The Milwaukee Brewers choked so badly before the All Star break that they nearly lost their first place spot in the NL Central. The partial collapse made me lose sight of the huge success the Brewers had had during the majority of the first half of the season, and it also highlighted how integral consistency is to a team’s playoff push.
NL Central fans have seen consistency in the St. Louis Cardinals for years now. They keep finding ways to continue success, and now I want to see the Brewers take a leaf out of the Cardinals’ book and be consistent.
In the first two games of the second half, the Brewers have been anything but consistent.
The Crew demonstrated excellent pitching in the first game of their series at Washington. Kyle Lohse went seven strong innings and worked his way out of putting runners on base, and the bullpen finished up strongly, apart from a solo home run given up by Francisco Rodriguez. Lohse may have given up ten hits, but he only let one run cross home plate, and he worked very efficiently en route to his tenth win of the year. He also lowered his ERA to a solid 3.16.
The offense during Game 1 made the most of their eight hits, scoring four runs. The first four in the batting order (Gomez, Gennett, Braun, and Ramirez) got to Stephen Strasburg early, and gave Lohse more than enough run support. It was an efficient game and a great result.
Starter Matt Garza only went 1/3 of an inning, surrendering five runs. It was the most pathetic start from a Brewer that I have ever seen, apart from Dave Bush‘s start at Target Field in 2010 when he gave up a billion runs. It was actually seven but it felt like a lot more. Good Lord, that was an awful night for Brewers fans. So was tonight.
The offense from Game 1 seemed to disappear along with the starting pitching, as the Brewers managed only one run until Ryan Braun blasted a two-run homer in the eighth inning. Tanner Roark, the Nationals starter, had a Lohse-like outing: one run on six hits over seven.
So, looking at these two games, you would think two different Brewers teams showed up to play. Which team, then, can fans expect in the second half?
I hope this game tonight was just a fluke, and it likely is. The only thing that concerns me is that Garza has consistently had terrible first innings in his starts with the Brewers. If the Brewers are to make it to the playoffs, Garza needs to step up and get over whatever is bugging him when he first takes the mound. You can bet that the Brewers won’t be able to come back in an actual playoff game after Garza has a first inning like tonight’s first inning.
The Milwaukee Brewers won’t win every game or have long winning streaks. I’m not expecting that. But in order to be a playoff team, the Brewers can’t look like a contender one day and a doormat the next.