At this point in the season, the Brewers can only play spoiler to teams still in the race. Thanks to John Axford getting his 6th multi-inning save of the season on Tuesday night, they were able to do so against the Cardinals, knocking St. Louis to 2 games behind Cincinnati.
Axford's 18 saves have him at 13th in the National League -- not bad for a guy who took over the role nearly two months into the season. Most of Axford's value has been in being able to nail down those multi-inning situations, and that's something that's rare in this era of one-inning specialists. Here's how Axford compares to the 12 guys ahead of him in saves when it comes to multi-inning efforts:
12. Jonathan Broxton - 21 saves, 1 multi-inning save
11. Octavio Dotel - 21 saves, 0 multi-inning saves
10. Ryan Franklin - 21 saves, 3 multi-inning saves
9. Carlos Marmol - 21 saves, 5 multi-inning saves
8. Matt Lindstrom - 22 saves, 0 multi-inning saves
7. Francisco Rodriguez - 25 saves, 4 multi-inning saves
6. Matt Capps - 26 saves, 2 multi-inning saves (NL numbers only)
5. Leo Nunez - 26 saves, 0 multi-inning saves
4. Billy Wagner - 29 saves, 0 multi-inning saves
3. Francisco Cordero - 32 saves, 0 multi-inning saves
2. Brian Wilson - 33 saves, 7 multi-inning saves
1. Heath Bell - 36 saves, 3 multi-inning saves
Given the fact that Axford only has 18 total saves in 20 chances, the fact that he has more multi-inning saves than anyone other than Wilson in the Top 12 is pretty damn impressive.
You can rip Macha for using Kameron Loe too much lately (hell, I have), but you can't fault him for using his closer in the most appropriate situations. One of the biggest problems I had with Ned Yost was his insistence on having an "8th inning guy" that he would stick with, even if it meant blowing a lead before the game got to the closer. Perhaps it's a function of Macha managing like every game might be his last, due to his uncertain job security. Or maybe he just understands that it's good policy to use your best relievers in the highest-leverage situations.
Either way, it's good to see. Especially when it's against the Cardinals.