Despite the Brewers' well-documented offensive struggles this season, there has been one bright spot.
OK, make that two bright spots.
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have been downright nasty to opposing pitchers this season, combining for a combined .312 batting average with 35 home runs and 126 RBI. In addition, they've scored 99 runs and walked 88 times.
If only they had some help.
Considering the lack of consistent production from the rest of the lineup for most of the year, it's almost hard to believe that the Brewers are tied for first place in the National League Central Division. Before he was lost for the year with a wrist injury, Rickie Weeks was putting up nice numbers (.272, 9 HR, 24 RBI) but after that, it hasn't been pretty.
Corey Hart has been up and down all season and Mike Cameron started off hot, but has come back to earth in recent weeks while fighting through through some extended slumps.
There have been some minor signs of life though lately. Craig Counsell was effective off the bench as a pinch-hitter and as an occasional starter and Casey McGehee has come on strong of late, batting .336 with four homers and 17 RBI.
And now J.J. Hardy, snakebitten as much as anything else this year, is starting to finally see a little bit of success. He's still batting just .220 on the year, but is hitting .286 in his last 11 games after going hitless in four trips Sunday.
Many times, manager Ken Macha noted Hardy was smacking balls right at infielders or outfielders, just a couple of inches between posting numbers more like he did last year, when he was named to the National League All-Star team.
His current hot streak came after he snapped a bitter 0-for-30 run with a base hit in Cleveland on June 15 and is starting to feel some confidence and produce some much-needed offense.
Still, if the Brewers hope to start making some hay in the division, and chase their second consecutive postseason appearance, they're going to need to find was to start providing some support for the big guns batting third and fourth in the lineup.
Pitching woes continue: Jeff Suppan's seemingly endless second inning Sunday was yet another chapter in what's becoming a depressing tale for the Brewers' starting rotation. The right-hander needed 43 pitches and gave up three runs during the inning and was only able to go 5 2/3 in the Brewers' 7-0 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
"We're having a hard time getting six innings," Macha said of his starters. "We've got to get these guys out there a little further."
Suppan lost for the sixth time this season and his ERA is 4.86. As a staff, Milwaukee has just 10 quality starts in the last 36 games, after racking up 25 in the first 39 games.
McClung's the Man, for now: Seth McClung will remain in the starting rotation, at least through this weekend's series at Chicago, where he will take the mound on Friday. He made his first start of the season Saturday, as the team juggled its rotation in the wake of Manny Parra's demotion and Dave Bush's injury. McClung went four innings against San Francisco, throwing 47 of his 77 pitches for strikes while allowing three runs on six hits.
DeRosa to St. Louis: Looking to add some pop to their lineup in the wake of losing Troy Glaus, the St. Louis Cardinals traded for Cleveland third baseman Mark DeRosa over the weekend. DeRosa, hitting .270 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI, is a versatile infielder that can play multiple positions. He was traded to Cleveland before the season by the Chicago Cubs, with whom he played the last two seasons.
Cleanup continues: Cleanup work is still going on behind-the-scenes at Miller Park, where several feet of water flooded the service level of the stadium in flooding about 10 days ago. Most fans won't notice anything different, but the media interview room has been unusable since the storm, moving post-game press conferences to manager Ken Macha's office. Additionally, several thousand Jason Kendall bobblehead dolls had to be disposed of after they were damaged by the water while awaiting to be given away at Sunday's game. Damage is estimated in the millions of dollars.
Quick hits: Infielder Craig Counsell missed Sunday's game with a sore left hamstring. … Bill Hall has just 44 at-bats this month and was hitting just .199 coming into play Sunday. … Three pitchers have made their major league debuts and beaten the Brewers this season. … Branden Looper is expected to start today despite taking a line drive to the arm in his last outing. … Fielder is on pace to break Jeromy Burnitz' record of 99 walks in one season. … Jody Gerut and Frank Catalanotto are a combined 1-for-19 in pinch0hitting opportunities this season. … Milwaukee has gone 7-12 since June 6, when the Brewers were 10 games over .500 (33-23).
Injury report: There's been no news on Dave Bush, who was put on the 15-day disabled list with a torn meniscus in his right arm.
On the farm: Scott Krieger's first week as a professional baseball player was memorable. The Brewers' 19th-round pick in this month's draft hit three home runs and collected six RBI in Rookie League Helena's 15-10 victory Sunday. … Class A Wisconsin's Steve Braun, younger brother of Ryan Braun, might miss the rest of the season after fracturing his ankle over the weekend. … Brevard County pitcher Jeremy Jeffress has been suspended 100 games for violating the minor league baseball drug policy; his second offense.
He said it: "We're hoping all the debuts are over with." --Macha, on the three rookie pitchers that have beaten the Brewers in their major league debuts this season.
Attendance (through 37 home games): Total -- 1,404,794; Average -- 37,967; Sellouts -- 18.
This week: The New York Mets limp into Milwaukee this week for a three-game set before heading to Chicago for four games against the Chicago Cubs.