Ken Macha: "Good To Be Back"
By Jay Sorgi
Next game: Tuesday, August 11th vs. San Diego
"Good to be back."
After a 4-5 road trip that included frustrating series losses against San Diego and Houston (sandwiching a series win against the L.A. Dodgers), those words about this week's home cooking came from Brewers manager Ken Macha on 620WTMJ's "Brewers 360."
With the team now six games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, Macha is feeling it from Milwaukee's fan base, including encounters in-person at the grocery store after coming back.
"I can feel for the fans," said Macha. "I don't know if they feel for me, but I can feel for the fans. We were in the grocery store last night, and I was picking up a few things and a guy comes up to me and says, 'Are you guys going to get your pitching together or what?' I know all the fans are into it."
Yes, they're into it so much they give Macha their opinions, even while he delivers a grocery cart around a store.
"Yeah, sure, that happens. I have to walk around with a hat on, and that doesn't even help. The response by the fans being into it is incredible, no matter where you go. People are either giving you advice or encouragement."
"What we need to do is trim about three games off this lead going into September. It would be nice to be about three games behind. We've got nine games with the Cardinals. The thing is still out there for us."
First things first, though - the Brewers' series starting Tuesday night at home against the Padres.
Macha says the game comes down to how expected starting pitcher Braden Looper performs.
"I look back at Looper's start against San Diego, out in San Diego. We got him a 7-1 lead and we couldn't hold it. It is amazing, that road trip. You have San Diego that's hitting the least in the National League, and we give him a 7-1 lead and 'Loop' can't hold it. Then, his second start on the road trip, against the Dodgers who (are) leading the league in hitting, and he winds up pitching a great game."
"It all comes down to how Loop is throwing the ball. If he's staying back, and staying tall, and throwing the ball downhill and getting the ball to sink, he's going to have a great outing. Hopefully, we'll get a great outing out of him. He pitched into the 7th inning in L.A., then we turned the ball over to Coffey and we finished the game up. Hopefully, that's the case tonight."
Hopefully for Macha's sake, Looper won't face the same fate Yovani Gallardo endured in a painful 2-0 loss to Houston Sunday, a fate that's not unfamiliar to him this year.
"A couple 1-0 games he's lost, and then Sunday, 2-0. One pitch to Blum, he got a fastball down an in on him when he was behind in the count, and he hit a home run. We had plenty of opportunities. We stranded 12 base runners, had chances in the 8th and 9th to put runs on the board, but we didn't come through."
One new part to the Brewers puzzle Macha hopes will come through is the team's newest reliever, a familiar face around here in former and once-again Brewers reliever David Weathers.
"That's going to be a big help," admits Macha. "When the season started, Weathers was the 8th inning guy for Dusty Baker in Cincinnati. Todd Coffey's been our guy, but it's tough to pitch him every day. What it does is lengthen you out a little bit. If we do get in a jam, say, in the 7th inning, you're able to bring in Coffey, then it bumps everybody back. So you have a guy where you can pitch with the lead, and can trust him, so we can get the ball to Hoffman with the lead. That will be a big help for us."