Milwaukee’s lineup has struggled mightily down the stretch while trying to secure the team’s first division crown since 1982.
Looking to turn their fortunes around, the Brewers open a weekend set against homer-happy Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
Milwaukee (87-63) has dropped six of eight while its NL Central lead over St. Louis has been trimmed to 5 1/2 games with 12 to play. The Brewers are hitting .202 with just four homers over the last eight contests, however, they have been forced to deal with other issues.
Nyjer Morgan’s(notes) recent dust-up with Albert Pujols(notes) and reliever Francisco Rodriguez voicing displeasure with his role on the team haven’t helped matters, but Prince Fielder(notes) said there is no huge concern at this time.
“We’ve hit a little bump right now,” he said following Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Colorado. “We’re still ahead. I don’t see the need for worry quite yet.”
The All-Star MVP ignited some controversy of his own by revealing in a pre-game interview that this will likely be his last season with Milwaukee, which has a magic number of eight. Fielder, who has team highs of 32 homers and 109 RBIs, said the focus remains on reaching the postseason.
“We’ve still got a lead, hopefully we just turn it around, but like I said, everybody’s giving 100 percent, that’s all you can ask for,” he said.
Fielder is 9 for 40 with three homers all-time off Arroyo (8-11, 5.28 ERA), who hasn’t had much success keeping the ball in the park this year for the Reds (74-76).
The right-hander gave up three homers while facing only 10 batters in Saturday’s 12-7 loss to the Rockies. Arroyo has surrendered a major league-high 40 homers this season, tying Eric Milton’s(notes) franchise record set in 2005.
“They said on TV that 60 percent of the runs I’ve given up are on homers. That’s a lot,” said Arroyo, who’s served up 23 homers at Great American Ball Park.
Arroyo has averaged nearly 16 wins over the last three years, but he may be hard-pressed to reach double digits in 2011. Since July 1, Arroyo is 1-5 with a 5.61 ERA in his last 13 starts, and 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA at home in that span.
In his only home start of the season against Milwaukee, Arroyo yielded three runs and six hits - including homers to Rickie Weeks(notes) and Ryan Braun(notes) - over seven innings to help lift the Reds to a 12-3 win on April 3.
The left-hander is 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA over 10 career starts in Cincinnati, but 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in five there since winning on June 14, 2003, with Philadelphia.
Wolf, who’s second on the team with 22 homers allowed, failed to get a decision in the Brewers’ 3-2 loss to the Phillies last Saturday.
Cincinnati has hit 20 of its NL-high 175 homers while going 8-5 against Milwaukee this season, including 5-1 at home.
The Reds launched three homers Thursday in an 8-6, 11-inning win over the Chicago Cubs. Brandon Phillips(notes) and Chris Heisey(notes) hit solo blasts before Jay Bruce’s(notes) walkoff shot extended Cincinnati’s winning streak to three.
“It shows resiliency. It shows we haven’t given up,” said Bruce, who leads the Reds with 31 homers and needs one more for 100 in his career.
Cincinnati has homered 16 times in its last six contests after a four-game drought.