While the dog days of August have swallowed up the Toronto Blue Jays, few teams in the majors are playing as well lately as the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers, who host the Blue Jays on Tuesday for the first of two contests, have won four in a row and are coming off a 5-2 road trip that ended with a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Milwaukee (70-55) owns a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central and has bypassed the Dodgers (70-56) for the second-best record in the NL.
The Brewers have won eight of their last 11 and hope to exact revenge on the Blue Jays, who won each of the teams' two first meetings in early July to maintain their advantage in the American League East. Toronto lost its next five to fall out of first place and finds itself eight games out in the East thanks to their 4-11 mark this month. The Blue Jays, who are also 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card chase, may have gotten a boost over the weekend despite losing two of three in Chicago against the White Sox as Edwin Encarnacion homered Sunday for the first time since coming off the disabled list on Friday.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, SNET (Toronto), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays LH J.A. Happ (8-7, 4.20 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Mike Fiers (2-1, 1.29)
Happ entered his last outing with a 1.71 ERA in four turns since the All-Star break, but was handed his second loss in as many starts during Tuesday's 6-3 setback at Seattle. The 31-year-old, who fanned a career-high 12 in a season-best eight innings five days earlier, was tagged for five runs (four earned) and struck out only one in six frames against the Mariners. Happ gave up four runs over seven innings in a no-decision versus the Brewers on July 2 and is 3-3 with a 5.82 ERA in 10 all-time appearances (nine starts) against them.
Filling in for an injured Matt Garza, Fiers snapped the Brewers' 286-game streak without a double-digit strikeout performance by fanning a career-high 14 in Thursday's 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs. The Florida native yielded three hits over six scoreless frames during the 106-pitch outing, becoming only the fourth player in team history to record at least 14 strikeouts. Fiers, who has posted a 0.64 ERA while winning both of his August starts, tossed a scoreless inning in relief against the Blue Jays in 2012 in his only career appearance against them.
1. Milwaukee's starting pitchers have posted a 2.46 ERA and recorded 22 quality starts over the last 26 contests.
2. Toronto SS Jose Reyes has compiled four games with at least three hits in August and is batting .405 during a nine-game hitting streak.
3. Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy, who is tied with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the major-league lead with 40 doubles, is bidding to become the first backstop to lead either league in two-base hits for a season.
PREDICTION: Brewers 5, Blue Jays 4