For the second time in a week, the Pittsburgh Pirates will face the task of solving Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff on Saturday when they oppose him in the second game of a weekend series in Milwaukee.
Woodruff (7-3, 3.95 ERA), who tossed six strong innings in a 2-0 victory last Sunday at Pittsburgh in his most recent start, will be opposed again by right-hander Zach Thompson (3-6, 4.42).
Milwaukee held on to win the series opener 4-3 on Friday night when Pittsburgh scored a run in the ninth off closer Josh Hader, then had the potential tying run thrown out at home to end the game.
Hader, who had given up the go-ahead run in his past two outings, walked Diego Castillo to open the ninth. Castillo advanced on wild pitch and took third on Kevin Newman’s single. With two outs, Daniel Vogelbach punched a single to right-center, scoring Castillo. Newman was waved home, but thrown out easily on the relay from shortstop Willy Adames.
Milwaukee improved to 4-0 this season at home against Pittsburgh and 9-2 overall. The Brewers are 21-5 at home against the Pirates since 2019.
Woodruff has settled in since a stint on the injured list, first with an ankle sprain, then with Raynaud’s syndrome, which affected his pitching fingers. In two starts since returning, the two-time All-Star is 2-0 with an 0.82 ERA, allowing one earned run in 11 innings with 18 strikeouts and no walks.
“It (stinks) going on (the IL), but you kind of take it for what it is, because you can’t really do anything about it once you’re on,” Woodruff said after his start against Pittsburgh. “Just use it as a mental reset, a physical reset, just a total reset, I guess. And you just try to come back and get back to the pitcher you know you are, and I think that’s just kind of what I’ve done.”
Woodruff is 6-2 with a 3.71 ERA in 13 career games vs. Pittsburgh, including 11 starts. He is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against the Pirates this season.
Despite the shaky ninth inning Friday, Hader registered his major-league leading 26th save in 27 opportunities. Set-up specialist Devin Williams pitched the eighth inning Friday for his 22nd hold of the season and is unscored on in his past 23 outings.
Pittsburgh’s Thompson has allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his past nine starts.
Thompson has lost both his starts this season against the Brewers, allowing six runs in four innings in a 6-1 loss in April. He then gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings in his first start after coming off the injured list in the matchup against Woodruff last weekend.
Both runs he allowed came on a fifth-inning homer by Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez.
“Made the one mistake to Narvaez, but felt good,” Thompson said after that game. “It’s kind of nice to get back on the mound and see hitters again and to make sure that I can keep continuing what I’ve been doing and hopefully I can keep doing that as we go forward.”
–Field Level Media