Cain sat out Sunday when the Brewers wrapped up a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a scheduled day off for the veteran center fielder, who ha played every game since May 23 but also a chance for him to rest a nagging groin injury and get two full days off his feet before facing his former team.
The 32-year-old has been everything the Milwaukee Brewers had hoped for when they signed him to a franchise-record $80 million contract during the winter.
Cain is among the team leaders in almost every offensive category this season: hits (71), walks (43), on-base percentage (.394). He is second in doubles (15), batting average (.291) and .OPS (.832).
He also has been something of a workhorse, appearing in 72 games — just one fewer than team leader Travis Shaw — while making 70 starts. He leads the team with 312 plate appearances and 265 at-bats.
“Winning games is the most important part,” Cain said. “It’s still early in the season and we have a long way to go, but winning consistently, winning series, that’s our main goal.”
Shaw should also be back in the lineup. He left Sunday’s game when he tweaked an already-sore right wrist during a third-inning at-bat. He missed two games with the same injury earlier in the week against Pittsburgh but started all four games against St. Louis.
“This is something I’ve been dealing with for a while now and a couple of swings here and there will get it every now and then,” Shaw said. “It’ll be nice to have almost two full days off with the rest of tonight, all of tomorrow and a night game (Tuesday). We’ll see where we’re at then.”
Having those two back and healthy, as well as red-hot slugger Jesus Aguilar, who got a break Sunday, will be a relief for rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta.
After making his first three big league starts on the road, Peralta will get a chance to show his talent to the hometown fans for the first time when he takes the mound for the series opener.
“I’m very excited,” Peralta said. “It’s like a dream, pitching in Miller Park.”
His MLB career got off to a memorable start. He struck out 13 in 5 1/3 scoreless innings with his family on hand to watch at Coors Field.
He’s 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA as a big leaguer with the Brewers, winning all three of his starts. Peralta has also struck out 84 batters in 59 innings for Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, going 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA there.
“I know that (major league hitters) are smart, but I just have to pitch the same and believe in myself, trust my ability in making pitches,” Peralta said. “I know they’re better hitters than in the minor leagues, and I just have to make the adjustments, but it’s all the same for me.”
He’ll go up against right-hander Jakub Junis, who has lost his last five starts and hasn’t won since May 18.
Junis has a 6.75 ERA during his losing streak with 24 strikeouts in 24 innings.
“It’s been tough, not only personally, but as a team,” Junis told the Kansas City Star. “We’re grinding through it.
“It’s definitely been a struggle for me. I’ve given up a lot of home runs this year, so I’m very conscious of that. I’m trying to keep it in the ballpark, because when I do, that’s when I have success.”
Kansas City has faced Milwaukee twice this season. They dropped both games of an interleague series in April at Kaufmann Stadium.