MILWAUKEE — The month of May has been good so far for Zach Davies, and the Milwaukee Brewers’ young right-hander will try to stay on the uptick Thursday in the opener of a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park.
Davies started the season with an 0-3 record and 8.79 ERA. He has gone 5-0 with a 3.94 ERA in six starts since but hasn’t exactly been sharp in each of those games. Opponents are batting .291 against him during that stretch with 11 walks and 26 strikeouts.
Still, it has been good enough to get the job done — especially with a Brewers offense that has bordered on explosive for much of the season.
“If the team’s within striking distance, it’s going to happen,” said Davies, who logged his first quality start of the season his last time out by holding the San Diego Padres to two runs, five hits and two walks in six innings at San Diego.
“There’s no quit in the team. I said it in spring training and I’ll continue to say it — we’re going to surprise some people. We’re on that trend and we’re going to keep on that trend.”
Milwaukee returned from an rain-abbreviated, six-game road trip alone in first place atop the National League Central, but after dropping two games to Toronto, the Brewers’ lead has shrunk to a half-game.
“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.”
The Diamondbacks come to town on a roll. They finished a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon to move 10 games above .500 for the first time since 2011. They have won eight of their last nine overall, as well as 11 of their last 14 to move within two games of the first-place Colorado Rockies in the NL West.
Arizona will be without outfielder A.J. Pollock, who has been on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right groin. He is eligible to return Friday, but he will need more time for rehab.
“He is not going to be with us on this road trip,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “Now if he joins us, that will be determined by the medical team. I don’t know that answer.
“I think what we’ll do is get feedback from A.J. and feel out what his comfort level is when he’s ready, what he wants to do and let the medical team determine what the best solution is. And (we’ll) give all that information to the front office and let them decide what the best plan is. The last I heard, he was not coming on this trip at all, but in this game, things happen.”
Left-hander Robbie Ray gets the nod for Arizona in the opener. He is looking to build off an impressive showing his last time out when he worked 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory over the Padres.
Ray retired 14 of his first 15 batters and allowed just two hits with three walks and six strikeouts, lowering his ERA from 4.57 to 3.91.
“Robbie did a great job controlling the game,” Lovullo said after that effort. “He deserves a lot of credit. He had better tempo throughout his delivery. That resulted in pounding the strike zone.”
Ray has made just one career start against the Brewers, allowing five runs, five hits and two walks but struck out 11 in 5 2/3 innings last July at Miller Park. He left that game with a 3-2 lead, but the Diamondbacks’ bullpen couldn’t hold it.