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Brewers eager to get indoors to face struggling Reds

Sports Xchange
16 Apr 2018, 12:38 GMT+10

MILWAUKEE -- It will be cold and still snowing Monday night when the Milwaukee Brewers begin a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

Thanks to the roof over Miller Park, weather delays like the ones that plagued Cincinnati on Sunday will not be a concern.

Returning to climate-controlled comfort is especially good news for the Brewers, whose well-documented depth has been challenged early by a rash of injuries.

Outfielder Christian Yelich is still on the disabled list with a strained oblique and outfielder Lorenzo Cain missed two games with an ankle injury earlier this season.

Ryan Braun was held out of the lineup Sunday -- though he did pinch-hit --- because of back tightness. Catcher Manny Pina remains sidelined with a sore calf.

Adding to the misery, first baseman Eric Thames exited Sunday's 3-2 loss to the New York Mets after the third inning with a sore groin.

"The challenging part is we're in a lot of day-to-day injuries, and with guys close to coming back," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That in itself is a little challenging. But we may have to make some more permanent decisions pending the status of a couple of these guys."

"It's so annoying," Thames said of the team's injury issues. "This weather's not really helping. But that's the way it goes. It'll be nice to be inside the dome for a week, for sure."

Still, Milwaukee managed to go 3-3 on its swing through St. Louis and New York during the last week and might have fared even better if Wilmer Flores not won the game Sunday on a walk-off home run with two strikes and two outs in the ninth.

"A split on a pretty challenging road trip," said Counsell, who was ejected in the fifth inning. "But obviously when you lose a bunch of one-run games, you feel like there's games kind of hanging out there, still."

Left-hander Brent Suter gets the ball against the Reds. He showed progress his last time out, working into the sixth inning for the first time the season while holding the Cardinals to a run while allowing only five baserunners in Tuesday's 5-3 loss.

In four starts this season, Suter is 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA.

He has faced the Reds seven times in his career, going 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA, but he has a 7.20 ERA (eight earned runs, 10 1/3 innings) in two starts against Cincinnati.

The Reds come to town mired in one of the worst starts in franchise history. At 2-13, they matched the 1931 edition for the worst 15-game start in team history.

Cincinnati was forced to wait through a rain delay of two hours and 36 minutes before dropping a 3-2 decision to St. Louis on Sunday.

Despite the rough start, the Reds have fared well against the Brewers of late, winning seven of the last 12 meetings and two of the last four series with their NL Central rivals.

"Any spark we can get we're taking right now," said reliever Jared Hughes, who pitched for Milwaukee last year. "It's time to change some momentum in our favor."

Reds first baseman Joey Votto has terrorized Brewers pitching in his career, posting a .322 batting average with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs, but he has been especially potent at Miller Park, where he's a .344 career hitter with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs.

That's a reason for Luis Castillo (0-2, 7.31 ERA) to feel optimistic as he makes his fourth start of the season -- and the 19th of his career.

He, too, found success against the Brewers last year. Castillo faced Milwaukee twice in 2017 and went 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA, striking out 19 while walking only three in 13 2/3 innings.

Castillo gave up 10 runs in his first two starts this year against Washington and Pittsburgh but showed improvement by allowing three runs and five hits in six innings during Wednesday's loss at Philadelphia.

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