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May 7, 2024 2:34 am

Brewers pursue offensive improvement vs. Royals

Colin Rea

The Milwaukee Brewers, in a two-day batting funk, hope to rebound on Tuesday after a taking a series-opening, 3-2 loss to the host Kansas City Royals.

The Brewers matched a season low with three hits on Monday and got all their offense on one swing from Gary Sanchez. That came a day after Milwaukee managed only five hits in a 5-0 loss to the host Chicago Cubs.

Milwaukee’s Colin Rea (3-0, 2.67 ERA) and Kansas City’s Seth Lugo (5-1, 1.60) will take the mound on Tuesday in a matchup of right-handers.

Both pitchers have made one previous start against their Tuesday opponent, both going 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision last year.

Rea allowed four runs on six hits, including a home run to Salvador Perez, with two walks with three strikeouts on May 14, 2023. He has a 7.71 ERA in two career appearances against the Royals.

Seven of the eight runs Rea surrendered over his past four starts came via five long balls.

“Colin’s been a little bit vulnerable with the home run,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “You can be vulnerable with that, but then you can’t walk people. That’s one thing you can’t do. It’s how Colin has to pitch. It’s how he has to be to be successful.”

Rea said after allowing two homers to the Yankees on April 26, “Sometimes we can get caught up in pitching to a plan instead of reading what (the batters) are doing and attack that way.”

He followed up that start with his best outing of the year. Thanks to an improved slider, Rea fired six shutout innings in a 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

“Going into the offseason, I gained confidence in (the slider) and it’s feeling more comfortable in my hand,” Rea said. “I feel like I’m getting better movement out of it.”

Lugo faced the Brewers on April 15, 2023, and he allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk with five strikeouts. For his career, he is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA with nine appearances against the Brewers.

Rhys Hoskins has a home run against Lugo but just two other hits and 12 strikeouts in 22 at-bats.

Lugo has limited opponents to two or fewer runs in all but one of his seven starts this year.

“He’s amazing to watch because he works so quickly,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “He gets a ton of contact and he makes the hitters make tough decisions because the ball’s moving in all different directions and he keeps the ball down. He has a really good feel for what he’s doing.”

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said after Lugo tossed seven shutout innings against Detroit on April 26, “He’s a throwback to the guy who pitches and moves the ball around and changes speeds. He’s off to a really good start this season because he knows how to pitch.”

Lugo has been at the forefront of the Royals’ pitching improvements. He leads the American League in wins, and his ERA ranks third.

“For me it’s about locating fastballs,” Lugo said. “When it comes to off-speed pitches, secondary pitches, every week, every month you’re going to have to make adjustments.”

Lugo is seeing good results with his off-speed stuff.

“It’s in a better spot, especially my original curveball,” Lugo said. “I’ve gotten some bad (swings) on it and that’s where I want it to be. I’m working through some other pitches, trying to get a little different movement, so we’re still tinkering with those a little bit.”

–Field Level Media

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