The Milwaukee Brewers own the best overall record in the majors thanks in large part to their play at Miller Park. They’ll next welcome a team that owns the worst record in the big leagues.
Milwaukee starts a three-game series on Monday night against the struggling Washington Nationals, who are trying to snap a five-game slide.
The Brewers (21-10) picked up their seventh win in eight games with a 6-4 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday. That also ended a stretch of 22 games against NL Central opponents in which Milwaukee was 10-2 at home and 16-6 overall.
This series against the Nationals (9-22) starts a 10-game run against NL East foes, which includes three games in New York and four in Philadelphia. Milwaukee was 13-18 last season when facing the East in 2006 with five losses coming against Washington.
“It’s nice we’ve done well against division teams, but we have to be good against the East and West, too,” Brewers manager Ned Yost told the team’s official Web site.
The Brewers enter this series averaging 5.06 runs per game—fourth-most in the NL. They outscored the Pirates 24-11 while taking three of four following a stellar weekend from J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder.
In the three wins, Hardy batted .615 (8-for-13) with two homers and seven RBIs. He enters this contest with a 17-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting .423 (30-for-71) with seven homers and 22 RBIs.
Fielder went 3-for-4 with two homers, three RBIs and three runs—including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning on Bill Hall’s single. Fielder is hitting .440 (11-for-25) with four homers and 12 RBIs in a seven-game hitting streak.
Chris Capuano (4-0, 2.90 ERA) is expected to start for Milwaukee. The left-hander’s bid to win a fifth straight start was cut short when left Monday’s 4-0 win over St. Louis after three innings with a bruised right calf from a batted ball.
“It got him pretty flush and it started to stiffen up on him,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “I didn’t see any sense in trying to push that whatsoever.”
Capuano didn’t face the Nationals last season, but is 0-1 with a 2.51 ERA in two career starts against them.
Rookie Matt Chico (2-3, 6.59) will try to keep Washington from matching its longest losing streak this year, set April 5-11. The left-hander, making his first appearance against Milwaukee, is coming off the shortest outing of his career in which he lasted just 3 2-3 innings of a 7-3 loss to San Diego on Wednesday.
“Right now, I’m in the aiming stage. I’m trying to throw the strikes instead of just letting it go and trusting my stuff,” said Chico, who allowed five runs, four hits and four walks.
The Nationals were swept in a three-game series by the Chicago Cubs after a 4-3 loss in 10 innings on Sunday, dropping them to 5-12 on the road.
“We’ll keep throwing him out there. We don’t have other options. And even if we had them—I mean, this is a guy who has been a premier closer in this league for the last few years, so we have to get him right,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said.