Yost shrugs off Cooper's talk of sweep

Yost shrugs off talk of sweep

MILWAUKEE -- Local hero Cecil Cooper, once part of the most celebrated team in Milwaukee Brewers history, is apparently enjoying his new team's recent return to the pennant conversation.

In response to a reporter saying that the Astros could sweep the Brewers heading into the three-game set Monday, Cooper said, "I'm predicting that, I'm going out on a limb. You heard it here first."

Brewers manager Ned Yost naturally downplayed the chatter.

"Maybe if we were in high school, these things would matter," Yost said. "Everybody thinks they're going to sweep everybody. When you start a series, if you don't think you have a chance to sweep and you're not focused in your mind that you're going to sweep, you're not a very good team. And they've been playing well."

Indeed, the Astros entered the series having won 17 of 23 games since a three-game sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh in late July, including an eight-game winning streak that surrounded the loss of former Brewers slugger Carlos Lee for the season with a broken finger.

Cooper's comments raised eyebrows, however, given Milwaukee's use of aces CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets in the series.

"We didn't face those top two last time," Cooper said. "They had the Cubs coming, so I think they looked past us a little bit, and then the Cubs swept them. It will be interesting to see Sabathia. We saw him in Spring Training, but not in-season."

They got their fill Monday, when Sabathia tossed a complete game, ending the chance of Cooper's premonition coming true before the second game, and Sheets will start Tuesday opposite Brian Moehler. But Brewers fans, who have been hoping for a playoff team since Cooper's game-winning single clinched the 1982 American League Championship Series, can still appreciate the success he has discovered as a manager, possibly because the home team remains 8 1/2 games ahead of Houston in the standings.

Yost, who played alongside Cooper in 1982, said the experience of narrowly missing out on the postseason last year has paid dividends.

"I think it's already come into play lots of times," Yost said. "Games like [Sunday's, a tough loss to the Dodgers], I think everyone understood it was a hard-fought game and we didn't win it. We went into L.A. and played three really good games. ... The Dodgers got to see that we don't quit, no matter what the circumstances are."

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Ben Sheets (11-6, 3.00 ERA)
Sheets dueled Jake Peavy on Thursday in San Diego and didn't have his good curveball, but he still managed to blank the Padres on only one hit through six innings. Sheets ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing four hits and three runs on the way to a tough 3-2 loss.

HOU: RHP Brian Moehler (8-4, 3.97 ERA)
Moehler wasn't as sharp in his most recent outing as he was the previous three, ending a streak of three starts in which he yielded two or fewer runs. Moehler allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings but took a no-decision in an Astros win. Moehler last faced the Brewers on June 12 at home, absorbing the loss after allowing seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. Moehler is 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA over 10 road games (eight starts) this year.

Former Brewers prospect Matt LaPorta, traded to the Cleveland Indians in the deal to acquire Sabathia, was hit in the head with a pitch while participating for Team USA in the Beijing Olympics. LaPorta was taken to the hospital after being beaned in an ejection-riddled game against China, but tests were negative and the outfielder rode back to the Olympic Village with teammates. LaPorta is 2-for-15 with a home run and three RBIs in five Olympic games. ... With his 114th start Monday, Jason Kendall tied for sixth all-time on the Brewers list of starts by a catcher in one season. He will almost certainly eclipse the 121 started by Darrell Porter in 1975 for top honors. ... Milwaukee is expected to sell out the remainder of its games on the homestand, bringing its streak of consecutive sellouts to 21. Monday marked the 16th straight. ... After going deep in the opener vs. Houston, Corey Hart is one homer away from becoming the first player in franchise history to have two seasons of 20 homers and 20 steals. He hit 24 bombs and swiped 23 bags last year, becoming the fifth Brewer in the 20/20 club.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Brewers (Manny Parra, 9-6, 4.12) vs. Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 7-5, 4.15), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Brewers (Dave Bush, 7-9, 4.26) vs. Pirates (Zach Duke, 4-11, 5.26), 7:05 p.m. CT

JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.