MILWAUKEE -- It was the start of a new season, but their old vices burned the Brewers on Opening Day: Ill-timed defensive lapses and ill-timed strikeouts. Both were factors in Monday's 7-5 loss to the Rockies at Miller Park.
"Certainly not the way we wanted to start this season," said Ryan Braun, who went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts on his 10th Opening Day. "But the beauty of this game is that we get 161 more chances."
There were positive developments Monday, starting with newcomers Jett Bandy, Eric Thames and Travis Shaw combining for four of the Brewers' seven hits. And there was a terrific defensive play in the seventh, when Braun, shortstop Orlando Arcia and Bandy executed a relay to cut down the Rockies' would-be tying run for the first out of the inning.
But that's where the Brewers' 2016 shortcomings began to show up.
First it was defense, an area the club feels it has improved after leading the Majors last season with 136 errors.
With Corey Knebel on to replace Jhan Marinez with the bases loaded, Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon hit what looked like a double-play bouncer to the shortstop Arcia. He fed to Villar, who said later that he was trying to make a quick transfer because of Blackmon's speed. Villar bobbled the ball, and the tying run scored.
The play left runners at the corners. When Blackmon broke for second base on a pitch, Bandy came up firing to second, only no one was covering the bag. Without pointing a finger at the culprit, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said there was a missed sign. Villar said the middle infielders expected a throw to third.
Villar, who is manning second base this season, committed a throwing error in the ninth that led to another unearned run.
"That's our first game," Villar said. "We missed the sign. Tomorrow we will have new signs, and we can work."
The Brewers could have overcome their defensive lapses with a big hit in the eighth, but came up empty. Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino walked the first two batters of the inning before Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton each advanced on a double steal.
With runners at second and third and no outs, Ottavino came back to strike out Bandy, Arcia and pinch-hitter Hernan Perez. Perez came close to a go-ahead hit, but his fly ball down the right-field line bounced a few inches foul.
It was reminiscent of last season, when the Brewers had the most strikeouts in the Majors with runners in scoring position (393), and ranked last in the National League by plating 45 percent of runners on third with less than two outs.
"Ottavino is a tough pitcher against right-handed hitters," Counsell said. "He strikes out a bunch of right-handed hitters."
Perez lamented how close his fly ball came to changing the game.
"Inches," he said. "It was that close."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.