“Second halves, they’re forgotten,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “They’re history. They’re old news.”
Mench, who hit .230 with only one home run after he was traded to Milwaukee last July, now finds himself competing for playing time in left field with Brewers veteran Geoff Jenkins.
Turnbow, meanwhile, made the NL All-Star team last season as the Brewers’ closer, but lost that job to Francisco Cordero after a string of blown saves.
“It’s a new year, and he’s got a fresh start as well,” Mench said.
But if the new season is time for a fresh start, somebody must have forgotten to tell the Dodgers.
A team widely considered a World Series favorite, the Dodgers have lost the first two games of their opening series—scoring a total of only four runs in the process.
“There’s no panic,” left fielder Luis Gonzalez said. “We have a long way to go. Talk to us in July and August, the pennant race, and see where we’re at.”
Russell Martin’s solo homer off Brewers starter Chris Capuano gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Martin, who became the Dodgers’ starting catcher as a rookie last May, was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
And the Dodgers had a chance to take control of the game after loading the bases in the sixth, but Brewers reliever Brian Shouse (1-0) came in and got Juan Pierre to ground into a forceout to end the inning and earn the victory.
“We had a couple of opportunities in the game to bust it open tonight,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “It didn’t happen. But it will.”
With one out in the sixth, catcher Johnny Estrada hit a grounder deep in the hole at shortstop and beat the throw for an infield single. Mench then hit the first pitch he saw from Randy Wolf over the wall in left-center.
Although Mench and Jenkins both struggled last season—and neither has seemed particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of platooning—Yost expects them to thrive in their new roles. Yost will try to keep both of them relatively happy by getting them a roughly equal number of at-bats.
“We all want to play, and we’re going to jump at any opportunity we’re going to get,” Mench said.
Turnbow has accepted his reduced role, and says he learned from last year’s mistakes. His slider betrayed him, and he started messing with his mechanics.
“Then panic mode set in,” Turnbow said. “I learned to never let that happen again.”
Turnbow pitched a perfect eighth, although he did get a rise out of the crowd by giving up a long flyout. Cordero then struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save—an impressive overall outing for the Brewers’ bullpen.
Capuano struggled with his command, giving up five hits and three runs while striking out six and walking two in five innings.
“I’d like to do it a little more like Benny did it yesterday,” Capuano said, referring to teammate Ben Sheets’ two-hitter on opening day.
Capuano was happy to see his teammates pick him up—especially Turnbow.
“That was a big outing for him,” Capuano said.
Wolf (0-1) went six innings for Los Angeles, giving up seven hits and four runs. He allowed homers to Mench and Prince Fielder.
The Dodgers made a high-profile play to bolster their rotation in the offseason, signing Wolf and Jason Schmidt, who will pitch against Milwaukee in the series finale Wednesday.
“He was very good tonight,” Little said about Wolf. “He made a mistake on Mench and it cost us the game.”
Wolf hit two batters with pitches, Rickie Weeks in the first and Estrada in the third. Both stayed in the game. … After signing a four-year, $42 million deal in the offseason, right-hander Jeff Suppan makes his Brewers debut against Schmidt on Wednesday. … Attendance was 22,603.
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