The Milwaukee Brewers reside atop the National League Central due in large part to their strong play against the rest of the division.
While the Brewers boast a 26-15 record overall versus the NL Central, they are just 5-5 against the Chicago Cubs. Milwaukee will look to improve both marks on Monday when it hosts Chicago in the opener of a three-game series.
Omar Narvaez provided the offense on Sunday by belting a two-run homer in the fifth inning of the Brewers’ 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The win allowed Milwaukee to salvage a split of the four-game series.
“It’s something I’ve been working on. Trying to be more selective on pitches out over the plate. Try to do damage with it,” Narvaez said of his third homer of the season and first since May 9. “… It just felt good to hit the ball good and finally drive the ball.”
Christian Yelich is 17-for-45 with a homer, seven RBIs and 12 runs during his 12-game hitting streak. He is 9-for-31 with two homers and six RBIs against the Cubs this season, and 4-for-9 all-time versus Monday starter Justin Steele (3-5, 4.39 ERA).
Steele, 26, hopes his success in June carries over to the new month. The Chicago left-hander posted a 2-0 with a 3.03 ERA last month after allowing one earned run in three of his five outings.
“Baseball is a long season,” Steele said recently. “You’re gonna have great outings, you’re gonna have bad outings.
“I’m happy with how I’ve pitched over the course of the whole season. Just got to keep learning from each outing and keep moving forward.”
Steele is 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts) versus Milwaukee.
Brewers’ left-hander Eric Lauer (6-3, 4.02) will provide the opposition on Monday as he attempts to regain his early-season form.
Lauer, 27, won five of his first six decisions overall before going 1-2 with a bloated 6.83 ERA in June. All told, he has surrendered 20 earned runs and 25 hits over his past four starts.
Lauer is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) versus the Cubs.
Chicago saw its season high-tying, four-game winning streak come to a halt on Sunday following its 4-2 loss in 11 innings to the Boston Red Sox.
Patrick Wisdom belted his team-leading 17th homer of the season and third in his past four games on Sunday. He is 10-for-37 with five extra-base hits (three doubles, two homers) against Milwaukee this season.
The Cubs hope to have rookie Seiya Suzuki back from the injured list after he competed in three rehab games with Triple-A Iowa. He has been sidelined since May 28 with a sprained finger.
“Seiya will be heading back this way,” Cubs manager David Ross said Sunday. “He’ll get checked out and hopefully be available (Monday). He’s been missed. He’s a guy that needs to continue to get experience here. He was a big part of our success early on. Getting him back, being healthy — completely healthy — will be a nice boost for us.”
–Field Level Media