Barry Bonds is seven home runs away from tying Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755. On Monday, he’ll continue his pursuit in the city where Aaron starred for most of his 23-year career when the San Francisco Giants visit the Milwaukee Brewers.
Because of his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and his prickly personality, Bonds doesn’t get warm receptions at many of the stadiums he visits. But his first trip to Miller Park this year could be especially contentious, as Aaron played 12 seasons with the Milwaukee Braves and two with the Brewers.
Aaron hit the last home run of his career at Milwaukee’s County Stadium on July 20, 1976. The ball landed in what is now a parking lot outside Miller Park.
Adding to the turmoil surrounding Bonds’ visit to Milwaukee are Aaron’s recent remarks that imply that the 73-year-old Hall of Famer doesn’t want his record broken - at least not by Bonds.
“I don’t have any thoughts about Barry. I don’t even know how to spell his name,” Aaron said earlier this month.
With or without Aaron’s approval, Bonds will continue his pursuit of the all-time record at Miller Park, where he is batting .373 with six home runs in 15 career games. The Giants (30-38) will return to Milwaukee for another three-game series July 20-22.
Bonds hit his 748th home run in the Giants’ 9-5 loss to Boston on Sunday. It was only the third home run in the last 33 games for Bonds, who had 11 homers in his first 29 games of the season.
“It was never gone,” Bonds said of his home run stroke. “It’s the person. It’s me. Sometimes you just don’t have it. Sometimes you do.”
Bonds’ latest homer was one of few things the Giants have had to celebrate lately, as they have lost four straight and seven of nine to fall eight games under .500. San Francisco is the only team in the NL West with a losing record.
The Brewers (38-31), meanwhile, have won four of their last five games to pad their lead in the NL Central. They had their longest road win streak in nearly three years snapped in a 10-9 loss to Minnesota on Sunday, but are looking to bounce back at Miller Park, where they are 22-12 - the best home record in the NL.
Milwaukee could get a boost from the return of second baseman Rickie Weeks on Monday. Weeks hasn’t played since May 29 because of tendinitis in his right wrist - the same wrist he had season-ending surgery on last July. Brewers manager Ned Yost said that Weeks is close to full strength, and is expected to start Monday.
Chris Capuano was also scheduled to start on Monday, but the Brewers placed the left-hander on the disabled list with a strained groin on Thursday. The injury made room for top pitching prospect Yovani Gallardo, who was called up from Triple-A Nashville and will be making his first major league start.
Gallardo, a 21-year-old right-hander, was 8-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 13 starts for Nashville. In 77 2-3 innings, he was leading all of minor league baseball with 110 strikeouts.
“I know him enough to know he’s a quiet kid, a confident kid who goes about his business in a real good manner,” Yost told the team’s official Web site. “I think he fits right in with our mature young guys we have here now. He’s got everything going for him that says he should be successful.”
Noah Lowry (6-5, 3.46 ERA) will take the mound for San Francisco looking to win back-to-back starts for the first time since his four-start win streak April 19-May 5. The left-hander is 2-3 in seven starts since that run.
On Tuesday, Lowry held Toronto to two runs and four hits in six innings in a 3-2 victory - San Francisco’s last before its current skid.
Lowry is 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers - both at Miller Park.