MILWAUKEE -- Colin Moran's homered in both games of the Pirates' series here at Miller Park, three times in his past four games, five times in his past nine games.
That's a pace, I'd say, that commands some respect.
"He's working hard, and he's trying to hunt pitches that he likes to hit. And not miss it," Clint Hurdle was saying after the 5-3 loss to the Brewers, one in which Moran's two-run shot in the second inning would account for two-thirds of his team's offense. "That, for me, would probably be where I'd go with the conversation. He's just trying to get his swing off early with pitches that he likes."
Yeah, it's what new hitting coaches Rick Eckstein and Jacob Cruz have been preaching up and down the lineup. It's why Josh Bell and Bryan Reynolds, among others, have praised them. They enter an at-bat with a specific plan for a specific pitch area from a pitcher -- the hot zone, as they're calling it -- focus like a laser on that area, and wallop away when the ball comes.
Like the one Saturday, off a 2-1 Zach Davies sinker that didn't sink below knee level:
Count Moran among the converted. Because the power's always been part of his package, dating to his time in the Astros' minor-league system -- lots of momentum through the swing path, swooping launch angle -- but the same can't be spoken for the productivity and consistency. Until the past 20 games, in which, in addition to the home runs, he's batted .343 -- 24 for 70 -- with 18 RBIs.
The key, to hear him tell it, also sounds a lot like Bell and Reynolds.
"It's about keeping the same approach, not changing all the time," Moran would say after this game. "I've kind of scrapped thinking about mechanics, actually. It's more about approach. Honestly, I'm sure mechanics work for some guys because everyone gets out of whack every once in a while. But that can be too much for me. I'm trying to stick with this, to trust it."
That remark got me to wondering: Does Moran consider his swing to be long?
Without posing as some hitting coach, I see a lot of length in the swing, reminiscent of Adam LaRoche. And Hurdle himself mentioned the need to "get his swing off early." So I thought it'd be fair to ask Moran what he thought of that, seeing that the hit-the-area approach would appear to be of great assistance to someone who gets that bat rolling earlier than, say, the super-compact Adam Frazier.
Appreciated the response:
Moran isn't exactly the excitable sort, as everyone who follows the team is aware and the video above illustrates. But be sure he welcomed the word from Hurdle earlier in the day that, even with Jung Ho Kang rejoining the team after raking with Class AAA Indianapolis, the starting third base job is his.
Fine time to plant another ball over another fence.