“It’s a pretty big thing with our family,” Axford said. “I know if they continue going through [the tournament] everyone will be calling each other and talking with each other and trying to catch the last couple games.”

And what does Axford think of The Netherlands’ chances against Brazil in the quarterfinals?

“That’s going to be pretty tough,” Axford said. “I saw part of the Brazil game today, and they were doing pretty good. So it’ll be a tough game, but it should be a good game. Reading about it I think The Netherlands have got a pretty good shot.”

Capuano’s long wait to pitch again ends

MILWAUKEE — It took the bullpen’s worst outing in nearly a month, but lefty Chris Capuano finally got the opportunity he was waiting for on Monday.

With Brewers starters having delivered quality starts in 10 of the past 15 games and posting a 3.02 ERA over that stretch, Capuano entered Monday having not pitched in the team’s past 13 contests.

It seemed Capuano would continue to wait until a Brewers starter had a rough outing, though he tended to look at it a different way.

“I wouldn’t call it waiting for a bad start, that’s not really how we look at things,” Capuano said. “I’m waiting for my next opportunity and I’m ready every day when they need me.”

But on Monday, due to a bad three-inning stretch involving three relievers and the starter, Capuano finally got back on the mound, pitching a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit.

It was Capuano’s first scoreless outing since his return and just his third appearance overall since being called up a month ago and returning to the big leagues for the first time since the end of the 2007 season.

As the pitching staff has improved dramatically over the last two weeks, Capuano has been left on the outside looking in.

As a result, Capuano has had to put in some extra work to keep himself ready for when the Brewers finally needed him again.

“I’m throwing every day and when I’m not getting in there, I’ve been making sure I get on the mound every two or three days, keeping my pitch count up around the 50-pitch range,” Capuano said. “Sunday after the game, I went out and threw 50 pitches.”

Capuano, who is slotted in a long-relief role in the bullpen, had not pitched in 16 days before Monday.

In his two previous outings, a June 3 start in Florida and a June 12 relief appearance against the Rangers, Capuano tossed just 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits while walking one and recording five strikeouts.

With the experience of his long road to recovery under his belt, Capuano had little problem waiting two weeks for his next outing, especially when the team had been performing well.

“Nothing is harder than the two years I spent getting my arm healthy and getting ready to pitch at the big league level again,” Capuano said. “After what I’ve been through over the past couple years, and with the fact that I’m healthy and I feel good every day, it’s hard to be too down.”

Worth noting

Third-base coach Brad Fischer celebrated his 54th birthday on Monday. … With his leadoff home run on Sunday, second baseman Rickie Weeks ranks first in home runs from the leadoff spot this season with 13. Weeks also leads the Majors in RBI from the leadoff spot with 44. … Reliver LaTroy Hawkins will throw off the mound in a bullpen session on Tuesday, manager Ken Macha said on Monday. … Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Monday, and one-hopped it to the plate.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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