Reynolds' big blasts key Brewers win over Reds
JUL 23, 2014 7:15p ET
"Hey, Grrrrumpy is back!"
Reynolds, known to his teammates as Grumpy, broke out of his prolonged slump in a big way Wednesday afternoon, connecting for a pair of home runs to help the Milwaukee Brewers to a 5-1 victory and a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park.
After hitting a combined 12 home runs in April and May, Reynolds had hit just one since June 2 prior to Wednesday's big day.
"I mean, I was hoping (for) something eventually," Reynolds said when asked if he thought a break out would be coming. "I was making some adjustments to quiet my head down. And you just remember it's a game and to have fun."
Reynolds entered Wednesday with just three hits in his last 38 at-bats and hitting .091 in July. A streaky offensive player for most of his career, Reynolds usually at least knocks a few balls out of the park if he is in a slump.
But that hasn't been the case in June and July, as Reynolds had just one home run in his last 119 plate appearances.
"It was brutal, man," Reynolds said. "That's really all I can say. It was brutal."
Though the entire body of work isn't comparable, Jonathan Lucroy snapped out of a 3-for-30 slump at the plate with a pair of home runs Tuesday night against the Reds. While getting Lucroy going is obviously important because he hits in the middle of the lineup, Milwaukee would greatly benefit from any kind of production from Reynolds.
Milwaukee's first-base platoon of Reynolds and Lyle Overbay came into Wednesday's game hitting .138 with two home runs and nine RBI in July. With the trade deadline looming in eight days, first base has been identified by many as an area where the Brewers can improve.
But with not much out there on the market at first base, having an in-house option catch fire would go a long ways.
"Hopefully this is the start of one of those good streaks," manager Ron Roenicke said of Reynolds. "We knew it was going to come. Hopefully this starts it."
Though the Brewers had the lead at the time of Reynolds' first home run, his 410-foot shot to left off Reds starter Mike Leake turned a one-run game into a 4-1 lead for the Brewers. His homer off reliever Jumbo Diaz in the eighth added another insurance run and prevented Roenicke from having to use closer Francisco Rodriguez for the third consecutive day.
Despite hitting his 15th and 16th homers of the season to tie Khris Davis for the team lead, Reynolds wasn't ready to declare his slump to be over quite yet.
"One game obviously will get your confidence going, but you'd like to see a stretch of consistency," Reynolds said. "That's kind of been my thing my whole career, it's been up and down, up and down. Hopefully I can kind of clear my head with this game and stay as consistent as I can the rest of the year."
After losing 11 of 12 prior to the All-Star break, the Brewers have now won five of their last seven games. The sweep of Cincinnati pushes the Reds to 5 1/2 games back, while Milwaukee's division lead over St. Louis will either be 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 games depending on how the Cardinals fare Wednesday night.
With the Reds missing the big bats of second baseman Brandon Phillips and first baseman Joey Votto, the Brewers capitalized and also found a way to score runs against a tough Cincinnati pitching staff.
"It's huge," Reynolds said of the sweep. "We've been scuffling, obviously, since before the break, and to get a couple of wins in a row and kind of get that feeling back in here that we expect to win every game.
"Every team goes through it, but ours was a little prolonged. We're going to come out here tomorrow with the same mentality and try to win games."
Jeffress opens eyes: Besides the excitement of completing a series sweep over a division rival, the Brewers clubhouse was buzzing over the impression right-hander Jeremy Jeffress made in the ninth inning Wednesday.
Entering with a four-run lead, Jeffress worked a perfect inning.
He hit 97 mph on the radar gun on the first batter he faced, worked his way up to 99 mph with the second hitter and retired Skip Schumaker on a 100 mph fastball to end the game.
"That's some nice stuff there," Roenicke said. "Power arm, it's got movement on it. Strikes. You couldn't impress more than he did in that inning.
"Everything was down low. Got a couple breaking balls up, one he threw down nice. It looks like an easy delivery, and man, that ball comes out and it's not straight. It's got movement on it."
It was Jeffress' first big-league outing since April 4. He was designated for assignment by Toronto shortly thereafter and was claimed off waivers by the Brewers. After spending most of the season with Triple-A Nashville, Jeffress was called up Monday.
Milwaukee's first-round pick in 2006, Jeffress made his big-league debut with the Brewers in 2010.
"Felt amazing, I can tell you that," Jeffress said. "Nerves a little bit, but to be honest I felt very comfortable. Once I got that first pitch out of the way, it was great."
The Brewers are hoping Jeffress can provide them with a reliable right-handed reliever out of the bullpen. With Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg on the disabled list, Milwaukee has not had a power right-handed arm to turn to late in games.
"Man, that's a breath of fresh air right there," Reynolds said of Jeffress. "He's always had the stuff, but to come in and throw strikes, that's huge for him. I'm sure he felt good being back out there. To see a guy throwing 98, 100 mph late in the game is welcomed by any team. Hopefully he figured it out down in the minor leagues, and he can be a big addition to our club."
Gennett sits: Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett was not available Wednesday after leaving Tuesday night's game with a strained right quadriceps.
The injury first popped up on the second baseman last Saturday in Washington and became worse when he tried to leg out an infield single Tuesday. Roenicke anticipates Gennett missing at least a couple of days to prevent the tightness from becoming anything worse.
"Like anything else, when it's sore and doesn't feel good, that's when you're prone to something serious happening," Gennett said. "You're preventing something serious from happening, if that means a day or two, I'm fine with that."
Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter