BREWERS (86-70) AT REDS (73-83)
6:40 p.m. ET; FS-O, FSWI, MLB.TV
The Milwaukee Brewers (+0.5) are having a September to remember despite losing their best player, 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich, earlier in the month.
The Brewers (86-70) bid to continue their torrid hot streak on Tuesday when they begin a six-game road trip with the opener of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds (-0.5) (73-83).
Milwaukee posted its eighth win in nine outings and improved to a majors-best 17-4 in September following its 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Brewers also own a 10-2 mark since losing Yelich to a fractured kneecap.
Milwaukee entered play on Monday trailing Washington (85-69) by a percentage point for the National League’s top wild-card spot.
“It’s awesome,” Brewers first baseman Eric Thames said following his two-homer performance versus the Pirates.
“I saw a bunch of memes on Twitter and Instagram poking fun at the team saying that once ‘Yeli’ was out that we were done. It’s been the complete opposite. We lost our big piece, but we still have 25-plus guys ready to rock. We’re out here competing and hopefully playing as long as they’ll let us.”
While Thames has struggled versus the Reds this season (10-for-47, 17 strikeouts), the Brewers’ starting pitching this month as played an integral role in the team’s ascent. The Milwaukee contingent has posted a 2.81 ERA in September.
“We had it a little bit last year, so we’re just trying to stay the course, keep playing the game the way we know we can play, and hopefully our guys keep doing what they’re doing,” left-hander Gio Gonzalez said. “Everybody is trying to do a good job of piecing this all together.”
Brewers right-hander Adrian Houser (6-7, 3.83 ERA), who will take the mound for the series opener, absorbed his second straight loss on Wednesday despite allowing two runs on three hits in five innings of a 2-1 setback to San Diego.
Houser failed to record a decision in four career outings against the Brewers this season, although the 26-year-old has struggled mightily versus Eugenio Suarez (3-for-5, two homers, four RBIs).
Suarez, who leads the team with 48 homers, went deep once against Houser and once versus All-Star reliever Josh Hader in Cincinnati’s 8-6 loss to Milwaukee on July 1. Suarez highlighted another two-homer performance against the Brewers exactly three weeks later with a blast off Houser.
“You see the damage he does with the home runs,” manager David Bell said of the 28-year-old Suarez following the Reds’ 6-3 loss to the New York Mets (-1.5) on Sunday.
“I’ve also seen, recently, where he’s been able to make some adjustments and maybe shorten (his swing) a little bit where he’s coming up with some big singles too.”
Suarez carries a five-game hitting streak into the series opener and is batting a robust .358 (24-for-67) in September.
Cincinnati right-hander Sonny Gray (11-7, 2.80 ERA) will get the nod on Tuesday looking to build off the momentum of his last outing. The 29-year-old after permitted two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 4-2 victory at the Chicago Cubs (-1.5).
Gray improved to 2-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his career versus Milwaukee after making four solid starts this season.
Lorenzo Cain is 9-for-19 in his career versus the Gray, however the hurler has flustered Mike Moustakas (4-for-27) and Ben Gamel (1-for-11).
–Field Level Media