The Milwaukee Brewers’ first trip to St. Petersburg, Fla., in five years will be over not long after it began when a two-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays is completed Wednesday afternoon.
The Brewers earned a 5-3 victory on Tuesday in the series opener, and less than 24 hours after that one began, the visitors will be off to the airport following Wednesday’s series finale.
The Brewers and Rays rarely see each other; they are playing in a series for the first time since a 2017 meeting in Tampa Bay. This is just the 14th game between the teams. The last time they played at Milwaukee was in 2011.
Yet there is familiarity between the clubs, who made a significant trade last season. Former Rays shortstop Willy Adames returned to his old stomping ground and went 1-for-3 with a walk in the series opener.
“Obviously, it was a tough day when I left,” Adames said Tuesday, “but it has been good for my career. It was a little difficult getting the news, but they have treated me so well in Milwaukee.”
There is no doubt where his loyalty lies now.
“I want to win some games here,” Adames said. “I love them, but I want to win some games.”
The Rays even played a tribute video after the second inning on Tuesday for Adames, Brewers infielder Mike Brosseau (who played for Tampa Bay the past three years) and Milwaukee hitting coach Ozzie Timmons (who was a coach with Tampa Bay from 2018-21).
The familiarity does not end there. The Brewers’ starter on Tuesday was Brandon Woodruff, who made his major league debut in that 2017 series at St. Petersburg. On Wednesday, Milwaukee will send left-hander Eric Lauer (6-3, 3.89 ERA) to the mound.
After a hot start to the season — a 2.38 ERA through 10 starts — Lauer has pitched to an 8.83 ERA over his past three outings. He has just one career appearance against Tampa Bay, when he gave up three runs in five innings during a no-decision in 2019.
On June 22 at home against the St. Louis Cardinals, Lauer gave up five runs on six hits over six innings. Eight of the 16 home runs he has allowed this season have come in his past three outings.
The Rays plan on getting through Wednesday’s game on a “full bullpen day,” according to manager Kevin Cash. Left-hander Jalen Beeks (1-1, 2.59 ERA) will be the opener for the third time in his past four appearances. He has never faced the Brewers.
Hit hard by injuries to position players such as Kevin Kiermaier (hip), Manuel Margot (knee), Mike Zunino (shoulder) and Brandon Lowe (back), not to mention some key pitchers, the Rays have added a new name to the list. First baseman Ji-Man Choi sat out on Tuesday and might not play on Wednesday either after he tweaked his left ankle on Sunday.
“He wasn’t going to be fully available today, but we felt like we could double up, two days off (with Monday) and, with a lefty (Lauer) going tomorrow, maybe three,” Cash said on Tuesday. “We’ll just see how he comes in and gets treatment today and then tomorrow.”
Isaac Paredes played first base for the Rays on Tuesday. After going 10-for-15 over his previous four games with five home runs, Paredes was 0-for-3 with a walk in the series opener.
–Field Level Media