The Pirates have already been introduced to the rigors of the National League Central; they were swept in three games by the Reds in the Opening Series. The Brewers are just getting started.
"We respect that club," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the Brewers. "[Miller Park] has been challenging, but we've been able to find our way. I expect more good baseball when we get there, and expect to turn this thing around."
When the Brewers host the Pirates beginning Friday night, it will begin a stretch of 22 consecutive games for Milwaukee against division rivals. The Brewers won't see a non-Central team until May 4, when the Dodgers come to Miller Park.
"I think all games are important," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Certainly, our division we know we're going to play more often. You'd like to ideally win more games. But you also realize that it is a tough division, and if you can just hang in there in our division and be great against everybody else, you're doing to do OK. So yeah, it's important. But more important? I don't know about that."
Things to know about this game:
• The Brewers are 88-43 against the Pirates since the start of 2007, including 12-7 last season despite being outscored by the Bucs, 81-66. The Pirates had the last laugh, winning the NL's first Wild Card while the Brewers missed the postseason.
• In his career, Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke has held his own against Milwaukee, going 2-2 with a 3.98 ERA in seven starts. He's held the Brewers to a modest .229 average in those games.
• Ryan Braun, who feasts on left-handed pitchers when he's right, owns a .647 slugging percentage in 17 career plate appearances against Locke. The Brewers hope to have Braun back in the lineup after he missed two starts with a right rib-cage injury suffered on Opening Day. The Brewers had an off-day on Thursday, giving Braun some extra time.