Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 7/25/12
For 45 minutes before Wednesday's game against the Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen met behind close doors with manager Ron Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Something needed to be fixed that much was obvious, as the Brewers relievers gave up two leads in two nights to turn what could've been a bounce-back series into a potential death sentence for the fourth-place Brewers. Roenicke didn't say much about the 45-minute meeting, other than the fact that regaining confidence would be the bullpen's most important step to turn it around. But it took less than 45 minutes for a late-inning Brewers' comeback and confidence to slip away, a brief blip of progress to be lost, as another late lead Milwaukee's third in a row was lost at the hands of new closer Francisco Rodriguez. After walking six batters in the 1.2 innings of his last two miserable outings against Philadelphia, Rodriguez walked another batter, Philadelphia's John Mayberry Jr., in the 10th inning with one out. It would take just one double to the left gap and a sac fly to score Mayberry and tie it up Rodriguez blowing his third chance in as many days. One more hit a Jimmy Rollins single and the Brewers had turned a potential sweep into getting swept for the second time in a week. Wednesday's 7-6 loss also gave Milwaukee it's longest losing streak of the season at six games. Roenicke, who began the day with at least a semblance of a plan on how to turn things around, was speechless, unable to remember a worse series in his experience with baseball. "It's tough," Roenicke said. "I thought we caught a break, which we hadn't been getting, with the Gomez (dropped fly ball-turned-double). We got another break with the shallow fly ball from Aramis (Ramirez). You think, OK, things are going to turn, we'll finish this game out, and we didn't do it again." But for five scoreless innings, it didn't appear that the bullpen was primed to let Milwaukee down not again. After mentioning that the bullpen could get shaken up a bit with players in different roles, Roenicke put in rookie Tyler Thornburg in the fifth inning and Livan Hernandez in the sixth and seventh inning and was rewarded with three scoreless innings. Then, after relinquishing his closer's role to Rodriguez not long ago, John Axford showed that he might indeed be on the right track, pitching back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth innings and tossing three strikeouts in that span. The trio of Thornburg, Hernandez, and Axford looked like they were primed to be the renaissance of Milwaukee's bullpen It was a performance that Roenicke lauded, in spite of the noticeable disappointment of a second-straight sweep. "I thought it was real good (what the bullpen did overall), Roenicke said. "Livan came in and threw the ball well. Ax was good. And we did a nice job battling offensively. We came back." But no close-door meetings could save the Brewers from what has quickly become a seemingly inevitable letdown, night after night, in the late innings. Roenicke explained, again, that the Brewers will discuss on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon what to do with the closer position, as Rodriguez's promotion has been nothing short of disaster so far. It could even mean Axford's return to the role. Regardless, it appears the bullpen carousel will continue to spin in Milwaukee. And for now, the Brewers just have to cross their fingers that they can get off the ride in one piece.
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