(Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
The National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers are pitching as well as they have been all season, but their hitters have gone cold.
Milwaukee hopes to reverse that offensive trend on Tuesday when it visits the St. Louis Cardinals for the second contest of a four-game set.
The Cardinalswon the series opener 1-0 on Monday as the Brewers mustered just six hits and Adam Wainwright and two relievers.
"We didn't do a very good job offensively," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "Three double plays, that makes it tough to put together rallies."
The Brewers (84-66) have lost their past two games while scoring just one run in 20 innings. They also were shut out 2-0 by the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Still, Milwaukee leads the division by six games over the Chicago Cubs (78-72) and the Cincinnati Reds (79-73).
Compounding Milwaukee's offensive woes is the absence of outfielder Christian Yelich. He sat out the Monday loss due to back soreness that has limited him to just eight games in September.
That left the Brewers thinking about whether they should place him on the 10-day injured list.
"We're in a little bit of a tricky spot," Counsell said. "He's getting better, but he also hasn't played in a couple of days. We're going to have to make a decision (Tuesday) on this -- what we're going to do and where we see it.
"He feels good. He did a lot (Monday). He's not 100 percent yet. That's kind of where we're at. We just have to decide, 'Do we think he's going to be 100 percent in two to three days, or is it better to maybe wait until we get off the road trip?'"
Milwaukee will use reliever Trevor Megill (1-0, 3.13 ERA) as an opener on Tuesday. Colin Rea could potentially pitch bulk innings behind him.
Megill will be making his 29th appearance and second start of the year. He has thrown five scoreless innings across his past five outings. Megill tossed one shutout inning against St. Louis on May 17, giving him a 1.93 ERA and no decisions in five career appearances vs. the Cardinals.
Adrian Houser had been in line to start Tuesday, but he threw a bullpen session on Monday. His start was pushed back, perhaps to Wednesday, as Counsell tries to keep his staff fresh ahead of the playoffs.
The Cardinals (67-83) will turn to left-hander Drew Rom (1-2, 5.96 ERA) on Tuesday. He is coming off his first career victory, a 1-0 decision on Wednesday against Baltimore, his former organization. The 23-year-old rookie held the Orioles to two hits and three walks while striking out seven across 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
"He did a really nice job. He navigated that lineup extremely well," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. "He had everything for strikes, really good composure throughout the entire game. He got some swing and miss at the top of the zone with the fastball. He made some really good pitches."
After allowing eight runs (six earned) in 3 2/3 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 21 in his major league debut, Rom has gone 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in four outings since.
Rom saw improvement thanks to better fastball movement that he added with some help from pitching coach Dusty Blake.
"I think it just had a little bit more life to it," Rom told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think that just had to do with some mechanical tweaks that I've made over the last couple weeks that me, Dusty and the whole pitching staff have really been bouncing off of each other."
Rom will be facing the Brewers for the first time.
On Monday, the Cardinals shut down right-handed reliever Giovanny Gallegos (right shoulder rotator cuff tendinitis) for the season and recalled right-hander Jake Woodford from Triple-A Memphis.
--Field Level Media