The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers have only won three consecutive games once all season. Tonight they'll get an opportunity to make it twice.
It won't be easy, though, as they're facing reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (1.97 ERA, 3.13 FIP). For the second straight season Kershaw is the NL's best pitcher when it comes to limiting baserunners (a 0.903 WHIP), and he's sixth in the NL this season with 68.2 innings pitched. He's also only 24.
Kershaw has kept his ERA under 2 so far this season despite the fact that he's only striking out 7.5 batters per nine, down from 9.6 last season. Opposing batters are hitting just .220 on balls in play against him, implying that he's been pretty lucky. He'll throw a low-to-mid 90's fastball, a lot of sliders and the occasional curveball and changeup. The slider is his best pitch.
The Brewers missed Kershaw when these two teams met in April but lost to him on August 18 of last year. He pitched eight shutout innings in that game, allowing five hits and striking out six without walking a batter. Two current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face Yovani Gallardo (4.19 ERA, 3.97 FIP), who is having one of his best months. Gallardo is riding a streak of five straight quality starts and has posted a 2.59 ERA in May. He pitched 7.1 innings against the Diamondbacks on Friday night and allowed a run on five hits, walking three and striking out five.
The trend with Gallardo remains pretty clear: In games where he faces the Cardinals he struggles, and in all others he's been very good. 14 of the 27 earned runs he's allowed this season have come against St. Louis, and he has a 2.21 ERA against everyone else. If he can pitch a quality start tonight he'll tie his career-long streak with six such games.
Gallardo faced the Dodgers on April 17 and was very good, allowing two runs on seven hits over seven innings with a walk and seven strikeouts. Four Dodgers have faced him ten times or more:
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Here's tonight's lineup:
Corey Hart 1B
Norichika Aoki RF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Cody Ransom SS
Carlos Gomez CF
Martin Maldonado C
Yovani Gallardo P
And in the bullpen:
John Axford pitched one inning (16 pitches) last night, and has appeared in three straight games.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (14 pitches) last night, and also pitched on Monday.
Jose Veras and Tim Dillard last pitched on Sunday.
Juan Perez last pitched on Saturday.
Manny Parra and Kameron Loe last pitched a week ago today.
The weather tonight should be similar to last night: The game time temperature will be around 67 and will fall into the low 60's as the night goes along.