The Toronto Blue Jays hope left-hander Yusei Kikuchi can regain his early-season form Tuesday night against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a three-game series.
After going 5-0 with a 3.35 ERA in his first seven starts this season, Kikuchi is 0-2 with a 7.90 ERA in his past threestarts.
The Blue Jays have won only four of their past 14 games after finishing a three-game series against the host Minnesota Twins with a 3-0 victory on Sunday to complete a 3-4 road trip.
Kikuchi (5-2, 4.56) has faced the Brewers once in his career, allowing five runs (two earned) and six hits in two innings during a June outing last season at Milwaukee.
The Brewers, first in the National League Central, completed a 3-4 homestand Sunday with a 7-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
The Brewers are scheduled to start right-hander Adrian Houser (1-0, 2.25) on Tuesday. In his only career start against the Blue Jays, he allowed five earned runs and nine hits in six innings June 24 at Milwaukee, one day before Kikuchi pitched against the Brewers.
The Blue Jays, last in the AL East, were encouraged by taking the three-game series at Minneapolis after losing their three previous series, all against division rivals.
"It's awesome," said Daulton Varsho, who threw out a runner at third, made an impressive catch at the wall in center field and scored from first on a single Sunday. "Obviously, we haven't had a series win in a little bit of time and it just shows that we can do it and keeps our confidence up."
After they were 18-10 at the end of April, the Blue Jays are 10-16 in May.
"You're going to go to this rough stretch at some point during the year," Varsho said. "For us, it was right now. Hopefully, we can get hot here and finish the year really strong. There's a lot of baseball left."
The Blue Jays have been dealing with some recent injuries. Catcher Danny Jansen (groin) is on the injured list. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (lower back discomfort), who has been a catalyst at the plate and in the field, left the game Saturday after two innings and did not play Sunday.
"Unfortunately, the best thing for it is time," Kiermaier said. "I want to play. I want to be out there. But, I want this to be 'you miss a couple games' rather than more."
The Brewers avoided being swept in a four-game series against the Giants with their victory on Sunday.
"We're adapting and we're adjusting," Brewers third baseman Brian Anderson said, alluding to injury issues. "That's kind of what baseball is. Over the course of a long season, you're going to need more than just the guys who are here. You're going to need more than just the 26 guys."
Brewers second baseman Owen Miller left the game Sunday after being hit by a pitch on the right arm in the fourth inning. He had two RBIs in the game.
Miller was replaced in the sixth inning by Andruw Monasterio, who made his major league debut.
"(Miller) was just having trouble," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "(The pitch) got muscle. We X-rayed it. Nothing. He just got a little sore and we took him out as precaution. Just day-to-day and, hopefully, after a day he's good to go."
--Field Level Media