By Troy A. Sparks
Before the Brewers left town for road games two weeks ago, it was predicted by me that manager Ken Macha wouldn’t return with the team.
I wasn’t the only one who thought Macha would be fired by now. The rest of you out there won’t admit that you wanted him gone.
Principal owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin said Macha didn’t throw any pitches or hit any balls. No, he didn’t.
Macha is responsible for making decisions on the field and putting players in the lineup that will produce on a daily basis.
It appeared that Macha wasn’t sweating any bullets about his job status. And to make that point clear, Attanasio flew to Minnesota to reassure the field boss that his job was safe.
So as of now, Macha is still standing.
Now he’s laughing again because the Crew is winning again.
Before their recent road trip, Milwaukee was 4-14 at home. They had the worst home record in the majors.
The Brewers were 4-2 last week against Houston and New York Mets at home. Right now, they’re creeping their way up from fifth to fourth in the NL Central Division.
You have to give the Crew credit for rebounding at home.
Two of the six home games ended in walk-off situations. Rickie Weeks looked at a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the last game of the three game series against the Astros last Thursday. His walk forced in the winning run in a 4-3 victory in 10 innings.
Last Friday, in a battle of aces in New York’s Johan Santana and Yovani Gallardo, neither pitcher gave an inch. Both were out the game by the ninth inning.
Corey Hart stepped to the plate with Ryan Braun on base and two outs. His 397-foot blast off New York reliever Ryota Igarashi gave the Brewers a 2-0 win.
Hart is swinging a hot bat right now. He’s proving so far that he’s worth the $4.8 million the club is paying him.
“Sometimes, that’s what we need,” Prince Fielder said last Friday about the Brewers’ getting back on the winning track. Fielder was asked if winning would take their minds off losing. “Maybe,” he said. “I’m gonna say, yeah. I think so. It should. How about that?”
Fielder can pass Gorman Thomas for second place in consecutive games played with 242. Before Sunday’s game, he was at 234. Robin Yount holds the team record with 274 straight games played.
On Saturday, Milwaukee beat the Mets, 8-6, on Negro League Tribute Night at Miller Park.
Sunday, the arm of Randy Wolf couldn’t last at least six innings. Wasn’t that the same guy who threw over 200 innings last year? That was a big reason the Brewers signed him for big money.
I could tell that Wolf didn’t have his best stuff because of the way the Mets were slapping the ball all over the field. They posted double-digit hits (16) and runs in a 10-4 win.
Macha didn’t get the quality performance out of Wolf he expected. Wolf threw 114 pitches in five innings.
He also thought the communication between catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Wolf should have been squared away a long time ago.
“They pretty much had the last game (Last Tuesday vs. Houston in 6-1 win) a few days before that to iron that out.”
Wolf and Lucroy only worked a couple of times as battery mates. “(Lucroy) is a hard-working kid back there,” Wolf said. “I’m pretty demanding out there.
“He’s doing a great job. He’s trying to stick with it. He’s getting there. He’s getting there. He’s working hard. It’s good to see him really trying to get it out there.”
Macha is also disappointed in Jeff Suppan, who hasn’t been effective, even in middle relief, even in a close game.
He put Suppan in Sunday’s game in the sixth inning with the Brewers trailing 4-2. “Soup” gave up four runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings pitched.
The former starter was put in the game to stop the bleeding because in the past, he was successful against some of the Mets’ hitters.
“If you take a look at all of his history coming in on all those guys, (Jeff) Francoeur, 3-for-14, (Henry) Blanco, 2-for-11,” Macha said. “I had confidence bringing him in. He just didn’t make his pitches.
“(Jose) Reyes, 5-for-15, that was one, and then (Luis) Castillo 3-for-16, (Jason) Bay 5-for-32. All the matchups were in his favor. After (Saturday) night, I’m hoping I can get two innings out of Jeff.
“He should feel confident coming in because he’s got a history of getting those guys out.”
Milwaukee can count on only Gallardo to throw at least seven innings. Inconsistency in recent outings from Wolf, Dave Bush and Manny Parra forced the Crew to use their bullpen sooner than they wanted. The Brewers return home next week after a week-long road trip.