MLB: With starting pitching in question, Brewers finish series vs. Red Sox

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Left-hander Jared Koenig said he wouldn’t object if he were asked to make his third start in as many days when the visiting Milwaukee Brewers try to complete a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

Koenig was used as an opener in the first two games of the series, and the Brewers haven’t announced a starter for Sunday’s game.

“I would assume they’re not going to throw me back out there, but if they text me and say, ‘Hey, we need you,’ and I’m feeling good then I don’t see why not,” Koenig said. “Ultimately it’s their decision, not mine. … I’m going to do what I can to be ready.”

Koenig faced four batters in Milwaukee’s 7-2 victory on Friday, and recorded four outs (three strikeouts) during Milwaukee’s 6-3 win Saturday. He threw 27 pitches in the two games.

“Going out there and getting the four outs that were needed and throwing the ball well, it’s always nice to help out,” Koenig said. “I don’t think (being used as an opener) really changes that much. The goal is still to get as many outs as possible and do whatever I’m asked. That being back-to-back days to open, that’s fine. I’m happy with that. I’ve started before, so it’s nothing too crazy.”

Milwaukee manager Pat Murphy said he chose to use Koenig as an opener because Boston’s lineup is typically heavy with left-handed hitters at the top of the batting order.

“It happens a lot (when a) starter gives you a good start and a reliever comes in and gives you an inning and a third,” Murphy said. “We just did it in reverse. I don’t think it’s a magical plan. … Using an opener isn’t anything new. We just chose to do it with this lineup.”

Before Saturday’s game, Murphy made it sound like he was considering using Koenig to open for a third consecutive game, but changed his stance after Saturday’s win.

“I think that’s a little too much, but he did another nice job today,” Murphy said.

Koenig became the first Brewers pitcher to start back-to-back games during the same season since Zack Greinke in 2012. Greinke was ejected in the first inning of the first start and was used as a starter again the following day.

“It’s something unique and I’m just happy to try and help the team however I can,” Koenig said.

Right-hander Tanner Houck (4-5, 1.94 ERA) is scheduled to start for Boston on Sunday. Houck, who has never faced the Brewers, limited the Tampa Bay Rays to two hits over seven innings to earn the win in Monday’s 5-0 road victory.

The Red Sox could be without outfielder Tyler O’Neill for the final game of the series. O’Neill, who has 11 home runs this season, left Saturday’s game with right knee soreness.

“I think it was the right decision,” O’Neill said. “I’ve been grinding through it for a little bit. Felt it more so on the last swing that I took coming out of the box. Felt like my cleat got caught on something in the batter’s box, so it didn’t feel too good. The trainers noticed it and took me out of there.

“Just trying to manage my workload right now and make sure my body is in a good spot so I can get out there every day. … Hopefully, I’ll wake up (Sunday) feeling a lot better, but day-to-day for now.”

–Field Level Media

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