Stone cold brewery: Bats silent in the clutch
Offense 14-for-64 with runners in scoring position
ST. LOUIS -- It's like last September never ended for the Brewers, who have dropped three straight series to begin the 2015 season amid the same offense funk that sent them home shy of the 2014 postseason.
After a 4-0 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday, manager Ron Roenicke made the case it's too early to start making changes.
"It's still way too early," he said. "I still like it. I still ride it out. [Catcher Jonathan Lucroy] talked to me yesterday about maybe, if he's not swinging it, to put him in a different place [in the lineup], but it makes sense where he is. Everything really is lined up really well."
The Brewers were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position Thursday and stranded eight men to cap a series in which they were 5-for-27 with runners in scoring position and left 23 on base. While going 2-7 to open the season, the Brewers are 14-for-64 (.219) with runners in scoring positon. In six of their nine games, the Brewers have scored two or fewer runs.
If this sounds familiar, it's because the Brewers had the same sort of scoring trouble last September, when they ranked 29th of 30 teams with 2.69 runs per game. Club officials made the calculation early in the offseason that it was an isolated slump, and opted against widespread changes to what they viewed as a lineup with above-average potential. First baseman Adam Lind, who got off to a scorching start before cooling in St. Louis, was the only notable everyday addition.
"I haven't even thought about [the connection to last September], to be honest with you," Lucroy said on Thursday. "I think about Spring Training, when we were swinging it and everybody was doing well for the most part. That's what I've been thinking about. How do you go from there to here?"
After his first multi-hit game on Wednesday, Lucroy was 0-for-3 in the series finale, including a critical popout against Cardinals starter John Lackey in the third inning with two runners on base and one out. Ryan Braun then struck out to end that threat, the first of three consecutive innings in which the Brewers stranded multiple baserunners.
"Our batting average with runners in scoring positon is very bad right now. It's terrible," Lucroy said. "We need to do better at that. We need to figure it out, do something. I'm putting myself in that because I've been pretty awful. We've got to get it together."
He added: "We've got a lot of guys with a track record here, guys who can hit. Sooner or later we need to figure it out. We need to start doing it soon, stop playing around."
In addition to slumping in the clutch, the Brewers have stopped hitting for power. They've hit three home runs, the fewest in the Major Leagues. Eighteen Major League players entered Thursday with at least three homers.
"These guys we're putting in this lineup, they're offensive players," Roenicke said. "We need them to swing the way we know they can."