PITTSBURGH — The Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates will get a heavy dose of each other the rest of the way, starting Tuesday when the National League Central teams face off in PNC Park.
The clubs have met just three times this season, with Pittsburgh taking two of three in a home series April 15-17. Tuesday's game will be the first of 16 remaining games between them.
“We definitely have a lot of Pirates and Cubs in the second half,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Division games in general, there are less unknowns. There is familiarity. It really becomes more of a game between the hitter and pitcher. It becomes more of a cat-and-mouse game.”
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Both clubs had Monday off and are coming off of one-run games Sunday, but the results were strikingly different.
Pittsburgh recorded a stamina-testing, character-defining 2-1 win at Washington on Starling Marte's 18th-inning home run. The Pirates blew a 1-0 lead when they were a strike away from a win in the ninth.
“I love the grit of our club,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “I don't know if a game like this builds character, but it reveals character.”
The Pirates can only hope that character translates to more offense as they open an eight-game homestand. In their three games at Washington — counting innings, the equivalent of four games — they managed just three runs.
Milwaukee, by comparison, scored 13 runs in its weekend series at Cincinnati. The problem was, they all came in the first two games. On Sunday, the Brewers lost a heartbreaking 1-0 game with the winning run coming on a walk-off passed ball by catcher Jonathan Lucroy with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
That ending might have masked the fact that Milwaukee's offense suddenly dried up.
“Offensively, we had six baserunners (total),” Counsell said. “We didn't really have a rally. Six baserunners. It's tough to score right there.”
On Tuesday, Milwaukee right-hander Chase Anderson (4-10, 5.44 ERA) and Pittsburgh rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.86 ERA) will each be starting for the first time since the All-Star break.
For Anderson, it will be his third start since the Brewers skipped his spot in the rotation in late June.
“We put together a plan where Chase would be the guy that gets a break,” Counsell said at that time. “We decided he was a good guy to get a break.”
“They're looking out for my career,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel then. “I appreciate that.”
Unfortunately for him and the Brewers, it hasn't seemed to help.
Anderson's last start, July 9 against the Cardinals, continued a trend he no doubt would like to end. He gave up two runs on four hits over four innings in an 8-1 loss. He struck out five, but he also walked a career-high five and gave up a home run.
Anderson is 0-4 with a 9.61 ERA over his past five starts, none of them quality starts, and he is averaging just five innings per start.
Anderson has not faced the Pirates in his first season with the Brewers, but he is 0-1 with a 5.65 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh.
Taillon, meanwhile, will come off of the disabled list to start Tuesday, marking a change that was announced Sunday. Originally, Jeff Locke was scheduled to start, but Locke will now go on Wednesday.
Taillon, who will face Milwaukee for the first time, could be stepping into a regular role in the five-man rotation. He has been out since June 30 due to right shoulder fatigue.