Eric Lauer struggles and the Brewers offense is quiet in another loss to the Tigers

Detroit Free Press

A funny game, baseball is.

The Milwaukee Brewers were steamrolling through the competition – which included some of the best teams in the league – through the first three weeks of the season. Yet upon returning home, they ran into a speed bump in the road in the shape of a much less daunting opponent.

The Detroit Tigers walked into American Family Field with a 7-13 record yet have had plenty of roar in them.

The primary nemesis for the Brewers, aside from another back-breaking early three-run home run, has been the Tigers bullpen. You won’t confuse this cast of arms for a gauntlet, exactly, but it’s an underrated unit that can give teams fits. Just ask the Brewers.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 4, Brewers 3

A night after four scoreless, hitless innings against Tigers relievers a day before, Milwaukee came up mostly empty once against them Tuesday night en route to a 4-3 loss. It was the Brewers’ third loss in a row and first in a one-run game this season as they dropped to 15-9.

The Brewers got no help from starting pitcher Eric Lauer, who couldn’t make it past three innings while allowing four runs on a highly-elevated pitch count. A Kerry Carpenter three-run blast as part of a four-run second was the heavy blow and, while a conglomeration of minor struggles combined to burn Lauer against Detroit, it undermined a larger issue facing the southpaw: In his last 23 starts, he has allowed 25 home runs.

Lauer was pulled following the third inning with his pitch count at 84. The Milwaukee bullpen did an admirable job from there keeping the team in the game – Elvis Peguero threw three scoreless innings, Joel Payamps added two and Peter Strzelecki closed it off by adding a clean ninth – but three single tallies were all the offense could muster.

A grand opportunity presented itself in the bottom of the eighth when Luke Voit led off with a double off the base of the left field wall and the middle of the order was due up. But Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez both struck out against reliever Mason Englert and William Contreras did the same facing Jason Foley.

“We got a leadoff double. That’s how you want to set it up,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “They got 0-2 on the next two hitters quickly. Rowdy came back and made it 3-2 but he made a good pitch.”

That’s been the way it’s gone for the Brewers against all Tigers relievers.

Tellez’s solo home run in the sixth is the lone run the offense has managed in nine combined innings against Detroit’s bullpen in the series.

Milwaukee chased starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull after just four innings but came up mostly empty against the combination of Tyler Alexander, Englert and Foley. Englert, a 23-year-old rookie, did much of the stifling, recording eight outs and striking out four.

“Englert did a heck of a job today,” Counsell said. “He did a great job. Luke hit the ball hard off of him but other than that, we kind of ran through us pretty good. The slider was good. The changeup was good. He did a nice job.”

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