The last time the Chicago Cubs were in Milwaukee, they were putting the finishing touches on one of their finest seasons in recent franchise history.
The Cubs are well on their way toward surpassing that finish and will try to maintain their impressive pace by adding to their dominance over the Brewers on Tuesday night.
Chicago wrapped up a 97-win campaign, its best since 1945, with a three-game sweep in Milwaukee from Oct. 2-4 and returns there with an MLB-leading 27-9 record. The Cubs claimed two victories over the Brewers in a rain-shortened series in Chicago last month, improving to 14-1 in their last 15 matchups.
The Cubs have won seven straight at Miller Park, one shy of matching their longest win streak at the 16-year-old stadium. With the Brewers off to a lackluster 16-22 start in a rebuilding season, Chicago will likely play in front of friendly crowd Tuesday at what its fans often call “Wrigley North.”
It's unclear if those travelers will see Cubs nemesis Ryan Braun, who missed the past two games because of a sore right wrist, but an X-ray this weekend showed a positive result for one of the NL's leading hitters.
“I just kind of irritated it a little bit. I don't think it's anything serious,” he told MLB's official website. “Obviously I've played with it for a little bit, so I don't think it's anything significant.”
Braun, batting .367 with an active 23-game streak of reaching base, is hitting .447 in his last 12 matchups against the Cubs and .380 in his last 37 at home. He's 1 for 8 with four strikeouts lifetime, however, against Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 3.03 ERA).
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA in seven career starts versus Milwaukee but did not get a decision in Chicago's 4-3 win April 26. He gave up one run, two hits, and a walk in five innings.
Hendricks struck out a season-high eight in his latest outing Wednesday against San Diego but the Cubs' bullpen couldn't secure his second win in as many starts. He was charged with three runs in 6 2/3 innings in the 7-4 loss, part of a doubleheader sweep and Chicago's only set of back-to-back defeats.
The Cubs bounced back to take two of three from Pittsburgh this weekend and fell just short of a sweep with a 2-1 loss Sunday. Jon Lester carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but his teammates didn't get on the scoreboard until the ninth.
“Typically, we fought to the very last drop again so there's nothing to complain about,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It was just a really well-played baseball game and we got beat.”
Chicago might have an easier time adding to its NL-best 214 runs with a matchup against Chase Anderson (1-5, 6.11). The right-hander has an 8.88 ERA while losing five consecutive starts, but he had a relatively solid performance Wednesday in Miami, giving up three runs and three hits in six innings in a 3-2 defeat.
Anderson will face the Cubs for the first time and will try to help the Brewers build on their 3-2 win over San Diego on Sunday. Chris Carter ended an 0-for-23 slump by going 3 for 4 with a home run and driving in two runs.
Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo is batting .414 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in his last 15 games in Milwaukee.