MINNEAPOLIS -- Martin Maldonado has only played 19 Major League games in his young career. But the 25-year-old catcher has already discovered a knack for clutch hits.
The Brewers knew they had a sure-handed backstop when they called Maldonado up on May 29, after Jonathan Lucroy broke his right hand. But Maldonado's hitting -- particularly in timely situations -- has been a revelation. He entered Friday's game with four home runs in 17 games. Three of the homers were of the go-ahead variety, while the fourth pulled Milwaukee to within a run of Pittsburgh on June 3.
"When a guy comes to the big leagues, you don't know what's going to happen," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He had a very good year offensively last year in Triple-A, which was really his first full season playing every day. He's fabulous defensively. He's got some huge hits in some key moments for us.
"He's very confident, and he's fun. The comments that he makes during the game -- he's relaxed and he can think, and actually make comments that mean a lot to what's going on in the game."
The latest example came in the ninth inning of Friday's 5-3 victory. Maldonado crushed a Matt Capps pitch for a two-run homer, putting the Brewers ahead for good.
"He's been huge in key situations," pitcher Yovani Gallardo said. "Whether it be driving a run in or just -- he's selective with pitches. With huge situations where we need a big hit, he's come through."
Maldonado's arm has also discouraged would be basestealers. Though opponents entered Saturday 4-for-6 against him in stolen-base attempts, the fact that runners have only tried six times in his 12 starts indicates how well they respect his throwing.
"Now we just need to get him to play good defense," Roenicke said sarcastically.