The Milwaukee Brewers have the momentum, but the pitching advantage flips to the host San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night when the National League division leaders continue their four-game series.
The Brewers have jumped on Giants’ pitching for nine runs and 20 hits in 3-1 and 6-2 victories in the first two games of the series. Milwaukee has received impressive pitching performances from two of the league’s top starters in Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff.
The wins have allowed the Brewers to extend their lead atop the NL Central to a season-best 10 games over the Cincinnati Reds and have allowed them to pick up two games on the Giants in the race for the best overall record in the NL.
The Giants, who have lost three in a row, have seen their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West trimmed to a half-game and their advantage over the Brewers sliced to 3 1/2.
“Hasn’t been our best baseball. We have to play better,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler summed up after Tuesday’s 6-2 defeat, the Giants’ fourth loss in five games. “I don’t know that there’s anything specific I’d point to. We just haven’t played good all-around baseball, and we’ve gotten it handed to us by some pretty good pitching.”
Having had to scratch projected starters two nights in a row, the Giants have lined up their biggest winner (Kevin Gausman) and hottest arm (Logan Webb) for the final two games of the series.
They will be matched with two Brewers left-handers — Brett Anderson and Eric Lauer — who have gone a combined 8-13 record this season.
Gausman (12-5, 2.49 ERA), who will start on Wednesday night, bounced back from two subpar outings at the end of July to go unbeaten in August, running up a 3-0 record and 3.16 ERA in five starts.
The 30-year-old right-hander did not face the Brewers in the Giants’ visit in early August but has made just two previous starts (four total appearances) against Milwaukee, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA.
Christian Yelich, Omar Narvaez and Jace Peterson have been the big hitters in the series for the Brewers. Gausman also will have to deal with one additional potent bat if, as expected, Milwaukee places slugging first baseman Dan Vogelbach on its expanded active roster on Wednesday.
Under new rules this season, teams are allowed to add 27th and 28th players to the active roster on Sept. 1.
Demoted to the minors in large part to work through hamstring and foot injuries, Vogelbach assured Tuesday he’s happy to be back in the pennant race.
“Just because you’re not here physically doesn’t mean you can’t follow the games and follow the guys,” he said. “The players have changed and other things have changed, but the one thing that hasn’t is the wins and losses. That’s the ultimate goal. I’m excited to be back.”
Milwaukee’s Anderson (4-8, 4.27) on Wednesday will attempt to turn around a recent skid in which he has gone 0-3 with a 6.62 ERA in his last four starts. His only no-decision during the period was a one-run, five-inning outing in a 5-4 loss to the Giants on Aug. 8, a game in which he served up a home run to Darin Ruf.
The 33-year-old left-hander has made 13 career starts against San Francisco, compiling a 2-5 record and a 4.36 ERA.
–Field Level Media