Brewers begin second half performing under pressure
Francisco Rodriguez took nearly 40,000 fans at Miller Park along with him on a high wire act Wednesday afternoon, but in the end the Milwaukee Brewers packed their bags for Cincinnati having gone 4-2 out of the gate in the second half.
While I'm not one who felt this nine game stretch was particularly important in the grand scheme of things, I will say this – the team has been impressive in its response to the pressure put on it by manager Ron Roenicke and general manager Doug Melvin.
"We know what's at stake right now," second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "We just gotta go out there and try and put our best foot forward. I think we're doing a pretty good job of that. We've been playing pretty good baseball as of late. We just gotta close the door."
K-Rod has closed the door the last two nights, and former closer John Axford pitched well in middle relief today. If there has been one thing perhaps keeping this team from putting together a seven, eight-game winning streak, it's been the back end of the 'pen.
One could argue the team should have went 5-1 (even 6-0?) this home stand, which is a good thing. With bullpen instability, nagging injuries and new faces in the clubhouse, the team could have just as easily collapsed upon itself playing the first place Pittsburgh Pirates and hot-hitting St. Louis Cardinals.
They didn't, and I don't suspect they will on this road trip to first place Cincinnati and Philadelphia. From the sounds of it, neither does Roenicke.
"I think we know we can play with these guys," he said. "If we play a good game we can play with these guys. That showed in all six games. I know Cincinnati is playing really good ball right now, they've got real good pitching and I like their offense, too. So we've got to go in there and play the same kind of game."
It's mid-July, and the Brewers are three games under .500. They're still in fourth place in the division and as of this post, 7.5 games behind the Reds.
Winning five of the next six restarts the season, and creates some excitement for the seven-game home stand against the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros July 26 through Aug.. 1.
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