CINCINNATI -- The hits had been falling more regularly for veteran Brewers infielder Aaron Hill, but no one could have predicted three home runs and seven RBIs on a single night.
"I don't know if I can predict that," manager Craig Counsell said. "That's like seeing a dolphin in Lake Michigan or something like that."
Turns out that Counsell had been planning that quote, part of a clubhouse effort to plant a word of the day in their comments following a win. Saturday's word was "dolphin," and the game was a win thanks to Hill's franchise-record-tying performance in a 10-inning, 13-7 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
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Hill hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to make it 6-5, a solo home run in the eighth to make it 6-6, and a go-ahead grand slam in the 10th off Reds reliever Caleb Cotham to make it 10-6. Hill tied the franchise records for home runs and RBIs, matching the mark in both categories last reached by Ryan Braun on April 8, 2014 at Philadelphia.
It marked the ninth seven-RBI performance in Brewers history, and the 20th three-homer game. Hill set personal bests in both categories; he hit two home runs in a game on five previous occasions, and he had never driven in more than four runs.
"He has an advantage," said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who has a pair of seven-RBI games to his credit. "He has old man strength and dad strength. You can write that. That's a huge advantage."
A night like this had been brewing for some time for Hill. Through April 29, he was hitting .164 with a .435 OPS, but he doubled on April 30 to start a hitting streak that has reached eight games. Hill is 12-for-29 during the streak, which was mostly comprised of singles until his breakthrough Saturday night.
He did make a subtle adjustment, widening his stance at the plate. But mostly, Hill said, it was a matter of sticking to his process.
"The swing was right, it was staying patient and hoping things work out," Hill said. "It was more getting the feel back. I could feel it in [batting practice], but it wasn't transferring into the game yet. It was nice to feel. We'll see where it goes from here."
Hill, 34, is the third-oldest player on the team behind 38-year-old Chris Caupano and fellow 34-year-old Blaine Boyer. To have a night like Saturday, Hill said, "is fun. Obviously, when you contribute and the team wins, it's always a plus.
"Hopefully, we'll come out [Sunday] and do our thing. Guys swung the bats well tonight. We'll go tomorrow, then head to Miami and maybe some of the guys will be swimming with dolphins."
Dolphins again. The Brewers have been having fun after recent victories by planting a word of the day into their postgame comments, and after Counsell's opening answer about Lake Michigan, it was clear that Saturday's winner was "dolphin."
Said starter Jimmy Nelson of Hill: ""He's a very smart guy. He's as intelligent as a dolphin. … I'm serious. I've been thinking about cerebral creatures."
Closer Jeremy Jeffress was even more direct, calling after a retreating reporter, "But dolphin, though!"