Brewers must find production without Christian Yelich

Jessica Wong

Garrett Mitchell began his professional career up in Appleton, Wis., on Tuesday by legging out an infield single in his first at-bat and scoring his first run. Then he ended the night in highlight-reel fashion by hauling in a fly ball and throwing out a runner at second base for […]

Garrett Mitchell began his professional career up in Appleton, Wis., on Tuesday by legging out an infield single in his first at-bat and scoring his first run. Then he ended the night in highlight-reel fashion by hauling in a fly ball and throwing out a runner at second base for a game-ending double play.

Before the thought even creeps into your mind, know this: Mitchell won’t be the answer to the Brewers losing Christian Yelich again. Not yet.

While Milwaukee’s top prospect gets some Minor League games under his belt, the Brewers are fighting on with the personnel they’ve got on any given night. And they managed to make things interesting in the late innings for the second time in as many games against the Phillies before falling, 6-5, at Citizens Bank Park.

Jackie Bradley Jr. made the Phillies pay for a lineup card snafu by smacking a two-run home run in a four-run seventh inning, and Milwaukee put the tying and go-ahead runners on base in the ninth for the second straight night before Bradley flew out to end the Brewers’ third straight loss. That matches their longest skid this season.

“Obviously we would have liked the outcome to be a little different. I have to be better,” said Bradley, who has three home runs this season but is slashing .188/.248/.347. “I feel like I’ve been scuffling and I have to compete better and drive in more runs.”

“Obviously, we want Christian in the lineup,” Bradley said. “We want him playing every opportunity we have. He’s an MVP. He’s a great teammate. I’m not sure how it’s going to shake out.”

Brewers starter Eric Lauer heard the news that Yelich was back on the IL, too, even though Lauer was focused on preparing to pitch.

“I did hear that, and I noticed when he wasn’t in the lineup,” Lauer quipped. “He’s a huge bat in our lineup. It’s tough not having him but we’ve got a lot of guys who can really hit. You saw the game tonight. We’ve got hitters.”

Andrew McCutchen hit a pair of solo home runs off Lauer but it was J.T. Realmuto’s bouncer in the third inning that really changed the game, eluding Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw for a costly two-out error that turned into four unearned runs for the Phillies. Former Brewer Brad Miller delivered the big blow when he hit a high fastball, right where Lauer was trying to throw it, for a three-run home run and a 6-1 Phillies lead.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell called it a tough play for Shaw, saying Realmuto’s bouncer was knuckling because of the way the batter had been jammed. But the box scores won’t reflect that nuance; instead they will show that in their first two games at Philadelphia, the Brewers have already surrendered six unearned runs.

Two of the Phillies’ runs in their 4-3 win on Monday were unearned because of a Luis Urías error.

Lauer rebounded to produce this pitching line: Six innings, eight hits, six runs (two earned), no walks, seven strikeouts. That allowed the Brewers to mount another comeback attempt in the seventh inning, which didn’t begin the way the Phillies had planned.

Manager Joe Girardi summoned reliever Enyel De Los Santos to the mound to replace starter Aaron Nola and was promptly informed that the right-hander wasn’t on the umpires’ lineup card produced electronically by MLB, and was thus ineligible. The same thing happened to the Brewers last month at American Family Field, when Angel Perdomo was similarly denied his season debut.

“Honestly, I kind of thought that the system needed to change a little bit because, you know, we actually had the correct card but somehow the umpires didn’t,” Counsell said.

The Brewers may have benefitted. Another reliever, David Hale, hurriedly warmed up on the field and went single, hit batsman, RBI single before he was replaced by left-hander JoJo Romero. The Brewers countered with a pinch-hitting Lorenzo Cain, who produced a run-scoring groundout to make it 6-3. Two batters later, Bradley connected on a home run to center field that made it a one-run game.

The Phillies denied the Brewers from there. With one more victory in the two remaining games, the Phillies would hand the Brewers their first series defeat on the road.

“What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to be a tough beat,” Counsell said. “I think that’s what you’re trying to be every night. Even when you lose, you try to make it as tough as you possibly can. We’re doing that, I think, against their bullpen. You need a payoff. We’ve got two more games and we need to get a payoff on that.”

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