No pitcher in baseball has served up more homers than Milwaukee Brewers starter Marco Estrada.
He’ll try to prevent souvenirs for his home fans Sunday in the finale of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Estrada (5-3, 4.56 ERA) has yielded 20 homers, surrendering at least one in his last 10 outings. He was victimized by the longball Tuesday as he served up two homers accounting for all six runs – his most allowed all season – in a 6-2 road loss to the New York Mets.
The right-hander, however, was more alarmed by his four walks in that contest. He has issued 11 over 18 innings in his last three starts.
”I don’t understand why I’m walking so many guys right now,” Estrada said. ”I’ve got to figure this out now because it’s getting out of hand.”
Estrada has a 6.67 ERA over his last five outings and manager Ron Roenicke left little doubt that he could be out of the Brewers’ starting rotation soon.
”We’ll have to talk about it, but it is concerning because I know when this guy’s right he’s aggressive,” Roenicke said. ”I know what he can do. He’s a really good major league pitcher and he’s not pitching like that.”
Estrada is 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in six starts against the Reds (32-35), allowing nine homers over 40 innings.
Jay Bruce is 7 for 19 against him with four homers while Brandon Phillips is 7 for 21 with one. Todd Frazier has already homered off Estrada this year, but is just 1 for 8 in his other at-bats versus him.
Phillips and Frazier are big reasons why Cincinnati has taken four of six from Milwaukee (41-28) this year. Phillips is 9 for 20 with four RBIs in those games and Frazier is 8 for 23 with four extra-base hits and seven RBIs.
Ryan Braun was injured when the Brewers lost three of four in Cincinnati from May 1-4. He went hitless in his first seven at-bats in this series before he came through with a game-winning, two-run home run in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 4-2 victory.
Braun was in a 4-for-34 slide before that huge hit.
”My swing has gone between terrible and awful the last two weeks,” he said. ”But that’s the way the game of baseball goes sometimes.”
His only hit in six at-bats against the Reds’ Mike Leake (3-6, 3.61) is a homer. Leake will try to bounce back from consecutive 6-1 defeats in which he’s yielded 10 runs over 10 1-3 innings.
The right-hander owns one of baseball’s poorer run support averages at 3.09.
”Leake hasn’t had a lot of luck when he’s pitched well,” manager Bryan Price said. ”The guys like playing behind him. He’s aggressive. He’ll come back and pitch some good games for us.”
Evidence of Price’s statement came May 2 when Leake gave up two runs in eight innings of a 2-0 loss to the Brewers. Leake’s ERA in six career starts versus the Brewers is 4.08.
Leake has limited Aramis Ramirez to three hits in 27 at-bats. Ramirez has six hits in his last 16 at-bats for the Brewers, winners of five of seven.