After an absolute disaster week – 2-5 including 4 straight losses to the Pirates and the Padres – the Brewers put together one of the more impressive road weeks in recent franchise history. The Brewers took 5 of 6 from the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks, including a sweep in Arizona, and now find themselves back at home and only one game away from .500. They even picked up 2.5 games on the division leading Cardinals and one game on Wild Card leading San Francisco, leapfrogging 6 teams in the standings. How did they do it? They’ve been doing just about everything right.
The starting rotation, despite not going deep into ballgames, was remarkably effective. Between the two starts by Chris Narveson and the other starts by Brewers starters since Tuesday, the starting rotation amassed 33 innings, allowing only 12 runs. They struck out 33 batters over that time frame and only walked 15. The rotation only gave up two home runs in that time – and they hit one. That’s a 9.00 K/9 against a 4.00 BB/9 with only a 0.54 HR/9. That’s the way to keep runs off the board, even if the walks are a bit higher than preferred.
We could have seen two sweeps if it wasn’t for one poor performance out of the bullpen. An apparently injured LaTroy Hawkins, who has since gone to the DL (more on that later today), allowed four runs to the Dodgers on a walk-off grand slam by Andre Ethier. The rest of the bullpen combined for 20.2 innings and only allowed three runs – all coming on a garbage time home run against Manny Parra. In that time, the relievers walked 10 batters and racked up 15 strikeouts. Again, not the most impressive ratio, but one that can hold up if only one home run is allowed. Between the performances of the entire pitching staff, the overall team ERA was 3.86 last week against an apalling 5.09 mark. Regression, in this case, is nice.
Of course, the star of the show was the offense. The team scored over 10 runs on three different occasions and overall scored 51 runs (8.5 R/G). Consider that this was against such solid starters as Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw (who outdueled Ubaldo Jimenez on Sunday), Edwin Jackson, and Ian Kennedy, and this is certainly a significant accomplishment. Gerut’s cycle against the Diamondbacks was, of course, the biggest individual game, but this week saw some great performances. Gregg Zaun continues to rebound from his horrible start with a 6/15 week including two home runs and a double. Ryan Braun slugged five extra base hits in 30 at bats. Prince Fielder double his home run total with two more this week. Casey McGehee hit a huge home run in the final game against Arizona. The list goes on – even the pitchers got into the act, as Chris Narveson had two hits including an RBI, and Randy Wolf had an RBI hit as well. Overall, the team hit .304/.373/.491, well above average in every category.
The Brewers did everything right this week, and all the panic that seemed abound should be just about gone by now. The Brewers return home for a series against the struggling Atlanta Braves on Tuesday to start the final 131 games of the season. With a series win, the Brewers can get back to over .500 for the first time since April 7th, when they were 2-1.