Although they came out of the All-Star break facing a seven-game road trip and were in third place in the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers obviously weren’t fazed.
The Brewers look to extend their longest road winning streak in nine years and finish with the most successful road trip in franchise history when they close their four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.
Milwaukee (58-43) began the second half of the season three games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs and one game behind St. Louis (57-46) in the division. The Brewers have gone 6-0 since the All-Star break—the only NL team without a loss in the second half—to pull two games ahead of the Cardinals for second place and the wild-card lead, and just one game back of the Cubs.
The Brewers have held the Cardinals to six runs in the first three games of this set, and with a win Thursday, would sweep a four-game series in St. Louis for the first time in franchise history. On Wednesday, Milwaukee matched its longest road winning streak since June 19-29, 1999 with a 3-0 victory over the Cardinals.
St. Louis, meanwhile, managed three hits and was shut out for only the second time this season. Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 as the Cardinals struck out seven times against Sabathia.
“We had a plan, but when the other guy is making pitches like (Sabathia) was, it doesn’t matter what your plan is,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, whose team hasn’t lost four in a row this season.
St. Louis was last swept at home by the Brewers in 1999 when it lost a three-game series. The Cardinals came into this series after averaging 7.5 runs during a four-game set with the San Diego Padres, but they have been stifled in this set.
Milwaukee looks to finish this road trip with its most wins without a loss in franchise history when it hands the ball to Ben Sheets (10-3, 2.88 ERA). The right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 12 road starts this season, but didn’t earn a victory in his last outing after allowing four runs in five innings Saturday in an 8-5 win at San Francisco.
Sheets is 5-14 with a 4.28 ERA in 24 career starts against the Cardinals— who have beaten him more than any team. He pitched seven innings in his only start against them this year on May 10, allowing three runs and nine hits and not getting a decision in a 5-3 home loss.
Pujols is a career .394 hitter against Sheets, including seven hits in his last 17 at-bats.
Todd Wellemeyer (8-4, 4.22) counters for the Cardinals. He’s struggled over the last month, going 1-3 with a 7.55 ERA in his last six starts.
The right-hander pitched 6 1-3 innings against San Diego on Saturday, however, allowing five runs and five hits in a 6-5 win—his first since June 5.
Wellemeyer’s lone career start against the Brewers was on May 9. He allowed two unearned runs and six hits over six innings of a 4-3 loss and did not factor in the decision.