Right-hander Adrian Houser gets the nod as the surging Milwaukee Brewers go for the sweep at home against the struggling Cincinnati Reds on Thursday afternoon in the finale of the three-game series at American Family Field.
Houser (2-2, 2.53 ERA) will be opposed by Cincinnati’s hard-throwing rookie right-hander Hunter Greene (1-3, 6.00 ERA).
Struggling might be an understatement to describe the Reds, who have lost 19 of their last 20 games to drop to 3-21, the worst start in club history. Cincinnati has lost 12 straight road games for the first time since 1945.
The Brewers pounded out an 18-4 victory over the Reds on Wednesday night behind a franchise-record eight RBIs from Rowdy Tellez, who had a grand slam, a two-run homer and a two-run double, along with a single. Milwaukee has won 13 of its last 16.
In the first two games of the series, Reds pitchers have allowed 24 runs on 23 hits and issued 14 walks. The starting pitchers lasted just 3 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings. The Reds also are without three regulars. Outfielders Nick Senzel and Tyler Naquin were scratched from the lineup Wednesday and placed on the COVID-19 injured list. First baseman Joey Votto went on the COVID-19 IL Tuesday.
“It was a tough day losing a couple players right before we went out on the field,” Reds manager David Bell said. “This team just continues to fight through it. It’s not easy, but it’s impressive. They continue to play and continue to try to figure it out every day. That’s all we can do. There’s no question it’s going to pay off.”
Houser, making his fifth start, picked up his second straight win in his last outing, allowing just two hits over six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and three walks in an 11-1 victory over the Cubs. Opponents are batting just .197 against Houser, who has not given up a homer this season in 21 1/3 innings.
Houser is 1-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 11 career games against the Reds, including eight starts. He was 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA in four starts against Cincinnati last season.
Greene, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, threw 39 pitches at more than 100 mph in a 5-2 road loss to the Dodgers on April 16, the most recorded in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008).
After winning his debut, Greene has lost three straight. In his last outing, he allowed four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 10-4 loss at Colorado. He has walked four in each of his last two starts, totaling 7 2/3 innings. He has not faced Milwaukee.
Although the Brewers have been shut out three times and have scored two runs or fewer in seven of their eight losses, they also have scored at least nine runs in four of their last eight.
Tellez, acquired last July from Toronto, has been the catalyst for the resurgent offense. He is hitting .348 over his last seven games with four homers and 13 RBIs.
“We’re early in the season, so I’m not trying to press too much if I don’t have a good game. Just taking it day by day, really,” Tellez said. “I think it’s nice being in a situation where I have the opportunity to play pretty much every day, and have an organization, a manager, and a staff that believes in me that I can play every day on both sides of the ball.”
–Field Level Media