Stumbling Out of the Gate

If there were ever a time when the Brewers needed to prove to the rest of the division they were serious about contending for the wild card, this is the trip to do it. They had the opportunity to turn around their horrid luck on the road and failed miserabley.

Only two games into the second half, questions are already starting to pop up about the validity of this team. First of all, what in God’s name did Derrick Turnbow eat, drink, step in, go, or do to completely lose any semblence of the all-star caliber performance he put on in April. In his past five games T-Bow has blown three saves and posted an ERA somewhere north of the Yukon (34.71). Just as distrubing is the fact that he’s gotten only one – count ’em : one – strike out during that time.

"Major-league hitters can hit a 98-mph fastball if it’s up and over the plate," Manager Ned Yost said in the Journal-Sentinel today. "They do try to ambush it. When you ambush and you get pitches right down the middle, over the plate, you’re going to hit them."

This becomes quite the problem considering the fastball used to be not only his trademark pitch, but also the most often one that he relied on. Now that hitters and scouting reports begin to adjust to his heat, Turnbow has had to work more on controlling his slider. This has turned into a large X-Factor due to the fact that whene he has it working, hitters chase it out of the zone when used after his fastball. But when it’s not on, he’s getting burned. He seriously needs to pull his head out of whatever dark and damp area he’s shoved it in.

Another continuing problem is getting the pitching and hitting to go on good streaks at the same time. Earlier in the season the Crew were demolishing long balls and over all had a very good team batting average. The pitching was horrid, in large part due to the inconsistency and loss of Ben Sheets and loss of Tomo Ohka, but the bats were able to keep them in games. Then in June Prince Fielder started cooling off, Bill Hall began striking out more, Jenkins was Jenkins and the meltdown began. The bullpen improved but not nearly enough to keep the team in games.

And now with the second half in full swing, we’re seeing more of the same thing. Turnbow blew yet another save Friday night and the D-Backs blew Cappuano, one of our few success stories of the year, clear out of the water. If the Brewers can win this afternoon and avoid the sweep the team’s entire first half will have been symoblized in one series. Blown save, blown away, win.

We need Sheets. We need Ohka. We really need J.J. And we need them more than Aaron Rowand needs a padded wall.


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