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Zack Greinke former teammates say goodbye.
Zack Greinke former teammates say goodbye. (Photo: John Axford)

Brewers deal Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Standing in front of a tightly packed half-moon of reporters Friday night, Zack Greinke professed his adoration for Milwaukee, and his Brewers teammates.

On his way out the door to Anaheim, he also expressed some admiration.

"I'm gonna miss my time here. It was a lot of fun," he said. "Had a great team, a great group of guys, everyone gets along. It was fun to come to the clubhouse. It's probably surprising that everyone could still get along as good when we're not playing good. Where most teams if you're playing good you get along and if you're not playing good you usually aren't getting along. Here, it's a great group of guys."

He would know.

In his seven years in Kansas City, he went 60-67 in 169 starts as the Royals lost 100 games three times and 682 times overall.

In his 49 regular starts with the Brewers over 2011 and 2012, Greinke went 25-9 with a 3.67 earned run average with a 1.201 WHIP and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

"He did about all we could ask for," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said simply.

In looking over his time in Milwaukee, Greinke looked back on the National League Championship run made last fall fondly, but held himself accountable for the 12 earned runs he allowed in 16 2/3 innings in the postseason.

"I mean, I really feel like I could've done a lot more, especially in the playoffs last year," he said. "I guess everyone could do more but I feel like I'm upset with how that worked out. This year, you could always do more it feels like. But we went pretty far and it was a lot of fun. It was definitely the most fun I've ever had playing baseball."

The natural question to Greinke and Melvin was if the Brewers would go after him, and if so, would he consider returning to Milwaukee.

Melvin smiled and said he couldn't talk about a player on another team while Greinke answered sheepishly.

"Yeah," he said, looking down. "I haven't talked about anything going on with free agency. Like I said, I loved it here so it'll definitely be …

The Milwaukee Brewers have lost seven in a row.
The Milwaukee Brewers have lost seven in a row. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

A silver lining? Brewers don't seem to be giving up on the field

Nineteen days ago, I scoffed at the notion that the first nine games of the second half of the season would make-or-break the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers.

Then nine days ago, after a 4-2 start to the second half, I said the team came out of the gate responding to that pressure put upon them.

Now here we are on July 27, four days before the trade deadline and the Brewers have lost seven straight and fallen 10 games under .500.

Hope for the postseason is all but gone. So is ace Zack Greinke, and potentially several others.

Yet in the Brewers last nine losses only two have been by more than two runs. On the year, they have played 39 one-run games, losing 22 of them, many because of a shoddy bullpen.

"I think it's a testament to them as to how we've been playing," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Almost every game is a one run game. If we would've quit, we would've quit a long time ago. We're not going to quit.

"No matter what phase is not going the way we would like it. It could the offense, if the offense isn't scoring runs at all I would still feel confident our pitching staff would go out there and do a good job. So, everybody knows that it's got to be a whole team thing. Last year, the whole team went well. This year, the whole team as a group hasn't been consistent in all aspects of the game and that's why we're unfortunately where we are."

I've been proven right, and wrong, by this team through 98 games. Brewers fans can only hope they continue to prove Roenicke right over the last 64.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is heating up for the Brewers.
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is heating up for the Brewers.

Brewers begin second half performing under pressure

Francisco Rodriguez took nearly 40,000 fans at Miller Park along with him on a high wire act Wednesday afternoon, but in the end the Milwaukee Brewers packed their bags for Cincinnati having gone 4-2 out of the gate in the second half.

While I'm not one who felt this nine game stretch was particularly important in the grand scheme of things, I will say this – the team has been impressive in its response to the pressure put on it by manager Ron Roenicke and general manager Doug Melvin.

"We know what's at stake right now," second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "We just gotta go out there and try and put our best foot forward. I think we're doing a pretty good job of that. We've been playing pretty good baseball as of late. We just gotta close the door."

K-Rod has closed the door the last two nights, and former closer John Axford pitched well in middle relief today. If there has been one thing perhaps keeping this team from putting together a seven, eight-game winning streak, it's been the back end of the 'pen.

One could argue the team should have went 5-1 (even 6-0?) this home stand, which is a good thing. With bullpen instability, nagging injuries and new faces in the clubhouse, the team could have just as easily collapsed upon itself playing the first place Pittsburgh Pirates and hot-hitting St. Louis Cardinals.

They didn't, and I don't suspect they will on this road trip to first place Cincinnati and Philadelphia. From the sounds of it, neither does Roenicke.

"I think we know we can play with these guys," he said. "If we play a good game we can play with these guys. That showed in all six games. I know Cincinnati is playing really good ball right now, they've got real good pitching and I like their offense, too. So we've got to go in there and play the same kind of game."

It's mid-July, and the Brewers are three games under .500. They're still in fourth place in the division and as of this post, 7.5 games behind the Reds.

Winning five of the next six restarts…

Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has had an interesting week.
Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has had an interesting week. (Photo: Jim Owczarski)

Ron Roenicke's weird week

Ron Roenicke has been around the game of baseball a long, long time, breaking into the major leagues in 1981. If he hasn't seen it all, he's seen most of it.

But, the last week has been pretty eventful for the Brewers' skipper. It began in Houston last Saturday when starter Zack Greinke was ejected after four pitches, followed quickly to the showers by Roenicke himself (video below).

Then, Roenicke was off to Kansas City for the All-Star game as an assistant coach for manager Tony LaRussa.

Well, he got some unwanted face time there too as he was caught in Chipper Jones' "motivational" pre-game speech - forcing him to jump out of the frame as fast as he could.

Roenicke laughed about the moment before the game tonight, saying he had moved to that end of the clubhouse to move away from LaRussa in anticipation of the manager being captured on TV.

Greinke's quick ejection led to a second straight start Sunday before the break, which didn't go too well, and now a third here at Miller Park in a couple of hours.

It's the first time it's happened since 1917.

"It's strange when you look at that, Roenicke said. "It's weird. It was weird. leading up to what happened there and you certainly can't plan for that kind of stuff."