The red-hot Milwaukee Brewers vie for a sweep of their three-game series against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon after posting consecutive 7-4 wins.
The Brewers are 13-2 in their past 15 games and have won six in a row at home.
“Day in, day out our team is doing everything we can do to win,” Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez said. “It’s not only hitting; it’s pitching, too. Right now we’ve got a really complete group. Everybody’s trying to do their part to be good collectively.”
The home streak has come with less than capacity crowds at American Family Field, although that will change later this month.
“It’s great to have fans back in the stands,” Milwaukee outfielder Christian Yelich said.
The Pirates are sitting at the other end of the spectrum, having lost six straight and coming off a game Saturday in which they squandered an early four-run lead.
They are a season-worst 17 games under .500. They are staring at the possibility of being swept in back-to-back series after dropping three at home against Los Angeles before beginning this six-game road trip.
Pittsburgh has had a difficult time putting together games in which the offense and the pitching are clicking on the same day and supporting each other.
“That’s challenging,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “When you put those things together, you win ballgames. And when you don’t, you struggle through it.
“The last couple nights we’ve swung the bats better — we had some situations where we should have scored — but it’s something we definitely need to get in sync.”
In the series finale, Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (0-4, 7.26 ERA) is slated to face Milwaukee right-hander Adrian Houser (4-5, 3.66).
Pittsburgh didn’t announce Crowe’s appointment until Saturday, one of several “TBA” projected starters in recent weeks. The Pirates are trying to piece together a rotation given a combination of injuries, uneven performances and the desire to give a few different pitchers a chance to start a game.
That situation will continue after struggling young starter Mitch Keller, once one of Pittsburgh’s shiniest prospects, was optioned Saturday to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Crowe, who has never faced Milwaukee, will be making his 12th major-league start. He still is looking for his first career win.
Crowe was rocked for eight runs and eight hits — including a grand slam by Andrew Benintendi — in four-plus innings of a 10-5 loss at Kansas City on June 1.
“I’m working to take that next step, and I’m working really hard,” Crowe said. “I know it’s in there. I know I can be the dominating guy that I believe I can be.”
Houser recorded the win Tuesday at Cincinnati after allowing one run and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“I didn’t have the best command of the fastball and sinker early on,” Houser said. “I got a couple big outs with guys on base and was able to settle in and get some of the command back.”
Houser has faced the Pirates once this season, receiving the loss on April 16 after surrendering three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. He is 1-3 with a 6.04 ERA in seven career games (four starts) against Pittsburgh.
–Field Level Media