Brewers take series finale vs. Tigers
Milwaukee earns 21st comeback victory at Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- The mutual admiration society that met at Miller Park all three days of the Tigers-Brewers series adjourned Wednesday afternoon, when manager Jim Leyland and upstart Detroit left town with two wins in three games over Ned Yost and Milwaukee.
"I wish we could do it that quick, too," Yost said of the Tigers' rapid ascension from a rebuilder to a contender. "But we've got some areas that we need to improve in."
That fact was abundantly clear all week at Miller Park, but so was the fact that Yost & Co. have pieces to build upon. Rickie Weeks hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning of Wednesday's series finale, and the Brewers avoided a sweep with a 4-3 Interleague win in front of 31,222.
Weeks went 2-for-4 with two runs scored to make the most of a solid afternoon by Brewers pitchers. Chris Capuano (8-4) pitched seven innings for his 15th quality start in 16 outings this season, reliever Jose Capellan escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Derrick Turnbow notched his 21st save.
Weeks' home run off impressive rookie Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya (3-1) snapped Detroit's six-game winning streak and capped a 4-2 Brewers homestand. The Tigers left town with a 48-25 record, tops in the Major Leagues.
Yost wants more.
"It showed us that we can compete with them," Yost said. "We were in two of the three games, but we still have to do the little things better. We missed two bunt opportunities today that could have ended up biting us.
"[The Tigers] play very solid defense, they have a very strong 'pen, very strong starting pitching and that's a team that's relentless on offense. I never felt like they would ever stop coming at you. I feel that we have a lot of these same qualities, but we still have areas of our game that we need to refine so that we can play the game with these guys, not just hit a big home run to win a ballgame."
Capuano surrendered three runs on seven hits, struck out eight and did not walk a batter for the second straight start. He was spotted a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but he surrendered two runs in the second on consecutive run-scoring hits by No. 8 hitter Craig Monroe and the Tigers' starting pitcher, Nate Robertson. Detroit then took a 3-1 lead in the fifth on Marcus Thames' RBI single.
Monroe entered the game hitting .170 against left-handers, but doubled three times against Capuano before leaving the game with tightness in his left quadriceps. On the homestand, opposing pitchers went 5-for-18 with four RBIs and a run scored.
"I knew that runs were going to be at a premium, so every run you can keep off the board is big," Capuano said. "Monroe just kind of had my number today, I just couldn't really find a way to get him out."
But for the 21st time this season at Miller Park, the Brewers came from behind to win. After cutting the deficit to one with an unearned run in the sixth inning, Chris Barnwell pinch-hit for Capuano and hit a two-out single off Robertson in the seventh -- Barnwell's first Major League hit.
"We didn't want to burn [Jeff] Cirillo there, our best hitter off the bench," Yost said. "We wanted to save him for a spot where we had a runner in scoring position."
On top of that, Cirillo is nursing a sprained ankle and would have been replaced by a pinch-runner had he reached base. So the Brewers turned to Barnwell, who was promoted from Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday after six seasons in the Minors, and he delivered.
"That's awesome that I actually got a hit in a game where it made a big difference," Barnwell said. "I'm happy to get it out of the way, and I'm happy that it turned out that Rickie got a big hit there. I definitely had some chills."
Zumaya surrendered Weeks' seventh homer this season on a 2-0 fastball that registered 97 mph on the stadium scoreboard. Believe it or not, that's below average for the 21-year-old Tiger.
"That guy throws 100 mph, so you can't really go up there looking [for a] curveball," Weeks said. "I just wanted to get a pitch I could handle over the plate."
Said Yost: "Rickie's got the kind of bat speed that he can turn that around, and he did that right there."
Yost showed respect for the Tigers' top-ranked pitching staff all week, but Zumaya was particularly lauded.
"I can't think of any reliever in our league -- maybe outside of [the Astros' Brad] Lidge -- that consistently throws 98, 99 and 100 mph and has a workable breaking ball," Yost said. "I don't even think Lidge does it."
What about Turnbow, whose slider has become a devastating secondary offering?
"Even when Derrick's throwing good, Derrick's throwing 96-98," Yost said. "This kid [Zumaya] is throwing 98-100, and there's a huge difference when you get up to the high end of the scale."
If the Brewers and Tigers face each other again before the National League and American League Central divisions line up in Interleague Play three years from now, it would mean something very good has happened for both teams.
"They didn't know too much about us and we didn't know too much about them," Weeks said. "It was kind of a battle from Game 1 to Game 3. If we would see them again, hopefully things would turn out better."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.