The Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates, midway through a four-game series, are moving in opposite directions, and doing so rapidly.
Milwaukee not only has taken the first two games of the series in Pittsburgh with consecutive 7-2 wins, but it also has won 10 straight games for the first time since August 2003, tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history.
The Brewers have had 10-game strings six times now, one behind their best of 13 in a row in April 1987. They won 12 straight in 2018, but that was combined regular season and postseason and so requires an asterisk.
“The boys are vibing, man. The boys are vibing,” Milwaukee outfielder Tyrone Taylor, who hit a two-run triple Friday, told Bally Sports Wisconsin. “We’re just going to keep it rolling one game at a time, one pitch at a time and hopefully we get some more.”
Milwaukee is 6-2 this year against Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have lost five in a row overall and are struggling to score. They have six runs during the skid.
Compounding the offensive trouble are misplays and blunders — not necessarily errors — that the Pirates have made.
“It’s frustrating when we have things where we could get outs,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “My job is to continue to stay the course and stay positive and continue to teach.”
In continuing injury news for both clubs, Milwaukee second baseman Kolten Wong was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday because of left calf tightness.
“He’ll be back after the (All-Star) break; we’re confident in that,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
For Pittsburgh, infielder Erik Gonzalez went on the 10-day IL because of a right oblique strain. In addition, right fielder Gregory Polanco has missed both games of the series because of hip inflammation.
On Saturday, left-hander Eric Lauer (2-3, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to start for Milwaukee, while Pittsburgh will go with right-hander Cody Ponce (0-1, 7.88).
Lauer has pitched as a starter, including all five of his decisions, and some out of the bullpen.
He had a strong start in his most recent outing, Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, when he pitched six scoreless innings en route to a 5-0 win. He allowed two hits and two walks while striking out six.
Lauer was efficient with 87 pitches, with one big glitch — a second inning in which the Rockies loaded the bases on a single and two walks before Lauer got his third strikeout of the frame.
“It was big to be able to get out of that without giving up any (runs),” Lauer said. “To be able to escape that inning and get on myself a little bit more, ‘Hey, you need to lock it in a little better,’ it was the push that I needed, I think.”
After that he retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced.
“I don’t know if anything changed really (after the second),” Counsell said. “He just started pounding the strike zone and I thought the cutter was his pitch. It was really good.”
Lauer is 0-2 with a 3.63 ERA in four career starts against Pittsburgh, none this year.
Ponce is set to make his third appearance and second start of the season. In his lone outing since returning to the majors Monday, he gave up three runs in three innings Tuesday at Colorado.
Ponce will be facing the Brewers for the first time in his two major league seasons.
–Field Level Media