After the way the Milwaukee Brewers produced in their last game, manager Ron Roenicke plans on having his club skip batting practice for a second straight day.
It remains to be seen if that will help them solve Aaron Harang, who has baffled them in recent meetings.Milwaukee tries to salvage a series split behind Matt Garza on Thursday night.The Brewers (28-19) totaled five runs in losing four in a row prior to Wednesday, getting shut out twice in that stretch to match their total from the previous 42 games.Trying to find a spark, Roenicke canceled BP before the contest against Atlanta. Milwaukee responded with 10 hits and a 6-1 victory.Mark Reynolds hit a grand slam in the first inning -- just his second hit in eight games -- while Carlos Gomez added a two-run homer in the fourth."No BP at all," Roenicke said of his plans for Thursday. "I think they would like not doing it again. That works."The Brewers also played a clean game defensively after committing two errors in each of the series' first two matchups.They'll try to figure out Harang (4-4, 2.98 ERA), who was stellar in his season debut against Milwaukee on April 2. He yielded two hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 1-0 victory, leaving him at 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA in his last five starts against the Brewers.Harang gave up two earned runs over six innings of a 4-1 loss at St. Louis on Saturday.Garza (2-4, 4.83) opposed Harang in last month's matchup, allowing two hits in a season-best eight innings. The one run came on a homer by Chris Johnson, giving Garza an 0-3 mark and 4.50 ERA in four career starts against Atlanta (25-20).The right-hander hopes to end his first-inning struggles after all three runs he allowed against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday came in the first. He allowed only two more baserunners while pitching seven innings, though he suffered a 3-0 loss.Opponents are batting .316 in the first inning against Garza compared to .241 afterward. Eleven of the 31 runs he's surrendered have come in the opening inning."The first inning was a hiccup. That's kind of been what it's been like all year," Garza said after Saturday's defeat. "... I'm just going to keep grinding and keep working and keep going. It's going to come together sooner or later."Garza's road struggles from the tail end of last season also appear to have carried over. He's 2-6 with a 5.78 ERA in his last 10 outings away from home, including an 0-2 record and 6.86 ERA in four games this year.Justin Upton was 3 for 4 on Wednesday with his first-inning double providing Atlanta's lone run. He's 8 for 14 with seven RBIs in his last four games, though he's 2 for 13 in his career against Garza.Jason Heyward is batting .353 during a nine-game hitting streak.Jonathan Lucroy has gone 10 for 20 in six contests against the Braves this season.
Aaron Harang has thrown 56 percent of his pitches to the outer third or further away this season. Opponents are hitting .128 against those pitches, the lowest rate in the majors. The Brewers have a .560 OPS in plate appearances ending with a pitch in that location, lowest in the majors. Jean Segura is hitting .170 against pitches on the outer third with a .406 OPS, third-worst among qualified hitters.