The Milwaukee Brewers have boosted their lead in the National League Central to a franchise-record 12 games while trimming their magic number to clinching the division to 10.
The Brewers (86-55) look to continue their spirited surge on Friday in the opener of a three-game series against the host Cleveland Indians.
Milwaukee posted its eighth win in 11 outings on Wednesday with a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Brewers padded their lead with second-place Cincinnati’s 4-1 setback to the Chicago Cubs.
“At this point, it’s stacking up wins and if teams behind us lose, it gets tough on them, for sure,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “We know it’s in our hands right now. You work this hard to build this lead and it’s in our hands. So that’s how you see it. Take care of our business, and we’ve earned that.”
Christian Yelich has been taking care of business of late, going 6-for-13 with three RBIs over his last three games. The former NL MVP is batting .312 over his last 30 games after batting .234 in his initial 68 contests this season.
Yelich admitted that the Brewers still need to remain sharp even though they have a comfortable cushion in the standings.
“You still have to keep your edge,” Yelich said, per Madison.com. “It’s different because we’re not six games back right now like we have been in the past, in the middle of the race or playing for the wild card. We still have to keep that edge. You have to finish this thing through all the way to the finish line and see what happens.”
Lorenzo Cain is 6-for-17 this month with a homer and four RBIs and five runs scored.
Brewers right-hander Adrian Houser (8-6, 3.41 ERA) will take the mound on Friday looking to repeat his scintillating performance in his last outing.
Houser, 28, scattered three hits and struck out seven in a complete-game shutout over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
“The sinker away, the back-door sinker, was a really effective pitch,” Counsell said. “… When you have as good a sinker as Adrian does, that makes the plate just feel really wide. Get them leaning out over the plate and still have to be aware of the ball running in on their hands.”
Houser has yet to face Cleveland (69-69) in his career.
Indians rookie right-hander Eli Morgan (2-6, 5.48) will provide the opposition in the series opener.
Like Houser, Morgan also scattered three hits and struck out seven in a scoreless outing on Saturday. Unfortunately for Morgan, he lasted only 5 2/3 innings and received a no-decision against the Boston Red Sox.
Morgan, 25, will be making his 15th career start and first against Milwaukee.
Franmil Reyes belted his career-best 28th homer and fourth in his last six games in Cleveland’s 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday. Reyes’ blast ended the Indians’ scoreless innings streak at 25.
“It was OK, man, it was only two games we didn’t score,” Reyes said. “There was no frustration.”
Jose Ramirez added his team-leading 33rd homer of the season and 11th since Aug. 1.
–Field Level Media