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Outfielders playing in prevention mode

Outfielders playing in prevention mode

MILWAUKEE -- After looking at statistics from the first half of the season, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin brought up an interesting point to the Brewers coaching staff.

According to the stats, singles by opposing batters weren't beating the Brewers. Doubles and, more importantly, an "inordinate amount" of triples were.

"We played short. We played very aggressive and we played shallow, that's what we've done [in the past]," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "But after the analysis came back ... [Melvin] brought it to my attention that we'd been giving up too many bases and there was an inordinate amount of triples. So we backed our outfielders up so that we can cut down on that."

The Brewers made the switch after the All-Star break, and the outcome has led to the expected result. Milwaukee, which had given up 22 triples entering Wednesday -- the eighth most in the Majors -- has given up no triples since the All-Star break and zero dating back to July 10.

Although the adjustment has cut down on the amount of triples given up by Milwaukee's pitching staff, the negative aspect of the move is that more bloop hits drop in front of the outfielders.

But that's a sacrifice the Brewers are willing to make.

"Balls are going to fall in front, but in order to score one run with a ball dropping in front of you you're going to need two more hits," Macha said. "With a triple, you're just going to have to put the ball in play."

One of those instances came in Sunday's 10-2 loss to the Braves. With two out in the seventh inning, Atlanta's Garret Anderson lined a single that dropped in front of Brewers right fielder Corey Hart and led to howls of boos for the right fielder.

Anderson's hit turned out to be a harmless one, but bloopers such as those are to be expected with the outfielders now guarding against extra-base hits.

"We scoot back and you tend to give up a few more bloops that squeeze in there, but that's how it is," Hart said. "Those are more noticeable now because we're getting the ones that are deep, but it's just one of those things that is give and take. Do you want to give up the longer ones or the ones that squeeze in the middle?"

Of the triples Milwaukee has given up, a good share of them have been hit in Hart's territory, mainly due to a right-field corner Macha said was "built for triples." First-base coach Ed Sedar, who was the team's Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator from 1992-2006 before taking his current position prior to the '07 season, called both corners in Miller Park "tricky."

The reason being, is that unlike the wide variety of angles and walls found in corners of other stadiums, Miller Park's right-field corner comes together at a right-angle. Instead of getting a ball that skips and bounces around back toward the fielder, there are only two things that can happen at Miller Park.

"It's probably not one of the tougher corners, but it's a corner that you can run over there and nine times out of 10 it's not going to carom; it's just going to sit there," Sedar said. "But if you run over there full blast expecting it not to carom, then it happens to hit the side wall first and it caroms."

Hart agreed that Miller Park's right-field corner is a bit tricky, but said every ballpark's corner has its own behavior.

The right fielder also said he didn't have a preference one way or the other of how the outfielders play, but did say a lot of the triples the Brewers have given up have been to players who are known to hit them.

"If you look at a lot of them, the guys that are getting them are fast guys and balls down the line are ricocheting off things and they're going to get them anyway," Hart said. "I think it kind of gets blown up, because obviously we've been giving up a lot, but against anybody those balls that are hit are going to be triples no matter where we're playing. But now we're scooting back and getting to the ball faster."

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Yovani Gallardo (9-7, 3.09 ERA)
Gallardo delivered just what the manager ordered on Saturday, when he pitched 7 1/3 innings and drove in the go-ahead run in the Brewers' 4-0 win over phenom Tommy Hanson and the Braves at Miller Park. It was Gallardo's first win since June 26 -- he had three losses and a no-decision in the interim, and the Brewers lost all four games -- and his third win in which he accounted for the game-winning RBI. Gallardo beat Randy Johnson and the Giants with a three-run homer in his season debut, belted a home run in a 1-0 win over Ian Snell and the Pirates on April 29 and then singled off Hanson to snap a scoreless tie in the fifth inning on Saturday.

WAS: RHP J.D. Martin (0-1, 7.50 ERA)
Martin threw two scoreless innings before rain intervened in his last outing Saturday against the Padres. After a three-hour, 11-minute delay, Martin did not resume pitching. He did however take his at-bat following the delay. Martin drew a 10-pitch walk, which keyed a four-run, two-out rally in the Nationals' win. After throwing four innings in his debut, Martin has pitched just six innings in his two career starts.

Tidbits
Casey McGehee's son, Mackail, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday night in support of United Cerebral Palsy. ... Jesus Colome, a right-handed reliever the Brewers signed on Friday, picked up a save on Wednesday night in his first appearance for Triple-A Nashville. The 31-year-old right-hander gave up one hit and struck out two in one inning. ... The Brewers hosted their third-annual Stitch N' Pitch night on Wednesday. Stitch N' Pitch night is a program of The National NeedleArts Association, where fans can come to baseball games to knit, crochet, needlepoint, cross-stitch and embroider while watching the game with friends. ... Ryan Braun will join nearly 1,300 children from the Little Brewers Baseball Club when they visit Miller Park for Thursday's Brewers-Nationals game. Braun is donating $20,000 to Brewers Charities this season to be the player sponsor for the club. His donation covers all the costs of uniforms, and his autograph and uniform number (No. 8) appear on all the participants' uniform tops.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN-HD

On radio
• WTMJ 620, WRRD 1510 (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Brewers (Braden Looper, 9-5, 4.79) at Padres (Chad Gaudin, 4-9, 4.57), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 5-8, 5.27) at Padres (Edward Mujica, 2-4, 3.29), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Brewers (Carlos Villanueva, 2-8, 6.61) at Padres (Kevin Correia, 7-8, 4.75), 3:05 p.m. CT

Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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