Young’s aggressiveness pays dividends
MILWAUKEE — With the D-backs trailing 1-0 in the fifth on Tuesday against the Brewers, Chris Young came up with a big one-out double to center field. What he did once he got to second base was even more important.
Young took off on Manny Parra’s first pitch to Kelly Johnson — getting a huge jump on the Brewers lefty — and stole third base with ease.
“Good baseball awareness. He understands when to go, when not to,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “When he took third base, it was a huge baseball play. And that’s him doing his homework.”
Gibson talked again before Wednesday’s game about Young’s abilities on the basepaths, adding to the praise he gave his center fielder the previous night.
“You prepare for games, but when games get tight and they get hairy, sometimes people can forget about those things,” Gibson said. “He took advantage of that situation. … It was great timing. You want to do that with less than two outs, if you can get to third base.”
Of the steal, Young said it had more to do with feel than any research he had done. Young noticed Parra was more focused on the hitter, and that he “got a pretty good jump.”
“If I have the opportunity to steal bases or impact the game in any way, by all means, I’m looking to do it,” Young said. “I’m trying to be as aggressive as possible, but still in control and trying to pick my spots.”
D-backs trying to reduce rash of thefts
MILWAUKEE — For much of the season, the kind of jump Chris Young got off lefty Manny Parra on Tuesday was more commonplace for opponents of the D-backs.
With 94 stolen bases allowed, Arizona is tied with Pittsburgh for the most in the National League, while tied for third in the Majors behind Boston and Kansas City. Lately, the D-backs have been working to cut down on steals allowed.
In particular, manager Kirk Gibson and the D-backs coaching staff is making more running game control calls from the bench.
“More sequence stuff, more slide steps, more holds,” Gibson said.
On Tuesday, Gibson praised rookie Barry Enright’s abilities to contribute in that capacity.
“Totally controlled the game, and I don’t know if you guys noticed how good he is at controlling the running game, too,” Gibson said. “Some of that’s coming from the dugout, some of that he’s doing on his own. I think he’s kind of learning how to keep himself slowed down in those situations.”
Slowing the game down is something Gibson believes in, as far as limiting the opponent’s ability on the basepaths.
Another key focus for D-backs pitchers has been trying to avoid becoming too predictable.
“Guys tend to get into a pattern; you want to be able to break that pattern up and still get your pitches over,” Gibson said. “Those guys work on that virtually every day.
“That’s something that, if I’m here next year, when we get into Spring Training, they’re going to be so sick of working on holds and being quicker to the plate. But it absolutely has to happen. You absolutely need to be able to control that. Not even a question.”
Gutierrez progressing after bullpen session
MILWAUKEE — Juan Gutierrez threw a bullpen session on Wednesday at Miller Park, moving the D-backs reliever a step closer to returning from the disabled list.
Manager Kirk Gibson was happy with what he saw from the right-hander, who has been on the DL since Aug. 3 with right shoulder inflammation.
“He threw good,” Gibson said. “I’m not sure what the exit plan is for the disabled list, but it looked like he was throwing the ball good.”
Though Gibson was unsure of the exact course of action for Gutierrez, he speculated as to what might happen in the near future.
“Leo threw live [batting practice] [Wednesday],” Gibson said, referring to right-hander Leo Rosales, who has been on the DL since April 29 with a right foot sprain. “My guess is [Gutierrez] will probably do something like that.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
CHICAGO — Ken Macha finally reached a tipping point on the Brewers’ hit-by-pitch issue in Wednesday’s 15-3 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
With his team trailing 10-3 in the bottom of the seventh, veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins was ejected for hitting Alfonso Soriano after giving up a three-run homer to catcher Geovany Soto.
After seeing the pitch barely graze Soriano about waist high, Macha was irate over the call, prompting a heated discussion between the Brewers manager and home-plate umpire and crew chief Tom Hallion.
Once Hallion had heard enough, he sent Macha to join Hawkins in the visitors’ clubhouse.
Macha has had several discussions with Major League Baseball officials over the past month as the hit-by-pitch rate of his batters continues to rise. In this Cubs series alone, the Brewers have been hit four times, including one to the head of Carlos Gomez.
Before those seventh-inning fireworks, sixth-inning struggles proved costly once again for Manny Parra and the Brewers.
In each of his 13 starts this season, Parra (3-9) has been unable to pitch beyond the sixth inning. On Wednesday, Parra surrendered five runs on four hits and a walk in the frame, costing the Brewers a chance at a sweep.
After he left, he didn’t get much relief from the bullpen.
Todd Coffey entered for Parra with two on and two out in the sixth and promptly surrendered a pinch-hit three-run homer to Aramis Ramirez, which proved to be the eventual game-winner.
After Coffey was Hawkins, who pitched one-third of an inning, giving up four straight hits, including the three-run home run to Soto before he was ejected for hitting Soriano.
David Riske was then tagged for two runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Offensively, the Brewers got to Cubs starter Ryan Dempster in one big inning, which was bolstered by a throwing error on the part of third baseman Jeff Baker.
A clean throw from Baker would have ended the inning, but instead, Jim Edmonds scored from third on the play and a Corey Hart double one batter later gave Milwaukee a 3-1 lead.
Thanks to the Cubs’ offensive outburst in the sixth, though, Dempster (9-8) got the win.
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
CHICAGO — As the Brewers signed right fielder Corey Hart to a three-year extension on Monday, they solidified the corner-outfield spots through at least the 2013 season.
Left fielder Ryan Braun, who’s signed through the 2015 season, was happy for Hart.
“It’s exciting, I’m excited for him. He’s had to overcome a lot,” Braun said. “I think it’s just a sign of his character and his perseverance. I think he’s a great teammate and he’s a great player. He’s a great person to have as one of your core guys to build around for the franchise.”
Drafted by Milwaukee in the 11th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, the 28-year-old Hart is the longest-tenured player in the organization.
Right up there with Hart is left-handed starter Manny Parra, who was drafted in the 26th round in 2001. Having grown close to Hart over the years, Parra was happy to see the Brewers sign him long term.
“I think after people were doubting what he was able to do, it’s great,” Parra said. “Last year was a below-par year for what he’s capable of doing, and he’s proving that this year. For him to redeem himself like that is great.”
Hart’s teammates were especially happy for him considering those circumstances, as Hart struggled in 2009 and in Spring Training this season, eventually leading to his name being left of the All-Star ballot and out of the Opening Day starting lineup.
“Anything could have happened in Spring Training,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha, referring to the uncertainty surrounding Hart at the time. “Now he’s put himself in a position to get this contract.”
Hart happy to find out wrist isn’t broken
MILWAUKEE — A day after slamming his wrist into the wall in right field, Corey Hart said he felt a little sore. The good news, though, is that an MRI on Friday revealed no fracture.
Hart said the exam was a relief: “Especially the way it’s going, I didn’t want to miss too much. I might miss a few days. I’ll take treatment until it stops hurting. I’m lucky I didn’t break anything. It could have been a lot worse.”
Hart injured his wrist Friday in the top of the third inning during the Brewers’ 7-5 victory over the Nationals. As he attempted to catch a long foul ball off the bat of Cristian Guzman, Hart slid and hit his right hand against the concrete wall below the padding.
Hart injured his wrist in a similar region of the ballpark where Braves outfielder Matt Diaz slid into the concrete wall and suffered a knee injury two years ago, which cost him much of the season.
Now it’s just a waiting game for Hart and the Brewers.
Hart was out of the lineup Saturday night, and Joe Inglett got the start in right field. Before the game, Hart sported a compression sleeve on his right wrist, which is intended to keep the swelling down.
Once he feels well enough to play again, Hart expects to return to the field. The Brewers have an off-day Thursday, which could give him an extra day of rest before returning.
But that’s not exactly his plan.
Lucroy gets another shot at catching Parra
MILWAUKEE — Brewers manager Ken Macha shook up his catching rotation Saturday night, putting rookie Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate with lefty starter Manny Parra.
Over his past three outings, Parra had been paired with backup catcher George Kottaras. Lucroy struggled with stopping Parra’s splitter, which resulted in several wild pitches.
“I had that because of balls getting back to the screen on the split,” Macha said. “I just feel that we’re going to try this fit because of results we can get with Manny, so we’ll try somebody else back there.”
In three starts this month with Kottaras behind the plate, Parra has a 1-2 record with a 10.89 ERA, allowing 19 earned runs over 16 innings on 28 hits, including five home runs.
Conversely, in five starts with Lucroy catching during the month of June, the Brewers left-hander went 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA, allowing 13 runs on 29 hits (four homers) over 29 innings.
Parra had 36 strikeouts against 13 walks in June, compared with 12 against seven this month.
So does Macha think having Lucroy behind the plate is going to result in a better outing for Parra?
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Macha said. “How did he do last time out? Sometimes catchers and pitchers get on the same page and it happens.”
Hawkins set for another rehab outing Monday
MILWAUKEE — Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins will rejoin the Brewers soon, but not before Tuesday at the earliest.
Manager Ken Macha said before Saturday’s game that Hawkins would pitch for Triple-A Nashville again Monday as he continues to rehab from right shoulder weakness.
“We’re just going to evaluate his Monday outing,” Macha said. “We’ll go from there.”
Hawkins pitched for the second straight night Friday, tossing 16 pitches over two innings while allowing just one hit as he earned the save.
Macha was hesitant to confirm that Hawkins would rejoin the club after his outing Monday, based on Hawkins’ own evaluation of his rehab outings, which Macha received from Brewers trainer Roger Caplinger.
“One of his other outings he kind of indicated he wasn’t really on top of his game quite yet,” Macha said. “I just got that report from Roger. I didn’t talk to [Nashville pitching coach] Rich Gale or anyone like that. Rick Peterson, our pitching coach, will talk to Rich Gale sometime.”
The Brewers’ comeback on Friday night, after being down 5-1 to win 7-5, marked their largest comeback victory of the season. They had previously come back from three-run deficits five times. … Milwaukee had homered in 12 straight games entering Saturday’s contest, going 8-4 during that stretch. It marks the longest streak for the Brewers since they homered for a franchise-record 20 straight games from July 1-24, 2008. … Prince Fielder entered Saturday’s game just one RBI shy of 500 for his career. He would become the 12th player in franchise history with at least 500 RBIs. … Rickie Weeks is on pace for 102 RBIs this season, all coming from the leadoff spot. Weeks would be just the second leadoff hitter in MLB history to eclipse the 100 RBI mark, joining Darin Erstad, who did it in 2000 with the Angels.
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MILWAUKEE — As important as it is to get runners on base, it does you no good when you can’t deliver clutch hits to bring them around to score. Just ask the Brewers.
As the Giants completed the four-game sweep with a 9-3 victory on Thursday, the Brewers went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position while leaving 17 on base. In the series, the Brewers went 3-for-42 with RISP and left 46 on base.
“Our hitting with guys in scoring position in this particular series did us in,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “Three for 42, that’s not going to win you many ballgames, particularly when you get behind early.”
Whereas the Brewers struggled to bring runners home, the Giants piled on five runs in the third and fourth innings on just three hits and two Milwaukee errors. In the eighth and ninth innings, the Giants tacked on a few more, two of which came on leadoff homers.
For the second straight game, the Brewers got a poor performance from their starting pitcher, as lefty Manny Parra surrendered six runs (four earned) on 10 hits and two walks while recording five strikeouts.
Parra (3-6) put the Brewers in an early hole in the first inning with a balk, which forced a replay of what would have been a lineout to center field by Aubrey Huff. After stepping back in the batter’s box, Huff lined a single to right field, driving home Andres Torres from third.
When asked if the umpire made the correct call on the balk, Parra took the high road.
“It’s a judgment call,” said Parra. “It’s not for any of us to really [decide]. It’s his call.”
Parra escaped with a scoreless second inning despite back-to-back one-out singles, but was roughed up again in the third, when Huff returned to the plate. With one on and none out, Huff belted an 0-2 splitter deep to right for his second home run of the series and 17th of the season.
“Really, the worst pitches I paid for were against Huff,” Parra said. “He had four RBIs against me and hurt me a little bit. But other than that, they were on fire. They were hitting even executed pitches and finding a way to get on base.”
For the Brewers, missed opportunities were the most obvious problem.
In the second, fifth and sixth innings, the Brewers stranded the bases loaded. After three straight two-out walks in the fifth, rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar struck out swinging.
An inning later, the Brewers got a pair of strikeouts by George Kottaras and Joe Inglett sandwiched around an RBI walk drawn by Carlos Gomez. After Inglett struck out looking, pinch-hitter Ryan Braun grounded out to second to end the threat.
With 17 runners left on base during the game Thursday, the Brewers set a new season high. It was the fourth time in club history in which the Brewers had 17 or more left on base in a nine-inning game.
The club record is 21 left on base, which has occurred three times, all in extra-inning games.
For a nine-inning affair, the Brewers record is 19 in a 7-6 win over Minnesota on May 16, 1986, one shy of the Major League record of 20, set by the New York Yankees in 1956.
With just three runs scored despite 20 baserunners on Thursday, the Brewers were swept for the first time by the Giants and dropped their fifth straight overall. Outscoring the Brewers, 36-7, in the series, the Giants bounced back after losing 10 of their previous 12.
“We played our best ball in this series,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Coming off a tough series, too, it was great to see how we came out and played.”
With the loss, the Brewers’ home record fell to 17-26. At a .395 home winning percentage, Milwaukee is just barely ahead of Baltimore (.390) for the worst home record in the Majors.
After opening a stretch of 16 out of 20 games at home with four straight wins, the Brewers have gone just 2-7 at Miller Park since. With such poor all-around play — hitting, pitching and defense — over the past five games, a number of questions surround the Crew.
Along with the question of Macha’s job security, the most prominent of those questions is whether the Brewers will soon become sellers heading toward the July 31 Trade Deadline.
While it’s certainly hard to ignore the potential departure of teammates, McGehee hopes it’s not on the minds of any of them.
“If it is, you need to get out of here,” McGehee said. “If you ain’t worried about what you’re doing here, then you shouldn’t be.
“I’m not by any means saying anybody is doing it, but I’m saying if that’s your mindset and you decide to turn on and off depending on who may or may not be here tomorrow, you shouldn’t have been here in the first place.”
MILWAUKEE — For three innings, it was like the Brewers were back in May.
Just as they seemed to be rolling right along, leading by four runs early and by three through five innings, the Brewers had a stretch on Monday in which they looked more like the club that lost nine in a row in the middle of May than the one that had won six of seven.
Brewers pitchers Manny Parra, Carlos Villanueva, Todd Coffey and David Riske combined to give up seven runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to allow Houston to take the series opener, 9-5, at Miller Park.
“The bullpen, that has been doing very well, tonight didn’t get the job done,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said.
Coffey (2-2), who gave up two unearned runs, took the loss, though a defensive miscue by Casey McGehee at third base did not make things easy on him.
After Villanueva gave up an RBI single and a walk with two outs in the sixth, Coffey entered and promptly surrendered a two-run single to Hunter Pence, tying the game at 5.
“To their credit, they got some big two-out hits, and two-strike hits,” Macha said. “[Michael] Bourn, that was a big hit off of Villa, went the other way with it to left field. Then we brought in Coffey to get Pence and first-pitch swinging he got a hanging slider. So there were two big hits there in that inning.”
In the seventh, though, a fielding error by McGehee allowed the leadoff batter, Chris Johnson, to reach and contributed to a pair of unearned runs.
Immediately following the error, Coffey gave up a double on a 1-0 fastball to Pedro Feliz, which scored Johnson from first and gave the Astros their first lead.
According to Coffey, the error did not impact on his performance.
“It didn’t at all,” Coffey said. “I still can’t give up a double two pitches later. I’ve got to get it done. I didn’t get it done. I made [Zach] Braddock come in and clean up my mess.”
For Coffey, it was his third outing since returning from the 15-day disabled list. In those three outings, Coffey has given up four runs — two earned — in one inning while surrendering five hits and one walk with zero strikeouts.
After Braddock finished up the seventh, allowing an inherited runner to score on a single, David Riske, who had not allowed a run in six appearances entering the game, gave up two more. Riske opened the inning by allowing a walk, single and double, all but ending any hopes of a comeback.
It was an impressive offensive night for the Astros, who tallied 14 hits, including three doubles and a homer. With the solo blast in the third, Bourn snapped a streak of 542 at-bats without a homer, dating to July 10, 2009.
Bourn, Pence and Feliz each tallied three hits, while Bourn added a fourth, tying a career high.
“We had a good offensive night,” Pence said. “We found some holes and put the barrel on the ball quite a bit. It feels good. I think the way Bourn swung it today and Keppinger was on the base all the time and Carlos [Lee] had some big hits, all the way up and down we swung it well.”
After entering the game with the second-best ERA (2.33) in the Majors as a staff over the past seven days, Brewers pitchers seemed to do everything they hadn’t been doing over their recent stretch of strong performances.
In particular, the Brewers gave up six walks, after the club’s walk totals had been down during its recent run.
Additionally, after leading 4-0 in the second, the club tied a season high for the biggest blown lead of the season.
“We had a bunch of walks tonight and that hasn’t been happening,” Macha said. “[We gave up] a bunch of free bases, six free bases.”
Parra came up short of a quality start once again, by one inning and one run. Over the past 16 games, the Brewers have gotten 10 quality starts with a 3.23 ERA from their starters.
Once he got over the 100-pitch mark, however, Parra’s command — which was already a bit off as he gave up four walks — got away from him.
“It’s disappointing that we lost,” Parra said. “I just wasn’t sharp. [It was] kind of a battle. I didn’t really have any consistency with any pitches. … Nothing was really there. I was just battling and trying to get guys out with whatever I could.
“It didn’t work out for us.”
Parra recalls perfect game in Minors
MILWAUKEE — Three years ago this weekend, Brewers lefty Manny Parra had the best performance of his professional career when he tossed a perfect game for Triple-A Nashville.
In his second Pacific Coast League start, Parra retired 27 consecutive batters for the Sounds on June 25, 2007. Current Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles remembers the game well, as he was serving as the Sounds’ pitching coach at the time.
“It was the most dominating performance I’ve ever seen,” Kyles said. “He had 11 strikeouts, no balls were put in play hard, and it was just the best performance I’ve seen on the mound up close and personal. It was really impressive.”
What made the perfect game even more impressive was the way Parra’s bullpen session had gone prior to the game.
After struggling in his previous outing, Parra was not confident in his stuff as he warmed up. Once he reached the mound, however, everything changed.
“I remember when I was out in the bullpen, thinking it was going to be a struggle out there that day,” Parra said. “But when I got out to the mound, everything started going my way.
There was one ball, hit about five feet fair toward third, but just before reaching the bag it rolled foul. That was the one where I was like, ‘Wow, this could really happen.'”
Parra’s perfect game was the first thrown in the PCL since the Sounds’ John Wasdin did so on April 7, 2003.
“It’s something I never expected would happen to me,” Parra said. “I’ve always said I was not the kind of pitcher that would ever throw a no-hitter or perfect game because I tend to give up a lot of hits. That day, though, everything just came together for me.”
Gomez striving to be everyday player
MILWAUKEE — When the Brewers brought Carlos Gomez in from Minnesota, he was expected to be the club’s everyday center fielder. Despite his recent struggles, that’s still his goal.
“I want to play everyday no matter what happens at the plate,” Gomez said. “Everybody knows when they signed me that I was supposed to be the everyday center fielder.”
Brewers manager Ken Macha sees the potential in Gomez, but he has had a hard time keeping him in the lineup lately with his struggles at the plate.
For now, it appears as though Gomez will start against left-handed pitching and veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds will get the nod against righties. Like Gomez, though, Macha would like Gomez to improve to the point of facing both right-handers and southpaws.
“The plan was for [Gomez] to face right-handers also,” Macha said. “After he came off the DL and Jimmy was on the DL, he played against right-handers and he struggled.
“So hopefully we’ll get him to the point where he can be an everyday guy.”
For Gomez, the situation is much like the one he faced in Minnesota last season before the Twins traded him to the Brewers.
Gomez struggled to find playing time in a crowded outfield that featured three young outfielders in Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Gomez. According to Gomez, the one benefit of moving to the National League this season is being able to pinch-hit or enter as part of a double switch in any game.
Even with that, however, Gomez is not excited about the situation he’s faced with.
“I don’t want to be in this situation every year,” Gomez said. “I’m only 24 years old, and it’s happened to me two years in a row now. But they know what I can do if I play everyday. Good things can happen.”
Coffey needs time to freshen up to bigs
MILWAUKEE — Only time can help Brewers reliever Todd Coffey get back to the point he was at before going on the disabled list June 6.
Coffey struggled Tuesday in his first outing since returning, allowing two runs to score on two hits, as he did not record an out over three batters faced.
“The first one, probably, he doesn’t want to rehash that one,” said Milwaukee skipper Ken Macha. “[Saturday], he had a little lapse on covering first base, so that wasn’t good. Otherwise, he would’ve had a 1-2-3 inning. He threw the ball good.”
Though he made just one rehab appearance with Triple-A Nashville before returning, Coffey did not believe any additional time with the Sounds would have made a difference.
According to Coffey, pitching in the Minor Leagues does not do nearly as much as getting back into a pressure situation in the Majors after three weeks off.
“The first outing was a little shaky, but it was the first time I was really competitive in almost 20 days,” Coffey said. “Yesterday was definitely a step forward. I feel like I’m getting back on track.
“It’s not about the feeling off the mound down there, it’s about the feeling off the mound up here against big league hitters. It’s just going to take time. I took 20 days off, so it’s just going to take some time to get comfortable again.”
Brewers unveil top moment of 1980s
MILWAUKEE — With nearly 40 percent of the vote, Cecil Cooper’s two-run single in Game 5 of the 1982 ALCS against the Angels was selected as the top Brewers moment from the 1980s in fan and media voting.
Fittingly, all fans in attendance on Sunday received a bobblehead commemorating the hit.
Cooper’s game-winning hit gave the Brewers the American League pennant and advanced the club to its first World Series in franchise history.
Behind Cooper’s single, it was a close race for second place, as two moments from the 1987 season were decided by just 2.2 percent of the vote.
Dale Sveum’s walk-off home run on Easter Sunday, which extended the Brewers’ win streak to 12 games to open the season, edged out Juan Nieves’ no-hitter, which came just four days earlier.
The unveiling of the Top 3 moments from the 1980s occurred at 1 p.m. CT on broadcasts and in Miller Park. The same process will occur for the ’90s and 2000s, with separate polls and reveals for each decade.
On Sept. 3, the polls will open again at Brewers.com and fans will be asked to vote for their Top 3 moments in Brewers history from the group of Top 12 “finalist” moments (Top 3 moments from each decade).
Veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds celebrated his 40th birthday on Sunday. … With his appearance on Saturday, Trevor Hoffman moved into a tie for 11th place on the all-time games pitched list. … Sunday is the Brewers’ final Interleague contest of 2010. Despite going 5-10 last season and just 92-106 in the history of Interleague Play, Milwaukee entered Sunday’s contest with an 8-6 record against the AL this season and is guaranteed a winning record for the sixth time since Interleague Play began in 1997 — the first time since 2007.