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Game Thread #40: Brewers (15-24) at Pirates (17-22)

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I've been struggling for weeks to come up with the best possible way to describe how bad the Brewers have been at times this season. I think I've got it:

The Brewers need to sweep this series to tie Pittsburgh in the standings.


Current Series

2 game series vs Pirates @ PNC Park

Milwaukee Brewers
@ Pittsburgh Pirates

Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 6:05 PM CDT
PNC Park

Randy Wolf vs Brian Burres

Cloudy. Winds blowing from left to right field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 65.

Complete Coverage >

Thu 05/20 6:05 PM CDT

For more on how bad these teams are right now, check out Rubie's series preview. Then follow us after the jump for today's pitching matchup, lineup and more!

29 year old Brian Burres (2-1, 5.00) was signed as a minor league free agent out of the Blue Jays organization this offseason, and is making his eighth appearance and fifth start for the Pirates. He's one of eight pitchers to start a game for the Pirates in their first 39 contests. He allows a lot of baserunners (1.675 WHIP) and is coming off a disaster start against the Cubs on Friday, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in four innings. With that said, the Pirates are 3-1 in his four starts.

Burres is making his second appearance against the Brewers: On April 20 he pitched four innings in relief after Charlie Morton was knocked out early, allowing two runs on three hits in four innings, walking two and striking out one. Corey Hart took him deep in that game.

Burres throws an 88 mph fastball but relies heavily on his other stuff: He throws a slider, curve and changeup between 13.2 and 14.1% of the time each. The slider has been good this season (+2.77 runs per 100 pitches), while each of the other three pitches have been below average. Gregg Zaun is the only Brewer who's seen him more than twice, going 1-for-4 with a walk and a double.

The Brewers' hopes of ending the slide rest on the shoulders of Randy Wolf (3-3, 4.66). Wolf faced the Pirates in back-to-back starts in April and compiled his two best outings of the season, allowing a combined two runs on 16 hits in 14 innings. Since then, he hasn't been nearly as good: He's posted a 7.31 ERA in three starts in May. The Brewers are 4-4 when Wolf starts this season, but have lost three of the last four.

Wolf's curveball, normally a roughly league average pitch, hasn't been very good this year. It's his primary off-speed pitch, thrown 19.7% of the time over his career, but this year it's been worth -2.91 runs per 100 attempts. Eight current Pirates have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Lastings Milledge 21 .158 .238 .158 .396
Ryan Doumit 19 .278 .316 .389 .705
Andy LaRoche 19 .294 .368 .647 1.015
Garrett Jones 13 .182 .303 .273 .580
Andrew McCutchen 13 .231 .231 .231 .462
Ronny Cedeno 12 .455 .500 .636 1.136
Akinori Iwamura 11 .222 .273 .667 .939
Steven Pearce 11 .273 .273 .818 1.091

Via Adam McCalvy, here's tonight's lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Alcides Escobar SS
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Corey Hart RF
Gregg Zaun C
Jody Gerut CF
Randy Wolf P

And in the bullpen:

Marco Estrada pitched 4 innings (55 pitches) yesterday.
Trevor Hoffman did not retire a batter (14 pitches) yesterday.
Todd Coffey pitched 1 inning (21 pitches) Monday.
Jeff Suppan pitched 1 inning (7 pitches) Monday.
Mitch Stetter
pitched one inning (14 pitches) Sunday.
Carlos Villanueva pitched .1 innings (11 pitches) Sunday.
Claudio Vargas pitched .1 inning (27 pitches) Saturday
John Axford pitched 1 inning (17 pitches) Saturday.

Enjoy the game!