After getting an extra day to savor his dominating performance, Milwaukee’s Ben Sheets returns to the mound when the Brewers meet the Pittsburgh Pirates for the opener of a rain-shortened two-game series at PNC Park.
The teams were rained out Friday, giving Sheets one more day to enjoy his newfound reputation as a strikeout pitcher. Sheets, second in the majors behind Arizona’s Randy Johnson with 66 strikeouts, threw a three-hitter and struck out a franchise-record 18 in a 4-1 home win over Atlanta on Sunday.
It was the most strikeouts since Johnson tied a major league record with 20 on May 8, 2001, against Cincinnati. The previous franchise mark of 14 was set by Moose Haas on April 12, 1978, against the New York Yankees.
“I’m not a big strikeout guy, so this is all new to me. It’s pretty cool, though,” said Sheets, whose previous career high was 10 against Houston on April 10 and Cincinnati on May 5.
The 25-year-old Sheets went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts last week, earning NL player of the week honors. He pitched 17 innings, allowing 10 hits and two walks while striking out 22.
“It’s nice to know that you put together a good week,” he said. “This is a good start.”
The Brewers are also off to a good start considering they didn’t win their 21st game last season until May 30.
They took two of three from Montreal with Thursday’s 3-2 win, and have won eight of their last 12 overall.
Milwaukee was swept in three straight at home by Pittsburgh from April 30-May 2.
At 5-12, the Pirates have the worst home record in the majors.
They avoided a sweep at the hands of visiting San Diego on Thursday with a 9-7 win. Pittsburgh ended a six-game home losing streak, winning for the fifth time in seven games overall.
Ward, called up from the minors last week to replace Raul Mondesi, is batting .375 (12-for-32) with five homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games.
The teams will make up Friday’s rainout as part of doubleheader July 2 at 5:05 p.m.