Is there a downside to romping to a 19-0 victory behind a franchise-record 13 extra-base hits?
The Milwaukee Brewers aren’t about to answer that affirmatively after accomplishing the feat during Wednesday’s road shutout of Detroit. Still, the Brewers might not have minded skipping the open date between their offensive outburst and Friday’s series opener against the visiting Chicago Cubs.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun told reporters. “On one hand, it’s nice that there is an off-day (Thursday) so everyone can feel good about themselves for a few days. At the same time, you would like for there to be a game, because this is one of the first days all season where we really swung the bats well.”
Milwaukee (19-22) snapped a three-game losing streak with the most lopsided shutout win in major league baseball since the 2010 Brewers blanked Pittsburgh 20-0.
The Brewers enter Friday tied with the Colorado Rockies for ninth place in the National League, two games behind the Miami Marlins for the final playoff spot in the NL.
Challenging the NL Central-leading Cubs (26-19) and second-place St. Louis Cardinals (19-18) also remains a possibility, especially with the Brewers playing 13 of their final 19 games against the Cubs and Cardinals.
Right-hander Brandon Woodruff, Friday’s scheduled starter, said the shakedown of the remaining schedule isn’t something the Brewers discuss often because players sense the urgency by themselves.
“I mean, we’ve been faced with this the last two or three years, so it is kind of familiar territory, but under different circumstances,” Woodruff said. “We know we need to start playing better and start winning games and doing that here pretty soon.”
The Cubs rallied from an early three-run deficit Thursday to defeat the Cincinnati Reds 8-5 for their third win in four games on the heels of a three-game losing streak.
“It’d certainly be nice to find another gear and play well down the stretch, kind of bookend the season with good stretches of play like we had at the beginning,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.
The Cubs are 3-4 against the Brewers this season, but the teams haven’t met since Aug. 16. Scheduled starter Jon Lester (2-2, 5.80 ERA) took a no-decision in his lone 2020 start against Milwaukee, scattering five runs, nine hits and five strikeouts in six innings.
Lester, who hasn’t completed more than 5 1/3 innings in his past four starts, is 5-4 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 career starts against the Brewers, with 78 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings.
As with Lester, Woodruff (2-3, 3.91 ERA) also will aim to pitch deeper into the game than he has recently.
Woodruff encountered a frustrating fifth inning on Sunday at Cleveland, and exited after allowing four runs and three hits in 4 1/3 innings with three walks and seven strikeouts.
“I’m still doing OK, but not getting through five innings is kind of a disgrace,” Woodruff said.
Woodruff lost to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Opening Day after spacing two runs and four hits in five innings. In seven career appearances against Chicago, including five starts, Woodruff is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA.
–Field Level Media