MILWAUKEE -- When Bryan Reynolds is at his most razor-sharp, his strike zone is roughly the size of the ball itself.
"I just try to lock in on the ball and see it up in the zone, in my zone," he was illustrating for me with his right forefinger and thumb separated by a couple inches, this after the Pirates' 10-4 loss to the Brewers on this Friday night at Miller Park. "The only times I get in trouble are when I expand and try to cover everything. Find the pitcher's hot zone, lock in, swing when you get it."
It should. That's how Josh Bell's been describing his own zone for months and, along the way, he's credited the team's new hitting coaches, Rick Eckstein and Jacob Cruz. They do the studying of opposing pitchers, they size up the box, they convey the box, and the hitters attack it.
"It's how they approach it," Reynolds added. "They're really into it."
I'm running out of superlatives for this kid. Not just for his .350/.407/.562 slash line. Not just for his otherworldly poise on and off the field. Not just for being all that as a rookie.
But mostly because he's relentless in all of that.
Seriously, has there been a slump of any kind?
In this game, he blistered two RBI doubles ...
... to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and, as much as it's humanly possible for any hitter to do these days, kept the Pirates in range.
I asked Clint Hurdle if he's seen any traces of a slump, and he initially joked -- I think -- that he was the one, not Reynolds, who ended Reynolds' 11-game hitting streak to open his career by utilizing him in the 12th game as an unsuccessful pinch-hitter.
"So yeah," Hurdle added, "he had the 11-game streak that I broke up, and now he's got a 15-game streak. There's not much room in between, is there?"
Nope. Reynolds has logged 42 games, which leaves only the middle 16 to examine. In those, he went 10 for 44, a hardly horrific .227 clip, with two home runs and five RBIs.
"It's kinda nuts," Hurdle continued. "Again tonight, a couple sweet swings."
Again Saturday, I'll bet. And Sunday. And on down to Atlanta and Miami and beyond.
• It's not just wasting Josh Bell, the way this season's going. It's wasting Reynolds, as well. Since Reynolds' arrival April 20, the three highest batting averages in the majors belong to the Rockies' Nolan Arenado at .363, Reynolds at .350 and Bell at .344. These are two special offensive seasons being Neverauskas-ed to death.
• I'm somewhat sympathetic to Colin Moran for this rather unattractive error in the seventh ...
... mostly because, even though he's a third baseman aligned at shortstop in a shift against the left-handed hitting Eric Thames, he didn't for a second deny the responsibility was his. Hurdle had already assessed in the manager's office that, "If you ask Colin, he'll tell you that's his catch." And when I found Moran and asked exactly that, his reply was, "My catch all the way."
OK, if everyone insists, then it's an E5 in shallow center field.
• Kevin Newman might or might not become the mainstay at short, but he sure isn't hurting his cause by stroking a smooth, almost silent home run -- ball met barrel that squarely -- off Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff to open the sixth inning. Or by slashing .292/341/.416 despite a slow early April.
What's pressing now is what to do with Cole Tucker. He's a mildly encouraging 8 for 23 and, trust me, his spirits have stayed high through the struggles, reaffirmed through a fun talk we had here before the game. But he's got to play. It's one thing to promote a prospect based on an emergency need and deal with the consequences. It's another thing to have him sit here idle.
He'll have to go back soon.
• The Brewers are based in a market two-thirds the size of Pittsburgh, yet have a payroll roughly 50 percent larger than the Pirates. And that's not the only reason they've got an owner who's a billion times more beloved:
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio and outfielders Ryan Braun and Christian Yelich purchased groceries for customers at the Pick 'n Save at 2201 Miller Park Way. Virtually every member of the Brewers organization spread out across the city... https://t.co/zVurDbHswe
— JSOnline - Brewers (@js_brewers) June 7, 2019
It always starts at the top. The people here know Mark Attanasio cares. They see him everywhere, through town and through the aisles of Miller Park. They also see him backing his words with deeds.
Funny thing: I'll bet the Brewers actually make more money than the Pirates do, too. With no one here begrudging them a penny of that profit.
What a concept.
Here's my full Grind on the game.
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