Two weeks into the 2009 season, neither club looks like it’s prepared to make a return to the playoffs.
Struggling left-handers Manny Parra and Jamie Moyer have been part of the early problems, and both will try to turn it around when the Brewers and Phillies open a three-game set Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
After Milwaukee won 90 games and the wild card last season for its first playoff appearance since 1982, the team managed nine runs while getting eliminated in four games by the Phillies, who went on to win their first World Series since 1980 and Philadelphia’s first title in a major sport in 25 years.
The Brewers (4-8) have dropped their last five regular-season games against the Phillies (5-6) and six straight overall at Citizens Bank Park. Milwaukee’s struggles at Philadelphia and the lopsided division series matchup, though, won’t be the focus as both teams have more pressing issues.
Milwaukee’s players won’t be looking for revenge, but will instead be trying to win a second straight game for the first time this season.
“We were feeling awfully good (last year) and went in there and got turned around,” outfielder Corey Hart told the Brewers’ official Web site. “It would be nice to go in there and have a good series, but we’re just trying to figure out how to play good baseball right now.”
The Brewers lost CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets from their rotation in the offseason, and the club is hitting .224. They had dropped six of seven before avoiding a sweep at Citi Field with Sunday’s 4-2 win over New York.
They had lost a pair of one-run games to open the series and lost 1-0 on Saturday, but Rickie Weeks had three hits and Todd Coffey earned the save by pitching the final 2 2-3 innings without allowing a run Sunday.
“We scraped and we scratched,” Milwaukee first-year manager Ken Macha said. “If we keep playing baseball like we played in this series, we’ll be fine.”
The Phillies also showed positive signs Sunday, avoiding a fourth straight loss when Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 5-4 win over San Diego.
Still, there are problems for Philadelphia - mainly on the mound. The Phillies’ starting pitchers have allowed at least one home run in each game as they’ve posted a 7.67 ERA.
“We haven’t gotten in sync yet,” manager Charlie Manuel told the team’s official Web site. “We’ve got some real good players. We’ve got some very professional players. … But we’ve also got some guys who need to look back and think about how we got there and what we did to be a winning team.”
Moyer (1-1, 6.55 ERA) was scheduled to start Monday’s series finale against the Padres, but that was postponed due to rain.
Moyer has allowed four runs in each of his two starts this season. He lasted just four innings in a Game 3 loss in the division series at Milwaukee, allowing two runs and walking three in the 4-1 defeat.
Parra (0-2, 6.97) pitched out of the bullpen in that series but hasn’t fared well in his return to the rotation. He walked four in six innings of a 6-1 loss to Cincinnati last Tuesday.
In his only start in Philadelphia, Parra lasted 1 1-3 innings, allowing five runs and seven hits in a 7-3 loss Sept. 13.