MLB Brewers, Nationals aim to improve poor June showings

Two teams that should have high degrees of desperation face off Friday night in Washington.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals are a combined 4-12 in games this month.

“You get kind of knocked down, and you got to grind through it and keep going,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “(If) things don’t go your way, you’ve just got to keep going through it. The season doesn’t stop for us and I feel confident we’ll come out and play a good series this weekend.”

The Nationals have been slow to create much buzz this season, but the return of Stephen Strasburg to the mound after more than a year’s absence Thursday night in Miami at least accomplished that. Even that didn’t pan out for Washington, which lost 7-4.

Still, there’s value for the younger players to see Strasburg’s determination.

“Learn and just watch him compete,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.

The Nationals are stuck with a three-game losing streak after completing a 3-7 road trip.

The Brewers also lost Thursday, dropping an 8-3 decision to the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. That gave the Phillies a sweep of the three-game series, tagging Milwaukee with its season-high sixth consecutive loss.

The Milwaukee offense has hit a rough patch that has raised concerns. The Brewers have been shut out three times this month and they’ve scored a total of nine runs in the past six games, with one of those going to a 10th inning.

“We’ve got a lineup full of guys not feeling great at the plate and not swinging it well,” Counsell said. “We scored runs at a pretty good clip for a large chunk of the season, so we just have to weather the storm, stay in the fight.”

Shortstop Willy Adames, appearing in his second game since returning from the injured list, homered, so that gives the Brewers a spark heading into the next series.

The Brewers will be looking for more boosts even if it comes with roster adjustments. Catcher Omar Narvaez is ready to play again after going on the injured list June 2.

“He will fly with us to Washington,” Counsell said.

On the mound, the Brewers will turn to left-hander Aaron Ashby (1-4, 3.13 ERA), who retired all three batters he faced in a May 20 game vs. the Nationals. He also blanked Washington across two innings last August in his only other outing against the team.

Ashby has started in just six of his 12 appearances this year.

Washington’s starter is set to be right-hander Erick Fedde (3-4, 4.88 ERA), who hasn’t gotten through five innings in his last two outings. He gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings in that May 20 game at Milwaukee, suffering the loss. He’s 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA in three matchups against the Brewers in his career.

Lane Thomas will look to stay hot for the Nationals, as he has five multi-hit games among his six games in June.

Washington gave infielder Cesar Hernandez a rest day Thursday, taking him out of the starting lineup for the first time this season. Hernandez and third baseman Maikel Franco have been workhorses in the lineup.

“It’s tough to play, this day and age, every single day,” Martinez said. “They’ve done it. I don’t think I’d given those guys an inning off until the other day.”

Still, there are other lineup situations that Martinez might not have total control over. For example, Nelson Cruz was scratched from Thursday’s lineup because of back stiffness.

–Field Level Media

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