The Milwaukee Brewers wonder if they’ll ever wake up from their already nightmarish September in time to remain a serious postseason contender.
After another frustrating defeat, the reeling Brewers try to avoid being swept by the Cincinnati Reds in their final road game of the regular season Sunday afternoon.
Milwaukee (84-71) found another demoralizing way to lose Saturday, falling 4-3 at Cincinnati for its third consecutive defeat while dropping to 1-8 on the 10-game road trip.
On the same day the Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central with a win over St. Louis, the Brewers fell to 4-15 in September and 2 1/2 games back of current wild-card leader New York with seven to play. Milwaukee, which entered this month with a 5 1/2-game lead in the wild-card race, returns home after Sunday to face Pittsburgh and the Cubs to close the regular season.
“It’s definitely an uphill battle now,” Brewers interim manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s getting to that point where realistically you’ve got to win every game almost.”
After blowing a four-run lead with two outs in the ninth in an extra-inning loss to the Cubs on Thursday and allowing seven home runs to the Reds (72-82) in an 11-2 setback Friday, Milwaukee couldn’t manage a victory despite having their ace on the mound Saturday.
Pitcher Micah Owings had a two-run pinch-hit single off CC Sabathia to erase a 2-1 Brewers’ lead and highlight a three-run sixth inning for Cincinnati, which has won consecutive games and six of seven.
“When it rains, it pours, and we’ve been getting kind of a raw deal on everything now,” said Sabathia, who suffered his second straight loss after winning his first nine decisions with the Brewers.
Prince Fielder, who doubled and drove in a run to extend his hitting to 11 games, is one of the few Milwaukee hitters not currently struggling, but struck out with the bases load to end the game and extend the Brewers’ slide.
“If you look too much at it, you’ll never get out of it,” said Fielder, who is hitting .429 (18-for-42) with six doubles and 12 RBIs during his streak.
Milwaukee won’t have it easy trying to bounce back in this contest against Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo (15-10, 4.57 ERA). He allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 7-2 win over St. Louis on Tuesday to set a career high for wins and improve to 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA over his last six starts.
“It was nice getting that 15th win and getting over that plateau—and I still have two starts left,” said the right-hander, who is 7-3 with a 3.24 ERA in 12 starts versus Milwaukee and 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA in three against the Brewers in 2008.
Milwaukee is expected to go with Seth McClung (5-6, 4.22) in a spot start. With Ben Sheets hurt, McClung will make his 12th start of the season and first since July 21, when he allowed two runs in five innings of a 6-3, 10-inning win at St. Louis.
McClung, 4-4 as a starter in 2008, was originally slated to start Friday’s game, but was pushed back after pitching two scoreless innings Thursday against Chicago.
The right-hander allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-2 loss on July 12 in his only previous start versus the Reds.