Two of the National League’s earned-run-average leaders will square off when the Milwaukee Brewers face the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
The Brewers will start Corbin Burnes (2-2, 2.18 ERA), and the Cardinals will counter with Miles Mikolas (3-2, 1.96) in a matchup of right-handers in the finale of a four-game set in St. Louis.
The NL Central-leading Brewers won the series opener 4-3 on Thursday. The second-place Cardinals won the next two games 4-2 and 8-3 to move within 2 1/2 games of Milwaukee.
Burnes earned a 4-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday in his last start. He allowed one run on five hits in six innings.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell liked Burnes’ aggression in that game, his seventh outing with two runs or less allowed.
“He did a nice job of attacking,” Counsell said. “The stuff was really good in the zone. I think when we give Corbin the ball, I think that’s what you expect, even if he gets pushed the first couple of innings. He’s consistently done, and you expect he will consistently do, that.”
Burnes has not faced the Cardinals this season. He is 2-3 with a 3.89 ERA in 11 career appearances against them, including eight starts.
He will need to pay particular attention to Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt, who has hit safely in 19 straight games and has reached base in 33 in a row. Goldschmidt is 6-for-12 in this series with three homers and seven RBIs.
“You’ve got to be really good to him,” Counsell said. “And he’s hitting good pitches. It’s not just middle balls — he’s hitting a lot of good pitches, too.”
Mikolas allowed three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings in his last start — a 7-3, 10-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. He allowed two runs or less in his previous eight starts this season.
In a 10-1 victory over the Brewers on April 15, Mikolas allowed one run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked just one.
Mikolas is 6-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 career outings against the Brewers, including nine starts.
The injury-depleted Cardinals are leaning heavily on call-ups from Triple-A Memphis. Juan Yepez, Nolan Gorman, Brendan Donovan and Lars Nootbaar earned starts in the field during this series, and rookie starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore earned his first big league victory Saturday.
Gorman went 4-for-4 Saturday with his first career homer, a two-run double and an RBI single. He is 9-for-25 with a 1.029 on-base plus slugging percentage during his first big league tour.
“He took some real nice at-bats,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said after Saturday’s game. “He’s been a good hitter all throughout the minor leagues for a reason. We talked earlier today — there’s going to be adjustments made, there’s going to be weeks that look good and weeks that don’t.
“He’s a guy we believe will continue to make adjustments. Today he made some, and it was a really, really good day for him.”
The Brewers adjusted their bullpen on the fly during this series. Luis Perdomo went on the 15-day injured list with an elbow injury, and Miguel Sanchez arrived from the minors Saturday to replace him on the roster.
–Field Level Media