(Photo credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports)
The Milwaukee Brewers are trying to keep an even keel as they edge closer to clinching the National League Central title, but it's not easy.
"Whenever you're getting close to the goal, or one step (from) the goal, you just want to get there," Brewers shortstop Willy Adames said. "But we've been good at handling ourselves on the field and controlling our emotions, just to keep things easy and small. But we are really excited about it."
The Brewers (86-66) reduced their magic number to four on Wednesday as they handled the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 and the second-place Chicago Cubs (79-73) fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-7.
Milwaukee will try to continue its march on Thursday when in the conclusion of a four-game road series against the Cardinals (67-85). The Brewers won the past two games after dropping the opener.
Wade Miley (8-4, 3.38 ERA) will get the start for Milwaukee on Thursday. The left-hander earned a 5-3 victory over the Washington Nationals in his latest outing, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings on Friday.
Miley allowed all three Washington runs in the first inning on a homer and three doubles before he made in-game adjustments that allowed him to pitch into the sixth inning.
"They had a really good plan early," Miley said. "We went into the game (pitching) hard in, soft away, with away being late. ... They just started peppering changeups, I thought pretty well-executed pitches. They started peppering, and I'm like, 'Holy cow.' "
Miley sustained a left lat strain the most recent time he opposed the Cardinals, on May 16. He allowed one run on a Nolan Arenado homer in 1 2/3 innings before departing the game and landing on the injured list for a month.
Miley is 3-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 12 career starts against the Cardinals.
Miles Mikolas (7-12, 4.84 ERA) will draw the Thursday start for St. Louis, once again trying to get back on track.
Mikolas allowed 10 runs on 15 hits in 11 1/3 innings while losing his past two starts against the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 10 and the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. He has allowed five or more runs in four of his past six starts.
"When you start looking at Miles and his two-strike execution, I feel like ... that's been a difference for him," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Him being over the plate too much when he gets into those pitcher-advantage counts. Ball out of hand or just over the plate. One or the other. His ability to execute with two strikes hasn't been nearly as good as he would have liked."
In the closing weeks of the season, Mikolas is leaning more heavily on the slider, which still needs some work.
"There is still a difference between the shape of it in the bullpen and what he carries out into the game," Marmol said. "But as far as trying to set the standard for that pitch for the remaining part of this year going into the offseason is definitely part of his game plan, yes."
Mikolas did not face the Brewers when the teams played earlier this year. In his career, he is 8-4 with a 3.69 ERA against Milwaukee in 14 games (13 starts).
--Field Level Media