After an 11-4 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night, the plan for Wednesday was crystallized when the 24-year-old Thompson was named the starter. The native of Beaumont, Texas, is set to make his Major League debut in the finale of a four-game series with the red-hot Brewers at PNC Park.
"He showed some poise," manager Clint Hurdle said before the game of his memory of Thompson from Spring Training. "He showed some calmness on the mound. This season has been a little bit of a roller coaster for him. He's pitched very well as of late. The numbers, I don't think, are indicative of how he has pitched."
Thompson went 5-7 with a 4.63 ERA in 95 1/3 innings between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, and he's done particularly well for Indianapolis, allowing one run in 11 2/3 innings. Fourteen of Thompson's 31 appearances across the Minors this season have been in relief.
"I'm very excited to be up here," said Thompson, who was worried he was going to be sent back to Altoona. "Totally unexpected."
For Milwaukee, right-hander Shawn Marcum is the scheduled starter, and he's had Pittsburgh's number thus far in 2011. Marcum's allowed a combined one run in 14 2/3 innings in his two starts against the Pirates, and he took a no-decision after going 7 2/3 innings against them on Aug. 14, two starts ago.
Marcum's not the only member of the Brewers' staff, though, who's handled the Pirates well. The Brewers are 10-1 against Pittsburgh this season and have won two of the first three in this four-game set.
"They have been our Achilles' heel for years, and it's no different this year," Hurdle said. "We've got a challenging opportunity right here. They're hot, but this is life in the big leagues and the challenges that come with it."
The Brewers couldn't be having a much better August, with an 18-4 record. If they win out and no games are postponed, they would finish the month 24-4, which would equal the victories and the winning percentage posted by the Athletics in August 2002. Only two teams have done better in the month: the 1906 Cubs (26-3 and .897) and the 1936 New York Giants (24-3 and .889).
Brewers: Sports Illustrated comes calling
Milwaukee's boys of summer are on the cover of the nation's most prestigious sports magazine for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.
Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Nyjer Morgan are featured on the cover of the Aug. 29 issue of SI, with the headline "Living the High Life: How T-Plush and two Wallbanging MVP candidates are mixing a strange brew in Milwaukee."
The Brewers hadn't been on the cover alone since April 27, 1987, when a shot of Rob Deer advertised a story about Milwaukee's "Team Streak."
Pirates: Pearce to DL; Beimel designated for assignment
Utility man Steve Pearce went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a broken right index finger.
Pearce injured his finger when he dove for a ball in the eighth inning while playing third base on Monday. "It was hurting pretty bad when it happened," he said.
The Pirates needed a roster spot so Ross Ohlendorf could be activated and pitch on Tuesday, and Joe Beimel's spot was the one taken. Beimel was informed he had been designated for assignment after Monday's doubleheader.
"He gave it everything he had, but just wasn't as sharp as anyone wanted it at the end," Hurdle said. "He said he's healthy. He said he's just not pitching well. One of his comments was, 'I know I'm a better pitcher than this.' If he wants to continue, I hope there's another opportunity for him to continue."
Wednesday's game is the last of a six-day, seven-game road trip for the Brewers. They return to Miller Park for a six-game, seven-day homestand against the Cubs and Cardinals next. Pittsburgh goes on the road for a seven-game road trip in as many days to finish the month.
The Pirates are 14-6 when homering twice in a game.