The National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers will turn to rookie left-hander Aaron Ashby on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis as they try to snap a three-game losing streak and avoid being swept by the American League Central cellar-dwelling Minnesota Twins.
Ashby (0-0, 4.15 ERA), ranked the team’s No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline, will make just his fourth career start while filling in for the injured Freddy Peralta.
Ashby has appeared in three games since the All-Star break while bouncing back-and-forth from Triple-A Nashville and has pitched eight scoreless innings, striking out nine and touching 99 mph with his fastball.
“We’ve asked him to fill in where we’ve needed help, and he’s done a good job of that,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The last three times he’s pitched have been under different circumstances, and he’s done the job well. We’ll just try and keep building on that.”
Milwaukee still holds a 7 1/2-game lead over second-place Cincinnati in the Central despite its recent slump but has a four-game series at NL West leader San Francisco on deck. The Brewers have just 12 hits in dropping the first two games of the series against the Twins, with only one hit — a double by Lorenzo Cain in Friday night’s 2-0 series opening loss — for extra bases.
“We haven’t got kind of the big damage hits,” Counsell said after Milwaukee had just seven singles in a 6-4 loss on Saturday night. “That’s a tough way to win games in this league.”
The Brewers, who had won five consecutive series before arriving in Minnesota, haven’t lost four straight games since June 14-18, when they dropped five in a row against Cincinnati (three) and Colorado (two).
“Every game is important for us right now,” utilityman Jace Peterson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored on Saturday. “At the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world we lost three in a row, but I feel like every team goes through that little bit of adversity.
“Right now we’re not getting the one hit that we need, or not making a play, or not making a pitch that we need to do. It’s us collectively. … My money’s on us tomorrow.”
Rookie right-hander Griffin Jax (3-2, 6.29 ERA) will start for the Twins.
Jax, the first player from the Air Force Academy to play in the big leagues, is 2-1 with a 4.94 ERA and a .214 opponents’ batting average in six starts since the All-Star break as he auditions for a potential spot in the starting rotation in 2022.
The Twins, who trail the first-place Chicago White Sox by 17 games in the AL Central entering play Sunday, are 9-3 against division-leading teams in August and clinched their fourth consecutive series win against a division leader with Saturday’s win.
Josh Donaldson continued his hot hitting Saturday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored and doubling home Jorge Polanco with an insurance run in the seventh. Donaldson is batting .320 with four home runs over his past seven games.
“We’re playing to win,” Donaldson said. “We’ve got some guys in here, they’re coming in and doing their job, and it’s been fun to play and be a part of.”
–Field Level Media