Quiet loss teaches Crew you 'can't take it easy' vs. any team

June 10th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- The Oakland A’s were going to win three in a row at some point this season. The Brewers just didn’t want to see it happen on their watch.

surrendered four runs before getting his fifth out, and the Crew couldn’t muster much in the way of offense against a group of Oakland pitchers that included former Milwaukee farmhand Lucas Erceg in a 5-2 loss to the A’s on Friday night at American Family Field.

The 15-50 A’s, coming off a winning series in Pittsburgh, became the last of MLB’s 30 teams to enjoy a three-game winning streak this season. They did it behind a pitching staff that owns the Majors’ highest ERA at 6.50 but held the Brewers to four hits -- and none after the second inning.

“I think everybody forgets that they’re a Major League Baseball team,” Houser said. “It doesn’t matter what their record is. Those guys are on the field for a reason.”

Brewers manager Craig Counsell was talking about that earlier in the day as he prepared for his first regular-season matchup against one of his best friends in baseball, A’s skipper Mark Kotsay. They crossed paths with the World Series champion Marlins in 1997 before getting to know each other in ‘98, when a torn-down roster produced a 54-108 record.

"Look, losing's hard,” Counsell said. “But playing Major League Baseball is a lot of fun. You get an opportunity to go out and compete as a Major League Baseball player every day. There's a new game every day, and you turn the page. You're disappointed after a loss, but then you turn the page and you realize what the next day can bring.

“That's how you have to treat a good team, a bad team, a struggling team, an old team, a young team. You still get a chance to play the next day. I think that's how guys that are good at this treat it. It's how we try to treat it after we have a loss that doesn't feel good -- or if you're having losses a little more regularly.”

Counsell and Kotsay have remained great friends since their Marlins days. Kotsay was in Counsell’s wedding. They played together again with the Brewers in 2011. Their families have spent Thanksgivings together and have traveled to Europe together. On Friday morning, they played tennis.

"It’ll be weird looking across,” Kotsay said.

There was drama from the start of the friends’ debut regular-season matchup. Another former Brewers prospect, Esteury Ruiz, led off the game with a single, took second with his Major League-leading 30th steal of the season and advanced to third on catcher William Contreras’ throwing error. Ryan Noda walked, and two batters later, Ramón Laureano tripled down the right-field line to give the A’s a 2-0 lead.

For the second run on that pivotal play, Noda managed to slide home while avoiding the tag of Contreras, who had the baseball a step or two before Noda arrived. The Brewers challenged the safe call, but the umpires could not definitively determine whether the tag beat Noda’s touch of home plate with an acrobatic move. The call and the run stood.

“I thought he was out,” Houser said. “Incredible slide. That’s a heads-up play right there for him, knowing he could go under the glove there.”

The A’s tacked on two more runs against Houser, who entered the night coming off his finest start of the season -- a seven-inning, one-run outing at Cincinnati. He fared poorly against Oakland, allowing five earned runs on six hits and four walks and striking out four in four-plus innings.

Brewers hitters, meanwhile, went quiet after scoring twice in the second inning against A’s right-hander Luis Medina, who entered Friday 0-5 with an 8.19 ERA but pitched five otherwise effective innings behind left-handed opener Sam Moll. Milwaukee had no runs after Luis Urías’ RBI double hit the top of the right-field wall and bounced back into play in the second. It was his first hit in his 11th at-bat since returning from the injured list.

“We didn’t square the ball up against [Medina],” Counsell said. “We had multiple shots, but guys just didn’t get it done."

For the first time all season, the A’s are on a bona fide winning streak.

“They're still going to try to come out and beat you every time,” Houser said. “I went into it thinking the same way: 'They're trying to beat you, so you can't take it easy, can't take a day off. You have to go in there and attack.’ Today, they had a good game plan and were able to get to me."