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The struggling - _WedAMCESTECEST1SepE 30. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (14-4)

LAST SEASON: Survived early knee injury to QB Sam Bradford and thrived behind Case Keenum's breakout season Forrest Lamp Jersey , taking advantage of broken collarbone for rival Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to win NFC North for second time in three years on strength of eight-game winning streak. Newcomers Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers bookended improved OL. WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs flourished in OC Pat Shurmur's scheme. "Minneapolis Miracle" throw from Keenum to Diggs on last play of game gave Vikings victory over New Orleans in division round. Coach Mike Zimmer's defense fed off loud home crowds and led NFL with fewest yards and points allowed, but faltered in 38-7 loss at Philadelphia in NFC championship game. That dashed team's dream of becoming unprecedented Super Bowl host, watching Eagles win title on Minnesota's turf two weeks later. Still, 2017 will be considered top-10 season in franchise's title-less history.

THEY NEED: G, T, CB, RB, TE, LB.

THEY DON'T NEED: QB, C, DE Drew Bledsoe Jersey , WR.

POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia; G Connor Williams, Texas; T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame; T Orlando Brown, Oklahoma; CB Josh Jackson, Iowa.

OUTLOOK: With Kirk Cousins new QB after signing record contract in free agency, Vikings focus on upgrading OL overwhelmed by Eagles' pressure in NFC title game. RG Joe Berger has retired, potentially opening starting spot for first-round pick. With Thielen, Diggs and new WR Kendall Wright, plus TE Kyle Rudolph and RB Dalvin Cook returning from knee injury that cut short rookie season, Cousins has plenty of capable targets to throw to. But another field-stretching pass-catching TE could serve new OC John DeFilippo well. Teams can never have enough quality CBs James Develin Jersey , so using high pick at position would not be surprising for more support behind Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are borderline stars at LB, but depth would help. With Super Bowl window still open for Vikings, one or two immediate starters will be priority.

The nerves weren’t quite so bad this time. The jitters, a touch less.

The stuff? Well, that didn’t change a bit for Milwaukee rookie pitcher Freddy Peralta. The 22-year-old handcuffed the Pittsburgh Pirates over six shutout innings and the Brewers held on for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Peralta (2-0) struck out seven without issuing a walk in his third career start, looking very much like the kid who tied a franchise record by striking out 13 in his major league debut last month. The Brewers sent him down to the minors after his second start to work on his control and he appeared to be firmly in command against the Pirates.

”It was normal, you know,” Peralta said. ”It’s always, work, you know? I was comfortable today with everything: my pitches, the guys behind me Morgan Cox Jersey , everything.”

Jesus Aguilar finished 2 for 3 and drove in all three runs off Jameson Taillon (4-6). Aguilar hit a two-run shot to the seats in right-center in the first and doubled down the line in left field in the third.

”It was important, especially for Peralta, to just give him a lead right away. That way he feels confident,” Aguilar said.

Corey Knebel worked around a two-out walk in the ninth for his seventh save for the first-place Brewers, who ended a three-game losing streak.

Starling Marte hit his ninth home run of the season in the eighth off Milwaukee reliever Jeremy Jeffress to pull Pittsburgh with one. Jordy Mercer had an RBI double in the seventh but Pittsburgh’s offense mustered little with Peralta on the mound.

The 22-year-old attacked the Pirates high in the strike zone and threw 62 of his 99 pitches for strikes. Only Marte seemed able to generate solid contact. He reached second in the first when Milwaukee right fielder Eric Thames couldn’t handle a drive that bounced off his glove near the wall.

Peralta retired Moran on a lineout and settled in.

”He made pitches,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ”Kept us off balance with the curveball. Attacked. Very aggressive. Good downhill angle from a guy who’s not tall in stature. He pitched a lot taller than he was height-wise, and got after it.”

Taillon, coming off a solid outing in a win in Arizona last week, had plenty of swing-and-miss stuff – he recorded seven strikeouts in five innings – but had no answer for Aguilar. Lorenzo Cain led off the game with an infield single and two batters later Aguilar put one in the seats to put Milwaukee up 2-0.

”Jesus is a good hitter,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. ”He’s been a good hitter since the day we got him. I think he’s improving. He’s a hitter that understands pitching. He understands what they’re trying to do to him. He’s got experience now against the league a little bit. The league’s kind of adjusted to him and he’s been able to adjust back.”

A nearly identical sequence happened in the third. Cain reached on an infield hit and Aguilar laced the ball to left with Cain easily beating the throw home.

”Both times hanging breaking balls to Aguilar after an infield hit, he did what he should have done with them Donald Trump Jersey ,” Taillon said.

OH SAY CAN YOU SEE

Pirates reliever Steven Brault moonlights as the front man in a rock band called The Street Gypsies. He found himself in front of a microphone on Tuesday night, only this time the audience wasn’t a night club but PNC Park. The 26-year-old belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” before first pitch, delivering on a promise he made to his grandmother.

”I think it went pretty well,” Brault said. ”I was a little more nervous than I thought I would be leading into it. I was fine, and then when I started singing, I was like `Oh, this is pretty cool.”’

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (right rotator cuff inflammation) was scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday night.

Pirates: OF Austin Meadows was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight game while dealing with a right foot injury suffered when he fouled a ball off it on Sunday. Meadows entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and struck out to end the inning with runners on second and third.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Brent Suter will make his first career start against the Pirates in the series finale on Wednesday. Suter is 5-1 with a 3.24 ERA in his last six starts and 7-4 with a 4.30 ERA overall.

Pirates: Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.76) is unbeaten against Milwaukee, going 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA. The Pirates are 6-0 overall in games Kuhl has started against the Brewers.



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