The Milwaukee Brewers kept their fallen leader close to their hearts as they continued their series against the Miami Marlins, with Ryan Braun going a step further. Braun wore Christian Yelich's jersey under his own in Milwaukee's 7-5 victory on Wednesday, and he plans to do again on Thursday afternoon as the Brewers vie for a four-game sweep in Miami.
"Just for good luck. They're about the same size. It felt a little different, but I was just trying to bring the good vibes," Braun said of the Brewers playing their first game since Yelich -- the reigning National League MVP -- sustained a broken right kneecap. While the former University of Miami star struggled (0-for-4, three strikeouts), Mike Moustakas capped a two-homer performance with a go-ahead, two-run shot in the eighth inning to send the surging Brewers to their sixth straight victory. Miami's Garrett Cooper enters the finale on a hot streak, as his solo shot on Thursday marked the third time that he has gone deep in his last eight contests. The 28-year-old is 14-for-35 with six extra-base hits, seven RBIs and four runs scored that stretch, but the reeling Marlins have dropped 12 of their last 16 overall.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, FS Wisconsin (Milwaukee), FS Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Brewers LH Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 3.98 ERA) vs. Marlins LH Caleb Smith (8-9, 4.11)
Gonzalez aims to continue his good fortune against his hometown team, as the 33-year-old Miami-area native sports a 10-4 record with a 2.42 ERA in 19 career starts versus the Marlins. Starlin Castro (10-for-25) and Miguel Rojas (6-for-19) have fared well against Gonzalez, who hasn't tasted victory since winning back-to-back contests in May. Gonzalez, who owns an 0-2 mark in his last 11 starts, settled for a no-decision on Saturday despite allowing one run on two hits in five innings versus the Chicago Cubs.
Smith saw his winless stretch extend to four starts on Saturday despite scattering four hits and striking out eight in six innings against Kansas City. The 28-year-old hopes the comforts of home will continue to serve him well, as he sports a 6-3 record with a 3.46 ERA at Marlins Park as opposed to a 2-6 mark away from it. Smith was taken to task in one such outing away from home on June 6, surrendering three homers and four runs total in five innings of a 5-1 setback in Milwaukee.
1. Milwaukee C Yasmani Grandal, who also played collegiately at Miami, has reached base nine times (four hits, five walks) in the series.
2. Marlins 1B Martin Prado is hitting .241 this season, although he has done significantly better in a pinch-hitting role (.277).
3. Brewers 3B Hernan Perez has hit safely in six of his last seven games.