Left-hander Eric Lauer gets the task of continuing Milwaukee’s perfect mark following the All-Star break when the Brewers open a two-game interleague series at home on Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals.
The series opener was switched from an evening start to the afternoon to avoid a conflict with Game 6 of the NBA finals in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, where the Bucks could clinch the title at home against the Phoenix Suns.
The Brewers opened the second half with a three-game sweep at Cincinnati, extending their lead in the National League Central to seven games over the second-place Reds entering Monday’s action.
“It was good. A lot of hard-fought games,” said Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich. “Close games, games that we were behind in and had to battle back in. Showed the mental toughness of our team. We ran up against some really good starters and just kept trying to put good at-bats together, grind. Our pitching staff stepped up big. It was a good three days for us.”
Left-hander Mike Minor gets the nod for the Royals, who dropped the final two games of a three-game series at home against Baltimore and have lost eight of their last 10.
Both teams had an off day on Monday.
The Royals were blanked 5-0 in the series finale against the Orioles on Sunday, the fifth time they were shut out this season. Hunter Dozier had four of the Royals’ six hits in the loss.
“Every game we’ve let go, or we don’t take advantage of us, it hurts the same,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Because we know the kind of team that we have and we should be seeing more of the results that we want.”
Kansas City has not homered since July 10 in Cleveland.
Lauer (3-4, 3.83 ERA) is making his 13th appearance and 10th start of the season. This is his first start against the Royals. Lauer was tagged with the loss in his last start on July 9, despite allowing just one run in six innings in a 2-0 loss to the Reds.
Minor (6-8, 5.67) has struggled recently, going 1-5 with a 8.35 ERA in his last six starts, allowing 30 earned runs in 32 1/3 innings over that stretch. Minor is 3-2 with a 2.31 ERA in six career starts vs. Milwaukee.
Despite leading the division, the Brewers are last in the N.L. with a team batting average of .223, although they are sixth in runs scored. But Milwaukee showed signs of life offensively, scoring 26 runs in the three-game sweep of the Reds, with the aid of big innings.
The Brewers scored five in the eighth inning en route to an 11-6 comeback victory in the series opener, then scored three in the seventh and 11th innings to rally for a 7-4 victory on Saturday. Milwaukee had a four-run fifth in Sunday’s 8-0 victory to provide the cushion for Corbin Burnes, who struck out 12 and did not allow run over 8 1/3 innings before Angel Perdomo came on to preserve the shutout.
“It’s just good at-bat after good at-bat,” Yelich said. “Not necessarily just trying to hit homers. Obviously, those are nice and they help out a lot when you can hit them, but just focusing on grinding at-bats and just trying to pass it to the next guy and get on base. And we’ve been able to do a really good job of that.”
–Field Level Media