Thursday, May 24, 2007

Brew Crew *whew*

While the Brewers (28-19) have lost 9 of their last 13, they should offer no apologies for playing in a weak division. They've maintained their 6.5-game lead in the NL Central thanks largely to the second-place Astros and Cubs losing also.

The Crew have seen their team batting average deflate about 10 points, which drops them from third in the NL to sixth, still second in the division behind the Cubs. They're still hitting .242 with runners in scoring position (including stranding 6 in scoring position against Brad Penny in a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night), which puts them ahead of only Arizona (25-23), Pittsburgh (19-26, -8), Cincinnati (18-29, -10) and Washington (18-29).

That's not good, but at least there's room for improvement.

Meanwhile, the Brewers' team ERA through the first six innings of any game is 3.41 - BEST IN THE NL - while their late-inning ERA bloats to 4.74 - third-WORST in the NL. Here's what I can't figure out; the bullpen has looked solid.

Only Carlos Villanueva has given up one or more earned runs in his last half-dozen appearances. Derrick Turnbow has only been "Turnblow" twice, taking two losses and blowing one save in his last 10 appearances. Francisco Cordero hasn't failed to convert a save opportunity yet and is tied with Arizona's Jose Valverde for the NL lead in saves.
Southpaw sidearmer Brian Shouse gave up two in a loss to the Phillies (which combined with Turnblow's 4 earnies in an 8-6 loss snatched from the jaws of a 6-2 victory) but has been solid this season. (Not bad for a FIB.)
Matt Wise has been money all season as the setup guy for Turnbow, getting one strikeout in four of his last five innings of work, and only giving up a run in Wednesday night's 5-1 loss.
Chris Spurling has been a pleasant surprise. He's given up just 3 runs all season, and none since May 5.
Elmer Dessens could be the missing link to mediocrity, now that I look at it. He hasn't even appeared since last Friday, and the Saturday before that, he gave up 5 runs to the Mets in a 9-1 loss.

But it all comes back to driving in those runners once they've reached second or third. In the Brewers' 9-of-13 skid, they're 2-3 in one-run games, and they've scored 3 or fewer runs in 8 of their last 11.

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