Preview: Brewers vs. Reds
MILWAUKEE — Dropping two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend was discouraging, but the Milwaukee Brewers still have a shot to overtake the Chicago Cubs for the National League Central Division crown.
The Brewers return to action Monday night against the Reds at Miller Park, still just 2 1/2 games back of the Cubs after Cincinnati’s 2-1 victory at Wrigley Field Sunday.
Milwaukee also remains in control of the National League wild-card race, holding a three-game lead over the Dodgers, who are tied with the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot.
None of those races, though, are the Brewers’ focus at the moment.
Instead of worrying about the standings, manager Craig Counsell’s players are looking within and trying to take care of their own business as the regular season enters the home stretch.
“We’re not trying to think about (the races),” said first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who homered in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 3-2 loss. “We’ve got to control what we can control What we can control right now is going out there and winning games. We can’t worry about what anybody else is doing. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves.”
The Brewers had surged back into the divisional race by winning eight straight series behind a resurgent pitching staff. Pitching wasn’t a problem against the Pirates, as Milwaukee allowed just six runs (five earned) in its two losses, but the Brewers’ offense was stymied by Pittsburgh’s own dominant arms.
Offense hasn’t been a problem for Milwaukee against the Reds this season.
The Brewers have scored 80 runs in their 16 meetings with Cincinnati, posting an 11-5 record in those contests. Brewers pitchers have had a few blowup outings against the Reds, allowing six more runs seven times this season but have shut Cincinnati out three times and held them to two or fewer runs in four more.
Left-hander Wade Miley allowed just one over 7 1/3 innings the last time the two teams met, back on Aug 30 in Cincinnati and a 3.14 ERA in nine career starts against the Reds, including a 1.35 mark in two starts this season.
Miley has held his opponents to two or fewer runs in each of his last six starts and in 12 of his 13 for the season.
He goes up against Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who retired his first nine batters last time out but struggled the rest of the way in an 8-1 loss to the Dodgers.
DeSclafani has allowed nine runs total over his last two outings, spanning 8 2/3 innings, and has a .6.84 ERA over his last five starts.
“You know, things happen but he gives us a great effort,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to be better. He’s doing everything he can. He’s a great competitor. I know he’s frustrated with it.”
Monday will mark DeSclafani’s second start against the Brewers this season. The Reds won both of those outings while DeSclafani allowed a combined eight earned runs and struck out 12 over 13 innings of work.
For his career, he’s 3-2 with a 4.62 ERA in seven starts against the Brewers including a 1-2 mark and 4.05 ERA in three starts at Miller Park.