Capuano loses control vs. Twins
Brewers starter walks four, gives up grand slam in opener
MILWAUKEE -- How has baseball's hottest team suddenly lost its mojo?
That appeared to be up for debate Friday night even within the walls of the clubhouse, where the starting pitcher told a crowd of reporters it was "my bad" while the hitters huddled in a conference room to stew over their 8-1 loss to the Twins at Miller Park.
Milwaukee's Chris Capuano surrendered five runs in the third inning -- all with two outs -- and the hitters did little against Twins right-hander Boof Bonser, who limited the Brewers to a run in seven innings. Bonser combined with two relievers on a three-hitter and did not allow a runner past first base after the first inning, sending Milwaukee to its sixth loss in eight games since a six-game winning streak gave it the best record in baseball.
"We can turn it around on any given day, [but] we might be pressing a little bit right now," manager Ned Yost said. "I don't know, but we're definitely not swinging the bats the way we can. Give it to Boof Bonser, he threw a pretty good game, but I don't think that we're swinging the bats the way we're capable of swinging them."
Bill Hall gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead with a first-inning groundout, but Bonser (2-1), making his first start against the Brewers since his Major League debut last May, allowed only one hit over the next six innings as the Twins won for just the second time in nine games.
Capuano (5-2) surrendered a season-high six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. After going 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA in his first seven starts, Capuano is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA (10 earned runs, 9 1/3 innings) in his last two outings.
The lefty lost control of the game in the third after retiring the first two hitters he faced. Luis Castillo worked an eight-pitch and former Brewer Jeff Cirillo then hit a 1-and-2 fastball for his first triple since 2001, knotting the game at 1.
Capuano worked carefully to right-handed-hitter Michael Cuddyer and walked him, but then went after Justin Morneau and walked him, too. That brought up Torii Hunter, who belted Capuano's first pitch, a hanging slider, into the left-field seats.
"[Capuano] just lost his rhythm and made a large consecutive number of not very good pitches," Yost said. "Then he came back and settled down and got us through another two or three innings, but the damage was done to that point."
Capuano has given up seven hits in each of his last three starts.
"Tonight was really my bad," he said. "I needed to step up and make a pitch in that situation and keep the game tonight. Bonser was throwing the ball well tonight and it's hard when you put the team in a hole like that."
But the offense did not help Capuano, and has been a prolonged slumber. In six games since a 12-3 romp over the Mets last weekend, the Brewers have scored more than three runs only once and have 34 hits versus 47 strikeouts.
They are hitting .178 (34-for-191) over that span, including a 12-hit game on Tuesday.
"I think they went on the road and struggled a little bit, and they're trying to stop that slide," Yost said. "If you start pressing the issue and start pressing your ability, you're going to struggle. We're struggling in the two big phases of the game: Pitching and hitting."
So the hitters gathered for what veteran outfielder Geoff Jenkins called a "pep talk."
"Nothing too special," he said when pressed for details.
Credit Bonser for a good game, Jenkins said.
"I guess whenever a guy pitches like he did, it always looks like everybody pressed," Jenkins said. "We're going through a few games here where we have to regroup. Everybody has had a great start to the season and we can't let a few games get in the way of what we've done so far."
Cirillo had a big night in his first game back with the Twins. After his triple in the third inning, he hit a two-run home run off reliever Carlos Villanueva in the seventh. Jenkins had a read on the ball and made a leaping attempt at the left field wall but came up empty.
"I think I might have jumped a little early," Jenkins said. "I'm not saying I would have got it, but I wanted it so bad so I could call him after the game. I'm sure he was really proud to have a good game tonight."
It's too early to panic, Jenkins insisted.
"We're in first place," he said. "You can't deny that. We're playing good baseball, even if the last few games aren't as pretty as we'd want them to be."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.