John Axford hasn't done a thing wrong. Four times he's been sent out to save a game for the Brewers, and four times that's just what he's done. In 14 appearances, he's never allowed more than a run.
The trouble is, he's not Trevor Hoffman. The presence of baseball's all-time saves leader on the Milwaukee roster means Axford could be asked to step aside as closer at any time. Brewers manager Ken Macha said Tuesday that with the way Hoffman has been pitching, that's a decision he might have to face soon.
"It puts you out on the plank," Macha said, as reported by MLB.com. "I've got that amongst the other pressures that are placed on me when I come to the ballpark every day."
Hoffman made the decision easy for Macha early in the season, starting the season in horrendous fashion and losing the closer's job. He allowed 13 runs and six homers in his first nine innings -- he has only allowed more than six homers in an entire season once in the past eight years -- and blew four of his first seven save opportunities.
But Hoffman seems to have straightened out his control problems, and hasn't allowed a run in eight of his past nine appearances. He pitched a scoreless eighth in a 1-1 game Sunday, and that caught the manager's attention.
"After that outing, I'd feel pretty good about him coming in now," Macha said. "I thought the other day was his best outing. ... He certainly threw the ball well enough to close the game."
A sign in center field at Miller Park still shows Hoffman's saves total, and it has been stuck at 596 since May 7. Fans might see it turn 600 yet.
-- David Andriesen
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