BREWERS (68-66) AT CUBS (73-61)
2:20 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, FSWI, MLB.TV
The first game of the Chicago Cubs’ back-to-back weekend series against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers went exactly to plan, with a long road still ahead to determine just how much weight the seven games between National League Central rivals will carry.
The Cubs received yet another solid performance from Nicholas Castellanos, who hit a pair of home runs and has endeared himself to the Wrigley Field faithful. He will carry that momentum into the second game of the three-game series Saturday, with a four-game series between the teams set for next weekend in Milwaukee.
Castellanos has 11 home runs in 27 games since he was acquired by the Cubs from the Detroit Tigers (+1.5) at the trade deadline. With his former club, he had 11 home runs in 100 games.
“Oh, man, it’s awesome,” Castellanos told reporters afterward. “Not just because of me, but just because of where I’m at and who I’m playing with and where we’re at in the standings and what these two months (mean). That’s what’s rewarding.”
Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana, who was acquired in a July deal two seasons ago, also has been huge for the Cubs. He pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings Friday and has a 4-1 record with a 2.02 ERA in August.
Quintana helped the Cubs maintain their hold on the second wild-card spot in the NL while moving the team within one game of the St. Louis Cardinals (-1.5) for the division lead.
Quintana will pass the baton to another left-hander in Cole Hamels (7-4, 3.73 ERA), who will return from the paternity list to pitch Saturday.
After consecutive disappointing starts in mid-August, when he gave up a combined 13 runs against the Cincinnati Reds (+1.5) and Philadelphia Phillies (+1.5), Hamels settled down to pitch well in back-to-back outings against the San Francisco Giants (+1.5) and Washington Nationals (-1.5).
He has pitched well against the Brewers in his career, going 8-3 with a 3.28 ERA over 18 starts and 118 innings. He also has a 1-0 record with a 1.50 ERA in three starts and 18 innings against them this season.
The Brewers will counter with right-hander Zach Davies (8-7, 3.90), whose 17 starts against the Cubs are his most against any opponent. He is 6-7 against Chicago with a 3.87 ERA, although this season has been a struggle with a 1-2 record and a 5.14 ERA in four starts.
Also a struggle for the Brewers have been tough-luck injuries. Third baseman Mike Moustakas is expected to return during this current series after taking a hard ground ball off the palm of his left hand Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals, but he did not play Friday.
In Friday’s game, rookie sensation Keston Hiura had to depart because of a left hamstring injury that occurred while running to first base in the fifth inning. The injury could have roots in a play at second base in the third inning when the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber made contact with Hiura.
Hiura will return to Milwaukee for more evaluation and is not expected to play Saturday, meaning a .301 batting average and a .369 on-base percentage will be out of the lineup, not to mention 16 home runs in 70 games.
“I think I caught it before it got anything too (bad),” Hiura said afterward. “We’ll see how it feels (Saturday) and go from there. It was one of those things where I was trying to beat the ball out, give a hard 90 (feet), and I felt a little something going down there.”
–Field Level Media