Axford, Hoffman will share save chances
All-time saves leader earned his way back into consideration
MILWAUKEE -- One of the lessons Brewers manager Ken Macha learned along the road to 500 career wins was to never paint yourself into a corner. So it came as little surprise when he remained vague Sunday morning on his plan to get Trevor Hoffman to 600 saves.Hoffman was a surprise pick to close out the Brewers' 5-2 win on Saturday night, his first save opportunity since May 18. Rookie John Axford has been excellent in Hoffman's place, converting 16 of 17 save chances, and he will continue to close games. But so will Hoffman, Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader who needs three more for 600 in his career. "The thing with Hoffman is he's earned his way back to saving games," Macha said. "If you're going to stay with the premise that the players write the lineup and things like that, he's put his name back in there. "That's not to eliminate Axford from doing things, too, because he's done nothing to write his name out." So Macha will orchestrate a timeshare of sorts going forward. He wouldn't spell out the plan, but here's a guess: The Brewers could use Axford for multiple-inning save opportunities and to protect one- or two-run leads. Hoffman could pitch when the Brewers have multiple-run leads -- with Axford available in relief if Hoffman falters -- or on days when Axford needs a break. Macha said he has not ruled out using Axford for the seventh and eighth innings as a bridge to Hoffman in the ninth. But other bullpen arms would probably have to falter for that scenario to unfold. The plan was devised after a series of discussions between Macha and Hoffman in recent days. Entering Sunday, Hoffman owned a 1.42 ERA over his past 19 appearances, including nine consecutive scoreless outings. "It's about doing what's best for the team," Hoffman said. "Macha's biggest concern is how to get to the end of the ballgame with a win, and it's nice that a personal situation had a chance to take place. But his job as a manager is to win ballgames. In mid-May, he was looking for solutions. Pitching well helps, and I have to give him confidence to call my number out there and put me in the ballgame."
Macha becomes 118th skipper to 500 wins
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ken Macha became the 118th skipper in Major League history to reach 500 wins when Trevor Hoffman recorded the final three outs of a 5-2 win over the Astros on Saturday night. Did Macha's milestone win carry any special meaning?"Just that Trevor saved it," Macha said after the game. "Maybe I'll go fight him over the ball." Macha entered Sunday at 500-421 as manager of the A's, whom he skippered from 2003-06, and the Brewers, whom he took over in 2009. General manager Doug Melvin looked at the all-time managerial list and noted that Macha's .521 winning percentage was sixth among active managers, and better than Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Ozzie Guillen, Terry Francona, Dusty Baker and Lou Pineilla. When it was pointed out that Macha never had to manage a team in rebuilding mode, Melvin countered, "But he has managed teams with lower payrolls."
Improved tempo helps Wolf be aggressive
MILWAUKEE -- After what he calls "my nightmare game" in Pittsburgh last month, Brewers starter Randy Wolf knew that change was in order. He credited pitching coach Rick Peterson for helping to find the right fix."The one thing Rick and I talked a lot about is my tempo," Wolf said. "I think I've been in between tempos, and that's an issue." Wolf's nightmare game was July 21, when he set career highs by allowing 12 earned runs on 13 hits. He might have been out of that game earlier, but he volunteered to stay in to save a tired Brewers bullpen. In three starts since, Wolf has allowed 20 hits in 19 2/3 innings, but he has a 2.29 ERA and 13 strikeouts vs. only two walks. He'd walked multiple batters in four straight starts entering the good stretch. "Before my last few outings, I was walking three, four guys a game, and that's not very typical of me," Wolf said. "I'm back in a position where I have a little faster tempo. I can be a little more aggressive out there, throw strikes and throw to contact." He also made a good throw in the field that earned him the top play on ESPN's nightly "Web Gems." Wolf fielded Angel Sanchez's bunt between the pitcher's mound and the third-base line and made a strong throw to first while falling to the infield grass. He lost his shutout bid to the next hitter, but it was a key out in preserving the Brewers' lead. "It's fun to be on a staff that takes pride in every aspect of the game," Wolf said.
It was a busy Sunday for Brewers birthdays: General manager Doug Melvin turned 58, first-base coach Ed Sedar turned 49 and Melvin's administrative assistant, Barb Stark, the club's longest-tenured employee, turned 29 again. ... Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was back in the Brewers' lineup Sunday, two days after his wife, Sarah, gave birth to the couple's first child. Ellia Elizabeth Lucroy was born just after midnight Friday, and Lucroy was in uniform for that night's Brewers-Astros game. "That's a baseball player," Macha said. ... Outfielder Jody Gerut, who hurt his left heel after returning from a more extended childbirth-related absence, is 11-for-28 in his last eight games of a 20-day rehabilitation assignment at rookie-level Arizona. Gerut played his first game for Arizona on July 26, so his 20th day would be Saturday.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.