That is why they play the game between the lines. The Milwaukee Brewers continued to prove that you never know what is going to happen when two baseball teams take the field, with a 3-3 week that pushed their season total to 33-33.
Upon first inspection a 3-3 stretch may have been expected. Win one game in Cleveland and return home to take two of three from the Kansas City Royals. Instead, Milwaukee held the vaunted Indians offense pretty well in check to take two games, only to return home to make Paul Byrd, Dan Reichert, and Blake Stein look like the second coming of the 1980s Royals' combo of Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, and Charlie Liebrant.
The Brewers pitched well enough in all six games to give themselves a chance to win but once again the offense could not come up with the big hit in key situations. Before the season started, Davey Lopes and the Brewers management thought that they had an offense that would carry them through the season. Scores of 9-6 and 8-7 figured to be the norm for a team with a very young starting rotation. However, the Brewers' pitching has been the glue that has held the team together so far this year.
The offensive numbers for the Brewers are improved over last year, but the strikeout rate has become alarming. The 2001 Brewers have 46 more strikeouts than their closest pursuer in the NL, San Diego.
One of the main causes for concern has been the play of first baseman Richie Sexson. Sexson is leading the Majors with 81 strikeouts, and is on pace to fan more than 200 times, which would be the all-time record. Sexson has shown signs of life in the last week, where he compiled two home runs and a better than .300 Avg., but his strikeout rate has not come down.
Another alarming statistic is the strikeout to walk ratio that has been amassed by Milwaukee. The Brewers have struck out 569 times to only 201 walks. That is a 2.83/1 ratio. Just for comparison, a 2/1 ratio is about the Major League average. Both Sexson and Jose Hernandez have a more than 5/1 strikeout to walk rate.
The pitching staff has been quite a pleasant surprise, posting an overall 3.92 ERA, good for 4th best in the NL. The bullpen has been even better, with a 3.15 ERA, the best in the NL.
In a season that has seen the Brewers get hit with injuries to almost every key member of the team, a .500 record is not bad. It could be better though, especially if the hitters can find a way to cut down on the strikeouts and deliver that clutch hit when needed.
The Milwaukee Brewers are a work in progress, and even though the results have been mixed, there is certainly more to cheer about than to cry about.
Note: Alex Sanchez collected his first big league hit with a gap-shot double on Saturday.
This week for the Brewers: 3 @ Cincinnati and 3 @ Chicago Cubs