Coffey closing, but cool with any role

Coffey closing, but cool with any role

If the Brewers indeed have a little closer "controversy," it probably won't last long.

The team had been bridging the gap to all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman's return from the disabled list with Carlos Villanueva, but on Wednesday, it was Todd Coffey, not Villanueva, serving in that role.

And why not? Coffey hadn't surrendered a run in 17 innings spanning 16 appearances as a Brewer dating to his arrival last September. He finally surrendered a run Wednesday when Jayson Werth went deep with nobody on base, but he didn't surrender the lead.

Hoffman won't be back until Sunday at the earliest. So who will close if the Brewers face a save situation Sunday, when they play the finale of a three-game series against the Astros?

"Who knows?" manager Ken Macha said. "When Hoffman comes back, we've got guys with experience closing the game and we've got guys with experience pitching more than one inning. I think we'll look back on it and maybe we could have won a few more games had Hoffman been here. But I think it's going to be, in the long run, good for those two guys."

Coffey's scoreless innings streak to start his Brewers career ended at 17 1/3, four outs shy of matching Earl Stephenson's club record from 1972. It ended when Werth connected on a sinker and sent it over the center-field fence, cutting the Brewers lead to 3-1. The game ended with that final score.

"It's irrelevant," Coffey said, referring to his scoreless streak. "With a three-run lead, I'm going right after him. A solo home run doesn't hurt me. Baserunners are what hurt me. So I'm going to challenge him, go after him with my best stuff. He got it."

Until Villanueva was called into duty in the eighth inning, Coffey didn't know going in that he was the closer du jour.

"And it doesn't matter," Coffey said. "My job is to pitch. If Macha calls me in the fifth, my job is to pitch the fifth. If he calls me in the eighth, my job is to pitch the eighth."

Hoffman is scheduled to pitch a second Minor League game on Friday. If that goes well, he will be activated from the disabled list in time for Sunday's series finale in Houston.

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Dave Bush (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
Bush has faced the Phillies three times at Citizens Bank Park, where he has no record and a 4.86 ERA in 17 1/3 innings. And in six outings against the Phillies in his career, the right-hander is 0-0 with 5.88 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. Bush is coming off an outing against the Mets in New York in which he started poorly and finished with reason to be encouraged. He took the mound with a 6.14 ERA. He gave up hits to the first three Mets he faced and was down, 3-0, after facing all nine men in the batting order before ending the long inning. Then Bush pitched five scoreless innings of three-hit ball while his team overcame the 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead. But Milwaukee's bullpen couldn't hold the lead and Bush got a no-decision.

PHI: LHP Cole Hamels (0-1, 11.17 ERA)
Hamels took a step forward Friday in an 8-7 loss to San Diego at Citizens Bank Park, despite allowing eight hits, five runs, one walk and three home runs in six innings. He took a step forward because he increased the velocity on his fastball about five miles per hour, from 85-86 mph in his season debut April 10 in Colorado to about 89-90. That gives him better separation from his changeup. The next step for Hamels is improving the location of his pitches. Once he does that, Hamels believes he will round back into form as the ace of the staff the Phillies need him to be.

Macha closed the clubhouse doors for the first time Wednesday afternoon and delivered what he called a simple message: Stop trying so hard. "I had a brief, two-minute talk with those guys and said some guys are trying too hard," Macha said. "We've made some baserunning mistakes. That shows they're too anxious." ... Macha said he had no problem with Ryan Braun's strong statements Monday night, when the left fielder criticized the sky-high walk total for Brewers pitchers. "Look, as a manager you have to have patience," Macha said. "You know these guys are out there giving strong effort, and maybe the effort level is too high. [But] I encourage guys to speak their mind." ... Braden Looper was lifted after throwing 107 pitches in six innings Wednesday, meaning the Brewers still have not seen a starter work seven innings this season. They are the only team in the Majors in that category.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS Wisconsin

On radio
• WTMJ 620

Up next
• Friday: Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 1-1, 4.58) at Astros (Felipe Paulino, 0-0, 0.00), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 1-2, 8.56) at Astros (Mike Hampton, 1-1, 3.12), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Brewers (Manny Parra, 0-3, 8.16) at Astros (Russ Ortiz, 1-0, 5.93), 1:05 p.m. CT

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.