The reasons the Milwaukee Brewers lost Monday night’s interminably dragging 14-inning contest are simple: they mustered just one hit in the five extra frames, and Juan Perez just isn’t good enough to be trusted with an inning of any sort of importance.
That said, a bullpen that has struggled throughout the season (just a 4.97 ERA) saw excellent performances up until the last man. Its two leaders in Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford escaped from jam with two runners on base in the eighth and ninth respectively to allow Ryan Braun a chance to tie the game. The question for the Brewers’ bullpen all season, however, has been the middle innings. Jose Veras and Manny Parra have been charged with replacing the quiet but steady contributions of Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins. Monday, the duo delivered four scoreless innings in a fruitless effort to give the Brewers hitters a chance to win the game.
Veras in particular has been shaky this season, bringing a 6.27 ERA into his appearance. The culprit has been a BABIP of .400, which combined with his usual wildness — he’s hovered around five walks per nine innings for his career — is a death knell. The control was there for Veras in Monday’s outing, and when it is, his electric movement is typically enough. In his four plate appearances against lefties — particularly notable for a right-handed middle reliever — he was able to pound the outside corner to great effect, as he drew two swinging strikes and three called strikes around the outside corner:
Parra was forced to escape a jam in the 13th inning after he hit Brandon Crawford with a pitch and allowed a single to Melky Cabera. In this at-bat, Parra showed why he has the ability to be a key piece of the bullpen, able to handle situations against righties as well as lefties. After falling behind 3-0 to one of the better hitters in the Giants’ lineup, Parra didn’t back down at all. First he placed a 93 MPH fastball down the middle for strike one, and then he followed it up by busting Posey on the lower-inside corner of the plate, forcing a foul-out to right field (thanks to some help from Norichika Aoki on the wall down the line).
Between the two, Parra and Veras allowed just two baserunners combined, escaping four innings with relatively little drama. If this duo can make these outings routine occurrences, the Brewers will be one step closer to contending again, even if they dropped another game in the process last night.