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Hart deal can't mask bigger problems

After a depressing three-game sweep in Houston and in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Brewers created some positive news on Monday when they announced that rightfielder Corey Hart agreed to a three-year contract extension.

But, the bleak season continues.

A sweep in Houston pushed the Brewers' losing streak to five in a row and dropped their record to 48-58. That puts them on pace to finish with a 73-89 record, which would be their worst finish since 2004 (67-94).

This was not what anyone in the organization expected when the season began. And the ugliness could intensify.

Left-hander Randy Wolf, whose struggles on the mound this season have been a significant problem, left the game Sunday with a bruised left wrist. Wolf was cruising with a 2-0 lead against the Astros when he got smoked. Now, he could easily miss a start and might even end up on the disabled list, forcing the Brewers to scramble.

It's not unusual for a team in the Brewers' circumstance to sag a bit after the trading deadline. These are, after all, the "dog days" of the season. Teams that don't make moves -- even those with no hopes of competing -- often droop a bit as the reality a disappointing campaign (and two months to go) smacks them in the face.

The flip side of that is, come September, teams that seem to have nothing to play for often rise up and play well because they aren't weighed down by expectations.

The Brewers have to hope for the latter. The final two months of this season will test their professionalism and the thickness of their skin, because many of the fans who are still paying attention are angry about the way things have gone down this season.

The Brewers like to celebrate "retro" nights. They'll wear old uniforms and honor former players with bobblehead giveaways, etc. The idea of falling off the radar before the first cream puff is served at State Fair is not a tradition they want to continue.


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