Struggling Brewers have players-only meeting

Milwaukee has lost five straight and is in third place in NL Central

Struggling Brewers have players-only meeting

MILWAUKEE -- The only current Brewers player with a taste of the World Series looked up and down the dugout Thursday and saw long faces. Matt Garza decided it was time for a chat.

In a players-only meeting at Miller Park after a 7-2 loss to the Twins, Garza talked about restoring some of the energy that lifted Milwaukee to first place at the All-Star break but has disappeared since, along with the team's offense. Ryan Braun also spoke during the gathering, moments after the team's fifth straight loss, and 17th in 26 games since the break, left the Brewers alone in third place in the National League Central.

"You can see some guys carrying a lot more weight than others and taking losses harder than they have in the past," Garza said. "That's about it, just let them know we have 162 of these [games]. We're not done yet, so let's just keep going. Let's have fun. Let's get back to playing the way we played."

The Brewers played poorly while losing all four games this week against the Twins, who themselves are fighting for a postseason spot in the American League. Including Garza's loss on Tuesday night in Minneapolis, the Brewers were outscored in those games by a 27-10 margin.

How do they get back to having fun?

"Winning," Garza said. "Just come out here and playing with the energy we've had in the past. The 'no pressure' feel. Like I said, we've got a bunch of young guys and this is new to them."

The Brewers were eighth in the Major Leagues at 4.96 runs per game before the All-Star break, but they have scored three or fewer runs in 19 of 26 games since.

On Thursday, hitting, pitching and defense were all problematic. Starter Zach Davies had surrendered three earned runs over 28 2/3 innings in his previous four outings, but he gave up three Twins runs in the second inning, three more in the third and was charged with seven runs (six earned) on a career-high 11 hits. Ten of those hits were singles, but they counted all the same.

Davies on his loss to the Twins

"It was just going back to having fun," Davies said of the postgame meeting. "It's just something that's kind of escaped us a little bit these last weeks after the All-Star break."

Has he seen team meetings work?

"Definitely," Davies said. "When everybody buys into it, it makes a big difference. It's nothing that anybody hasn't heard before, but it's just kind of a friendly reminder that everybody's in it together."

Said outfielder Keon Broxton: "I think the energy has been down a little bit. I think that just comes from everyone struggling at the same time. That's something we have to put behind us and get back to playing our baseball -- that's fun, relaxed, carefree baseball."

Players' talk about lack of energy ran somewhat counter to manager Craig Counsell's postgame comments. He was critical of his team for letting four Twins relievers breeze through the final 6 2/3 innings, particularly right-hander Ryan Pressly's two scoreless innings on 18 pitches, saying, "we've got to step up here."

Counsell on 7-2 defeat

But Counsell took issue when a reporter suggested the Brewers may have "lost heart."

"I wouldn't say that. I think it's completely unfair to say that. Lose heart? That's wrong," Counsell said.

Then what is the problem?

"They're beating us," Counsell said. "We're getting beat."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.