Counsell's Crew shows spirit after meeting

Skipper happy that players connected, but 'this gets cured on the field'

Counsell's Crew shows spirit after meeting

MILWAUKEE -- Team meetings serve a purpose, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, but slumps aren't solved in the clubhouse.

They are solved on the field, which is why Counsell was encouraged even in defeat Friday. Down eight runs in the third inning after Jimmy Nelson was singled into submission, the Brewers stormed back into an 11-10 loss to the Reds with a seventh-run sixth inning that was highlighted by Eric Thames' three-run home run. Thames and Jonathan Villar each homered and collected three hits, as Milwaukee brought the go-ahead run to the plate in three of the final four innings of the team's best offensive performance of a slump-riddled second half.

While it wasn't enough to snap a losing streak that stretched to six games, the comeback did at least as much to boost the Brewers' spirits than their team meeting the night before.

"The batter's box is what works. Or on the pitcher's mound," Counsell said before the game. "I think [players] will tell you the same thing. That's what works. That's what this game is. Otherwise, we'd bring in motivational speakers every day. … This gets cured on the field."

Brewers plate seven in 6th

Counsell's comments came the day after veterans Matt Garza and Ryan Braun spoke up in a players-only meeting in the wake of a 7-2 loss to the Twins on Thursday night. It marked the 18th time in their last 24 games that the Brewers scored three or fewer runs.

On Friday, their offensive woes weren't cured, but there were signs the fever had broken.

"It was a crazy game," third baseman Travis Shaw said. "Offensively, we battled back. That's what we've been looking for for a couple of weeks now. It was a good sign to see that tonight. Obviously, you still want to win that game, but being down 10-2 and coming back, it should be a good sign going forward."

Their ill-timed slump dropped the Brewers from 5 1/2 games atop the rest of the National League Central at the All-Star break to a tie for third place with the Pirates by the close of business Friday. Those two teams are three games behind the Cubs and two back of the surging Cardinals.

While doom and gloom swarmed on social media, Counsell has remained upbeat throughout the Brewers' slump. With the season about to pass the three-quarter mark, a team that was supposed to be in rebuilding mode still remains only a handful of games out of first place.

"There's no question that that is the silver lining in this, if there is one," Counsell said. "There is opportunity in front of us. No matter what's going on, there is opportunity in front of us. That's very important to keep on our mind because we've seen now … how much it's changed for each team with a streak.

"We were the first ones to go on the streak. Then the Cubs went on a streak. The Cardinals went on a streak. It's changed really quickly for each team. It's left us all bunched together.

"You know there's going to be a point where the rubber meets the road and you've got to earn it. I think we realize that, but that opportunity is certainly still in front of us. That's a really good feeling. That's still the feeling you come to the park with every day."

Counsell on falling short

The Brewers left the park Friday feeling better. Even Nelson, despite his rough start.

"Obviously, losses are terrible. It's the last thing you want," Nelson said. "But just the fact that mentally they stayed in the game even when we were down by a lot, that shows a lot of character. I'm proud of those guys for doing that."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for 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.