4/11/2014 7:07 P.M. ET
Thornburg, Smith contribute to bullpen's early success
By JR Radcliffe / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Tyler Thornburg and Will Smith have been two key components to Milwaukee's early-season success, allowing just one earned run in 13 combined innings.
But even though the two could ultimately factor into the rotation conversation, bullpen coach Lee Tunnell said the relief experience wasn't coming at the cost of honing additional pitches and broadening their repertoire.
"They're both just kind of absorbing themselves in whatever role they have, and the rest will take care of itself. That's how you approach it," Tunnell said.
There was no secret, Tunnell said, to the bullpen's superb success over the first nine games, in which his relievers have combined for a Major League best 0.98 ERA, limiting opponents to .158 in the process.
"It's a day-by-day thing, and everybody wants the ball," Tunnell said. "It's a great group of guys, they pull for each other, they know their role, they're prepared. I don't think anybody in our organization would be surprised by what's happening."
Davis returns home on hot streak
MILWAUKEE -- Not every monster is frightening.
For Brewers outfielder Khris Davis, the presence of Fenway Park's fabled Green Monster in left field served as a steady backdrop to his 2014 season, the first as Milwaukee's every day left fielder.
"A lot of things can go right with that field," Davis said. "When something is really on top of you like that, it feels like a bigger background. It was just really easy to see the ball there. Yeah, there's a comfort with the Green Monster. It feels like everything is closer."
Davis used it to his advantage. After going hitless in the season-opening series against the Braves (0-for-8, with zero walks and four strikeouts), the right-handed batter has hit safely in the six games since. He doubled in his first at-bat in Boston and finished the road trip 12-for-28 with three RBIs, including a career-high four hits at Fenway on Saturday.
"When you go 0-for-however, you start to wonder when you're going to get your next hit," Davis said. "When it happened, it was a relief, sure. First one of the year."
Davis was part of last year's Opening Day roster but struggled out of the gate, going 3-for-16 in a reserve role with a pair of doubles, one walk and zero RBIs before being sent back to Triple-A Nashville. He rejoined the team in July (with a second trip to the Minors thrown in) and ultimately finished with 11 home runs, 27 RBIs, a .279 batting average and .949 OPS. He hit another 13 homers in the Minors.
Lucroy fills in for Peralta's usual catcher
MILWAUKEE -- For the first time in 18 Wily Peralta starts, it was Jonathan Lucroy starting behind the dish Friday, with Brewers manager Ron Roenicke electing to break up the familiar battery of Peralta and catcher Martin Maldonado.
Maldonado's only five at-bats this season came in his lone start, Peralta's first start of the year, last Saturday in Boston. But Lucroy is one of several batters swinging a hot bat, entering Friday's series hitting .371 with a home run, six doubles and a .436 on-base percentage.
"We feel Wily's throwing well enough where he doesn't have to be paired up," Roenicke said. "We may go back to it, but right now we've got Luc in there. We'll mix it up a little bit this year, at least that's what we plan to do."
Peralta went 7-7 last year with a 3.05 ERA in his final 16 starts, all with Maldonado at catcher.
• The Brewers entered Friday's series with 10 stolen bases and 14 overall attempts, second in baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (12 and 16) in both categories, and the Dodgers recently rattled off three swipes in four attempts Thursday alone against Detroit Tigers' slugger Victor Martinez, pressed into rare catching duty with his team playing in a National League park.
• If there was a sobering reality to the Brewers' six-game winning binge entering Friday, it was that last year's squad won nine straight games from April 14-23, the longest Milwaukee streak since 2003, and yet the squad was under .500 by May 4 (14-15) and finished the season 74-88.
Still, a win Friday would mean the Brewers would have their best start since Team Streak went 13-0 in 1987.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.