The Milwaukee Brewers have come to expect significant offensive production from Ryan Braun against the Chicago Cubs.
Norichika Aoki's production has been even more impressive.
Braun and Aoki look to continue pounding on Cubs pitching as the Brewers attempt to sweep this four-game set and extend their longest winning streak in the all-time series Thursday.
Braun is a career .334 hitter against Chicago (49-80), including a .365 average with 38 RBIs in 42 visits to Wrigley Field.
The reigning NL MVP has continued to feast on the Cubs lately, going 12 for 26 with two homers while driving in seven runs in six games over the past 10 days. Milwaukee (62-67) has won each meeting as part of an overall 8-1 run.
In fact, the Brewers have put together eight straight victories over Chicago for the longest winning streak by either team in the series dating back to 1997.
Aoki is also making a big difference.
The rookie outfielder is batting .284 on the season, but has a .516 average with 11 runs over the last eight meetings with the Cubs. He's collected two hits in each of the first three games of this series, while Braun is 7 for 14 with three doubles and five RBIs.
Aoki and Braun had two hits apiece as Milwaukee beat Chicago 3-1 on Wednesday.
Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.19 ERA) will try to complete the series sweep in what could be his final appearance for the Brewers. The right-hander has been placed on waivers, and potential suitors have until midnight on Friday to strike a deal for him to be eligible this postseason.
"Why wouldn't you?" take a look at Marcum, manager Ron Roenicke told the team's official website. "The guy can flat out pitch."
Marcum's return from tightness in his elbow may also prove timely. He was on the disabled list for over two months before getting the ball Saturday, and he could have used some help from his teammates in a 4-0 loss at Pittsburgh. All four runs were unearned thanks to two errors as Marcum lasted five innings.
"Got a little tired there in the fifth inning, but other than that I felt pretty good," Marcum said. "Felt like I was locating from the get-go. In that fifth inning, I made a couple mistakes ... but other than that, for the most part I ended up with close to 90 pitches and I felt like I located the majority of them."
Facing the Cubs may also generate interest from playoff contenders since Marcum has won all four starts against them with a 2.33 ERA, including an 8-2 victory May 12, when he allowed one run in seven innings.
Chicago has dropped 22 of 28 after barely getting more hits (four) than errors (three) Wednesday. The club has a .168 average with 10 errors during the last eight meetings with the Brewers.
Bryan LaHair has three hits in this series, but owns a .169 average with one homer and four RBIs in 30 games since appearing in his first All-Star game. He's 2 for 10 versus Marcum.
Brooks Raley (1-2, 6.64) will take the mound after he didn't get a decision in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Colorado. The rookie left-hander allowed two runs with three walks in five innings, hours after being recalled from Triple-A Iowa.
He's 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two home starts, and is facing Milwaukee for the first time.
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Ryan Braun
- Norichika Aoki
- Chicago Cubs
- Shaun Marcum