The Milwaukee Brewers still sit atop the National League Central standings, although they aren’t playing the way they would like heading into a nine-game interleague trip.
A three-game series against the woeful Texas Rangers that starts Friday night may be just what Milwaukee (33-27) needs to snap out of its recent slump.
The Brewers have lost seven of their last eight series, going 9-17 since May 11. The team dropped two of three against the Chicago Cubs earlier in the week, falling in Wednesday’s finale 6-2.
Despite that poor stretch, Milwaukee hasn’t given up much ground in the NL Central standings. On May 11, the team was 24-11 and held a seven-game lead over the second-place Cubs. The Brewers enter play Friday with a 5 1/2-game lead over second-place St. Louis.
“We just need to get back to where we were early in the season, playing with a lot of confidence,” shortstop J.J. Hardy told the Brewers’ official Web site. “We haven’t won a whole lot of games or as many as we’d have liked in the last couple of weeks.”
In order for Milwaukee to get back on track, it would help if starter Chris Capuano (5-4, 3.80 ERA) could snap his losing streak.
Capuano, who has never faced Texas, started the season 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA in seven starts, but he is winless in five starts since with a 5.93 ERA.
The left-hander did not earn a decision despite pitching well in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Marlins on Saturday. He pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and three hits while striking out a season-high 10 batters.
Texas, which owns the worst record in the AL, has gone 3-12 since May 22 after losing two of three at home against the Tigers. The Rangers posted an 8.33 ERA against Detroit as their ERA increased to 5.50—the worst in baseball.
On Thursday, Texas lost 11-4 with starter Kameron Loe lasting just 2 2-3 innings after allowing nine runs and nine hits. Rangers starters have a 6.97 ERA and have pitched four or fewer innings 18 times this season.
“We have to start making some pitches,” manager Ron Washington said. “We have hit a bad funk. They are not going to stop fighting. We feel bad about it. I’m never going to quit on these guys.”
The Rangers will hand the ball to Robinson Tejeda (4-6, 6.28), who is looking to avoid his fourth straight loss.
Tejeda allowed a season-high eight runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners in an 11-6 loss. It was the fourth time in the last five games that he allowed at least five runs.
Tejeda has never started against the Brewers, pitching one scoreless inning of relief against them in 2005.
The game will be the first back in Arlington for several former Rangers, most notably Brewers closer Francisco Cordero, who was traded in late July from Texas along with Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and minor league pitcher Julian Cordero for Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz.
Cordero has converted all 22 save opportunities this season and 38 of 40 since the trade. He lost his role as the Rangers’ closer before the trade after converting only six of 15 save opportunities.