So that eight game losing streak against NL Central opponents? It's over. The 1-9 start to May? Also over. So what now?
That's the question the Brewers will look to answer tonight when they face 25-year-old lefty Jeff Locke (2.95/4.88 ERA/FIP) and the Pirates. Locke is pitching in his third major league season, but has already set a career-best by making seven starts this year. He faced the Mets on Thursday and allowed a single run on three hits, walking three and striking out three. The 97 pitches he threw in that game were a season-high.
Tonight will be the 13th time the Brewers have faced a lefty starter in 2013, and so far lefties have been pretty good news for this offense. They're hitting .277/.327/.458 against lefty starters in 2013 as compared to .256/.321/.417 against righties. Locke's splits are pretty close to even for his career, but he's actually been slightly better against righties than lefties. He throws a 90 mph fastball with a steady mix of changeups and curves.
He'll face his polar opposite in veteran righty Kyle Lohse (3.53/3.77 ERA/FIP), who has pretty clearly been the Brewers' most effective starter to this point. He pitched 6.1 innings against the Rangers on Wednesday and allowed four runs on nine hits, walking two and striking out six. He allowed two home runs in that outing and has given up five in his last three appearances.
The Brewers have somehow managed to win two of Lohse's seven appearances this year despite averaging just two runs per game in his starts. He's scuffled a bit since the calendar turned to May, though: In April he posted a 2.53 ERA, struck out 21 and walked just two over 32 innings. He's already walked three batters in 11.1 innings in May, and has a 6.35 ERA over those two appearances.
Lohse has faced the Pirates 17 times in his career, including twice last season. He allowed just three runs on eleven hits over 12 innings against Pittsburgh a year ago, walking none and striking out eight. Eight different Pirates have faced him ten times or more:
Here's tonight's Brewer lineup:
Norichika Aoki RF
Jean Segura SS
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Carlos Gomez CF
Yuniesky Betancourt 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Martin Maldonado C
Kyle Lohse P
And in the bullpen:
- Brandon Kintzler pitched one inning (nine pitches) last night.
- Jim Henderson pitched one inning (eight pitches) last night.
- Mike Fiers pitched two innings (27 pitches) Sunday.
- Mike Gonzalez and Burke Badenhop last pitched on Saturday.
- Alfredo Figaro and John Axford last pitched on Friday.