Another road game...another road loss.
The Brewers began their 9-game road interleague portion of their '07 season in Arlington to face the hapless Texas Rangers, who came into the series 18 games below .500, and lost the game one slugfest 9-6, thanks largely to the Rangers getting 16 hits off Brewers' pitching.
The Rangers' 2-run second and 4-run fourth sent starter Chris Capuano to the showers after only 4 IP, allowing 8 of the hits, plus 4 BB's, en route to 6 runs (all earned) and the loss. The loss brings Cappy to 5-5, 4.35.
The Crew mustered a 5-run 7th off the tiring Rangers' starter, Robinson Tejada, who, despite getting credited for all 6 runs on the night, still got the win to up his record to 5-6, 6.47. Tejada was tagged for a pair of 2-run homers with 2 outs in the frame--first by leadoff hitter Corey Hart (his 4th of the year), then, again, by third-baseman Ryan Braun just two batters later, (also Braun's 4th of the year).
Just for giggles, I thought I'd quick check the Brewers' stats over the past 30 days (a timeframe where the Crew has gone 9-18):
* J.J. Hardy had the most AB's during this timeframe and, despite 7 HR's, just a .226/.265/.434 line
* Prince Fielder hit .302 with 12 HR's and 20 RBI's
* Billy Hall (.227), Johnny Estrada (.207), Geoff Jenkins (.197) are all in massive slumps
* Corey Hart has played in 22 of the 27 games, and hit .345, much of that out of the leadoff spot
* Chris Capuano and Jeff Suppan lead in starts, with 6 apiece: Suppan is 2-4, 5.59 with 18 BB's to 13 K's; Cappy is 0-5, 6.89, with 15 BB's to 29K's
* Ben Sheets, Saturday's starter, is 4-1, 2.81 with 5 BB's to 27 K's
* Dave Bush is 0-3, 5.58, while Claudio Vargas is 1-1, 5.74
* Coco Cordero continues to shine with 8 games, 8 IP, and 7 saves...and 0.00 ERA
* Brian Shouse, the lone lefty reliever, has had a 10.80 ERA over 3.33 IP; Derrick Turnbow had had a 9.00 ERA over the last 30 days
Despite this, the Brewers are still 4 games ahead of both the Cubs and Cards (in the loss column). Despite the lead, the Brewers' coaches and GM staff have got to be thinking of ways to shuffle personnel to jump start this team. Ryan Braun's addition helped, albeit momentarily. If Rickie Weeks can return at 100%, there's an outside shot that he might provide a spark on offense, but don't count on Elmer Dessens' return to help much. Yovani Gallardo, now 8-2, 2.89 in Nashville, could be added to replace Capellan or Shouse, but Gallardo is both a starter and a righty, meaning he'd either pitch out of the pen or bump another starter. As for lefties in Nashville to replace Shouse, Mitch Stetter, Zach Jackson, Joe Thatcher, and Adam Pettyjohn are all available--but Jackson has a 5.07 ERA as a starter, while Stetter and Pettyjohn each have 5+ ERA's and less than 6 IP of work apiece. That leaves Joe Thatcher, added late during Cactus League, who has 8.67 IP under his belt, a 3.12 ERA and--most importantly--15 K's to just 3 BB's. The 25 year-old Thatcher is ready, it would seem, to replace the 38 year-old Shouse, who could easily be traded to the Devil Rays, Yankees or White Sox for a "player-to-be-named." Giving Carlos Villanueva a start during the next week and giving an extra day's rest to all the other starters not named Ben Sheets might help at least one of the other starters get out of their funk.