With neither the Milwaukee Brewers nor the Arizona Diamondbacks qualifying for the postseason, much of the focus is on the pitching matchup between Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Arizona’s Merrill Kelly in the final game of the regular season on Wednesday.
The Brewers took the second game of the series in Milwaukee 3-0 on Tuesday on a combined one-hitter. Eric Lauer threw six hitless innings, striking out seven and walking four. Jake Cousins relieved in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Josh Rojas. Cousins pitched two innings.
Peter Strzelecki pitched the final inning to earn his first save.
Luis Urias had a solo homer in the third, an RBI double in the fifth and an infield single in the eighth for the Brewers (86-75), who were eliminated from the wild-card chase Monday night when Philadelphia beat Houston.
“I feel good at the plate,” Urias said. “Obviously it was a great job by our pitching staff. Like I said, I feel good. We have one more game to go, and we’re going to finish strong.”
Arizona starter Zac Gallen allowed three runs over five innings on Tuesday, losing for just the second time in his last 14 starts.
Burnes (12-8, 2.98 ERA), last year’s Cy Young winner, enters with 199 innings pitched in 32 starts with 238 strikeouts — all career highs. The right-hander was 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA in six starts in September.
Burnes has struck out 10 or more in nine games this season, tying the franchise mark set by Ben Sheets in 2004.
Burnes is 1-0 in two career starts vs. Arizona, allowing five earned runs in 12 2/3 innings. He has faced the Diamondbacks once this season, allowing five runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, but did not get the decision in the Brewers’ 8-6 win on Sept. 3.
In his last start, Burnes pitched eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over Miami and Sandy Alcantara — the win by the Brewers in the four-game home series.
“That’s what great players do, they step up and they give you big-time performances when you need it the most,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after Burnes’ last start.
Kelly (13-8, 3.43 ERA) has a chance to surpass his career high for victories. The right-hander also won 13 games in 2019.
Kelly was 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA in six starts in July, then went 1-0 with a 3.34 ERA in five starts for Arizona (73-88) in August, but he has struggled down the stretch.
He tossed seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over the Brewers on Sept. 1 but allowed 22 runs in 23 2/3 innings over his next five starts, including 11 home runs.
In his last start, Kelly was tagged for eight runs on nine hits, including three homers, in 4 2/3 innings in a 10-4 loss at San Francisco on Friday. The early departure left him 5 2/3 innings short of 200.
“We want him to accomplish a lot of goals this year, and one of them certainly is a personal goal that he wants to get,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said after Kelly’s early departure. “We want to help him do that, but we’re going to be smart about it. I’m not going to put someone in harm’s way.”
Kelly is 2-1 with a 3.45 ERA in five career starts against Milwaukee but is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three vs. the Brewers.
–Field Level Media