With his team riding a four-game winning streak including three straight shutouts and his pitching staff having thrown a franchise-record 35 consecutive scoreless innings, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was in a good mood Monday as he walked into Miller Park.
His disposition quickly changed.
Roenicke was among the first to learn that Brewers slugger Ryan Braun was about to accept a 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball, part of the league's ongoing investigation of the Biogenesis clinic. The ban, which Braun accepted, makes the left fielder unavailable for the rest of the season.
"Ryan came to me and we had a conversation," Roenicke said Monday night after his team's 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. "He wanted to address the team, which he did."
Neither Roenicke or any of the players was willing to discuss what was said during that meeting, noting that it was a personal matter and up to Braun to make any further comment.
Braun left the stadium well before the start of Monday's game.
"(He was) somber," second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "It was one of those things where you kind of get embarrassed a little bit saying that you are suspended. When a guy goes through something like this, you want to get the truth out and then everybody can formulate their hypothesis and take things from there."
Braun's suspension ends 18 months of uncertainty that began, ironically, with one of the franchise's highest moments. Braun had gone 3-for-4 in Game 1 of the 2011 National League Championship Series when he was notified that he was randomly selected for drug testing.
Later that month, Braun was notified that he tested positive for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone. News of the failed test leaked to the public in December 2011, just two weeks after Braun became the first Brewers player since Robin Yount in 1989 to win the league's MVP award.
Braun avoided a 50-game suspension when an independent arbitrator found inconstancies in the handling of Braun's test specimen. However, when Braun's name was linked to the Coral Gables, Fla., clinic and its operator, Tony Bosch, rumors again swirled, but Braun stood by statements declaring his innocence.
On Monday, he issued another statement.
"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," Braun said. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."
The Brewers are now facing the prospect of playing the rest of the season without their best player.
"Ryan is an important part of this team, but right now we have players in place that we'll put out there and try to win as many ballgames as we can like we always do," Roenicke said.
Even with that cloud lingering, Milwaukee got off to a good start Monday.
After Logan Schafer drew a one-out walk in the first inning, back-to-back RBI doubles by Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
San Diego got one of those runs back in the second. Jesus Guzman hit his sixth home run of the season, a two-out, solo shot to right-center.
Segura's fifth-inning groundout scored Norichika Aoki, putting Milwaukee back ahead by two. However, San Diego took the lead for good in the sixth with two-run doubles by Carlos Quentin and Jesus Guzman.
Padres starting pitcher Andrew Cashner opened the inning with a bunt single that bounced off the glove of Brewers starter Tom Gorzelanny. Everth Cabrera followed with a bunt hit down the third base line. Both runners advanced on Chris Denorfia's groundout, and Chase Headley walked to load the bases before Quentin tied the game with a double off the wall in left field.
Gorzelanny (1-4) struck out Jedd Gyorko, but Guzman sent Gorzelanny's first offering into the left field corner to drive in Headley and Quentin, giving San Diego a two-run lead.