(Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff is looking for an encore.
On Sept. 11, Woodruff pitched the first shutout of his career, blanking the Miami Marlins on six hits and a walk while striking out seven in Milwaukee.
On Saturday, Woodruff will face the Marlins again -- this time in Miami.
"Opportunities like this don't come around much," Woodruff said of the shutout.
The 30-year-old Mississippi native has spent his entire career with the Brewers. He was their 11th-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2014, made his major league debut in 2017 and became an All-Star in 2019 and 2021.
Woodruff has been outstanding this season -- 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA. The only problem has been that a shoulder injury kept him for four months, limiting him to just 10 starts so far.
Over his past five starts, Woodruff is 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA. In three career starts against the Marlins, he is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
The Brewers (88-66), who routed the Marlins 16-1 in the series opener on Friday, are closing in on their third NL Central title in the past six years. Their magic number for the division is one, and they clinched a playoff berth on Friday.
Milwaukee, which has won four games in a row, is headed to the postseason for the fifth time in six years.
Meanwhile, Miami (79-75) fell one game behind the Chicago Cubs (80-74) in the race for the final NL wild-card playoff berth. The Marlins were out of the game early, thanks to the Brewers' 12-run second inning.
"Pitching sets the tone, and when you walk five of the first 10 hitters ..." Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said of his team's poor performance on Friday. "A little sloppy defense at times, but, for the most part, (the Brewers) hit the ball hard. We couldn't make an out there for a while -- tough game, tough second inning."
The Brewers made themselves at home in Miami on Friday, not surprising considering some of their personnel have strong Miami ties. Heading that list is manager Craig Counsell, who won a World Series title in 1997 as a Marlins player.
Left fielder Christian Yelich, who started his career with the Marlins, won an NL MVP award for Miami in 2018. Bothered by a back injury that has kept him sidelined for most of the past two weeks, Yelich returned to the lineup on Friday and went 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs.
Catcher Victor Caratini, who played at Miami Dade College, belted a three-run homer to lead the Brewers past the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 on Thursday. And infielder/outfielder Brian Anderson, who spent the first six years of his career with the Marlins, has nine homers this year in his debut season with the Brewers.
As for the Marlins, they are reeling with three losses in their past four games. They also have lost four of five matchups with the Brewers over the past two weeks.
The Marlins hope to change their fortunes on Saturday behind left-hander Jesus Luzardo (10-9, 3.68 ERA).
Luzardo, a native of Peru who will turn 26 next week, has set career highs in wins, starts (30) and innings (166 1/3). Prior to this season, his career highs in those categories were six victories, 18 starts and 100 1/3 innings.
The Marlins are 18-12 this season when Luzardo starts, although he took a pounding on Sept. 11 when facing Woodruff and the Brewers. In that game, Luzardo allowed 10 hits, four walks and six runs in five innings. That stands as the only time in his career that he has faced Milwaukee.
--Field Level Media