By Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –
DENVER — Done in by poor starts each of the previous two nights, the Milwaukee Brewers returned to a painfully familiar script Wednesday afternoon.
Given the ball with a one-run lead in the ninth, rookie Jim Henderson got the first out and then faltered.
He surrendered two consecutive singles and a game-clinching double to Tyler Colvin, capping a 7-6 loss and three-game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
It was the 23rd blown save by the Brewers’ bullpen and completed yet another forgettable road trip in a highly disappointing season.
Coming off a three-game sweep of the major-league-leading Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park, Milwaukee started the trip off by losing two of three to the Houston Astros, unquestionably the worst team in the major leagues.
They then followed that up by losing all three to the Rockies, who before this series had won a grand total of three games on their home field since the all-star break. The Brewers have now lost 14 of their last 15 road games.
“It’s the same thing,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “We play good baseball and then give it up in the end.”
This one started off just as the first two games in the series did for Milwaukee, as rookie Mark Rogers was tagged for three runs right out of the gate on the same day he’d been reinstated from the paternity list.
The right-hander had a baserunner on with two outs when Carlos Gonzalez and Ramon Hernandez got to him for consecutive singles to put Colorado ahead, 1-0. Rogers then walked Jordan Pacheco to load the bases and Chris Nelson followed with a single to left that made it 3-0.
Counting Monday and Tuesday the Brewers were outscored, 10-0, in the first inning in the series by the Rockies, who lead the majors with 98 such runs.
“We’re going to have to figure out something better,” said Roenicke. “As starters, you better be more prepared and ready to not give up that many runs in the first. We shouldn’t be giving up that many runs in the first.”
Rogers said he was aware of what had happened the previous two nights and frustrated he wasn’t able to avoid the same fate as Mike Fiers and Randy Wolf.
“It wasn’t my intent to go out there and do that. But man, you can’t walk guys,” he said. “I’ve just got to do a better job. I’ve got to be aggressive right from Jump Street and get ahead.
“There was no excuse for what happened in that first inning. I was just erratic and not executing my pitches.”
Once Rogers got past that shaky first inning, he actually settled in nicely.
After allowing a two-out home run in the second by Eric Young, he set down eight consecutive batters and 12 of the next 15 overall before departing.
The Brewers’ offense also made sure he left with the lead with a five-run fifth inning.
The first six batters all reached base in that frame, with Rickie Weeks doubling in the first run, Corey Hart driving in the second with a double of his own, Nyjer Morgan driving in two more with a single and then Jean Segura giving Milwaukee a 5-4 lead with a sacrifice fly to right.
Morgan drove in his third run with another single in the seventh to make it 6-4, and from there Francisco Rodriguez, Manny Parra and John Axford combined to limit the Rockies to just two baserunners over the next two innings.
After the Brewers went down in order for the second straight inning against rookie reliever Will Harris, Roenicke made the call for Henderson in the ninth.
Henderson had notched his first two career saves last week against the Reds before a tough 10th inning in a tie game in Houston on Saturday netted him his first loss.
The right-hander started off well enough by striking out Jonathan Herrera looking. But pinch-hitter Wilin Rosario singled to left, and then Young followed with another to center to give Colorado runners on the corners.
Up came Colvin, who swung and sent the second pitch Henderson threw him right directly down the first-base line and into the outfield. Rosario scored easily as did the speedy Young, and just like that the Brewers had suffered their 10th walk-off loss.
“That was a frustrating one. Really frustrating,” said Henderson. “I want to come in and get the job done, obviously. It’s tough to handle.
“It was a slider in and it’s hard to keep that ball fair. I was very surprised it stayed fair. I stayed true to the line. Didn’t really curve.”
The blown save was the third in four starts for Rogers, who has yet to win in the majors. He was gracious afterward, noting how many times Henderson had gotten the job done in support of him at Class AAA Nashville earlier in the year.
“I have a ton of faith in the guys that are coming in behind me,” he said. “Henderson’s done it for me all year at Triple-A. I can’t tell you how many times he’s come in with my runners on and picked me up. I feel for him.”
As for Roenicke, if he wasn’t at his wit’s end prior to Wednesday’s loss, he might well be now.
“Wow,” he said, “things just aren’t going right.”