WASHINGTON -- The Brewers' contingent didn't exactly arrive at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard as conquering heroes, having flown in on owner Mark Attanasio's Gulfstream V after becoming the first team in a dozen years to be swept in a five-game series, capping a road trip in which they
WASHINGTON -- The Brewers' contingent didn't exactly arrive at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard as conquering heroes, having flown in on owner Mark Attanasio's Gulfstream V after becoming the first team in a dozen years to be swept in a five-game series, capping a road trip in which they dropped seven of eight games to the sub-.500 Marlins and Pirates.
It was a brutal, painful, exhausting, pick-your-pejorative kind of week, especially since it came at the end of a stretch of 21 games in 20 days. But after arriving in the nation's capital for the All-Star festivities, Lorenzo Cain & Co. were determined to enjoy themselves.
:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::
"It was a tough week," said Cain in the understatement of the Brewers' season to date. "Definitely something we didn't want to go through, but it happened. We have to move on from it, move past it and get ready to go in the second half, because there's a lot of baseball still to go.
"We're still a good team."
Ample evidence of that surrounded Cain at Nationals Park on Monday as he sat a room with the rest of the National League All-Stars. Five of them are Brewers -- Cain, Jesus Aguilar, Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Christian Yelich -- giving Milwaukee its biggest Midsummer Classic contingent in 50 seasons as a franchise. The five Brewers players led NL teams, matched the best-in-baseball Red Sox, and one shy of the six sent by the World Series champion Astros.
Manager Craig Counsell made the case that Milwaukee's representation was warranted after the team set a franchise record with 55 wins before the break, matching the Cubs for the most in the NL.
Problem is, the Brewers have been sitting on 55 wins for a week. They won the middle game of a three-game series in Miami, but that was bookended by extra-inning losses to a Marlins team that finished the first half 16 games under .500. Then came five straight losses in Pittsburgh, including both ends of a doubleheader on Saturday and a rain-soaked, 10-inning loss on Sunday that featured a pair of blown saves.
The Brewers reached the All-Star break 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. They have equal win totals, but Chicago has five fewer losses.
Did the six-game losing streak tarnish the Brewers' otherwise inspired first half?
"No. It's definitely not a great way to end the first half, especially for how well we played for most of it," Yelich said. "But every team really goes through a stretch like that. We hadn't gone through a stretch like that since we got swept in Chicago in April. We played really well after that point -- we went a whole month without losing back-to-back games.
"It happens. There were a couple of tough losses, games we usually win when we're in that position that we weren't able to win. I think the All-Star break came at a pretty good time for us. Get away from it for a few days."
For Hader and Jeffress, it was like coming home. Hader is from 30 minutes away, in Millersville, Md., and has a contingent of family and friends coming on Tuesday night. Jeffress is from South Boston, Va., about 3 1/2 hours away, and instead of scratching and clawing for the 32 tickets he needed, he joked he had to "buy and claw."
Both brushed off the idea that the Brewers' weak first-half finish tarnished the All-Star experience.
"This is a nice little reset," Hader said.
Said Jeffress: "Everybody needed to see their families and have a little break. For the guys that came here, we're going to soak the moment in a little bit."
Cain, who recently spent time on the disabled list with a groin injury, hoped to rest as much as possible.
"I'm going to wind down and try to not think about baseball for a little bit before the second half starts," he said. "I understand we still have a lot of work to do."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.