CINCINNATI — Khris Davis has let his bat do the talking all season long.
First, he used a barrage of home runs in spring training to force the Milwaukee Brewers to keep him on their opening-day roster. Now he’s using a monthlong hot streak offensively that’s included a steady diet of power to claim the starting spot in left field.
Davis hit a pair of two-run home runs Friday night, including a go-ahead shot in the eighth inning, to propel the Brewers to a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
They were Davis’ seventh and eighth homers in 74 major-league at-bats, meaning he’s going deep every 9.3 at-bats. He’s also leading the Brewers in hitting at .338, slugging .730 and getting on base at a .412 clip.
“He’s making me put him in there every day,” manager Ron Roenicke said.
“I don’t see any flaws in him right now offensively. I mean, he’s really doing a good job. He goes up there and battles. We’ve got some other guys that swing hard, but it’s different with him because he sees the spin well. He’s going to chase one once in a while — everybody does — but consistently he’s laying off the bad pitch, which is getting him ahead in the count.
“And when he gets that ball where he wants it, it’s fun to watch.”
One month ago Davis hit his first major-league homer at Miller Park. He had just rejoined the Brewers for the third time this season from Class AAA Nashville, but under much different circumstances in the wake of Ryan Braun’s season-ending suspension.
At that time, Davis was one of three players fighting to replace Braun in left along with Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl.
Gindl swung a hot bat initially to earn the bulk of the playing time but cooled about the same time Davis was heating up. Gindl was eventually sent back down to Nashville when the Brewers reinstated Aramis Ramirez from the disabled list, and the job has been Davis’ ever since.
He’s hitting .386 (22 for 57) in 23 games since rejoining the Brewers.
Davis’ 2-for-3 night extended his hitting streak to nine games, during which he’s gone 14 for 30 with five homers, nine runs batted in and nine runs scored.
The consistent playing time has been a huge help for Davis, who struggled initially this season as a pinch-hitter.
“Confidence is a feeling, but I also get my confidence from getting prepared in BP and day to day, just working on what I need to work on,” Davis said. “Have a plan to be successful.”
Milwaukee was trailing, 2-1, in the sixth when Davis hit his first homer. With Ramirez on third base, Davis crushed a 96 mph fastball from Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey 428 feet out to right-center to put the Brewers back in front, 3-2.
“Runner on third, less than two (outs) with Bailey, I was just trying to battle and put the ball in play,” he said. “I just got one and didn’t miss it, really. He came with all fastballs, in and out, and I just got one in play.”
Brandon Phillips tied the game in the bottom of the frame with a solo homer off Yovani Gallardo, and then it was Davis’ turn to grab the spotlight again.
This time it was in the eighth against reliever Alfredo Simon. Again with a runner on base, Davis hit a towering 413-foot blast to straightaway center.
“The second one was first pitch,” said Davis. “I was going up to the plate thinking I wasn’t going to give him a strike or anything; just be aggressive with that runner in scoring position. I don’t even know what it was, a cutter or something.”
The most important part to Davis was the fact that both homers gave his team the lead.
“That’s a good feeling because a lot of guys have smiles on their faces,” he said.
“Whatever I can do to help my teammates is amazing. It’s about them, really.”
Another rookie, second baseman Scooter Gennett, followed with a solo homer of his own two batters later that just cleared the right-field fence. It was reviewed by the umpires but stood up, giving the Brewers a 6-3 lead.
The Reds got one run back in the eighth against Brandon Kintzler, but Jim Henderson earned his 20th save by striking out the tying run in Joey Votto to end it.
Rob Wooten improved to 2-0 by pitching a scoreless seventh. Gallardo, meanwhile, allowed six hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over a workmanlike six-inning, 108 pitch outing.
“I thought ‘Yo’ threw the ball really well,” said Roenicke. “I thought he was down in the zone really well. Cutter was good, curveball was good, and he located his fastball. I liked what he did.”
Gallardo, while pleased with his performance, appeared to be even more happy with what Davis did with his bat.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Gallardo said with a smile. “He impressed a lot of people in the spring, and he’s doing it again now.”