Brewers fighting to stay in contention

Updated: August 4, 2008

Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Hitting .079 in the past 11 games, J.J. Hardy hasn't been able to admire too much at the plate lately.

PROBLEMS WITH THE BREW

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There's trouble brewing in Milwaukee, and we're not talking about the Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers quarterback controversy, but rather the struggles of the Brewers. Emotions boiled over with some pushing and shoving involving Prince Fielder and pitcher Manny Parra in the dugout during Monday's loss against the Reds.

The Brewers have now lost seven of nine and eight of 11 and trail the Cubs by five games in the National League Central. (They were fortunate Monday; the Cubs lost in a rain-shortened game against Houston.) Fielder and Ryan Braun are trying to keep the Brewers afloat, but the offense is going through some considerable problems.

Offensive woes, past 11 games
Player Notes
J.J. Hardy .079 BA, 3 hits
Mike Cameron .188 BA, 15 K's
Rickie Weeks .194 BA
Jason Kendall .111 BA

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FORWARD THINKING: TUESDAY

Rich Harden • Astros at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. ET: Rich Harden (1-1, 1.11 ERA) has not given up more than one run in any of his four starts since joining the Cubs. Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 3.61 ERA) pitched well against the Cubs two weeks ago, allowing one run over 6 2/3 innings of a win.

Josh Johnson • Marlins at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET: Opponents have hit Josh Johnson pretty well over his first four starts, batting .308 against him. After a run in which he lost three consecutive decisions, Jamie Moyer (10-6, 3.79 ERA) has now won three decisions in a row.

Chris Carpenter • Dodgers at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET: Chris Carpenter (0-0, 2.25 ERA) has done OK against Manny Ramirez. In 22 at-bats against Carpenter, Ramirez is hitting .273 with two homers and six strikeouts. Chad Billingsley (11-9, 3.05 ERA) seemingly always factors into decisions. He has just one no-decision since April 4.

Complete list of pitching probables for Tuesday's games

STILL AN UNFAIR FIGHT

As the Dodgers appear set to eclipse Arizona in the National League West and as Manny Ramirez declares he wants to be a Dodger for life, has anyone else noticed what has really happened in baseball? Fresh off one of the most exciting trade deadlines in years, it struck me that, in spite of all the talk of parity in baseball and the ability of teams like the Rays, Marlins and Twins to compete with the big-market teams on the field, where were these same teams when it came time to acquire the big-name talent?

With the exception of the Brewers' short-term commitment to CC Sabathia, what other small or mid-market team made a big splash? The Dodgers picked up Manny, the Angels got Mark Teixeira, the Red Sox got Jason Bay (weren't the Rays in on him, too?) and the Yankees got Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte from the Pirates.

Unfortunately, baseball is still a sport that is going to be dominated by the teams in the big markets with the big money. It is not just about their ability to sign free agents, it is also about the money they have dedicated to scouting around the world.

I'm all for great races and for the Rays and Twins battling for a spot in the postseason. Still, let's not deny the truth that still exists in this great game: money talks.

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on Baseball Tonight and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

Click here to find out who hit the longest home run. For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
A. Cabrera, Cle3TBGarzaTop 3: 2-2, 0 Outs. None on.
B. Crosby, Oak5TorHalladayTop 8: 2-1, 1 Outs. None on.
A. Gordon, KC13BosBuchholzBot 2: 0-0, 1 Outs. None on.
D. Dellucci, Cle10TBGarzaTop 5: 1-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
J. Bruce, Cin10MilParraBot 6: 2-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
J. Giambi, NYY21TexPadillaTop 4: 2-2, 0 Outs. None on.
M. Cameron, Mil17CinMajewskiTop 7: 3-2, 0 Outs. None on.
R. Cano, NYY10TexPadillaTop 4: 3-2, 1 Outs. None on.
R. Braun, Mil30CinWeathersTop 8: 0-0, 1 Outs. None on.
D. Murphy, Tex15NYYChamberlainBot 4: 3-2, 1 Outs. 1 on.
J. Flores, Was8ColCookTop 2: 2-1, 1 Outs. None on.
M. Young, Tex9NYYChamberlainBot 5: 2-0, 1 Outs. 2 on.
D. Mientkiewicz, Pit2AriHarenTop 3: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.
N. Punto, Min2SeaBatistaTop 3: 1-2, 0 Outs. None on.
X. Nady, NYY4TexFranciscoTop 8: 0-0, 2 Outs. None on.
V. Guerrero, LAA19BalSarfateBot 3: 1-0, 1 Outs. 1 on.
M. Byrd, Tex7NYYMarteBot 9: 0-0, 2 Outs. Gr. Slam.
J. Michaels, Pit7AriPenaTop 7: 1-1, 0 Outs. None on.
W. Harris, Was9ColHergesTop 8: 1-2, 1 Outs. 1 on.
M. Reynolds, Ari23PitBautistaBot 7: 1-1, 0 Outs. None on.
R. Ibanez, Sea16MinPerkinsBot 7: 1-0, 1 Outs. Gr. Slam.


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BBTN ON THE AIR: TUESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk,
Buck Showalter, Eric Young
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk,
Buck Showalter, Eric Young

SPORTSNATION: ALL-TIME FRANCHISE PLAYERS

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BBTN MINUTE: BIG HAPPENINGS ON FIELD, IN DUGOUT

CUBS MUST HAVE SORIANO

I was the pitching coach in Texas when Alfonso Soriano played for the Rangers, and what I saw was a big-game player, one who loved the big stage -- especially the atmosphere of New York. But one word that's now being associated with Soriano is "leader." When he was out with a broken hand earlier this season, the Cubs were 16-18.

Reed Johnson said it's fun to come to work when Soriano is in the dugout; Ted Lilly called Soriano a leader and that it was tough on the team to have his presence out of the lineup because he brings a special energy and talent to the dugout and the field. To hear his teammates talk about him like that, to me, says that Soriano is maturing as a player. That wasn't always the case.

Everyone remembers him as a young and excitable rookie with the New York Yankees. You knew he was going to make mistakes in the field, but you loved having him in the lineup because of his offense. He put up impressive numbers, but you didn't really know how he fit into a winning equation, and that might be part of the reason why he's played for four different teams since 2003.

He's wonderful for the Cubs' lineup because, as the leadoff hitter, Soriano puts immediate pressure on the starting pitcher because of his ability to hit the long ball. His bat in the lineup gives the Cubs a lot of depth, especially in the power department.

Teams that have success and reach the postseason more often than not get contributions from more than just one player, and you're seeing what Soriano means to the Cubs, who are 9-4 since he returned to the lineup. He went 7-for-16 with two homers and scored six runs in the Cubs' four-game sweep of the Brewers last week. Putting up those types of numbers in a big series reminded me of when we were together in Texas. Soriano played better when we played big teams. He just seemed to concentrate and enjoy the game more.

So, with all that's at stake this time of year, combined with the Cubs' 100-year World Series drought, this almost seems like the perfect storm for Soriano to be really productive down the stretch.

MONDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Marlon ByrdMarlon Byrd put away the Yankees. Byrd drilled a game-ending grand slam to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 9-5 win.
BAD
J.J. HardyJ.J. Hardy did not get a ball out of the infield in an 0-for-5 performance against the Reds. Hardy is currently mired in an 0-for-26 slump.
UGLY
Francisco Rodriguez• It does not happen often but Francisco Rodriguez and the Angels bullpen, with the help of some poor defense, gave up four runs in the ninth inning to sacrifice a 5-1 lead against the Orioles.

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF TUESDAY'S GAMES

Adam Morrison examines the pitching matchups in store for the 15 games on Tuesday's schedule.

Fantasy Morrison also looks at injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Tuesday. Daily Notes

NEWS AND NOTES

Victor Martinez •  Indians catcher Victor Martinez, out since June 12 after having elbow surgery, ran the bases for the first time on Monday. He and Josh Barfield, also out since June 12, though he is recovering from an injured finger, could both go on rehab assignments later this week.

Melky Cabrera •  Justin Christian started in center field for the Yankees on Monday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi wanted to give Melky Cabrera some rest. Cabrera, who did enter later as a defensive replacement, is hitless over his past 12 at-bats.