Macha: 'Be Patient'
By Jay Sorgi
Next game: Tuesday, July 28th vs. Washington
It hasn't been this bad all year for the Milwaukee Brewers, or at least, since the opening weeks of the season.
The Milwaukee Brewers have now dropped to fourth place, one game below .500 for the first time since April 27th, with a 7-15 July record and a 19-30 mark since June 1st.
Then add the fact the Brewers haven't won back-to-back games since the end of June, they have lost six of their last eight home games and seven of their last 11 overall.
"Not a whole lot of sleep," admitted Ken Macha on 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."
Nevertheless, Macha believes there's a light at the end of this dark tunnel the Brewers are traveling as they head toward the "dog days" of August.
"These guys continue to fight. Things are coming. I keep saying, 'be patient,' but hopefully we'll work out of this ditch and get back on track."
Macha knows that after performances like Milwaukee's 14-6 loss to the Washington Nationals, the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball, the boo-birds are expected.
"I know a lot of our fans are getting upset, and I don't blame them," admitted Macha. "We've played very well in the beginning of the year, and we're slipping. We have to put a halt to this slip."
Macha says part one is pitching, not giving up 14 runs to the Nationals, even if they are a potent offense.
"The Nationals, they've got a very good offensive team, second in the league in on-base percentage. They've got some guys in their lineup that can hit home runs. We saw that last night. My concern, you try to turn the page after last night and think about the next day. I'm thinking about it today, and we're going to have to pitch better."
Especially better than Jeff Suppan and company on Monday night, allowing two grand slams to Josh Willingham among the 14 runs. Macha was criticized for going too long with Suppan after he allowed Willingham's first "salami."
" 'Soup' pitched four shutout innings," said Macha. "We got to the fifth inning, and he made a couple bad pitches, particularly to Willingham. We know that he's hitting .550 on the first pitch, and slugs over 1.000. We tried to throw him a breaking ball, and the first time up, Jason went with a fastball away, and he missed his location.
"Soup came up to me in-between innings and said, 'I know how the bullpen is. I still feel fresh and can give you another inning,' so I said OK. That's even before we scored those runs.
"You've got the bottom of the order up, the 8th, 9th hitter, you've got the pitcher in there and a guy, Guzman, the last guy he faced, Guzman is hitting under .200 against 'Soup.' He got some guys there that he normally gets out, and he doesn't do it.
"We normally go to the bullpen, and the guys in the bullpen have been worked very hard. We're in the 6th inning, and Stetter, who normally gets all the left-handers out, he hangs a breaking ball to Dunn, it's a double.
"Then DiFelice hangs a breaking ball to Willingham and it's a grand slam. We did go out to the bullpen, and that's what happened."
Macha says he's now taking things on a game-by-game basis, saying that his goal is now "let's get through tomorrow."
"You kind of look at the next day. You're thinking about the next day all the time. You're trying to put the game behind you."
Tonight, Milwaukee has to go to a "Johnny Wholestaff" mode to try and produce a victory against a team that it probably ought to defeat, but with a pitching staff that has given up eight runs or more in five of the last seven contests.
"We're in that fifth starter area," explained Macha. "We've been struggling in that spot. Carlos Villanueva is going to start tonight, and hopefully he'll give us four innings.
"We looked at our bullpen last night. We knew that Dillard had been brought up, and he's going to pitch behind Carlos. That's the game we're thinking about."
What most fans have been thinking about is finding help, similar to last year when the Brewers traded for ace starter CC Sabathia, who went 11-2 in Milwaukee and led the Brewers to the playoffs.
Macha explained that right now, the odds are greatly against a Sabathia-like move.
"There's not a whole lot out there available," said Macha. "There are some people available, but the asking price is very high. (General Manager Doug Melvin) told us to hang in there. We're going to do that, and that's my job. We're going to get to the ball park and get everybody fired up and alert, and ready to get out there and give us the effort that we need."