After dropping the series opener at Milwaukee, the task doesn’t get any easier for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Right-hander Corbin Burnes (0-0, 2.25 ERA), the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, will make his third start of the season Tuesday for the Brewers, while the Pirates will counter with right-hander JT Brubaker (0-1, 9.82).
The Brewers will send out right-hander Brandon Woodruff in the Wednesday afternoon finale against right-hander Mitch Keller.
“We’re talking about two of the better pitchers in baseball,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “They pitched well the last few years, and it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
The Brewers took the series opener 6-1 on Monday night behind Christian Yelich’s grand slam and a strong start by Eric Lauer, who held the Pirates to one run on five hits in six innings.
Yelich’s first homer of the season, his fourth career slam, capped a five-run fourth that put the Brewers up 6-1. Yelich, who was 1-for-11 on the Brewers’ first series of the homestand, also doubled and walked.
Yelich was the NL MVP in 2018 when he hit .326 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs, and he was hitting .329 with 44 homers when he sustained a season-ending broken kneecap in mid-September the following season.
He struggled to a .205 average in the shortened 2020 season, and then hit .248 with just nine homers and 51 RBIs last season.
“I think all he can do is put everything on the table every day to be the best player that he can,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “And he does that every single day. That’s all you can ask from a player. There’s no question that we need him to perform to reach our goals. But he’s doing everything he can every day to try to get there and try to be that productive hitter that we know he’s capable of.”
Yelich, who struck out four times in four at-bats in a 10-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, said one good game does not make a season.
“I think it’s a constant work in progress,” Yelich said. “You’re just trying to be as consistent as you can. There’s good days and bad days. Like I (said) in spring training, it’s a long year.”
The Pirates outhit the Brewers 8-6 on Monday, the first time Milwaukee won this season when being outhit and the first time Pittsburgh lost with more hits than the opponent.
Burnes allowed just three hits over seven scoreless innings in his latest start, striking out eight and walking one during a no-decision in the Brewers’ 4-2 victory at Baltimore on Wednesday.
Burnes is 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA in 16 career games (four starts) against the Pirates, including 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts last season.
Brubaker, also making his third start of the season, gave up four runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and four walks — including three of the first four hitters — on Thursday in a no-decision against the Washington Nationals.
He is 1-1 with a 4.29 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers, including 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts last season.
The Brewers are 18-5 at home against the Pirates since the beginning of the 2019 season.
–Field Level Media