Brewers waste Estrada's gem
At the beginning of the season, the Milwaukee Brewers felt so good about having two veteran left-handers in their bullpen.
Now, they might as well have none.
Reliever Michael Gonzalez turned in yet another dismal but now predictable outing Wednesday night, turning a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning into a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. It was the Brewers’ 12th loss in 15 games against the first-place Cards this season.
It was an outcome that elevated everyone in the visitors’ clubhouse to a new level of frustration, particularly manager Ron Roenicke and Gonzalez.
“I’m frustrated, I am,” said Roenicke, whose team lost for the second consecutive night in which the starting pitcher took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. “I’m tired of getting leads and just giving it away.
“I’m not saying every game we make errors or something like that, but we’ve got to start making the plays when we need to make the plays; throw strikes and get ahead of people instead of walking guys. And win some of these games that we get leads in.”
Roenicke has no one to blame but himself, however, by continuing to call on Gonzalez for lefty vs. lefty matchups that blow up like trick cigars. Gonzalez took over with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth and proceeded to surrender four runs, including a two-run homer by left-handed-hitting Matt Adams.
Gonzalez has been in a steady downhill spiral in the second half, during which he has posted an 8.16 earned run average. And that doesn’t account for the inherited runners he continues to allow to score—now 18 out of 38 runners overall.
Left-handed-hitters are batting .268 against Gonzalez, far above an acceptable level for a left-handed specialist. Faced with that ongoing badness, Roenicke indicated he finally was ready to try somebody else. And it won’t be a lefty because Tom Gorzelanny, who pitched so well out of the bullpen over the first half, is shut down with a tight shoulder.
“I’ve got to find some other people and give them the ball and see what they can do,” said Roenicke. “We need to find somebody else to come in and do the job.”
Gonzalez is well aware that he isn’t getting the job done and was particularly upset about surrendering three runs that were charged to Brandon Kintzler.
“This is definitely the worst season I’ve had overall,” said Gonzalez, whose ERA rose to 4.56. “The thing that’s more frustrating than giving up the home run is giving up Kintzler’s runs. He’s been throwing really well. That hurts more than anything.
“I’ve been through the best and now I’m going through the worst. Besides it being embarrassing and discouraging, being the veteran guy, I’m supposed to go out there and get it done. I’m supposed to show these young guys how to do it. It’s been the other way around.”
Despite having plenty of rested arms in the bullpen, Roenicke usually goes to Kintzler with games on the line and this time did so with two on and two down in the seventh and the Brewers leading, 1-0. Kintzler allowed an opposite-field bouncer by Daniel Descalso down the third-base line for a single that made it 1-1.
The Cardinals put good at-bats on Kintzler in the eighth, resulting in singles by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday sandwiched around a walk to Jon Jay. With one down, Roenicke summoned Gonzalez, who surrendered a sacrifice fly to switch hitter Carlos Beltran.
After a run scored on a wild pickoff attempt at first by catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Adams belted his two-run shot to make it 5-1.
The Brewers’ lone run off starter Lance Lynn came on an error in the second inning and it held up for some time, thanks to some key pitches by starter Marco Estrada, a few defensive gems and an umpiring mistake.
After Beltran walked to open the bottom of the second, Adams sent a drive down the right-field line that struck the wall just inside of the foul marker. Umpire Chris Guccione called it foul and that wrong call stood despite a huddle and discussion by the entire crew.
David Freese then sent a sharp grounder up the middle that shortstop Jean Segura flagged down to start a 6-4-3 double play. Descalso followed with a rising liner to center that Carlos Gomez leaped to catch.