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NLCS Gm2: Roenicke reflects on Marcum's recent starts

MILWAUKEE -- For the Milwaukee Brewers to take a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series, they are going to require a full-scale Shaun Marcum revival. Either that, or something like the nine runs they scored Sunday in Game 1.

It is true that in the previous 19 NLCS, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 16 times, or 84.2 percent of the series played. But the team on the other side of this equation, the St. Louis Cardinals, may take heart in considering Marcum's recent work.

After an uplifting come-from-behind victory in Game 1, the Brewers will start Marcum against Edwin Jackson of the Cardinals on Monday at Miller Park in Game 2. But a couple of sets of numbers might be troubling to Milwaukee.

Marcum has a strange home-road split. He was 8-3, with a 2.21 ERA on the road this season, but 5-4, 4.81 at home.

This split made the Brewers feel good about Marcum getting a road start in the NL Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 3. That didn't work out. Marcum surrendered seven runs in 4 2/3 innings to Arizona, the culmination being a grand slam hit by Paul Goldschmidt.

This start continued a recent slump by Marcum, who had been one of the main reasons for the Brewers' success over the first five months of the season, pitching consistently in what became a strong rotation. But he had a 5.17 ERA in September, and the loss to the D-backs in the postseason seemed to be merely an extension of that slide.

The downturn in Marcum's performance has been notable, but the Milwaukee is taking the approach that he is more the victim of bad luck than anything else.

"I don't think the last whatever games were as bad as what people think they are," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday. "It's been a bad pitch that's been a three-run homer or grand slam, but I don't think it's been as bad as if you look at all the hits that he's given up, there are more cheap hits given up from him than anybody else. He may give up a jam shot for a base hit, a ground ball for a base hit, and all of a sudden, he'll make a mistake and somebody will hit a home run.

"It's not like they're just driving balls all over the ballpark; that is not happening. So I don't know why that happens now, or lately, his last, whatever starts, but it's happening more now than it did early in the season."

Not surprisingly, this is same way that Marcum views his recent struggles.

"You know, you go back and look, I've given up a lot of hits, but a lot of them haven't really been hit that hard," he said.

"It's just one of those things. It's baseball. You make good pitches and sometimes you don't get rewarded for it, and sometimes you make mistake pitches and they hit it right at somebody. That's how this game works. But tomorrow is another day, and you've got to come out ready to go."

Jackson had three starts against Milwaukee after he came to St. Louis in a trade this season. The last two were quality starts. The first one was probably indicative of nothing. Jackson was pounded for eight earned runs in seven innings, in a circumstance in which he ate innings to save a spent bullpen, taking one for the team. Looking back; well, Jackson isn't looking back at that start.

"What start?" Jackson said Sunday. "It's that simple. I'm a competitor. I mean, I can take my beatings and I can handle that. It's not my first one, and it probably won't be my last. I feel good and I feel strong. And I continue to challenge hitters, regardless of what the score is."

Unlike Marcum, Jackson is coming off a September with a 3.59 ERA and a winning NLDS start. On the encouraging side for Marcum, he can look back to his last start against the Cardinals, on Aug. 30. He gave up no earned runs on four hits over seven innings. Even though Marcum took the loss in that start, it was the kind of work the Brewers will be hoping for in Game 2.

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