After winning their fifth consecutive series and 10 of 12 series since the All-Star break, the Milwaukee Brewers will begin a seven-game trip Friday night with the opener of a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins.
Left-hander Eric Lauer (4-4, 3.59 ERA) will start the opener for the Brewers, who arrive in Minneapolis with an 8 1/2-game lead over second-place Cincinnati in the National League Central despite dropping a 5-1 decision to the Reds on Thursday.
Lauer is 0-1 with a 17.18 ERA in one career start against the Twins, giving up seven runs on nine hits — including a home run to Miguel Sano — over 3 2/3 innings in a 12-2 loss on Aug. 12, 2020.
Minnesota was not expected to arrive home until about 3 a.m. from Boston after a 12-2 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Thursday night. The Twins went just 1-5 on a trip that began with three losses and a rainout against the New York Yankees.
Left-hander Andrew Albers (0-0, 2.25) will make his first start of the season and first career appearance against the Brewers.
Milwaukee, which will finish the trip with four games vs. NL West-leading San Francisco, has the best road record in baseball (42-21). Perhaps that’s why manager Craig Counsell wasn’t too upset after his team missed a chance to sweep the Reds at home as Sonny Gray blanked them on three hits over six innings and Jonathan India hit a three-run homer.
“We’re in good shape,” Counsell said. “We just took two of three again. We won another series. The consistent play continues.
“This is the team in second place. We added another game to the lead. That’s, I think, successful. It would have been a nice one to get today, but they pitched well and got a big homer. They’re a good team and they did enough today.”
Willy Adames played just one inning in the series because of a left quadriceps injury, and Thursday starter Brett Anderson had to leave in the fifth inning with tightness in his right hip. Infielder Eduardo Escobar is expected to miss about two weeks with a right-hamstring injury.
“Challenges, we’re going to face them,” Counsell said. “You don’t plan on challenges, but you know they’re coming. The injury thing is one little one.”
The good news is that Adames is expected to return to action at some point during the Minnesota series.
The Twins won two of three from the Brewers in Milwaukee on April 1-4 to open the season and won three consecutive series earlier this month against American League division leaders Houston, Chicago and Tampa Bay.
“We have to play better,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said of his team’s frustrating 1-5 trip. “We’re playing against some good teams right now. We’re continuing to play through that tough month that we have on our schedule. … I think we’ve played pretty well against most of these very good teams. This road trip, our performance wasn’t quite what it had been coming into this road trip.”
Minnesota could get star center fielder Byron Buxton back as soon as Friday’s opener.
Buxton has played in only 27 games and has been sidelined since suffering a left-hand fracture after getting hit by a fastball by Cincinnati’s Tyler Mahle on June 21. He is hitting .369 with 10 homers, 11 doubles and 19 RBIs in just 103 at-bats.
–Field Level Media