Right-hander Kyle Gibson will try for his 12th win of the season as the visiting Minnesota Twins attempt to sweep their two-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday afternoon.
Gibson (11-5, 4.24 ERA) has won two of his past three starts but comes in off a 7-5 loss to Cleveland on Thursday when he allowed six runs (five earned) on four hits and a season-high six walks over 4 1/3 innings. He is 1-2 with a 5.70 ERA in five career starts against the Brewers.
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.20 ERA) will start for Milwaukee, which has lost its last two games and is 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second National League wild-card spot. Gonzalez is 3-3 with a 6.56 ERA in nine career starts against the Twins.
Minnesota, which fell out of first place in the American League Central for the first time in 113 days on Monday when Cleveland edged Boston, regained the division lead by a half-game on Tuesday night with a 7-5 victory over the Brewers while the Indians lost to the Red Sox 7-6 in 10 innings.
The Twins, who blew a 4-1 lead in the seventh when Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run homer to put the Brewers ahead 5-4, rallied in dramatic fashion an inning later. Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run home run on the first pitch thrown by All-Star closer Josh Hader, a blast that turned out to be the game-winner.
“It was a big game,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve been playing a lot of games that have this kind of feel. They’re challenging. They’re emotional. They definitely drain you. But our guys don’t quit. And our guys continued to have good at-bats and put some runs on the board, and we had some guys throw the ball very, very well today.
“The big moment by Marwin to go up there against Hader and be ready to attack the first pitch that he saw in the zone and do what he did … that’s just a huge moment.”
It’s a moment that has become all too familiar to Milwaukee fans recently. Hader has allowed four home runs over five innings in his past six appearances, blowing three saves in the process. For the season, he has allowed 13 homers in just 55 2/3 innings, including eight go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning or later, the most in the expansion era (since 1961). Chad Qualls (2007), Willie Hernandez (1986) and Bruce Sutter (1985) each allowed seven.
“It’s a misplaced fastball, and it’s cost him a lot right now,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “As great as Josh is, he also has to locate the fastball. And right now his mistakes … he’s getting horrendous mistakes.”
Hader, who has 25 saves this season, agreed.
“It’s been the same thing,” Hader said. “It’s been the long ball. It’s just one of those stretches. I feel that as a baseball player we all go through slumps. Right now it’s not locating pitches. Trying to mix it up and have more room for error for that fastball.”
Counsell said the Brewers, who remain 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, need to get Hader back into top form for the stretch run.
“Josh is going to be a huge part of it,” Counsell said, “and we’re going to try and get him on track as fast as we can.”
–Field Level Media
Copyright © 2019
TTWN Media Networks LLC