Series Preview: Twins vs. Brewers

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The Brewers finally gave a glimpse at the full potential of the offense on Sunday, as the team put a season-high nine runs on the board against the Reds. They’ll likely need that to continue as they face the powerful Twins this week.

The biggest news from the weekend series was Christian Yelich, who appears to be busting out of his early season slump. Yelich smacked two homers against the Reds and went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs in Sunday’s finale.

His performance on Sunday alone raised his OPS from .576 to .754. It was a great sign for the Brewers’ slugger, who entered the game with a .114 batting average.

Keston Hiura and Justin Smoak also scored big days on Sunday, each going 3-for-5. Smoak completed the feat of getting a hit from both sides of the plate in the same inning.

Hiura and Yelich have traded time between the two and three spots in the lineup early on in the season, and both have had their share of issues getting going. In fact, Sunday marked the first time the duo collected back-to-back hits this year. They managed to do it twice in the game, and the second time produced back-to-back homers.

Twins in Slump

It’s safe to say that the Brewers will need that sort of output against a Twins team that ranks 4th in the majors in homers and 6th in runs scored.

Then again, maybe not. The Twins have been a bit of a slump of their own, having dropped four straight games.

The losing streak began Thursday with a loss to Pittsburgh and continued through the weekend as they were swept in Kansas City. The juggernaut offense was nowhere to be found against the Royals. The Twins only managed 10 runs in the three game series.

That could be a good sign for the Brewers. Perhaps they’re catching the Twins at the right time, with both offenses seemingly going in opposite directions.

Either way, ageless wonder and former Brewer Nelson Cruz is a guy the Brewers will have to be careful with. The 40-year-old leads the Twins in WAR (0.8), RBI (16), and batting average (.361) in the season’s early going.

In eight career games against the Brewers, he has a .333 BA with three homers.

Probable Pitchers

Game One: Randy Dobnak (2-1, 0.60 ERA) vs. Adrian Houser (1-0, 0.75 ERA)

Signed in 2017 off the strength of his YouTube videos, Dobnak is making just his eighth career start, but he’s been solid since arriving in the Show. He owns a microscopic 1.25 career ERA and has been particularly efficient in limiting the long ball, though he doesn’t strike out a ton of batters.

Houser was simply brilliant in his last start back on August 5. Houser pitched seven scoreless innings against the White Sox as the Brewers won 1-0. He was equally effective in his only other start on the season, a five inning outing against the Pirates in which he gave up only one run.

Game Two: TBD vs. Josh Lindblom (1-0, 4.15 ERA)

The Twins have not yet announced their starter for Tuesday’s game.

Lindblom will be making his Miller Park debut after getting his first victory of the year last Thursday. Lindblom opened that game with five straight strikeouts en route to a career-high seven. He has been an effective addition to the Brewers’ rotation, showing off a wide array of pitches.

Game Three: Kenta Maeda (2-0, 2.65 ERA) vs. Eric Lauer (0-1, 9.53 ERA)

Maeda came to the Twins via trade in February and has outperformed his career averages up to this point. The former Dodger sports a career-low ERA, and has only given up eight hits in 17 innings so far.

Lauer opened the season with an impressive relief appearance on July 26, but the wheels came off early in his first start of the season last Friday. He got through only three innings, giving up six runs on five hits and three walks. The Brewers will definitely be hoping the hiccup was caused by the lengthy layoff between appearances.

Something to Watch

The Brewers have struggled to get into early grooves offensively this season. Even in Sunday’s nine-run outburst, the Brewers scored eight of those runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

They have failed to score a run in the first or second inning in all but one game so far, and in the first four innings combined, they have only accumulated nine runs.

The Twins, on the other hand, score a ton in the first few innings. They’ve done the most damage in the first inning (19 total runs) followed by the second (15) and fourth (14) innings.

The Brewers have seen plenty of early deficits this season, and it’s a trend that could continue.

Braun to Remain Sidelined?

Ryan Braun remained on the injured list with a finger infection despite being eligible for activation on Sunday. Craig Counsell cited a lack of at bats for Braun, dating back to Summer Camp, where Braun was sidelined with an unrelated issue.

Braun has only made 14 plate appearances this season. It’s likely that Braun may not come off the IL at all for this series either. The Brewers designated Logan Morrison for assignment on Monday and will use Hiura in the DH spot for the opener.

The Brewers did reinstate Luis Urías from the IL. He will man second base in his Brewer debut.

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