PIRATES (30-31) AT BREWERS (35-28)
8:10 p.m. ET; FSWI, ATTSN-PT, MLB.TV
Christian Yelich leads the majors in home runs while Josh Bell is the top run producer in all of baseball.
Both players will attempt to continue their stellar production Friday night when Yelich’s Milwaukee Brewers host Bell’s Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game series.
Yelich hit his major league-leading 23rd homer Thursday afternoon when the Brewers averted a three-game sweep by posting a 5-1 victory over the Miami Marlins. He is 13 away from matching his total from last season and Milwaukee is 15-4 when he homers.
Bell broke a tie with Colorado’s Nolan Arenado by driving in two runs Thursday when the Pirates recorded a 6-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. He is up to 56 RBIs, six shy of his total from last season, and has hit safely in 33 of his last 35 games while producing a .380 average (55-for-145) with 12 homers and 38 RBIs in those games.
Bell also leads the majors with 25 doubles after getting two on Thursday, and his .338 average is fourth in the majors behind Cody Bellinger, former Pirates farmhand Austin Meadows and Jeff McNeil.
“He (Bell) did some nice work today,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters. “Slowed things down, found the barrel again and arrived on time. The last swing was the best swing of the day. When he goes, we’ve got a chance to do some damage.”
The two likely All-Stars are opposing each other for the second straight weekend.
Last weekend in Pittsburgh, Yelich was 5-for-17 with a homer and five RBIs when Milwaukee took three of four games. Bell, who batted .390 in May, was 4-for-20 with a pair of RBIs in last weekend’s series.
“Just not missing that fastball that I’ve been missing probably the past series and a half now was nice going into this next series,” Bell told reporters. “So hopefully I can push the Brewers back a little bit.”
Despite the production of both players, neither team enters this weekend on a roll.
Pittsburgh is 6-9 in its last 15 games and is attempting to win three straight for the first time since May 10-12 against St. Louis. Milwaukee was outscored 24-3 by the Marlins before Thursday and is 8-9 in its last 17 games.
“Nobody is going to quit,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “There’s going to be some bad days. That’s a baseball season. We’re going to be challenged by that. We’re going to be challenged by adversity. We’re going to be challenged by playing a couple games that we don’t like how it turned out and how we performed. We know we’ve got to answer the bell the next day and the guys are continuing to do that.”
Besides Bell and Yelich, the Pirates and Brewers feature other hot hitters.
The Pirates have at least eight hits in their last 13 straight games. Rookie Bryan Reynolds is batting .396 (21-for-53) during a 14-game hitting streak while Colin Moran is hitting .339 (21-for-62) with five homers and 16 RBI in his last 18 games after hitting a two-run homer Thursday.
Mike Moustakas hit two homers Thursday and has seven of his 18 homers in his last 12 games. During those games, Moustakas is hitting .327 (16-for-49) with 10 RBIs and a 1.161 OPS.
Besides Yelich and Moustakas, Milwaukee also boasts one of the league’s hottest pitchers in Brandon Woodruff, who starts Friday. Despite allowing season highs of six runs and 10 hits in four innings Saturday in Pittsburgh, Woodruff is 6-0 with a 3.21 ERA in his last nine starts.
Woodruff is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA in four appearances (two starts) against Pittsburgh.
Rookie Davis will make his first start and fifth appearance of the season for Pittsburgh. He was 1-3 with a 5.35 ERA in Triple-A Indianapolis after signing as a minor league free agent in February.
Davis previously pitched for the Cincinnati Reds and was 1-3 with an 8.63 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) in 2017. He is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two career appearances against Milwaukee.
–Field Level Media