After dealing prominent run producers, club looking for players to step up and fuel bats
By Brandon Curry
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell knew scoring runs would be a challenge after the club dealt away Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra in deals to restock its farm system. His prediction played out again on Friday.
Milwaukee managed seven hits in a 4-1 defeat to the Cubs and starter Jason Hammel at Miller Park, continuing its recent struggles at the plate. The loss came just hours after Parra was traded to the Orioles, while Gomez was packaged in a deal to the Astros on Thursday. Overall, the offense has managed 15 runs in its last nine games.
"Offense, for any team, is a bunch of guys swinging the bat well together," Counsell said afterward. "We've lost a couple of guys. Up and down the lineup, we're going to have to collectively get hot."
Two of Milwaukee's hits came off the bat of rookie starter Taylor Jungmann, who allowed two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings. It was his first career multihit game, which included his first career double in the fifth inning. However, the top of the Brewers' lineup couldn't bring him in.
The Brewers' lone run came from Ryan Braun's homer in the opening frame.
"It's that next hit," Counsell said. "Like I said, we had men on base. But that big inning where the line keeps moving just hasn't been happening lately."
Those big innings could be tougher to come by now that the team's leadoff hitter (Parra) and middle of the order bats (Gomez and Ramirez) are gone.
Counsell plans to mix and match in both spots. Scooter Gennett, who led off on Friday, Jean Segura and Khris Davis will all be considered for the top spot in Milwaukee's lineup moving forward. Recently recalled Elian Herrera and Logan Schafer will compete with Shane Peterson and Hernan Perez to fill the gaps left by Gomez and Ramirez.
"There are going to be some guys with opportunities," Counsell said. "Those opportunities mean something."
General manager Doug Melvin relayed a similar message earlier Friday. While he didn't see the final legs of this season as an experimental phase for the Brewers, he certainly views it as a chance for younger players to prove themselves.
Counsell wants that message heard by the players he's placing in the lineup each night, too. It's not only vital for them, but the club as well.
"There's going to be guys, that what happens going forward, is important," Counsell said. "We're going to have to make decisions on players, so how they perform will be important."
Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.