By Drew Olson Special to Published Jul 15, 2006 at 5:30 AM Photography: Allen Fredrickson
One of the things that excited Derrick Turnbow most about participating in the All-Star Game festivities earlier this week in Pittsburgh was the chance to chat with San Diego veteran Trevor Hoffman about closing.

Well, that must have been some conversation.

After Turnbow threw a scoreless seventh inning against the American League, Hofmann entered in the ninth and promptly squandered the National League’s chance for its first victory in a decade.

Upon leaving PNC Park, Turnbow and Hoffman both headed west, where each all-star encountered disastrous results in the opener of his “second half.”

At Chase Field in Phoenix, Turnbow entered the ninth inning with a one-run lead and promptly served up a leadoff double to Diamondbacks veteran Luis Gonzalez. On the very next pitch, a 97-mph fastball, catcher Johnny Estrada smacked a home run.

Four pitches from the closer and the Brewers lost the game, 4-3. Of course, it'd be unfair to hang this loss solely on Turnbow. Rickie Weeks made an error that led to a run and the Brewers’ offense sputtered. Combined with Turnbow’s continuing meltdown, it was a bleak and rather ominous way to get back to work.

Not long after the Brewers trudged into their clubhouse, Hoffman took the mound in San Diego hoping to preserve a victory over Atlanta in a wild game at Petco Park. He melted down, giving up a single, a walk and then a game-tying two-run double to Andruw Jones. The Padres bailed Hoffman out by tying the game in the ninth.

Hoffman, a 38-year-old change-up specialist who has 460 saves and needs 19 more to pass Lee Smith (478) for the all-time lead, has converted 24 of 26 save chances this season.

Turnbow, who is 28, has saved 23 of 30 games this year and three of his blown saves have come in succession during what is starting out as a dreadful July. In five appearances this month, Turnbow has worked 2 1/3 innings and allowed six hits (two homers), five walks and nine earned runs. His earned run average is a ghastly 34.71.

When the troubles began, it appeared that Turnbow had lost control over his breaking ball. While it’s not easy, that problem is correctable and far more desirable than a loss of confidence.

Slumps are a part of baseball. All players go through them, but closers get less leeway than any of their teammates because of the sink-or-swim nature of the position. In addition to lights-out stuff, closing in the major leagues takes nerves of steel and a very short memory. Houston’s Brad Lidge, perhaps haunted by some bad outings last fall, has trying to recover his mojo for most of this season.

If the Brewers are to make a push toward the post-season -- or even a winning record -- Turnbow must regain his quickly. He can't doubt his ability or worry about whether or not he is worthy of the three-year, $6.5 million contract the Brewers gave him back in April.

While there will certainly be fans howling for manager Ned Yost to change Turnbow’s job description tonight (honestly, folks, are you that anxious to see Jose Capellan in the ninth?), the more likely scenario -- given Yost’s track record of extreme patience -- is that Turnbow will be back on the mound and in the fire at the first opportunity.

The guy is an all-star and he has converted 62 of 72 save chances for the Brewers over the past season and a half, so he deserves a chance to work out his problems.

In the meantime, general manager Doug Melvin can work the phones and try to orchestrate a trade that will bring the bullpen some relief. If Melvin can acquire a player with experience at the back-end of a game -- like Cleveland’s Bob Wickman or Guillermo Mota -- the Brewers will have some protection if Turnbow can't find his groove in a hurry.

The Brewers don't have a lot of time to fool around and neither do we, so it’s time to spray a few line drives around the ballpark as we try to stay cool and ignore the ESPY Awards this weekend:

Tomo Ohka will rejoin the Brewers’ rotation Tuesday night in San Francisco and Ben Sheets could be about a week behind him after the two wrapped up rehab stints in the Arizona Rookie League. Ohka gave up seven hits and two runs in a stint limited to three innings and 65 pitches so he'd be ready for the Giants. Sheets went 4 1/3 innings and gave up five hits and five runs. He struck out eight, but the pitching line -- probably compromised by a sun-baked infield, shaky defense and inconsistent umpire -- was irrelevant because Sheets felt fine and touched 94 mph on the gun. Look for him to pitch Wednesday for Class AAA Nashville and rejoin the Brewers’ rotation the following Monday or Tuesday. The Brewers are 5-17 in games started by Sheets and Ohka’s replacements.

When Sheets left the mound, Brewers officials watched top draft pick Jeremy Jeffress light up the radar gun at 101 mph during a 2 2/3-inning stint in which he gave up no hits, walked two and struck out three.

Congratulations to University of Wisconsin hockey star Joe Pavelski, who is leaving school to sign a two-year deal with the San Jose Sharks and condolences to coach Mike Eaves and the Badgers, who must defend their title without their five top scorers from last season.

Former Brewers catcher Chad Moeller, one of the "good guys" in pro sports, handled his recent demotion to Class AAA with class and went 2 for 4 with a double in his first game for Nashville.

Finally, keep an eye on what happens at Oak Creek High School, where officials are investigating the transfers of student athletes from Milwaukee Public Schools. There have been whispers about improprieties in the athletics program there for awhile, but rumors are common when schools experience success. This time, though, there seems to be at least a small fire amid the smoke.

Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.