The Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers have not been swept in a series. I don’t know if any team has ever avoided a sweep for an entire season?
There seems to be a great deal of luck or good fortune in winning on a regular basis. There are an incredible number of extra inning and one run games in which a critical play could go either way deciding a game’s outcome. But baseball is more than a lottery and each team designs a concept to increase the odds of winning. Solid pitching is the consensus place to start.
Unfortunately, draft picks don’t always develop. Trades turn to duds. Injuries happen. There are financial considerations, bad bounces and arms that sometimes weaken and lose their oomph.
The Brewers have been fortunate. Their starting staff features four pitchers expected to keep the game close and there have been no injuries, so far anyway. Prolonged losing streaks have been avoided.
Jean Segura at shortstop and Carlos Gomez in centerfield have incredible instinct and range; fighting forest fire rallies. The effect is not as obvious as a three run homer, but the result is the same. Pitchers are not afraid to throw strikes with Segura and Gomez behind them.
And on offense, no one wants to strike out with runners in scoring position. The winning atmosphere seems to be the same as a losing one, some sort of psychological virus. The Brewers have four different players with 40 or more RBI’s.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, second baseman Scooter Gennett, and right fielder Ryan Braun have the numbers; either a high average or those RBI totals. It comes as no surprise. The three have always been hitters; probably all the way back to little league. The numbers are impressive, but their approach at the plate is maybe what spreads to others. They hit what the pitcher gives them. They don’t force the issue; don’t try to be heroes.
In contrast, Carlos Gomez swings like there is no tomorrow. The Brewers let him be and overlook the wild swings. I think it’s part faith and patience in him as a player and part trust in him seeing teammates work a count, fouling off the opponent’s best stuff, and going with the pitch. The timing and balance will return. Gennett, Braun and Lucroy are the example. The objective becomes collective; get on base-send the pitcher to the shower.
Gomez hadn’t hit a home run since June 5th. He took some extra batting practice; discussed the situation with hitting coach Johnny Narron. I imagine the conversation was Gomez expressing himself like a party balloon squeeking out air and Narron listening. Gomez is delicate despite the loud and aggressive play. He’s been given the keys to the city. There is no threat of platoon or being pulled out of the lineup if he slumps.
Earlier this season, he was inserted into the clean up position. He follows Gennett, Braun, and Lucroy who were also bumped up higher in the batting order. Gomez stands in the on deck circle and watches their approach. On Saturday, he watched Braun and Lucroy go with the pitch; two consecutive solid singles. Gomez followed with a three run homer.
On the mound, Matt Garza faced the minimum through the first five innings. He’s finding his groove after a rough April and May. The Rockies mounted a rally with bloop hits in the 6th and 7th, but it wasn’t enough. Braun had already driven in two more Brewer runs with a triple. Final score; Brewers 7, Rockies 4.
Gomez left the game after colliding with Braun; a mild neck strain. He’s listed as day-to-day. Segura also left the game with leg cramps. The Brewers played previously this season without Braun and Aramis Ramirez and they won because of solid starting pitching and an incredibly consistent bullpen.
Kyle Lohse stands composed in the middle of an imaginary wild storm. The bases are loaded, but you wouldn’t know it looking at him, He looks the same with the bases empty in the seventh inning of a 2-hit shutout. Lohse earned his stripes. He stumbled around the major leagues for a decade as a mediocre pitcher.
Only recently did his mind and arm sync. Lohse is like any other pitcher. He often doesn’t have command of his best pitches. Lohse learned to adjust to the circumstances of the day; maybe a Lucroy’s equivalent of going with the pitch, something for teammates to see and they do.
The Brewers are 51-32.