The Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers were vying for a playoff spot at the same time just once during their 15 seasons as National League Central rivals. On Tuesday night, though, the teams might be providing a World Series preview.
A pair of teams that fell one round shy of the Fall Classic a year ago will square off in a rare interleague series when the Astros play host to the Brewers in the opener of a two-game set. Brad Peacock (5-3, 3.20 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for Houston against Milwaukee's Freddy Peralta (3-2, 5.11) in a battle of right-handers.
Both teams were off Monday after earning victories Sunday, when the Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates with a 5-2 victory, and the host Astros won the rubber game of a three-game series by blanking the Baltimore Orioles. 4-0.
Thanks to a comfortable lead over the second-place Texas Rangers, the Astros are the prohibitive favorite for a third straight American League West crown.
Houston, which moved from the NL to the AL following the 2012 season, then won its first World Series title in 2017, is battling with the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins for the best winning percentage in the league.
The Brewers, who are riding a four-game winning streak, are fighting for the top spot in the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs.
"You create space during these (division) games," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Sunday afternoon. "I thought we did a lot of things well this series."
Peacock took a worse-than-it looked loss in his most recent start Wednesday, when the Astros fell to the Seattle Mariners, 14-1. The 31-year-old right-hander gave up just two runs over five innings and exited with Houston down just one run before a trio of pitchers - including first baseman Tyler White - gave up 12 runs over a three-innings stretch.
"It's a tough loss for him because he pitched better," Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters afterward. "The score is going to look up on the board that it was a blowout and it was actually really close when he was in there."
Peralta won as a starter for the first time in more than two months Thursday, when he allowed one run over six innings as the Brewers earned a 5-1 victory over the Miami Marlins. He was 0-1 with a 10.43 ERA in four starts since beating the Reds on Apr. 3.
Peacock has never faced the Brewers and Peralta has never opposed the Astros.
The Astros and Brewers played each other 233 times between 1998 and 2012. They both had a winning record in the same season just once in that span. Milwaukee won the NL wild card in 2008, when it finished 90-72 and 4 1/2 games ahead of Houston.
This week's series will mark just the third time the Astros and Brewers have faced each other since 2013. Houston took two of three in 2013 before Milwaukee did the same in 2016. The two teams will meet again in Wisconsin for another two-game series Sept. 2-3.
--Field Level Media