Weeks confident despite NLDS struggles

Weeks confident despite NLDS struggles

Weeks confident despite NLDS struggles
PHOENIX -- As the Brewers' No. 5 hitter behind the potent 1-2 punch of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks has had his fair share of chances to shine so far this postseason.

But Weeks has had a rough go offensively, hitting just .067 (1-for-15) through four games of the National League Division Series, and it was apparent yet again in Game 4 on Wednesday. He was the only Brewers position player without a hit or a walk, as he went 0-for-5 and left six runners on base in Milwaukee's 10-6 loss to Arizona.

Weeks, though, preferred to talk about his club's struggles after the game when asked about his frustration level regarding his own lack of production.

"We're not winning ballgames right now," Weeks said. "We won those first two and now we lost two, so we'll have to come back Friday and try to get a win."

Weeks had plenty of opportunities to come through in Game 4, including in the first inning when he came up with Braun and Fielder on base, but grounded into an inning-ending double play against left-hander Joe Saunders. It was more of the same in the third, as he left two runners on with a flyout to left field, before popping out to end the fifth with Fielder on second base.

Weeks also ended the seventh with a groundout before ultimately making the last out of the game on a pop fly, leaving Jerry Hairston at second base.

It was a game Weeks would rather forget, but his manager said he's not worried about his second baseman's performance against the D-backs.

"He's seeing the ball well," manager Ron Roenicke said. "When he's getting his pitch he's putting a good swing on it and he's just missing them. I keep thinking that he's going to get one of these balls, and he's just missing it. But he feels good swinging. And I do like a lot of his swings. But he's just not squaring them up like he does when he's going well."

Braun, like Roenicke, was quick to defend Weeks and pointed out that everyone has a rough stretch from time to time, and that Weeks' regular-season numbers provide a better indication of his true talent level.

After all, Weeks, who was an All-Star this year, has established himself as one of the best second basemen in baseball. He hit .269 with an .818 OPS and 20 homers, despite playing in just 118 games because of a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss six weeks from late July through early September.

"He'll be fine," Braun said. "It's funny, I think when you play a series like this you're looking at such a small sample size that everything is overanalyzed and over-scrutinized. Sometimes you just hit balls hard at people and they end up being outs."

But the Brewers have had trouble finding production from the five spot in the order all year, as the club's No. 5 hitters combined to bat just .223 with a .627 OPS during the regular season.

Weeks, however, did just fine in 24 games in the five-hole, batting .250 with a .781 OPS after moving to that spot down the stretch with Corey Hart leading off. So now it'll be up to him to prove he can do the same in the postseason, and he will have at least one more chance in Game 5.

"He's obviously a big part of our lineup," Braun said. "It's important for us to get him going, but it's important for all of us to get going. We all need to get going and play a great game to find a way to beat these guys."

Weeks knows his performance could be key to the Brewers' success on Friday, and said he's looking forward to the challenge of playing in an elimination game in front of his home crowd at Miller Park.

"It's what you live for," Weeks said. "We wanted to end it here, but we can go home and that's why we wanted home-field advantage. So hopefully we can come back with a win."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.