Brewers-Pirates: Series Preview
By Curt Hogg
Coming off of a 5-1 road trip that included a sweep against Houston and an encouraging two-win series versus the Cardinals, the Brewers return to Miller Park to face the Pirates in a weekend series.
Probables: Friday: Maholm (6-12) vs. Greinke (10-4), Saturday: Correia (12-10) vs. Estrada (2-7), Sunday: Morton (9-6) vs. Marcum (10-3)
-As of just over two weeks ago, Pittsburgh was tied for first place with Milwaukee and St. Louis. Then the Brewers got hot and the Pirates couldn’t win a game, and now the Buccos are 10 games back along with Cincinnati.
-Marco Estrada is expected to spot start for Chris Narveson, who is on the DL with a cut thumb.
-The Brewers recently called up Frankie De La Cruz, who pitched a scoreless inning in his Major League debut Thursday.
It’s not the lighting, Mr. LaRussa, but the Brewers seem to be a much different team at the confines of Miller Park.
Their 41-15 mark is the best in all of baseball, ahead of the powerhouse Phillies by three games. Even though the team has turned things on the road around recently, it is clear they play better at home.
As if Miller Park hasn’t been good enough to the Brewers this year, it has been even better to them against the Pirates. Until the streak was broken last season, Milwaukee beat the Pirates at home in19 consecutive attempts. This season, Milwaukee is 5-0 against Pittsburgh, with two of those wins coming at PNC Park.
If the Brew Crew can continue their successes at home and against Pittsburgh, they have a chance to pull away from the Cardinals over the homestand.
Filling in For Narv-Dog
Yeah, I just made a reference to The Office. Get at me.
Back to baseball. As aforementioned, the Brewers will be without Chris Narveson for 2-3 weeks, and Marco Estrada is expected to fill in his starts. Ron Roenicke has listed Estrada as the probable starter for Saturday against Pittsburgh’s best starter in Kevin Correia.
There will be a few things that will be crucial to winning Saturday’s game, aside from the obvious; a solid five or six innings from Estrada.
Zack Greinke’s Friday start will be critical for Saturday’s game, as the bullpen will be needed in more than regular amounts in the latter of the two games. If Greinke can go seven or eight innings and rest the bullpen further (Axford, Saito, Hawkins, and K-Rod have only thrown one combined inning in two days), the group will be in good shape for Estrada’s start.
Roenicke expects a “solid five or six innings” from Marco, and if he can deliver the Brewers might be in a position for the sweep.
Throughout bot the Houston and St. Louis series, Milwaukee won games because of timely hitting. Coming through with runners in scoring position is often the difference in the game, and the Brewers were successful in those situations during the road trip. With a lack of home runs (Fielder and Hart were the only two that hit any over the trip), this is the key way to scoring runs.
The three starters the Brewers will face all have low HR/9 rates, with Charlie Morton’s being the lowest in the National League at 0.4. While this may have something to do with their home ballpark, it is safe to say the Brew Crew may not be hitting a ton of gopher balls over the weekend, which makes hitting with RISP all the more important.