Crew focuses on division going into Cubs series

Milwaukee on a roll after three-game sweep of Giants

September 9th, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- will be on the mound Monday night for the start of the Brewers' biggest series of the season.

"Who we playing?" Miley asked in his Louisiana drawl.

He was kidding. Miley knows full well the Brewers are traveling to Wrigley Field to play the Cubs in a critical three-game set beginning Monday at 7:05 p.m. CT. The Brewers, who took two of three from the Cubs when the teams met at Miller Park on Monday through Wednesday, head into the rematch with a head of steam. They are coming off a three-game sweep of the Giants that gave Milwaukee 14 wins in 19 games and a chance to reclaim first place in the National League Central if they can make it two sweeps in a row.

The Cubs are coming off a rainy weekend in Washington that included a pair of losses in a long doubleheader on Saturday followed by a rainout Sunday. Their lead in the division is down to two games.

"Look, we're trying hard. You can't try any harder," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "Nothing changes from that perspective. Some guys in the bullpen have worked pretty hard; I think when you win five out of six on a homestand, you're going to work some guys pretty hard in the bullpen. That's just reality. We're looking forward to a fun series. We're going down and we've got a chance. We're still behind. We've got to put a dent in it. That's what we'll try to do."

Lefty is scheduled to start for the Cubs opposite Miley, a notable pairing considering Miley has watched extensive video of Lester this season, while learning to harness the cut fastball.

That pitch has helped Miley pitch his way to a 2.12 ERA through a dozen Brewers starts. In 11 of those games, Miley surrendered two or fewer earned runs. In the other, he allowed three earned runs.

"To everybody in Milwaukee, it's a huge series," Miley said. "And it is. Everybody in here knows it. We're going to play with an uptick tempo for three days. But just like any other game, you go out there and play the right way, play the game hard and see what happens at the end of it."

is scheduled to start opposite lefty on Tuesday, and Wednesday is a matchup of right-handers Chase Anderson and .

"Something we've been talking about it, 'Don't think about the Wild Card. Think about the division,'" said Chacin. "We have the chance this week. It feels really important now. We still have 18 games left, and need to win as many of those as we can, but these three games will be huge."

Chacin hopes to embrace the pressure of the three remaining weeks of the regular season, but it's a new experience for many of Milwaukee's pitchers. Only four of them have pitched in the postseason: , who won't start in the Cubs series, and relievers Matt Albers, and .

"We just played a really big [series] against them days ago, so I don't think it'll be much different," said of the Cubs. "It'll probably be the same where it's about 90 percent Cubs fans and maybe 10 percent Brewers fans, so I'm sure it'll be a similar experience to what we had here. I think everybody's used to playing in that atmosphere. It's fun, it's enjoyable as a competitor. You try to do the same things you've done all year, prepare the same way. Don't try harder, don't do anything different. We've been playing good baseball for a while. This was our sixth consecutive series we've won, so we'll continue to focus on our preparation and hopefully the results will be there."

He added, "You still just focus on the next game. You can't go into tomorrow and win three games."