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Crew's bats sputter in finale loss to Kuhl, Bucs

May 6, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Chase Anderson didn't have it Sunday. Neither did a Brewers offense that was supposed to be strengthened by the additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. Instead, Milwaukee was shut out for the seventh time in 35 games this season in a 9-0 loss to the Pirates at

MILWAUKEE -- Chase Anderson didn't have it Sunday. Neither did a Brewers offense that was supposed to be strengthened by the additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. Instead, Milwaukee was shut out for the seventh time in 35 games this season in a 9-0 loss to the Pirates at Miller Park.
The Brewers were limited to singles by Domingo Santana and Hernan Perez, and it doesn't get any easier. They are off Monday ahead of 15 straight games against 2017 playoff teams, beginning with Corey Kluber and the Indians on Tuesday night.
Milwaukee is already one shutout loss shy of its total from all of last season and on pace to be shut out 32 times in 2018. The dubious franchise record is 20 shutouts in 1972. That's the only year in club history that the Brewers were blanked more than 16 times.
Among National League teams, only the Marlins (3.28 runs per game entering Sunday) have had a harder time scoring than the Brewers (3.77). And that's with Cain (.358 wOBA) and Yelich (.348 wOBA) performing at or above their career levels.
"I don't really have an answer for you," cleanup hitter Travis Shaw said.

Shaw was 0-for-3 Sunday and has four hits in his last 42 at-bats, but the problem is more acute below Shaw's spot in the batting order. The Brewers are 25th of 30 Major League teams in wOBA at catcher, last at shortstop and next to last at second base, where Eric Sogard went 0-for-3 Sunday to extend his hitless streak to 0-for-27. He is batting .100 after 60 at-bats.
"Christian and Lorenzo have performed," Milwaukee general manager David Stearns said at the start of this homestand. "I think first base has performed. I think third base has performed. Probably elsewhere, we've had some inconsistent performances. In some places, we've had some underperformance.
"We're going to need better performances by certain segments of our team, certain positions on our team. And we expect we're going to get that."
With one-fifth of the regular season in the books, is it fair to consider personnel changes at underperforming positions?
"Sure, and I think that's something that this time of year, you continuously ponder," Stearns said.
Second base was a leading contender for a change before Brewers No. 10 prospect Mauricio Dubon, after extending his hitting streak to 23 games, sustained a left knee injury in a rundown during Triple-A Colorado Springs' game on Saturday. Farm director Tom Flanagan said the club is bringing Dubon to Milwaukee this week to be examined by head physician Dr. William Raasch.
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Another Triple-A infield option, Nate Orf, extended his own hitting streak to 17 games on Sunday. For Orf to be called up, a spot on the Brewers' 40-man roster would have to be cleared.
"We're just not getting production out of the bottom of the lineup," manager Craig Counsell said. "It's been the catcher spot and largely second base and shortstop. We've got a bunch of players struggling in those spots. We've got to look at options, of course.
"The best way, and what we're trying to do, is get the guys that are here going. That's ultimately going to be the way that has the most success. But you always have to look at [making changes], yeah."
Anderson surrendered home runs in each of the first two innings before the Pirates blew the game open with four runs in the sixth against him and reliever Jacob Barnes. Jordy Mercer finished with three hits and two RBIs, and Corey Dickerson delivered a pair of RBIs to back Pirates starter Chad Kuhl, who allowed only Santana's single plus two walks in seven scoreless innings while striking out eight.
The Pirates have won all six of Kuhl's career starts against the Brewers. He has a 1.91 ERA in those games.
"Our offense is going to score runs," Anderson said. "Our guys are some of the best in the league. I have confidence in those guys. … Our job as pitchers is to keep runs off the board so those guys feel like they have a chance."
Even after Anderson's shaky outing, the Brewers (20-15) still rank fourth in the Majors with a 3.40 ERA.
Long ball burns Anderson: Anderson put Brewers hitters in an early hole after Pirates leadoff man Adam Frazier hit the game's second pitch for a home run in Pittsburgh's two-run first inning, and Mercer hit another solo shot with one out in the second. At that moment, Anderson had pitched 41 1/3 innings in 2018 and surrendered 10 home runs. All of last season, he pitched 141 1/3 innings and surrendered 14 home runs. All told Sunday, Anderson was charged with five earned runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings and took the loss.
Asked whether he was worried about his rising home run rate, Anderson said, "Not really. When you don't hit your spots and you're pitching in a place like this, the ball is going to tend to fly out of the park. I don't really look at that. I try to stay positive in everything I do."

Sogard's 0-for-27 is the longest drought for a Brewers hitter since Aramis Ramirez's 0-for-28 in April and May 2014. Counsell holds the club record -- 0-for-45 in 2011, which tied an all-time record until the Dodgers' Eugenio Velez went hitless in a 46th consecutive at-bat later that year.
Brewers hitters will have their hands full Tuesday, when reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and the Indians visit Miller Park for the opener of a two-game Interleague series. Shaw is 4-for-11 with a home run against the right-hander. The Brewers counter with left-hander Wade Miley in the 6:40 p.m. CT game, with Miley coming off six quality innings in his Brewers debut at Cincinnati.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.