MILWAUKEE -- Two things give All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun hope for the Brewers' second half.1. For the first time since winning the 2008 National League Wild Card, they have the pitching to win, and, 2. The best part is, they have already been through the worst. "We can look back and say, 'Look, we've proven we can win without our starting catcher, our starting right fielder, our new stud pitcher,'" Braun said, referring to Jonathan Lucroy, Corey Hart and Zack Greinke, all of whom began the season on the disabled list. "That gives us that [much] more confidence than everybody else."
AT THE BREAK
- MVP: Prince Fielder Having an MVP-caliber season in a contract year.
- Cy Young: Shaun Marcum Tough call with Yovani Gallardo, but Marcum wins on ERA and WHIP.
- Rookie: N/A -- Fun fact: None of Brewers regular contributors are rookies.
- Top reliever: John Axford -- Went 17 straight games without an earned run before a July 4 loss.
Players to watch in the second half
- Casey McGehee: How long a leash does one extend the team's 2010 RBI leader?
- Mat Gamel: If McGehee sputters, will the Brewers move him permanently back to third base?
- Ryan Braun: Played two months of the first half with a sore left shoulder, and could have a huge second half if healthy.
The answer was no. Greinke was resigned to the fact he is a baseball pitcher and not a professional golfer, and to him, there was no point.He has plenty to worry about on the diamond at the moment. Greinke has shown flashes of being an ace pitcher, but he has yet to turn those flashes into a sustained period of success. He opened up about his struggles after a 6-1 lead got away from Greinke and the Brewers on July 3. "It's upsetting," he said. "I've tried everything. I tried not worrying about it, I tried making better pitches, tried attacking, tried picking. I've tried just about everything, and it hasn't worked for a while." Until mid-June, Marcum was actually the Brewers' most consistent starter, but he has been bothered since then by an injured left hip, followed by trouble with his usually pinpoint command. The Brewers' third top-of-the rotation starter, Yovani Gallardo, has also been through his ups and downs. If those three pitchers can find a rhythm at the same time, like CC Sabathia, Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan did during the Brewers' sensational August 2008, Milwaukee can be a division force. If they continue to sputter, then so will the team. "I'm happy where we're at. Do I think this team could be playing better? Absolutely," manager Ron Roenicke said in assessing his club's first half. "I don't know why we're so inconsistent. That's the biggest obstacle that I see. We have to definitely get better at that. "I've mentioned before, with our pitching staff, I don't think we should be this inconsistent in what we do." The inconsistencies have been tied to venue, Roenicke noted. Entering the final homestand before the All-Star break, the Brewers had more wins at home than any club in the Majors other than pitching-rich Philadelphia. But they had more losses on the road than any NL club besides the Cubs and last-place Houston. "I don't know if it's just the road, I don't know if it's just an inconsistent offense," Roenicke said. "I know earlier in the season when we had seven losses in a row, probably four of those games we were facing a guy who pitched as well as you can pitch. Some of it had to do with that, but there's something going on [that explains] why we're not more consistent, why we're not playing better on the road." Roenicke will continue trying to figure it out, but so far he's short of answers. Braun is among the players who insist that the home-road divide will narrow. "You get sick of talking about it," Braun said. "There's no reason to continue to focus on something that's negative like that. The bottom line is, we have a good team. We're going to win on the road. We're going to have success. There's no reason to continue to talk about it or look for answers because it does us no good."