The Milwaukee Brewers are hot at the right time, and with eight games left to play in the season, are in the driver’s seat for a wild-card spot with an eye on a possible National League Central title.
Milwaukee (84-70) has won 13 of its last 15 games to grab sole possession of the NL’s second wild card. The Brewers have won six of seven games, are 15-4 in September and are 8-2 since losing reigning MVP Christian Yelich to season-ending knee surgery.
Friday night’s 10-1 win over the struggling Pirates got manager Craig Counsell his 400th regular-season win. And veteran slugger Ryan Braun joined Brewers legends Robin Yount and Paul Molitor as only players in franchise history with 400 doubles.
“It’s the number at the end of the season where I’m more concerned that we end up with a good number there,” Counsell said.
The Brewers have a magic number of seven to clinch a postseason berth.
Scheduled starter Zach Davies (10-7, 3.70 ERA) has won two of his three starts this month, but hasn’t pitched more than five innings since July 18, when he lasted seven at Arizona. He is 4-5 with a 4.70 ERA in 13 career starts against the Pirates.
A blowout win Friday allowed Counsell to rest his taxed bullpen, a situation helped by Chase Anderson’s six-inning start.
“Those guys have worked really hard in this stretch,” Counsell said.
While outfielder Lorenzo Cain continues to play through ankle and knee discomfort, catcher-first baseman Yasmani Grandal has continued to show patience at the plate. On Friday, he became the first player in club history to draw 100 or more unintentional walks in a season.
The Pirates enter Saturday having lost seven straight games, and on top of that are dealing with the fallout from the arrest of All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez on charges of sexual assault involving a minor. Vazquez was arrested in Pittsburgh Tuesday and has been in custody ever since.
The Pirates have placed him on administrative leave.
On the field, Pittsburgh is 65-89, the furthest under .500 the Pirates have been all season. They’ve allowed 10 or more runs in a game 30 times this season, a franchise record in the modern baseball era.
“Just trying to stay focused, take it one day at a time. We’ve got eight games left to get better,” said the Pirates’ Adam Frazier, who homered Friday night for his team’s only run. “Definitely, when you can see the end in sight, it’s tougher to do that. But we’re here. We’ve got eight games to give it all we’ve got and go into the offseason on a positive note.”
The Pirates send right-hander James Marvel to the mound to face Davies and the Brewers. Marvel (0-2, 9.00) will make his third big league start after two with mixed results — two runs on four hits in five innings against St. Louis on Sept. 8, and seven runs on nine hits in four innings on Sept. 14 against the Chicago Cubs.
–Field Level Media