Lineup hits cold stretch at end of red-hot July
Brewers handed 1st back-to-back shutouts this season
PHOENIX -- After being shut out for the second straight day in Sunday's 3-0 loss to the D-backs, the Brewers' red-hot July is threatening to end with a deep freeze.
After going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, the Brewers were hitless in their last 19 at-bats in the clutch. In losing consecutive shutouts over the weekend for the first time since April 2013, the Brewers went 0-for-16 in those situations.
"We just haven't been able to put innings together," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We just haven't been able to keep the line moving the last couple of days. We're in a little bit of a drought here, but I'm confident we'll score runs."
That's because Counsell's club has shown it is capable of scoring runs in bunches. From the start of July through Thursday, the Brewers owned baseball's best OPS (.859), second best scoring rate (5.88 runs per game, tops in the National League) and fifth-best batting average with runners in scoring position (.287).
On Friday, Jimmy Nelson was able to pitch the Brewers to a 2-1 win. But with no Brewers' offense on Saturday and Sunday, the D-backs won games by scores of 2-0 and 3-0. On Sunday, the Brewers were without regular first baseman Adam Lind (back), center fielder Carlos Gomez (day off) and Jean Segura (sick).
"Obviously our offense was pretty bad," said Jonathan Lucroy, who started at first base on Sunday and accounted for one of Milwaukee's four hits. "We weren't very good in the clutch, and we weren't very good with less than two outs and a runner on this. And I'm including myself there."
Lucroy's biggest missed opportunity came in the third inning, when Brewers starter Matt Garza and leadoff man Gerardo Parra began with successive singles against Arizona starter Jeremy Hellickson. Lucroy flew out to medium right field, too shallow to score Garza, who was then thrown out at the plate on Ryan Braun's bouncer to third. Khris Davis ended the inning with one of his four strikeouts.
"You can't go out there and put runners on and not get them in and expect to win games," Lucroy said. "We have to be better at that. It's all contagious. You can't take anything away from their pitchers, because they did a good job of mixing and executing in situations, but we need to put some better swings on the ball in those situations.
Especially myself. I left a lot of guys stranded, and I'm not too happy about that."
Lucroy's results in clutch situations have suffered this season along with the rest of his numbers. He is hitting .250 with 17 RBIs in 56 at-bats with runners in scoring positon. Last season, Lucroy batted .265 in those situations, with 53 RBIs in 136 at-bats.