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Usually when five of a National League's eight starting position players are hitting over .300, it is near the top of the division standings. The Brewers, however, are nearly 10 games under .500 and already double-digit games back in the NL Central.

They are hitting .257, good for fourth in the NL, and have five players eclipsing .300: Jean Segura (.341), Carlos Gomez (.331), Aramis Ramirez (.323), Norichika Aoki (.315) and Ryan Braun (.313).

With the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates surging, it appears that even Milwaukee’s strong hitting may not be enough to make a playoff run.

Sure, the above Brewers players are hitting for high averages, but it’s been tough for the team to score runs consistently. Milwaukee ranks 22nd in the majors in runs scored, proving that team total batting average does not automatically lead to scoring runs.

It’s all about timely hitting. A team like the Brewers can be effective in putting guys on base, but this game relies on driving those runners in to score runs. That’s been the Brewers' main issue.
Carlos Gomez
Photo by Steve Paluch, used under creative commons license.

Now is the time for the Brewers to capitalize on their hot hitting. They must be able to drive runs home to keep the team in the game. If not, the team may fall even further out of contention.

Milwaukee has received a spark from its two young guns: Segura and Gomez. Segura, who is in his first full season of action, is second only to Joey Votto in batting average. He’s hit some home runs and stolen some bases to really make him a complete threat.

Gomez is fifth in the NL in average, and he’s finally showing the potential that once made him a highly regarded prospect.

While it’s great that these two youngsters are carrying the Brewers offense, how long can that last? They’ve made the adjustments so far, but when pitchers start to figure them out, can they continue this torrid pace?

Even with the lack of runs being scored, it’s not like the pitching staff has helped much this season. Kyle Lohse, who signed a three-year $33 million contract, is off to a 1-5 start, and ace Yovani Gallardo, fresh off a DUI arrest in April, has been inconsistent.

The other three starters -- Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta and Hiram Burgos -- all have ERAs above 4.50, with Peralta and Burgos over 6.00.

And when the pitcher with the worst ERA on the team is the closer, that’s a problem. John Axford was so bad to start the season that he again lost his closer’s role, which has seemed like a reoccurring theme the past few seasons.

So the team’s poor pitching coupled with a lack of timely hitting have landed the Brewers near the bottom of the division. They can at least thank the Chicago Cubs for occupying the cellar, though only a game separates the race for last place.