The Milwaukee Brewers have not swept a series of at least three games in Minnesota in 16 years. If that’s to happen again, they’ll likely need Zack Greinke to finally get the best of the Twins on the road.
Greinke again looks for his first winning start in Minneapolis on Sunday while trying to help the Brewers sweep the Twins, who hope to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat.
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Since Milwaukee (30-35) moved to the NL in 1998, it’s been a regular interleague opponent of Minnesota. However, the last time the Brewers swept a road set of more than two games against the Twins (25-39) came May 17-20, 1996, when both were AL Central rivals.
The Brewers have a chance to do it again after outscoring the Twins 11-5 in the first two games this weekend. Milwaukee managed seven runs while being swept at Kansas City earlier in the week.
Ryan Braun homered twice and had three hits in Saturday’s 6-2 victory.
Though Greinke (7-2, 2.96 ERA) allowed one run and struck out six in 6 2-3 innings of a 16-4 home win over the Twins on May 20, the right-hander is 0-5 with a 4.81 ERA in eight starts at Minnesota. He does have a win there, but it came after two innings of relief Aug 1, 2007, while with Kansas City.
Greinke, however, has yielded two runs and struck out 27 over 20 innings to go 2-0 in his last three starts. In his first appearance against the Royals since they traded him to Milwaukee after the 2010 season, Greinke allowed a homer and fanned eight in seven innings of a 2-1 loss at Kansas City on Tuesday.
“I just have to stay focused,” Greinke said.
Braun has certainly been focused while batting .425 with six home runs and 25 RBIs during a 21-game interleague hitting streak.
“He’s a special player,” said Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe, a longtime friend of Braun’s. “We’ve got to contain him. Can’t let him beat us.”
Batting .452 with five homers and 19 RBIs in his last 11 games versus Minnesota, Braun is 7 for 12 with four doubles against scheduled Twins starter Nick Blackburn (3-4, 7.68).
Trying to win his third straight start since coming off the disabled list from a strained left quad, Blackburn allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings of an 11-7 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 7.48 ERA in five starts versus Milwaukee, allowing eight homers in 27 2-3 innings.
Plouffe was 13 for 28 with seven home runs and 12 RBIs in his previous seven games before going 0 for 1 with three walks Saturday. He’s hit 13 of his 14 homers since May 16.
Star catcher Joe Mauer is still day to day with a sore hamstring but pinch hit and grounded out to end the game Saturday.