Welcome to Sunday Scorecard. We'll keep this installment brief, because this is a day for paying attention to Mom.
On to the notes...
Closing argument: The embattled closer doomed his team to defeat, trudged off the mound and then stood in the clubhouse to claim responsibility, proclaim embarrassment and express doubt about his suitability for the job.
It happened to Jason Isringhausen on Friday night. Within 12 hours, he was removed as St. Louis' closer.
It happened to Eric Gagne on Saturday afternoon. By today, he could be out of the role as well.
"Closing is an emotional job," Gagne said. "It's a rollercoaster. If you do good, you're a hero. You do bad, you're a zero."
Isringhausen (1-4), who leads the National League with 11 saves, has a 7.47 earned run average.
Though he didn't get a blown save Saturday, Gagne (1-2) has blown five saves in 14 chances and his earned run average is 6.89.
"I'm embarrassed. I'm going to keep going out there, keep fighting, but it's embarrassing," Gagne said. "Every time we get a little momentum, I come out there and kill the rally."
Brewers manager Ned Yost, never one to make rash decisions, showed tepid support for Gagne after the game.
"I don't sit here and make decisions five minutes after a tough loss," Yost said. "I take a long time to analyze things. I give everybody the benefit of the doubt and try to make the decision that's best for everybody. I don't make rash, quick, off-the-handle decisions."
A few minutes later, Gagne may have made the decision for his manager. "I don't deserve that ninth inning right now," Gagne said. "It's that simple."
If Yost was uncertain about what to do, Gagne may have made the decision for him. Closers have to be confident to succeed. Gagne is anything but confident, so the Brewers will have to look elsewhere until he regains his mojo.
Squeezed: Gagne probably would have entered the game with a lead on Saturday, but veteran catcher Jason Kendall missed a squeeze bunt sign and the Brewers squandered a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the eighth.
"I missed the sign," Kendall said. "Completely unacceptable. It can't happen. I lost us the game right there. I missed the sign and I can't do that. I screwed up. It doesn't matter the situation, I missed the sign and that can't happen."
The snafu prompted many fans to question Yost's wisdom in calling for the squeeze in the first place. From our vantage point, it was a perfect call. La Russa uses the squeeze a lot himself and is an expert at sniffing out opponents' attempts to do the same. The Cardinals didn't pitch out. Kendall, a good bunter, got a pitch down the middle and let it go. It was, as he said, inexcusable.
As for Yost's decision, consider the alternative. Kendall hits groundballs at an astonishing rate. His propensity to hit into double plays was a factor in Yost's decision to bat him ninth in the order, behind the pitcher.
Hot seat: Given the Brewers' sluggish start, it's not surprising that frustrated fans and some media are calling for Yost to be fired. Many of the same people were calling for Yost's dismissal when the team was in first place last year.
I think the talk is premature, primarily because I don't think a club that is two games below .500 on Mother's Day is in any kind of dire crisis. (Three of the four National League playoff teams last year entered June with losing records).
I don't know if Yost will last through this season, but given what I know about Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio, I think he's safe at least until the all-star break.
Because I've defended Yost in the past, many consider me an "apologist" for the manager. The truth is that I think most fans grossly overestimate the impact a manager, hitting coach and pitching coach have during games. Managers make out the lineup and set the tone for the clubhouse, but I think the chess-like strategy probably influences the result of between five and 10 games per season.
I could list dozens of reasons for my belief, but I'll limit it to two rather well known names:
Jim Leyland: In 1997, the Marlins were loaded with high-priced talent, struggled at times during the season, won the wild-card and eventually claimed the World Series. Leyland was dubbed a genius. During the off-season, ownership gutted the team. The next year, with Leyland still at the helm, the Marlins lost 108 games. Did Jim Leyland get dumber over the course of five or six months? Of course not.
Geoff Jenkins: I covered Jenkins from the day he signed with the Brewers in 1995 until he left last fall. He played for five different managers and about as many hitting coaches. Jenkins had good seasons, bad seasons and a few that were in-between. No matter who put his name on the lineup card, the guy had trouble laying off breaking balls in the dirt.
If people are going to suggest that Yost and / or Jim Skaalen are responsible for Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun getting off to slow starts this spring, the position would suggest that Yost / Skaalen had a huge impact on both players' record-setting output last year.
That's simply unfair to the players involved.
One for the books: Amid the chaos of the late innings Saturday, Ben Sheets' milestone strikeout was overlooked. When Sheets fanned Cardinals third baseman Aaron Miles and slugger Albert Pujols in the first inning, he tallied the 1,082nd strikeout of his Brewers career and passed Teddy Higuera for first place on the franchise's all-time list.
Kindling: Have you noticed more bats breaking this season? A handful of hitters saw lumber shatter on Saturday and it seems to be a trend. Many of the bats are made of maple, which is harder and more dense than the more traditional ash models. Players also order bats with thinner handles (some use tools to file the handles further), and that could be a reason for the splintering.
Rumor mill: We expected the St. Louis Rams to announce a deal to conduct training camp at Concordia University in Mequon. In fact, it's a bit surprising that nothing has been announced yet. UW-Whitewater, which had hoped to land the Rams, has all but conceded.
The Wave will mark its 25th anniversary season this fall. At least that's the plan. There are rumors that the league and franchise could be in some financial trouble. The decision by Cudahy officials to squash plans for the Wave's soccer complex further fueled the rumors.
Just before the Packers released Koren Robinson, rumors began to swirl that the veteran wide receiver had been spotted consuming alcohol. The Packers said the release had to do with a glut of wide receivers. For Robinson's sake, we hope that was it.
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 OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.