Sheets looks to continue his interleague success and help the Brewers avoid losing their seventh straight road game when he takes the hill on Saturday night in the middle game of their weekend series against the Texas Rangers.
Milwaukee (33-28) leads the second-place Chicago Cubs by five games in the division despite their recent woes. The Brewers have lost 17 of their last 25 games, and are just 2-10 away from Miller Park since May 13.
Milwaukee lost Friday’s series opener 9-6, as starting pitcher Chris Capuano fell to 0-5 in his last six starts after opening the season 5-0.
While Capuano and the rest of the Brewers’ pitching rotation have been stumbling lately, Sheets has been stellar.
The right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since May 1, with Milwaukee winning six of those games. He’s coming off one of his better performances of the season, allowing seven hits and one walk, while striking out seven in six innings of a 3-0 win over Florida on Sunday.
“The curveball was good, the fastball was good - it was just a good day,” Sheets told the team’s official Web site. “I always try to pound the strike zone. That’s my ultimate goal.”
In 26 innings in his last four starts, Sheets has 22 strikeouts to just three walks. He hasn’t won three straight starts since July 25-Aug. 5, 2005.
Sheets opened his career going 1-5 with a 6.33 ERA in his first seven interleague starts, but has been brilliant against the AL lately. In his last five interleague starts, he has allowed just two earned runs in 38 innings, posting an amazing 0.47 in those games. The Brewers have won all five of those games, and Sheets has earned the victory in each of the last three.
This will be his first career start against the Rangers (22-39).
Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder continued his surge with his NL-leading 22nd home run in Friday’s loss. Fielder has seven homers over the last 11 games, and is hitting .378 (14-for-37) in that span.
Sammy Sosa is batting .412 (14-for-34) with four homers and four doubles in his career against Sheets, and went 3-for-5 with an RBI double that capped a four-run fourth inning that helped the Rangers win Friday.
Texas won for just the fourth time in its last 16, and has not won consecutive games since May 20-21.
Mark Teixeira drove in three runs on Friday, and is batting .350 (7-for-20) with three homers and eight RBIs in his last six games. His availability is in question since he left the game after the sixth inning with a sore left quadriceps injury while running out a grounder.
“He was trying to beat it out and on the last step he strained his quad,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We’ll evaluate him (Saturday) and see where he stands.”
Brandon McCarthy (4-4, 6.35) hopes to regain the success he had before having to miss a start when he takes the ball on Saturday.
McCarthy was skipped in the rotation after suffering a blister on his right middle finger 47 pitches into his May 25 start against Boston. The right-hander allowed four runs and four walks in two innings of a 10-6 loss to the Red Sox, but was not a factor in the decision.
McCarthy was sharp in the four starts before his injury, though, going 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA in those games.
In two career interleague starts, McCarthy is 1-0, allowing three runs in 11 1-3 innings. This will be his first career appearance against the Brewers.