Reds, Brewers battling for playoff spot

MLB

Entering the final week of this uniquely condensed 2020 regular season, both the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers are in contention for a postseason spot.

Both also are playing some of their best baseball of the season as the two NL Central foes get ready to open an important three-game series on Monday night in Cincinnati.

It’s set up to be an intense and exciting final days of the regular season for Cincinnati (27-27), which has won seven of eight after taking two of three from the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox. Milwaukee (26-26), meanwhile, has won a season-high four straight following a three-game sweep of Kansas City to reach .500 for the first time since Aug. 19.

The Reds and Brewers are tied for third in the NL Central, one game back of second-place St. Louis.

“You don’t want to have any regrets, and the only regret would come from not being in the moment, and not enjoying it, not getting caught up or concerned with things that don’t matter,” Reds manager David Bell said.

Following this series, Cincinnati closes the regular season with three games at Minnesota. Milwaukee concludes with five at St. Louis.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s the biggest thing. We’re going on our last road trip, and we’ve got a really meaningful week of baseball.”

Cincinnati is 4-3 against the Brewers, with all of those games coming at Milwaukee. While Milwaukee’s four-game winning streak came at home, it’s won just twice in its past nine road contests.

The Brewers posted three runs — one earned — with five hits, and walked four times and struck out nine over six innings against scheduled Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo (3-5, 3.03 ERA) during a 3-2 win on Aug. 25. Castillo, though, has been stellar in September, going 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA. The right-hander allowed three hits and struck out 10 with a walk over seven innings of a 1-0 win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun is 1-for-12 against Castillo, but he’s 8-for-15 with three home runs and eight RBIs over his last five contests.

“What Braun is doing right now is really special,” Counsell said. “It really is. It’s incredible. … It’s been fun to watch, and he’s doing a heck of a job.”

Braun’s teammate, Daniel Vogelbach, who homered twice in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Royals, is batting .417 (15-for-36) with three homers and 10 RBIs in 11 games this month.

The Brewers will turn to Brandon Woodruff (2-4, 3.45 ERA), who is 0-2 over his last four starts but has not pitched bad. He allowed three earned runs and seven hits over seven innings of a 4-2 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday.

The right-hander has made two starts against the Reds this season, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA. For his career, he’s 3-2 against Cincinnati with a 4.25 ERA in seven games, five starts. Cincinnati’s Jesse Winker and Joey Votto are a combined 12-for-26 with three home runs against Woodruff for their careers.

Votto, though, is 0-for-15 with five strikeouts against the Brewers in 2020. Winker is 2-for-30 with 12 strikeouts in his past 11 games.

Milwaukee announced Sunday that outfielder Ben Gamel will miss the final week of the regular season with a quad injury.

–Field Level Media

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