The Cincinnati Reds hope their charge toward the top of the National League Central carries through the four-day All-Star break while the Milwaukee Brewers look to regroup starting Friday night in the opener of a three-game weekend series in Cincinnati.
The clubs are in the middle of a rare seven-game series, broken up by the Midsummer Classic in Denver. After losing 5-3 on July 8 in Milwaukee, the Reds have three straight wins and stand just four games behind the first-place Brewers in the division.
The last two of those wins came against Brewers closer Josh Hader as the Reds took three of four in Milwaukee.
“It was a great series,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We made it a little tough losing the first game. That says a lot when you come back and win the next three.”
“It’s awesome. Just to come in and win the series against these guys, it was huge,” Reds rookie catcher Tyler Stephenson said. “It’s great momentum going into the break.”
Brandon Woodruff was one of four Milwaukee pitchers selected to the National League All-Star team but did not pitch. His last outing came on Sunday, when he pitched six solid innings and took a no-decision in a 3-1 loss to the Reds.
“They came in here and took three from us, so it’s going to be a big series,” Woodruff said. “Any time you play in-division, it’s always big, and they’re the ones chasing us right now. We played some close games here.”
Milwaukee figures to continue to rely heavily on its pitching staff, which was highlighted by the three-strikeout All-Star performance of Freddy Peralta in Denver on Tuesday night.
The three games against the Brewers mark the start of a nine-game homestand for the Reds, who are just three games behind Milwaukee in the loss column. At 48-42, the Reds have their best record at the All-Star break since 2014, when they were 51-44.
“Our players are stepping up in every way,” Bell said. “Guys having fun, enjoying themselves, believing in themselves and having confidence that we can do it. It’s been a pleasure just being around these guys and watching them go about it this way. You couldn’t ask for anymore.”
The Brewers will play three games in Cincinnati before returning home for a five-game interleague homestand with Kansas City (two games) and the Chicago White Sox (three).
“I think if you sat back at the beginning of the season and said, ‘Hey, at the All-Star break you’ll be in first place,’ nobody’s going to say no to that,” Brewers outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “Obviously we didn’t make the gap bigger, but we’re in first place and we’re going to focus on the second half when it gets here.”
The Brewers send right-hander Adrian Houser (5-5, 3.74 ERA) to the mound in Friday’s series opener. Despite the 5-5 record, the Brewers are 11-5 in Houser’s 16 previous starts this season, including wins in his last six. His last start came on July 8, when he went 4 1/3 innings allowing five hits and three runs — all unearned — in Milwaukee’s lone victory in the four-game set with the Reds.
This will be Houser’s fourth start this season against Cincinnati, and third at Great American Ball Park. Houser is 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA in his previous three starts this season against the Reds. He has had command issues, walking 11 and striking out 15 in 13 2/3 innings. Lifetime, he is 1-3 with a 5.25 ERA in 10 appearances against Cincinnati.
The Reds counter with Tyler Mahle (7-3, 3.68). The right-hander is making his third start this season against Milwaukee, posting a 1-0 mark with a 3.00 ERA. He has fanned 18 batters and walked six in his 12 innings of work this year against the Brewers. Over his career against Milwaukee, Mahle is 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA in six previous appearances, all starts.
The Reds have won eight of the previous 13 meetings with the Brewers this season, but Milwaukee has taken two of three in each of the two most recent series.
–Field Level Media