Rising temperatures: Brewers' frustrations mount in sweep by Cubs
It took one week. Seven days before, the Milwaukee Brewers' players woke up dancing. They were on top of the world after a 7-0 trip and an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, a divisional foe and a team fighting the Brewers for...
It took one week.
Seven days before, the Milwaukee Brewers' players woke up dancing.
They were on top of the world after a 7-0 trip and an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, a divisional foe and a team fighting the Brewers for playoff positioning.
Seven days later, the Brewers walked out of Miller Park in silence, their heads bowed, momentum swiped and their confidence and even poise crumbled.
That happens when you come home as world beaters and the talk of the town, then win once during a seven-game home stand, including losing four straight to your most hated rival, the Chicago Cubs, the last in an embarrassing blowout.
The Cubs put the detailing on the series victory by running away with an 11-4 victory Thursday afternoon, completing the sweep and booting the Brewers five games behind them in the National League Central standings in front of the second-largest crowd -- 45,346 -- in Miller Park history, many of them chanting "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!" in the final inning.
It was the first time the club was swept in a four-game series at home since the Cubs did it in May 2003.
"We were pretty much embarrassed," Ryan Braun said. "They played better than us in all facets of the game.
"It's unfortunate that we picked this series to probably play our worst overall baseball of the year."
Frustration came frighteningly -- and excitingly -- close to boiling over in the ninth when Milwaukee's Eric Gagne threw behind Jim Edmonds, who had already hit two home runs in the game. Gagne was ejected and his replacement, Seth McClung, threw his first pitch way inside to Geovany Soto.
Gagne would not say whether the pitch was intentional, but did state the obvious.
"It doesn't matter what I think (about the ejection)," Gagne said. "They played a great four games; they beat us. We got schooled. They played a lot better than we did. We haven't done anything right in four days."
Edmonds was asked if he thought the pitch was a sign of the Brewers' frustration.
"I would think so," he said. "And I'd bet a lot of money that it didn't come from the pitcher."
Prince Fielder led off the bottom of the ninth and after a called strike from plate umpire Doug Eddings, Fielder screamed at him. After flying out, Fielder smashed his bat into the dirt and snapped it. Then after crossing first and heading for the dugout, he screamed some expletives at Eddings, and once Fielder reached the dugout, he was ejected and stubbornly sat on the bench for a while before finally walking toward the clubhouse.
Anger from the losses, the lack of offensive production, a final one-sided loss and seeing their house overtaken by Cubs faithful caused the outbursts.
"Nobody's happy after a game like this," manager Ned Yost said. "I'd be really upset if they were. We don't like the fact that we allowed their fans to come into our park and have a four-day party.
"But that's our fault."
The Cubs outscored the Brewers, 31-11, in the series, and it was Chicago, not Milwaukee, that dominated with pitching as well. Rich Harden, who was the Cubs' answer to the CC Sabathia trade, finished off the sweep with seven innings pitched, one run allowed and nine strikeouts.
The Brewers finished the series 2 for 24 with runners in scoring position, both hits coming in the ninth when it didn't mean a thing other than to save a bit of face.
Edmonds got the Cubs' party going with a home run to lead off the third inning, but his blast in the fourth was the deal breaker.
Dave Bush got the first two outs of the inning, but a walk to Aramis Ramirez after he had a two-strike count, a double from Kosuke Fukudome and a ball off Mark DeRosa's arm on a 0-2 count loaded the bases.
Edmonds then went after a changeup down and away and punched it the other way over the left-field wall for a 5-0 lead. The Cubs posted four more in the eighth and two more in the ninth.
The ugly home stand also saw the Brewers give back every inch of ground they made up during the undefeated trip, plus one extra game.
But, as Braun noted, the team is in exactly the same place it was coming out of the all-star break.
"This is not a death sentence by any means," Yost said. "If it was in September, yeah, this would hurt. But we have plenty of time to recover from this and get back on track and right the ship."
-- Copyright (c) 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services