The Milwaukee Brewers are coming in hot as they open a series Friday in Pittsburgh against the wobbling Pirates.
The Brewers, who lead the National League Central, are coming off a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs – punctuated by a 17-4 win Thursday — and are a season-best 24 games over .500. That leaves them 4-0 so far on a 10-game, 11-day swing through three division cities, their longest road trip of the season.
“We keep on saying that we (are) not going to stop until we make the playoffs, and keep going and going,” Brewers catcher Manny Pina told Bally Sports Wisconsin Thursday after hitting two homers, including his first career grand slam.
Milwaukee certainly hasn’t spared the Pirates this year, going 12-4 against them, with two series sweeps.
Pittsburgh was just swept in three home games by the St. Louis Cardinals, has lost eight in a row overall, and brings up the rear in the NL Central.
The Pirates’ 7-6 loss Thursday represented more runs than they had the previous five games combined.
Colin Moran has been nearly a one-man band for the Pirates the past two games in terms of offense. The first baseman, who has dealt with injuries throughout the season but seems healthy now, had the only two Pittsburgh hits, both singles, Wednesday, then drove in his team’s first four RBIs Thursday on two homers.
“That’s probably as aggressive as we’ve seen him since the first two weeks of the season, which is a really good sign,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of Moran.
“I’ve been working on trying to get my timing down, so it feels good to square up some baseballs,” Moran said.
In the series opener Friday, Milwaukee left-hander Brett Anderson (4-5, 3.54 ERA) is slated to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (3-9, 7.06 ERA).
Anderson, who is 2-0 over his past five starts, was sailing along Sunday against San Francisco before a calf cramp forced him out after limiting the Giants to one run and five hits in five innings, with three strikeouts and no walks.
In his career, Anderson is 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA in eight starts against the Pirates, including 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA (one unearned run in 13 innings) in two starts this year.
Keller, who has never faced the Brewers, continues to try to get his footing in the major leagues. He is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in two starts since he spent time with Triple-A Indianapolis.
His last time out, Keller gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings, with four walks and four strikeouts, and racked up a career-high 100 pitches Saturday at Cincinnati. He said his stats did not properly reflect his performance.
“I felt great out there,” Keller said. “Again, same as last time, I felt really confident, really good about what I was doing. Just a few balls didn’t go my way.
“Obviously, you don’t want to give up four runs, but there were a lot of positives. When we were throwing my slider and curveball, making sure they were getting off the edge and down in the zone, I think I executed a lot of them.”
–Field Level Media