Welcome to Saturday Scorecard, where we eagerly look forward to a magical October.
We're talking about the new Springsteen album, "Magic," which hits stores Oct. 2. Did you think we meant the Brewers? Sorry about that. On to the notes:
The wurst of times: Even the racing sausages have to feel embarrassed by what's going on at Miller Park, where the Brewers simultaneously dumped an 8-3 decision to Cincinnati and fell out of first place before a sellout crowd on an otherwise pleasant Friday night.
The Brewers have lost five in a row, nine of 11 and 14 of 19. The skid has been so hideous for so long that it's hard to call it a fluke. From this vantage point, the fluke is that the Brewers managed to stay in first place as long as they did (and could be back in that position when they report for duty on Sunday).
Since July 1, the Brewers are 15-27. There are plenty of reasons for this downward spiral, but -- as is usually the case -- starting pitching tops the list. Brewers starters are now 1-10 in their last 18 games.
Remember that wonderful 24-10 start that had Milwaukee in first place by a whopping seven games on May 10?
Half of those 24 victories were posted by the top three pitchers in the Brewers' starting rotation; Ben Sheets had two and Chris Capuano and Jeff Suppan had five apiece. None of those three pitchers has won a game since July 1.
Let that one sink in for a minute...
The Brewers have gone nearly seven weeks without a victory from any of the three starting pitchers who make a combined $20 million, which is almost one third of the team's $70 million payroll.
And yet, they wake up this morning just ½ game out of first place.
They don't call the division "Comedy Central" for nothing.
Welcome to Williamsport: You might say that the Brewers' defense resembled that of a little league team in the seventh inning Friday night. Of course, you would then have to apologize to little leaguers across the world.
With Jeff Keppinger on first, Reds rightfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., hit a slow roller to third baseman Ryan Braun. With the infield shifted toward the right in anticipation of Griffey pulling the ball, shortstop J.J. Hardy scrambled to cover second base. Braun's throw sailed into right field.
Gabe Gross picked it up and tried to throw Griffey out at second. His throw also went wide and sailed into foul territory in left field. Griffey, who should have had a fielder's choice at best, circled the bases and gave his team a 6-1 lead.
Quiz time: Two quick questions before we finish up with the Brewers for today:
1. Has Adam Dunn's homer landed yet? The Reds slugger's 455-foot blast off Scott Linebrink was estimated at 455 feet and is believed to be the first ball hit into the "Dew Deck" in right field during a game.
2. Which event had Brewers owner Mark Attanasio gulping more Alka-Seltzer this week: his team's play or the volatile stock market?
In the game: University of Wisconsin freshman running back John Clay attended his first practice on Friday. Clay, a former star at Racine Park, attended summer school in Racine to meet the academic requirements necessary for eligibility.
No consolation: In an effort to help take people's minds off the Michael Vick situation, NFL officials announced that "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest will host the pre-game and halftime festivities at the Super Bowl.
Milwaukee native Kato Kaelin, in town to judge a Hawaiian Tropic swimsuit pageant, must have been booked that week.
Farewell, Fergie: We have no problem with the Packers releasing wide receiver Robert Ferguson this week. The guy always struck us as a classic example of an underachiever, there are some decent prospects in camp and Koren Robinson may be reinstated at some point this season. With that said, it was strange that the team announced that Ferguson was on the way out while purportedly trying to trade him. That can't be good for your bargaining position.
Take it to the bank: Speaking of bargaining, it's hard to blame Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano for signing a five-year, $90 million contract extension. Our sources say he'd have made considerably more if he had pursued free agency.
"My strong belief is that we couldn't have replaced Carlos," Cubs GM Jim Hendry told reporters in Chicago. "I didn't have an appetite to be on the free agent pitching market all winter. There was nobody close to his ability available."
That's not good news for a certain local team that will be shopping for starters this winter.
Feat of the week: Arizona right-hander Brandon Webb threw his third straight shutout Friday night in Atlanta and extended his scoreless streak to 42 innings.
Stat of the week: Thanks to their recent pitching woes, the Brewers have been outscored this season, 597-574. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only four teams in Major League history have won their division when being outscored for the season. Those teams (drum roll, please): the 1984 Royals, 1987 Twins, 1997 Giants and 2005 Padres.
Mark your calendar: The Milwaukee Panthers unveiled their schedule this week and the two marquee dates are matchups Nov. 30 at Marquette and a home game Dec. 12 against Wisconsin.
Rising star: Marquette University golf standout Mike Van Sickle, whose father writes for Sports Illustrated and formerly worked at the Journal Sentinel, won the Pennsylvania State Open championship this week.
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.