Lewis Brinson had gone 25 straight at bats without a hit — nary a blooper, Baltimore chop, seeing-eye single, flare, bunt or squib — when he stepped to the plate in Friday’s fourth inning, swung at a 3-0 pitch, and made contact.
Well, not hard contact.
The ball dribbled a few feet in front of the plate, was scooped up by the Pirates catcher, and was thrown to first for the easy out. His slump had stretched to 0 for 26.
It was then that veteran teammate Cameron Maybin approached the rookie with some words of comfort and wisdom.
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“He’s, like, ‘Listen, it can’t get much worse than that. Good things will come. Now you’re about to come out of it,' ” Brinson recalled.
And sure enough, Brinson singled sharply to left in his next at bat to snap one of the longest hitless streaks in Marlins history. (The team record belongs to Justin Ruggiano, who in 2013 went 0 for 42, three off the Major League record.)
“That definitely felt good,” Brinson said.
Brinson, one of the prized prospects in the Marlins’ trade with the Brewers for Christian Yelich, has struggled mightily so far. He took a .151 average with no extra base hits into Saturday. Four of his eight hits came in one game, the second game of the season.
“You go through stuff, and you want to do well, and you want to do well everyday to end it and get it out of the way,” Brinson said of going through his long dry spell.
Brinson put in extra time in the batting cages, listened to the advice of the Marlins’ hitting coaches, watched video, did all the little things a hitter in a severe slump is supposed to do to end the thing.
Opposing pitchers were feeding him a steady diet of breaking balls, knowing it to be one of his weaknesses.
“That’s been my whole career, though,” Brinson said. “They’ve been doing that since I was in Low-A. Especially a tall, lanky guy like myself. I think the book is just to go away.”
So Brinson made adjustments with his swing.
“Just for me, letting the ball get a little deeper, lengthening my swing a little bit, trying to keep the barrel in the zone a little longer,” he said. “Nothing drastic.”
Now, at least, Brinson’s hitless streak is over.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “But I think we’re on the right track.”
Straily back on mound
His pitching line was an eyesore. But his arm felt perfectly fine.
That was the takeaway from Dan Straily’s first rehab outing Friday with Single A Jupiter, when the pitcher gave up seven runs on five hits, including a pair of homers, in only 2 2/3 innings. Straily also walked three batters.
While the results weren’t pretty, Straily was pleased with how his arm felt. He’s been on the disabled list since spring training with right forearm inflammation.
“You never want to give up runs at any level,” Straily said. “But, at the same time, mission accomplished. I threw 60 pitches, walked away healthy, walked away feeling great. That was the objective.”
Straily is scheduled for another rehab outing on Wednesday.
A series of miscues added up to a strange play in the Marlins’ 7-2 win over the Pirates.
Three runs scored on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly due to a throwing error.
“All the runs scored,” Castro said of his routine, bases-loaded fly ball. “It was weird. I’ve never seen that happen.”
Castro received credit for only one RBI.