MILWAUKEE – When the Brewers pack up their belongings and head to General Mitchell to catch their flight to Atlanta this evening, it’s a safe bet that Rickie Weeks will be one of the first ones on the bus.
After the four-game series the Brewers’ lead-off man has turned in, Weeks seemingly could use a change of scenery.
Committing a defensive error in the sixth inning Monday on a double-play conversion that allowed the Cubs to score two runs, Weeks sat out the second and third games of the series before being inserted back into the lead-off spot Thursday.
Needless to say, his day was rocky from the time he stepped onto the field for batting practice until he quickly ducked toward the bus after the Brewers 11-4 loss Thursday.
Fielding ground balls with third base coach Dale Sveum and Prince Fielder, Weeks took the opportunity to turn a lazy grounder into a potential gold-glove play by jogging toward the middle of the field, fielding the ball and attempting a jumping, side-arm throw to first.
The result was an air-mailed throw over Fielder's head that hit a female grounds crew member on one hop square in the face.
The women was visibly shaken up and was assisted from the field to seek medical attention.
Things seemed to turn for the better after Weeks executed a perfect throw on a double play in the top of the first and led off with a single in the bottom of the inning.
After his hit to left field, Weeks, on the run with Craig Counsell at bat, failed to recognize that Alfonso Soriano was in position to catch Counsell’s fly ball to left field and was already a couple steps past second base before turning back.
Figuring he was a sure out, Weeks started jogging back to first, which would have been a moot point except that Derrek Lee couldn’t handle Soriano's throw and the ball bounced out of his control. With Weeks still nowhere close to the bag, Lee had time to retrieve the ball and dive to the bag just in time to double up Weeks, who started sprinting back too late.
“It was a base running mistake,” Yost said. “You can’t get doubled up on a ball hit to the outfield in that position. It looked to me like he lost the ball.”
Weeks didn’t have a chance to loaf the rest of the game, as he struck out in the third, sixth and ninth, going 1-for-4 with a walk.
In an effort to generate some momentum, Yost reconfigured his lineup in hopes of salvaging the final game of the homestand.
As previously mentioned, Weeks was back in the lead-off role and hit in front of Counsell, who was at third. Gabe Kapler was in right and batted seventh in place of struggling Corey Hart. The big surprise was Yost sticking with Jason Kendall, which was a surprise because the Brewers had the night game the day before and backup Mike Rivera had been playing well as of late.
Ryan Braun has been dropped from No. 3 to No. 5 in the lineup, with J.J. Hardy batting third.
The only one of those changes that provided any dividends was Kapler, who finished 3-for-4 with two doubles.
With the Cubs leading 9-1 and Eric Gagne in to pitch the ninth, his work day was short-lived when, on a 3-0 pitch, he threw behind Cub Jim Edmonds, who was already 2-for-3 with two home runs and five RBIs on the day. Before the ball could come to rest, home plate umpire Doug Eddings gave Gagne the boot, despite protest from the reliever and Yost.
“Eddings said Gagne did it on purpose and that was the reasoning for it (ejecting him),” Yost said.
Gagne got company in the locker room in the bottom of the inning was Eddings ejected Fielder for arguing balls and strikes, going so far as to stop play until Fielder vacated the dugout.
The paid attendance for Thursday’s game was 45,346, the second-largest crowd in Miller Park history. The largest crowd in stadium history was when 46,218 fans watched the Brewers and Cubs play Sept. 6, 2003.
It marks the 27th sellout of the season for the Brewers and the 11th straight sellout, a new franchise record. The crowd also puts the Brewers over the 2 million mark in paid attendance, as 2,042,444 fans have passed through the turnstiles.
Edmonds’ grand slam in the fourth inning was the seventh of his career and the 376th homer of his 16-year career. Kosuke Fukudome’s two-run homer in the eighth was his 200th home run as a professional.
Kapler recorded his 11th multihit game of the year and Braun had his 38th multihit contest of the season.