The Milwaukee Brewers hope the hot bats of Lorenzo Cain and Jace Peterson will help them complete a four-game sweep of the host San Francisco Giants on Thursday afternoon.
Having opened what began as a showdown of division leaders with 3-1, 6-2 and 5-2 wins, the Brewers (82-52) will see a different Giants team in the series finale, one that no longer tops its division.
San Francisco lost that distinction Wednesday night when its defeat combined with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves gave the defending World Series champs a half-game advantage in the National League West.
The Giants (84-49) had led the division since May 31.
With the Dodgers idle Thursday as they prepare for a three-game set in San Francisco starting Friday, the Giants could regain a tie atop the division headed into the critical series with a win over the Brewers.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler indicated after the Wednesday game that his staggering club’s approach has to change following a fourth straight loss.
“Now is the right time to show a sense of urgency, but also not to have any panic,” he said. “Urgency is turning up the dial on our intensity level just a little bit.”
The Giants will send their hottest pitcher, right-hander Logan Webb (8-3, 2.65 ERA), to face Brewers lefty Eric Lauer (4-5, 3.61).
Webb is unbeaten in his past 13 starts, going 7-0 with a 1.47 ERA.
Included in the stretch was a no-decision at Milwaukee on Aug. 6, a game in which he limited the Brewers to one run in six innings before the Giants eventually lost 2-1 in 10 innings. It was his only career appearance against Milwaukee.
Webb, 24, got Cain to ground out twice and didn’t see Peterson in the earlier meeting. The two Brewers hitters have turned into terrors in this series, with Cain homering in each of the last two contests while Peterson has chipped in with five hits in the three games.
In Lauer, the Giants will encounter a familiar foe, one who was formerly employed by the San Diego Padres. He never lost to San Francisco, going 3-0 with a 4.08 ERA in seven games, including six starts.
The 26-year-old hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his past five starts, which could be problematic in that the Brewers needed to get seven innings out of their bullpen on Wednesday after starter Brett Anderson was struck by a line drive on the left shoulder.
Six relievers combined to hold the Giants to two runs, with closer Josh Hader called upon in the ninth inning to record a save for the second time in the series.
With just 28 games remaining and magic numbers looming, Brandon Woodruff noted this is not the time for the Brewers, who have won four in a row, to take their foot off the gas pedal.
“Don’t get me wrong: It’s nice to have a 10-game lead going into the last month of the season,” he said after the Tuesday game. “We can’t get complacent. We have to keep plugging along. We have to keep playing great baseball. If we think we’ve got it now, that’s not a good mind-set.”
–Field Level Media