MILWAUKEE — Don’t look now, but Eric Thames is heating up again and it couldn’t be happening at a better time for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers continue their three-game “road” series with the Miami Marlins on Saturday evening at Miller Park.
Thames has homered in three consecutive games, and he doubled, homered and drew a walk Friday night in the series opener. He has hit in five straight games, producing seven hits in those games, providing reason to believe he’s snapping out of another lengthy slump.
“This is what you need this time of the year,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re going need to some players to step up. That’s what has to happen. Eric has certainly stepped up the last couple days.”
Back in the majors after spending the last three seasons playing in Korea, Thames burst back onto the scene in April with 11 home runs and a 1.276 OPS. But he cooled off significantly in May and June, batting .189 with nine homers and 21 RBI, but after bouncing back with a solid July (.284/4 HR/.861 OPS), Thames slumped again in August and started losing playing time to Jesus Aguilar and newly-acquired Neil Walker.
Now, with a chance at the playoffs on the horizon, Thames is back to playing at his early season levels and looking to finish strong.
“All the work’s been paying off,” Thames said. “It’s kind of cool. … Hopefully, I can keep it going.”
Another Thames outburst would be helpful to Zach Davies, who takes the mound Saturday looking for his second win of the season against Miami and his 17th overall in 2017.
He’s closing out the season strong and comes into the game with a 4-2 record and 1.14 ERA in his last six starts.
With Jimmy Nelson out for the season because of a shoulder injury, Davies suddenly finds himself as the de facto staff ace as the Brewers try and chase down the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central title or the Rockies for an NL wild-card spot.
“We’re going to continue battling,” Davies said. “That’s exactly what we’ve done all year and that’s the way we’re going to treat September. We’ve got two options, so whatever comes first and however it lines up, we’re going to try to make the playoffs that way.”
Adam Conley will start for Miami, which is in search of his first victory since Aug. 20.
Since that outing, Conley has gone 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA. During that stretch, opponents have hit .321 against him with six home runs.
In four career starts against the Brewers, Conley is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA, including a 1-0 record and 3.18 ERA in two starts at Miller Park.
He threw 7 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball in his last start at Milwaukee, striking out seven with four walks before he was pulled after his 116th pitch of the night back in April 2016.
“I’d like to repeat that,” Conley said.
He and the Marlins were expecting to be back home in Miami this weekend, but they’re adjusting to playing in Milwaukee after the series was relocated because of cleanup efforts after Hurricane Irma slammed south Florida earlier in the week.
“Living this lifestyle, there are certain things you just need to be able to put up with, and although a hurricane is unique and your plans to go back may be unique, our day-to-day life is not really changed in any way,” Conley said.