You'll have to excuse the San Diego Padres if they're a bit giddy Monday night as they return home from a 7-2 trip that ended with their first three-game sweep of the Giants in San Francisco since 2016.
But waiting for the Padres are the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Pitching is the cornerstone for the Padres and Brewers as both are off to fast starts in 2022.
The Padres have won four straight games, allowing no more than one run in three of those. The Brewers, meanwhile, have won five of their past seven.
The Padres return home with something to prove. Their just-completed road trip left them with the best road record (17-7) in the majors. But they're only 10-7 at home entering a six-game homestand that will bring Pittsburgh to Petco Park after the Brewers depart.
"We're racking up wins," Padres manager Bob Melvin said Sunday. "We're just trying to build upon the last couple days. We're not looking too far ahead. We're concentrating on a game at a time."
Which brings us to Monday.
The Brewers will start the series with right-hander Adrian Houser (3-4, 3.22 ERA) against Padres right-hander Nick Martinez (2-2, 3.89).
While Houser is on schedule, Martinez was moved into the rotation Sunday when the Padres placed Monday's scheduled starter, Mike Clevinger, on the 15-day injured list with a right-triceps strain.
"We don't think Clevinger's injury is a big issue," Melvin said. "But we're being very cautious with Clev. And we have a nice problem with Martinez."
Clevinger has made three starts since missing the entire 2021 season with a second round of Tommy John surgery. And when both Clevinger and Blake Snell were recently activated, the Padres had seven starters for five slots -- although they did use a six-man rotation for one turn.
Martinez's most recent outing lasted four innings in relief last Wednesday in Philadelphia. He gave up two hits with six strikeouts without allowing a run. Martinez was scheduled to piggyback with Clevinger on Monday.
Martinez, who spent the four previous seasons in Japan, will face the Brewers for the first time. He had made six straight starts to open the season before his recent bullpen outing.
Houser will make his eighth start for the Brewers. His ERA is identical to the 3.22 he posted for 28 appearances (26 starts) during his 10-6 run last season. He has a 1.349 WHIP.
Houser had a 1.86 ERA in two starts against the Padres last season, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts over 9 2/3 innings. He is 0-1 lifetime against the Padres with a 2.00 ERA and a 0.722 WHIP, giving up four runs on 10 hits and three walks in 18 innings.
"Houser has been very consistent for us," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the sinker-baller. "Pitchers have avenues to get better. A swing-and-miss pitch is the ultimate. That makes you better."
Houser has averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings in his career.
--Field Level Media