Matt Garza is having his worst season since his rookie year for the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, who have undergone changes on the bench and in the front office in response to the club’s overall disappointing play.
There have been some positives recently, though, and Garza takes the hill looking to help guide Milwaukee to a season high-tying fifth straight home win when he faces the Miami Marlins on Monday night.
Garza (6-12, 4.82 ERA) hasn’t finished with an ERA worse than his current mark since finishing at 5.76 after 10 late-season appearances with Minnesota in 2006. The only other time he’s lost 12 games was in 2009 with Tampa Bay.
The right-hander has been solid lately, however, going 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA over his last five starts to drop his ERA to its lowest mark since it was 4.80 after beating Washington on June 11. He’s allowed three runs and five hits while pitching seven innings in back-to-back outings.
Garza went that distance just twice over his first 19 starts. He’ll look to help the Brewers (51-68) stay hot after they completed a three-game sweep of Philadelphia with Sunday’s 6-1 win.
Milwaukee set its season high of five straight home wins from July 8-21, ending that stretch with its last four-game winning streak.
The Brewers, 44-50 since manager Craig Counsell replaced Ron Roenicke on May 3, bounced back after losing their first two following general manager Doug Melvin stepping down Tuesday.
Ryan Braun passed Robin Yount as the franchise’s home run leader at 251 with a grand slam in the fifth.
"Robin is obviously the greatest player in franchise history. Played here for 20 years, accomplished some amazing things," said Braun, who went hitless in his 10 other at-bats in the series. "Any time you are mentioned alongside his name, it’s definitely a special accomplishment."
The Marlins (47-70), whose 19 road wins are tied with the Phillies for the fewest in the majors, have gone through their own difficulties. General manager Dan Jennings assumed managerial duties after Mike Redmond was fired in mid-May, and Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t played since June 27 because of a left wrist fracture.
Miami lost 15 of its previous 20 before salvaging the finale of a three-game series against St. Louis with Sunday’s 6-4 win. Dee Gordon went 3 for 5 and is hitting .407 over his last six, and Derek Dietrich hit a bases-loaded triple in the fifth while finishing with two hits.
"I was just trying to have quality at-bats with guys on base, said Dietrich, who hit .105 over his previous six. "Hopefully, I can just keep that going."
Justin Nicolino looks to help the Marlins win for just the third time in their last 11 road games. Nicolino (1-1, 4.86) was sent to the minors at the end of June after making his first two major league starts, then was recalled after Jose Fernandez went back on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right biceps last week.
The left-hander gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-4, 10-inning win over Boston in his first start back Tuesday.
"For me, every day is a learning process," Nicolino said. "Whatever I can do to get better and take it out there every five days, that’s what I want to do."