The Milwaukee Brewers shook up their roster this week, sending one underachieving infielder to the minors and designating another for assignment.
After hitting his first two home runs of the year to help deliver a victory, Rivera will try to continue his sudden success at the plate in his second consecutive start as the Brewers host the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Milwaukee (56-58) sent former All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy(notes) to Triple-A Nashville and cut veteran third baseman Bill Hall(notes) on Wednesday, a response both to the players’ struggles at the plate and the Brewers slipping in the NL Central standings.
Rivera doesn’t play nearly as big a role in the offense as Hardy or Hall did, but his recent success in the batter’s box could change that. He hit two of the team’s season-high five homers and drove in a career-high five runs as the Brewers avoided a three-game home sweep to San Diego with a 12-9 win Thursday.
After hitting .203 with three RBIs and three runs in his first 23 games of the season, Rivera is 4 for 8 with two homers, eight RBIs and four runs in his last two.
“I’ve been waiting the whole season to help the team,” Rivera said. “It feels good that now I’ll get a little bit more playing time, my confidence is pretty good right now.”
“We’re trying to get the lineup out there that’s going to win us as many games as we can,” Macha told the Brewers’ official Web site. “Having a bit of a power shortage in our lineup, Mikey (helps) that aspect of things. We’ll see how that works out. … That’s basically my philosophy: The players write the lineup out.”
The Astros (56-59) fell a half-game behind the Brewers with a 9-2 loss at Florida on Thursday night. They’re 6-13 since July 25, though they took two of three against Milwaukee at home last weekend.
Houston has to like its chances of bouncing back with Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (11-6, 2.51 ERA) taking the mound Friday. The left-hander hasn’t allowed more than one run in any of his last seven starts, going 5-0 with a 0.77 ERA.
Rodriguez is 3-1 with a 1.39 ERA in his last five outings against Milwaukee. He’s held the Brewers to one run and 11 hits over 14 innings to win both his starts against them this season, including 2-0 in his last outing Sunday.
Rodriguez said his location was a little off because he had his start pushed back due to a hamstring injury, but he also said the extra time between games helped his arm stay fresh.
“I’ve been losing a lot of close games,” said Gallardo, who gave up a two-run homer to Geoff Blum(notes) in the fourth inning. “Hopefully, I’ll get it turned around. I just think I threw very well. The only pitch they put a good swing on, it beats me.”
Gallardo, a right-hander, is 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA in five career starts against the Astros. The two losses have come in his two matchups with Rodriguez this season.
The Brewers have won five of nine against the Astros in 2009, all on the road.