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Pirates 7, Brewers 3

Pirates end skid vs. Brewers as Hoffman blows third save

Kristyna Wentz-Graff

Trevor Hoffman can't bear to watch after allowing a grand slam to Ryan Doumit.

Something is wrong.

Terribly wrong.

Trevor Hoffman has been a great closer most of his career and surely will go into the Hall of Fame as baseball's all-time saves leader.

But the Milwaukee Brewers reliever has abandoned the pitch that made him so successful and given the opposition fits for years.

Where is the changeup?

Hoffman blew his third save this season in grand fashion Tuesday night, allowing light-hitting shortstop Ronny Cedeno to smoke a game-tying solo shot to start the ninth inning and then giving up a four-run shot to Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit.

The outing snapped the Brewers' 22-game home winning streak against the Pirates, whose 7-3 victory was their first at Miller Park since May 3, 2007.

Hoffman gave up four hits in the inning, all on fastballs. In fact, according to game trackers, Hoffman threw 20 pitches in the inning, excluding an intentional walk, and only three of them were changeups. It took Hoffman 13 pitches, again minus the walk, before he threw the first changeup. He threw 12 fastballs and five sliders.

What gives?

"Unlike the other outings, today was pretty much a tied ball game after two pitches," Hoffman said. "In that situation I want to get ahead, 0-1, and continue to expand with the fastball, but the ball was not down and away.

"I'm pigeonholing myself into situations where the hitter can be more patient and doesn't have to offer at (the changeup). That's pitching behind in the count. . . . It's more of an 'out' pitch than a 'get back in the count' pitch."

That goes counter to what we saw from Hoffman last season, when he would throw the changeup in any count. When he would get outs with the fastball, it was because he worked off the changeup to make the fastball more effective.

But right now, the changeup is virtually non-existent.

One American League scout who saw Hoffman pitch recently said he had Hoffman's fastball at 81 to 83 mph and agreed he's gone away from what was his best pitch for nearly two decades.

"His changeup is gone," the scout said.

The loss erased a solid start by left-hander Randy Wolf (eight innings, two runs) and a potential game-winning home run by Prince Fielder in the eighth that put the Brewers ahead, 3-2, and left the game for Hoffman to close.

In eight innings this season, Hoffman has pitched just two clean frames in which he didn't walk a batter or allow a hit. He's now allowed 14 hits and a whopping five home runs after allowing two homers all of last season.

All but one of those shots came on fastballs. The other was a well-located changeup that was flicked out on a fluky swing because St. Louis' Nick Stavinoha was fooled by the pitch.

Manager Ken Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson said they have not talked about pitch selection with Hoffman, but Macha has noticed the changeup's absence like everyone else.

"Does that seem odd to me? I would think so," Macha said.

"I'll have to talk to him and make sure he's using his pitches. He's the all-time saves leader, so I think he has a pretty good feel for what he's doing.

"It's a concern. . .  Those last three outs of the game are the most critical thing for you. So is that concern? Yes it is."

While waiting for reporters to make their way to his locker, Hoffman sat in front of it with his finger over his mouth and staring at the carpet in a thinking-man's pose. He said he is confident still despite the jagged start to the season and that pitch location, not pitch selection, is the problem.

Hoffman isn't a fan of the banner in center field that tracks his career saves until he reaches 600 - he's currently at 594 - but if things continue this way, it'll be awhile before it clicks over to the next round number.

"It punches the team in the gut," Hoffman said. "They battled very hard tonight and put us in a position to win.

"There's really nobody you can point the finger at other than myself. Individually, that's the difficult part. You feel responsible for letting that get away."

Sort by: Oldest | Newest | Most Thumbs Up
  1. Can we now realize that this team is headed nowhere?
  2. What needs to be said. Hoffman can't close a game anymore. He gives up more home runs than he gets outs. Why do you have a 42 year old closer to begin with. Another Melvin mistake
  3. Well, Hoffman has officially lost it. Nothing to be ashamed of, he had a Hall of Fame career. No matter how good his changeup is, you can't expect to be a closer in the MLB with a low-80's fastball that is always over the heart of the plate.
  4. Trevor, I really don't like to see Randy's great game go by the waste side. Is the bullpen going to step up to the plate and help out to close for a win?

    Randy, you did a great job! I wished that the bullpen could have helped you out to win!

    "In the Lou"
  5. It's weird that a 45 year old reliever with a 75 mph fastball and a 71 mph change up is struggling at the major league level.
  6. my name speaks for itself......
  7. Playing with fire= 42-year-old closer.

    It's a team that lives on the edge in just about every phase.

    Who's the backup closer and how long will they wait? My guess is since it's a future HOFer, we won't see a change until BS #10 or 11.
  8. Go Bucks! At least one team in this city can hold onto a lead.
  9. Bring back Turnblown?? You crazy? I'd rather have Hawkins as a closer.
  10. Nah, im just kidding with the turnbow thing. He was my favorite brewer though through that 3 year period. I thought the fans really treated him poorly, especially in 2007. He pitched pretty darn good, but yet the fans booed him relentlessly, even before he left for the mound. Milwaukee fans like to boo....
  11. Hoffman needs to look at film from last year and correct his mechanics. He pitched well last year keeping hitters off balance. This year everything is down the middle and he is getting shelled. If he cant turn it around the Brewers are in trouble because Hawkins isnt the answer.
  12. Apparently everybody can see but the Brewers manager that Hoffman is done. He had a great career but if Brewers are serious contenders they'll need to shore up closers role. Hoffman is a raving inferno way past the gas can stuff at this point. Hawkins has a track record of blown games ,Brewers may have to look outside of organization for a closer which won't be easy.Would love to see Brewers owner step up & get the parts needed to take division. Fans in Milwaukee have step up with very good attendance ,its time the owner does!
  13. This team will have the fans remembering the teams of the 90s. Pitching is king and the Brewers don't have any. Fielder is their only hope of geting some young arms. Davis and Hoffman are both done.Bush couldn't pitch for any other team,Parra is a head case,and then there is Suppan. Where do you go from there?
  14. I sat in front of my computer sweating out the nailbiter of a game as clumsily reported on Excite. I had signed up for MLB, but became disenchanted with every game filled with freeze ups. I found that very annoying and cancelled within th five day limit.

    I guess I'll need to find another field of interest, because the Brews play and Macha's managing is more than I can swallow. My dreams have become nightmares and if tonight truly marks the end of Trevor Hoffman's magic, there's nothing much left.

    With that confused soul, butcher Corey Hart, Hapless Zaun and 2 1/2 pitchers, the team is a mess. To make matters worse, Ken Macha, like Ned Yost before him, either is guided in his decision making by data sheets, or he fancies himself a brainy guy. Virtually every game, he tinkers with the lineup and if one were to ask him to explain, he would wax eloquent with platitudes that don't reflect plain old baseball sense.

    It's still April and I am beyond myself with the team's play. Raggety defense, any number of bone head, non alert base running blunders, clumsy at bats and poor pitching. The entire winter was spent generating high interest. It sold tickets, but the last third of unsold ones, will wind up yellowing in the drawers I fear. Truth is, we have no team despite some pretty terrific players. Itold my wif to forget about flying in a couple ,of times to catch a series. I am sad beyond belief.
  15. Why the heck didn't Macha take out Hoffman after the bases we're loaded?It was obvious to anyone watching that Hoffman was about to get rocked again. I thought Hoffman should have gotten pulled after the first homerun (remember the St. Louis game), but no Macha left him in there to ruin any chance the Brewers had to win the game.
  16. I think we need to use someone else at closer for a while. Who that could be I don't know. But Hoffman did well last year so I think he deserves some time to get his stuff together and then give it another shot. I know he's old, but you don't go from great to garbage in a few months because of age. Give him a break and go from there. If he still looks like crap, then try to trade him or something. I dunno. *facepalm*
  17. JimmyBruce, you are not a Brewers fan, so shut the F%$# Up. Something
    is wrong and it's not 100% Hoffman; a 594 save career and now you start
    to blow saves?

    Rick Peterson, you have some explainin' to do.
  18. Quality Reigns is yellowing his drawers!
  19. Jeezz Louise the guys that smoke his fastball don't seem to be impressed he's the all time saves leader. Every pro athelte knows Rule #1 is "What have you done for me lately"?To judge a player by any other standard is unfair to the rest of the team. Quit tip-toeing around. Just now you're going to have a talk with him? Why have you been sending him out to pitch, with the game on the line, not knowing where the H E double hockey sticks his change-up is?
  20. The Brewers actually played a real baseball game.... for 8 innings. Any one want to guess how many games they will win on the west coast trip? I say two...
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