The Milwaukee Brewers are trying to keep pace and possibly gain some ground in the National League wild-card race.
Their pitching performances against Aaron Judge might determine how their prospects look in three days.
The Brewers will get acquainted with Judge’s attempts to inch closer to the American League single-season home run record Friday night when they host the New York Yankees in the opener of a three-game series.
“He’s a specimen above all else,” Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong said. “I think anybody in this room would love to be Aaron Judge with that size and mobility.”
Milwaukee (76-67) is 19-20 since it last held sole possession of first place on Aug. 3 and eight games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The Brewers return home for six straight against the Yankees and New York Mets after collecting 10 hits and going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 4-1 loss at St. Louis on Wednesday.
The Brewers are 5-2 in their past seven games but saw their three-game winning streak stopped Wednesday.
“The Yankees have been scuffling a little bit, so they’re a team we can go out and get after it with,” Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes said. “And we played a good series against the Mets early in the year. It’s two series, and obviously they’re first-place teams, but I think we can go out and win some baseball games.”
The Yankees (87-56) were scuffling two weeks ago when they followed up a five-game winning streak with six losses in seven games. Since then New York is 8-2 and has scored 32 runs during a four-game winning streak that continued with a 5-3 win in Boston on Wednesday.
Judge remained at 57 homers after homering twice Tuesday but is hitting .462 (24-for-52) with eight homers and 14 RBIs during a 15-game on-base streak to raise his average from .294 to .310.
“The confidence has never died down,” New York starter Nestor Cortes said. “I know we’ve gone through some tough stretches. That has [made] us stronger. What we’re doing now shows what type of team we are. I think moving forward, we’ve found our stride.”
Frankie Montas (5-12, 3.89 ERA) will make his eighth start as a Yankee and hopes for better luck this time. Last Friday, Montas allowed three of his four runs when left fielder Aaron Hicks committed consecutive misplays in the fourth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Before Friday, Montas allowed one hit in five scoreless innings of a 2-1 win at Tampa Bay on Sept. 4.
Montas is facing Milwaukee for the first time and has allowed at least four runs in four of his starts since being acquired from Oakland at the trade deadline.
Adrian Houser (6-9, 4.61) starts for Milwaukee and enters his first career appearance against New York attempting to win his third straight start.
Houser returned from missing two months with an elbow injury and allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 24.
After his struggles in Los Angeles, Houser pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen against Pittsburgh but is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his most recent starts against Colorado and Cincinnati. On Saturday, he allowed one run on one hit in six innings of a 5-1 win against Cincinnati when he threw 82 pitches.
–Field Level Media