Brewers Commentary: Average Second Week

It’s a sure sign of how far the Brewers have come over the last couple of seasons, and how different the expectations now are for the once cellar-dwelling club.

Milwaukee had by definition an average second week, going 3-3 beginning with last Sunday’s series closer against San Francisco. But after getting out to a 6-1 start overall, beginning the third week of the season at 7-4 and 1-1/2 games behind St. Louis can’t help but seem disappointing.

Certainly much more went wrong over the last few games than during the first few, including a three-game losing streak in which the Brewers were outscored 20-7 by the Reds and the Mets.

But the week was also book ended by stellar pitching performances by ace Ben Sheets last Sunday and Saturday and a stirring comeback victory on Tuesday.

So to honor the good and recognize the bad, here’s three hits, three outs, and three foul balls for the Brewers from April 6-April 12.

Hits:

1. Ben Sheets. When people say that the Brewers will be fine as long as Ben Sheets stays healthy, they aren’t kidding. Sheets has been nothing short of outstanding so far this season. Last Sunday he shut out the Giants in a complete game 7-0 victory, and he ended the week by impressively outdueling Mets ace Johan Santana 5-3. Sheets’s ERA is now 1.17 with 20 strikeouts and only four walks. More importantly, his presence on the mound solidifies his club, leading to confidence-building victories when things seem to be spiraling downward. His impressive performance on Saturday against Santana halted Milwaukee’s first losing streak of the season at three.

2. Bill Hall. Though his production this last week slowed, Hall still leads the team in home runs (5) and RBIs (10). His biggest hit of the week came in Tuesday’s victory over the Reds, when his seventh-inning homer gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead in a game they would eventually win 3-2.

3. Gabe Kapler. Who would have expected this from a player who’s been retired for the last three seasons? Three home runs, 8 RBIs, and a .364 average. This is how teams win — by getting more than expected from journeyman players. Kapler’s productivity means that Ned Yost will have some tough lineup decisions to make when Tony Gwynn Jr. comes off the DL and Mike Cameron’s suspension is over.

Foul Balls:

1. Ryan Braun. The RBIs (8) and HRs (3) are there, but he’s only hitting .229. He’s also drawn zero walks so far with nine strikeouts, so he’s not being selective with his hitting.

2. Eric Gagne. Another questionable week for the Brewers’ new closer, as Gagne blew another save on Tuesday but blew through the three Mets he faced on Saturday to get his second save of the season. Still, seeing Francisco Cordero in a Reds uniform this week hurts for Brewers fans.

3. Jason Kendall. Kendall ended a seven-game hitting streak on Friday, then proceeded to go zero for his next seven at-bats. Kendall’s hitting percentage dropped a whopping 114 points in two games. Ouch.

Misses:

1. Dave Bush. Paging Yovani Gallardo. Bush is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA. Thankfully, Bush should be out of the Brewers’ rotation soon thanks to Gallardo’s imminent return.

2. The Bullpen. Forget about Gagne for a second. Anytime your bullpen combines to give up seven runs over three innings as the Brewers’ relievers did on Wednesday, you’ve got issues.

3. Prince Fielder. No home runs yet and a 0-for-11 performance against the Cincinnati Reds? Somebody buy this man a McRib.

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