Posted: Aug 13, 2021 / 12:20 PM MDT
Updated: August 13, 2021 / 12:20 AM MDT
The Milwaukee Brewers get hot when they open a series against the wobbling pirates in Pittsburgh on Friday.
The Brewers, who lead the National League Central, come from a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs – punctuated by a 17-4 win on Thursday – and are the season’s best 24 games over .500. So they stay 4-0 on a 10-game, 11-day swing through three league cities, their longest road trip of the season.
“We keep saying we won’t stop until we reach the playoffs and keep going,” Brewers catcher Manny Pina told Bally Sports Wisconsin on Thursday after hitting two homers, including his first career grand slam .
Milwaukee has certainly not spared the Pirates this year and went 12: 4 against them with two series sweeps.
Pittsburgh has just been swept away in three home games by the St. Louis Cardinals, has lost a total of eight in a row and is bottom of the NL Central.
The Pirates’ 6-7 loss on Thursday meant more runs than the previous five games combined.
Colin Moran has been almost a one-man band for the Pirates in terms of offense for the last two games. The first baseman to struggle with injuries throughout the season but now appears healthy, had his only two Pittsburgh hits, both singles, on Wednesday and then hit two homers in his team’s top four RBIs on Thursday .
“This is probably as aggressive as we’ve seen him since the first two weeks of the season, which is a really good sign,” said Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton of Moran.
“I’ve been working on reducing my timing so it feels good to square a few baseballs,” said Moran.
In the series opener on Friday, Milwaukee left-hander Brett Anderson (4-5, 3.54 ERA) will compete against Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (3-9, 7.06 ERA).
Anderson, who is 2-0 in his last five starts, sailed against San Francisco on Sunday before a calf cramp forced him after limiting the Giants to one run and five hits in five innings with three strikeouts and no walks.
In his career, Anderson is 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA in eight starts against the Pirates, including 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA (one undeserved run in 13 innings) in two starts this year.
Keller, who has never competed against the Brewers, continues to try to gain a foothold in the top leagues. He’s 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in two starts since spending time with Triple-A Indianapolis.
On his last time out, Keller gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings with four walks and four strikeouts and achieved a career high of 100 pitches on Saturday in Cincinnati. He said his stats don’t really reflect his performance.
“I felt great out there,” said Keller. “Like last time, I felt very confident, really good at what I was doing. I just failed a couple of balls.
“Of course you don’t want to give up four runs, but there were a lot of positive things. When we were throwing my slider and curveball to make sure they got over the edge and into the zone, I think I did a lot of them. “