MILWAUKEE — It hasn’t been pretty, but the Toronto Blue Jays have put themselves in a position to wrap up a long road trip on a high note Wednesday afternoon when they take on the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
Toronto dropped one of two in Atlanta and two of three in Baltimore. However, they pulled out a 3-1 victory against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, then held off the Brewers for a 4-3 win Tuesday night to even their trip record at 3-3.
“Any win is good,” said right-handed reliever Danny Barnes, who earned his first career victory Tuesday night.
Barnes and the bullpen have been a big factor in Toronto’s recent success, and they saved the day Tuesday, working 4 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings to preserve a one-run lead.
The Jays’ bullpen has been put to the test this season, largely because of the growing number of starters to end up on the disabled list. Toronto leads the American League with 163 innings of relief work.
“Guys are just cutting their teeth a little bit,” Barnes said. “Some people will say we are going to get worn out now, but I honestly think that it’s going to help us later on as guys build confidence and get experience. It’s only going to help later.”
A long start Wednesday from Marcus Stroman could help alleviate that workload. Stroman (4-2, 3.00 ERA) worked into the sixth inning in each of his past three starts, and he will be looking to win his fourth consecutive decision.
In his only career start versus Milwaukee, the Brewers scored two runs on seven hits off him April 12 in a nine-inning effort that resulted in a loss.
Milwaukee counters with right-hander Matt Garza, who has been impressive since returning from the disabled list in late April. Garza (2-0, 2.43 ERA) boasts a 1.11 WHIP through 29 2/3 innings.
“He’s a little bit unsung in this whole thing so far this year,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s pitched very, very well and really solidified that spot. And he just keeps going out there and doing it.”
The Brewers’ brass asked Garza to rely more on his off-speed arsenal during the offseason, and after some shaky results in spring training, the shift in approach has started to pay dividends for the veteran.
“I just want to do my job,” Garza said. “I just want to keep progressing, keep improving, keep getting better. This is a new style for me.
“Just being able to have the confidence in my stuff and myself, and the guys behind me, it’s awesome and it really lets a pitcher settle in.”
Garza is 6-6 with a 2.14 ERA in 13 career starts against the Blue Jays. One of those wins was a shutout.
The Brewers’ offense will be hoping that Ryan Braun returns to form.
The left fielder is 0-for-8 in two games since returning from a 10-day stint on the disabled list caused by nagging leg and arm injuries.
“When you hop back in after some time off — and I think we’d all agree that Ryan is capable of it — you don’t necessarily know how it’s going to feel because you haven’t had at-bats for 10 days,” Counsell said.