After a short three-game homestand, all victories, the D-backs hit the road for 11 games in 11 days, starting with four in Milwaukee. Their sweep of the White Sox propelled them to 10 games over .500 (29-19) for the first time since they won the National League West in 2011. As you might recall, that season came to an end in the NL Division Series at the hands of the Brewers, led by the PED-fueled Ryan Braun.
The D-backs are just 8-11 on the road, compared with 21-8 at home, and the offense has struggled to produce. But manager Torey Lovullo says they will approach the season's longest road trip no differently than their normal day-to-day preparation.
"I try to do the same thing every day, I don't try to change much, and I expect the players to do the same thing," Lovullo said. "I know that our road record isn't perfect, but I feel like they need to resist trying to do anything different than they've done all season long. I think that worm will turn on the road."
The Brewers (25-21) are surprising leaders in the NL Central, but their lead has shrunk to a half-game after three consecutive losses -- one to the Cubs and two to the Blue Jays.
D-backs starting pitcher Robbie Ray (3-3, 3.91 ERA)
Ray is coming off his best outing of the season on Saturday in San Diego, limiting the Padres to two hits and three walks over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory. He retired 14 of the first 15 hitters and lowered his ERA from 4.57 to 3.91. His six strikeouts matched his second-lowest total of the season, but no one was complaining.
"Robbie did a great job controlling the game," Lovullo said. "He had better tempo throughout his delivery. That resulted in pounding the strike zone."
Ray has been a much better pitcher on the road this year -- going 2-1 with a 1.03 ERA in four starts. He has one career start against the Brewers, getting charged for five runs in 5 2/3 innings last July. He struck out 11 and left the game with a 3-2 lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it.
Davies, who attended Mesquite High School in Gilbert, is 5-0 in his last six starts, though he hasn't exactly been unhittable. He gave up 37 hits, 11 walks and 12 runs over 32 innings in those six starts, which works out to a .291 batting average. But he has been the beneficiary of some some exceptional run support from a Brewers' lineup that supplied 44 runs in those starts.
His most recent outing against the Padres last Thursday marked the first time all season he made it through six innings. He limited them to five hits, two walks and two runs over six innings in a 4-2 victory.
Davies has made one career start against the D-backs, with Ray as the opposing pitcher. He got credit for the victory, surrendering six hits, one walk and three runs (two earned) over 6 1/3 innings.
Benny SieuBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Like the Diamondbacks, the Brewers have enjoyed some unexpected success at the start of the season. "I think we're coming out, enjoying being together, trying to win a good baseball game and trying to get everyone to be their best version of their self," manager Craig Counsell said. "That part's been fun. We're enjoying what we're doing. That's the biggest thing."
Offense has carried them through the early season, and like the D-backs, it's coming from up and down the lineup. First baseman Eric Thames, a low-cost off-season signee from the Korean league, was April's revelation with 11 homers in his first 20 games, but he has just two since while battling a hamstring problem. He's gone 10 games without a home run.
Center fielder Keon Broxton and first baseman Jesus Aguilar have picked up the slack. Broxton, a third-round draft choice of the D-backs in 2009, is 24 for 68 (.353) with four homers and 10 extra-base hits and four home runs since May 4. Aguilar, filling in for Thames, is 9 for 22 (.409) with seven extra-base hits in his last nine games.
USA TODAY SportsBenny Sieu
On the road again
The D-backs' offensive struggles away from Chase Field have been well-chronicled, though the bats started to show some life last week in San Diego. They're up to a .223 team batting average and 3.6 runs per game on the road, compared with .295 and 6.0 at home.
Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .234 with three home runs on the road, but a visit to Miller Park could be just the tonic to perk those numbers up. In 16 career games at Milwaukee, he's a .500 hitter (34 for 68) with seven home runs and nine doubles.
Jake Lamb is one D-back whose offense has traveled well. He's hitting .290 with five homers and 16 RBI on the road, and he arrives in Milwaukee as one of baseball's hottest hitters. Since May 12, he is 17 for 42 (.405) with six home runs and 16 RBI.