The Brewers and Reds -- two teams that are expected to be in the running when pennant races heat up later this year -- have started their seasons quite differently, with Milwaukee far exceeding expectations and Cincinnati falling a little short.
The Brewers no doubt looked good on paper coming out of Spring Training, but few could have guessed they'd surge so far ahead as to have an eye-popping 20-8 record at the end of April.
The Reds, on the other hand, are still looking for that first hot streak, but are still very much a presence in the National League Central, despite finishing April three games under .500.
The Reds struck first with an 8-3 victory Thursday in the opener of a four-game set, but the series presents an opportunity for the Brewers to pad their lead in the NL Central, while the Reds have an opportunity to knock them down a few notches.
So, is this, by the Reds' estimation, a "big" series?
"I really look at how our team performs, more so than anything else," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The one thing that we can control is our preparation and performance. We can't control if we do well in this series against Milwaukee. They could go someplace else and win 10 straight or lose 10 straight. It would be a lot nicer to be closer to them or ahead of them, but we're not. Really, the focus is completely on our club."
On the other side, the Brewers will spend their May trying not to have a repeat performance of last year, when they came out like gangbusters in April only to lose 22 of their first 27 games in May.
For now, they're simply focused on putting together the fast start they were hoping for.
"We had the injuries but to do what we've done so far ... we wanted to get off to a good start," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We talked about it at the end of the season last year and again in Spring Training. It doesn't always go that way and it's nice to start this way."
Brewers: Peralta looks for Cincinnati win
Wily Peralta is off to an impressive start with a 3-1 record and 2.56 ERA, but when he takes the mound Friday night, he'll be looking to do something he hasn't yet -- win in Cincinnati.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.32 ERA over four career starts at Great American Ball Park. He's allowed eight earned runs over 21 1/3 innings.
If Peralta wins his start against the Reds, it will be his fourth win in six outings. He pitched well his last time out but did not get any run support, allowing three runs over seven innings in a 4-0 defeat against the Cubs.
Reds: Leake coming off so-so start
Right-hander Mike Leake will face the Brewers and try to rebound from giving up a career-high-tying three homers during a 4-1 loss to the Braves on Saturday. On two of the homers -- third-inning back-to-back shots by Justin Upton and Evan Gattis -- Leake missed his location. Overall, he allowed four runs and eight hits over seven innings. Twelve of the 15 runs against him this season have come via his six home runs allowed.
"Pitches were left where they could hit it, mistakes," Leake said.
If there was a silver lining from the outing, Leake faced one over the minimum batters (14) for the rest of the game after the third-inning homers. Lifetime against Milwaukee, Leake is 1-0 with a 4.55 ERA in five starts.
• The Reds placed left-handed starter Tony Cingrani on the 15-day disabled list Thursday because of left shoulder tendinitis. Reliever Curtis Partch's recall from Triple-A Louisville gives the Cincinnati bullpen eight pitchers.
• The Brewers (17-0) and Royals (14-0) are the only two teams in the Majors this season without a loss when scoring at least four runs in a game.
• Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer, recovering from a right hamstring strain, began a rehab assignment on Monday with Class A Brevard County and was transferred to Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday. He's likely to come off the DL on Saturday when eligible.
• Brewers pitching prospect Hiram Burgos hit the Triple-A DL Thursday with a shoulder strain. The Brewers plan to be careful with him because of shoulder fatigue last year.