The Milwaukee Brewers have won four of six and are coming off a series victory over the best team in baseball. Now it’s on to the matter of winning a home series for the first time this year.
The next chance comes this weekend against the New York Mets, and the pitching matchup in Friday night’s opener isn’t a favorable one with Wily Peralta taking on Steven Matz.
The Brewers (18-23) took two of three from the Chicago Cubs with Thursday’s 5-3 victory as the staff went a fourth straight game allowing three runs or fewer. Over a 4-4 span, Milwaukee has a 2.65 ERA and the bullpen has posted a 1.88 mark.
"I said a couple of times that it was going to get better," manager Craig Counsell told MLB’s official website. "They were better than they were pitching. That’s what’s happened."
It’s up to an unlikely arm to continue the success and improve on the club’s 6-11 road mark.
Peralta (2-4, 7.30 ERA), a former 17-game winner, has won seven of 28 starts since the beginning of last season. The right-hander gave up six runs and eight hits with two home runs and three walks in 4 2/3 innings of Saturday’s 8-7 home loss to San Diego in 12 innings, and his 1.99 WHIP is the worst in baseball.
He’s yet to make it beyond six innings this year, in part because his 3.98 walks per nine innings rate is up from 2.87 over the previous two seasons. He threw 16.1 pitches per inning in that time and is at 18.1 through eight starts in 2016.
"We"ll talk about it," Counsell said of Peralta’s future in the rotation. "We have to look at the big picture of everything. It’s certainly got to be better."
Peralta is 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts against the Mets, but Curtis Granderson is 5 for 8 with two home runs and two doubles. David Wright is 0 for 8.
New York counters with Matz (5-1, 2.86 ERA), who’s won a career-best five straight starts. The left-hander gave up two runs and six hits in six innings of a 4-2 win at the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 9, then missed a start because of elbow tightness.
But after a successful bullpen session and a clean MRI, he said he’s ready to go.
"It was definitely a big relief," said Matz, who could be relied on for a lengthy outing after the bullpen put in 10 2/3 innings in New York’s last two games against Washington.
Things haven’t gone well without him. After Thursday’s 9-1 loss to the Nationals, the Mets (22-18) are 2-7 since his last start, though plenty of that falls on the offense. New York is batting .203 in that span with 2.1 runs per game.
Granderson is batting .143 in 17 games this month, while Lucas Duda is hitting .158 in his last 12. The first baseman was back in the lineup after sitting out two games because of a stiff back.