Maldonado once again provides late-inning power

> When Jonathan Lucroy returns from the disabled list, the Brewers are going to find themselves with three catchers on their 25-man roster. While that is a nice luxury to have, it sacrifices a roster spot that a reliever would probably fill. So that means one of those catchers will probably sent down or traded, but the former is more likely. And George Kottaras may find himself the odd man out this time around.

> After a streak of very embarrassing losses (as if I didn’t emphasize that enough the last few days) in Kansas City, the Brewers finally got back in the win column, taking down the Twins, 5-3. Martin Maldonado once again came through in a big spot late in the game, and here’s an interesting stat: the last three games the Brewers have won (the first and third games of the Padres series, and today) have been because of a go-ahead home run by Maldonado in the fifth inning or later. Now that’s clutch. And it was exactly what the Brewers needed; a close win. John Axford recorded the save after being given a two-run cushion, so hopefully he’s getting back on track after a rough series in KC.

The Brewers got off to another dismal start. Struggling Twins starter Francisco Liriano didn’t give up a hit through the first five innings. Sound familiar? Yep, Luis Mendoza, who typically pitches out of the bullpen for the Royals, no-hit the Brewers through the first six innings on Tuesday. My first thoughts, and I’m sure many other people’s as well, were that it doesn’t matter who the Brewers are facing. They can’t hit anybody right now.

Yovani Gallardo managed to compete with Liriano through the first four innings, giving up just one hit up to that point. But the Twins broke through in the fifth on Trevor Plouffe’s solo shot. Then, after giving up back-to-back singles, Gallardo gave up another run on Alexi Casilla’s RBI single. A few batters later, Gallardo got out of the inning relatively unscathed on a Josh Willingham flyout that just missed being a grand slam (Josh Willingham grand slams and the Brewers don’t have a good history).

The way the Brewers have been hitting recently, I thought a 2-0 hole meant the game was over. But they proved me wrong. Liriano started the sixth by walking Edwin Maysonet, then, a batter later, also walked Carlos Gomez. This brought up Ryan Braun, who struck had struck out on three pitches his last time up. But this at-bat was a different story. After chasing a couple pitches to get down 0-2, Braun hammered a hanging slider over the center field wall (which is quite the feat at Target Field). Next thing you know, the Brewers have three runs, but only one hit.

Unfortunately, Gallardo gave up another home run to the hot-hitting Plouffe in the next inning to tie it up 3-3. That was his last inning, and it was a solid start. He finished with six innings while giving up three runs eight hits. He walked two and struck out seven. But Gallardo featured something we haven’t seen out of him in what feels like years- a change-up. It looked like a circle change; pretty much the same velocity as his slider, but breaking the opposite direction.

Anyway, the game remain tied until the ninth. I thought for sure we were in for another extra-inning game and/or embarrassing walk-off loss, but that wasn’t the case today. With Corey Hart on second and two outs in the ninth, Maldonado hit a go-ahead, two run blast off Matt Capps to give the Brewers their 5-3 lead, and eventual win.

> If you saw my post last night, I ranted about how I thought the Brewers’ season was over. I knew I would come to regret that eventually, since it isn’t true- yet. The Brewers record now stands at 29-35, which is fourth in the National League Central. They’re 7.5 games behind the first place Reds, who are red-hot right now, and 3.5 games behind the Pirates and Cardinals, tied for second. The Cards have quietly struggled lately, and they’re just one game over .500 now after their fast start. The Pirates, somehow, have found themselves in the thick of things at the same time they did last year, but I have a feeling they’ll fade off again.

That’s not to say the Brewers are going to magically pass these teams; they’ll need to work for it if they want to get back in this. My only conclusion is they’ll need to pull a long winning streak out of nowhere. The Brewers have struggled to string together wins this year, but have had no issues stringing together losses, hence their record. If they can somehow get back in contention with all the injuries they’ve been dealt, it’ll be some story. The starting pitching is there. The bullpen isn’t yet, but it may be on its way back. The offense isn’t even close, unless the middle of the lineup- rather, the whole lineup, other than Maldonado- gets it going quickly. This is the time the Brewers have to make a run, before it’s too late.

> Minor League starting prospect Cody Scarpetta had Tommy John surgery last month (it was just announced today). He hadn’t gotten to pitch much this year before going down, but the Brewers are still high on him as a future starter in the Majors.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers will play the second game of this series tomorrow at 1:10 PM CT, sending Michael Fiers (1-2, 4.50 ERA) to the mound. I would say this is Fiers’ last chance to prove he belongs in the Majors, but it sounds like Ron Roenicke is confident that Marco Estrada will move back into the rotation.

The Twins will counter with Liam Hendriks (0-2, 9.00 ERA), who was just recalled from Triple-A for this start.

> Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

> Box Score

(Coming later)

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