The Brewers left Miller Park late Sunday with nothing to show for their weeklong homestand but a six-pack of losses. Not before manager Ken Macha was grilled on the postgame hot seat.
“When it’s all said and done, I know I’ve done the best job I can do,” Macha told reporters after the Brewers’ 4-2 loss to the Phillies. “I know I have put everything I could into this job, and that’s all I can do.”
Macha & Co. will look for better success in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Minnesota in their third three-city road trip this season. The schedule might be cause for grumbling if the Brewers weren’t so much better on the road than they are on what’s supposed to be friendly turf.
The Phillies’ sweep capped Milwaukee’s winless, six-game homestand that began with three losses to the previously-struggling Braves. The Brewers have dropped eight straight home games for the first time in 14 years, and their 4-14 record at Miller Park this season marks the poorest 18-game home start in 42 seasons as a franchise.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel remarked that, “Things are not going their way right now.”
He didn’t have to remind Macha, who faces the press twice a day and already had answered a series of questions about job security two weeks ago in Los Angeles when the Brewers were coming off three losses in four games at San Diego. He answered another wave on Sunday night.
“I think all of our coaches are going about the job in the right way. I’ll put our preparation up to anyone’s,” Macha said. “We’ve got guys out hitting extra every day. Our bullpen guys are out at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, working hard. The pitching coach is in there preparing as hard as he can every day.
“All you can do as a coach or a manager is examine yourself all the time, make sure you’re putting forth what you should be putting forth. If you have had success doing that, then you continue to do it. To all of a sudden change the way you do stuff, you’re not looking to do that. All of the guys we have in that room coaching have had success doing things and we have to fight our way through this. At the end of the day, you have to sit there and say, ‘I did things the right way.’ Really, sometimes it’s not in your hands.”
General manager Doug Melvin came to Macha’s defense in Los Angeles and third baseman Casey McGehee did the same for Macha on Sunday.
“He ain’t thrown a pitch, he ain’t hit a ball, he ain’t made an error. None of that,” McGehee said. “I think sometimes managers get too much credit and too much blame sometimes. When it ain’t going right, it ain’t going right. There’s nothing you can say or do. He’s trying to keep us all together and we’re all fighting. I think the manager’s biggest job is to make sure he’s getting effort out of his guys, and I’d be hard-pressed to find anybody that questions the effort that’s taking place out there. It might not always look pretty, it might not always go our way, but I think the way we battle says enough about the coaching staff and our manager.”
Does first baseman Prince Fielder worry that a shake-up could be coming?
“That happens at times if things aren’t going right, but that’s not something you can dwell on,” Fielder said. “That’s the business side. When you come to the field, you’re paid to play baseball. Those aren’t even my decisions anyway, so I try to stay out of that.”
Maybe getting out on the road will help. The Brewers are 11-8 away from home, tied for the most road wins in the National League.
“It’s puzzling. It doesn’t add up,” McGehee said. “There’s pressure every time you walk out on a big league field. There’s pressure to perform. There’s pressure to pick up the other 24 guys in this clubhouse. Plus the coaches. So, no, I don’t think it’s more pressure at home.
“We’ve got such great fans, it’d be great to give them something to come and yell and scream about every night. We’ve got I don’t know how many more home games, but I promise you we’re going to there eventually. It might be September, but damnit, we’re going to get there.”