Preview: Cubs at Brewers - July 30
The Sports Xchange A two-game swing in the National League Central standings will be the prize when the Milwaukee Brewers host the first-place Chicago Cubs for the finale of their three-game series on Sunday. The Brewers can close within one-half...
The Sports Xchange
A two-game swing in the National League Central standings will be the prize when the Milwaukee Brewers host the first-place Chicago Cubs for the finale of their three-game series on Sunday.
The Brewers can close within one-half game of the Cubs with a win, while Chicago can leave town with a 2 1/2-game advantage by claiming the rubber match.
The season series has been evenly matched, with Chicago leading 6-5 while outscoring the Brewers 59-55, and the first of eight remaining head-to-head meetings will go a long way toward deciding a division champion.
“Immediate feedback in the standings,” Milwaukee third baseman Travis Shaw told reporters. “We know we have to win this series to get back where we want to be. We’ve done a lot of sliding in the second half.”
Jason Heyward’s eighth home run of the season, a go-ahead solo shot in the 11th inning, lifted the Cubs to a 2-1 win on Saturday and evened the series. Chicago has won 12 of 15 since the All-Star break, while Milwaukee has dropped 10 of its last 13 to go from 5 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs to 1 1/2 back.
TV: 1:10 p.m., TBS, FSN Wisconsin.
Cubs RH John Lackey (7-9, 4.97 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Zach Davies (12-4, 4.45)
Lackey has won his first two starts following the All-Star break, allowing three runs over 10 innings. The 38-year-old hit four batters in a win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, but he struck out five, allowed just five hits and kept the ball in the park. Lackey is 5-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 12 career starts against the Brewers but lost the first meeting this season after surrendering four runs and seven hits over six frames.
Davies has won each of his last five decisions and posted a 2.54 ERA over his last six starts. The 24-year-old has not allowed an earned run in his last two outings, and he held Washington to three hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory on Tuesday. Davies has split a pair of starts against the Cubs this season and is 4-3 with a 4.62 ERA in seven all-time meetings.
1. Cubs 3B Kris Bryant is batting .317 with 12 RBIs and 15 runs in 22 games this month and is 8-for-19 with three extra-base hits against Davies.
2. Brewers 1B Eric Thames has hit safely in his last five games against the Cubs and six of his last seven overall.
3. Chicago C Willson Contreras has reached base in 14 straight games, posting a .406 on-base percentage over that stretch.
BREWERS PLAYERS WATCH
* RHP Junior Guerra, the team’s ace a year ago, may be in danger of losing his spot in the rotation. Guerra was pulled after three innings Saturday night despite not allowing a run. He walked four batters and threw just 31 strikes in 61 pitches.
“It is the trouble he is getting in by falling behind in the count,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He got out of some jams, but if it is 2-0 or if you have four walks or if you are throwing as many strikes as balls, it is going to bite you eventually.”
* RHP Josh Hader tied his career high with three innings Saturday night, striking out six and keeping the Cubs off the scoreboard after starter Junior Guerra struggled with command. Hader has allowed just two earned runs and eight hits in 20 innings, striking out 24.
“Josh was exceptional,” Counsell said. “There were a bunch of lefties in that lineup. He was outstanding. Obviously, when you go to your bullpen in the fourth inning you have to get a big performance from that guy. He gave us one.”
* OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis had his contract selected from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday after the Brewers designated pitcher Wily Peralta for assignment. Nieuwenhuis had been designated for assignment on April 21 and accepted an outright assignment to Colorado Springs. He batted just .080 in his April stint with Milwaukee but delivered a pinch-single Saturday night.
* RHP Anthony Swarzek made his second appearance in as many nights and pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Saturday. He was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
He made his Brewers debut Friday night, allowing a home run to the Cubs’ Javier Baez in Milwaukee’s 2-1 victory. It has become clear that Swarzek will be the Brewers’ eighth-inning man, with Jacob Barnes moving to seventh-inning duty.
PREDICTION: Brewers 5, Cubs 3.