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Game Thread #41: Brewers (25-15) at Astros (18-20)

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I'm going to come right out and say it: Right now, the NL Central is the best division in baseball.

As one item of evidence, consider this: Tonight the Brewers will finish a three game series with the Astros, who are currently tied for last place in the division at two games under .500. They're the best last-place team in baseball by two and a half games at this point:

Division Team W L GB
NL Central Houston 18 20 --
AL West Oakland 15 22 2.5
AL East Baltimore 16 24 3
NL West Colorado 15 24 3.5
AL Central Cleveland 15 26 4.5
NL East Washington 11 28 7.5

Of course, the Astros could move out of last place with a win tonight and a loss by the Pirates, and they're sending Roy Oswalt to the mound to try to make it happen. Oswalt has averaged 16.4 wins over the last seven seasons, but has managed just one in 2009, going 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in nine starts. He's posted a 5.82 ERA over his last three outings, but did win one of those games. He's 13-9 in his career against the Brewers with a 3.59 ERA. Bill Hall, scheduled to start tonight, has faced Oswalt 45 times and hit .341/.400/.537 off of him.

The Brewers counter with Jeff Suppan (3-3, 4.63), who allowed three earned runs in six innings en route to a no decision against the Astros on April 25. He threw seven scoreless innings his last time out, and has posted a 2.92 ERA since April 19. Suppan is just 2-7 against the Astros in his career, posting a 5.28 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts). Lance Berkman and Geoff Blum have done a lot of damage to Suppan over the years: Berkman has hit .412/.524/.794 in 42 PAs, and Blum has hit .538/.571/.923 in 28. Combined, they've taken him deep five times.

As predicted, Bill Hall is back in the lineup tonight but he's out of the #2 spot. Here's tonight's lineup, via Adam McCalvy:

Craig Counsell 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Mike Cameron CF
Corey Hart RF
Bill Hall 3B
Jason Kendall C
Jeff Suppan RHP

Here's tonight's bullpen notes:

Jorge Julio pitched two innings yesterday.
Seth McClung pitched one inning yesterday.
Carlos Villanueva has not pitched since Tuesday.
Todd Coffey has not pitched since Tuesday.
Trevor Hoffman has not pitched since Tuesday.
Mark DiFelice has not pitched since Monday.
Mitch Stetter has not pitched since Monday

Thursday's Game Thread is now open.