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Cain's minor adjustment leads to 5-hit night

Brewers leave 15 men on base in series-opening loss to Phillies
@feinsand
May 14, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Lorenzo Cain knew something wasn’t right with his swing. It was just a matter of identifying what was wrong. The Brewers’ center fielder had hit safely in 10 of his past 13 games, but he didn’t have a multi-hit performance during that stretch, posting a subpar .172/.222/.276 slash

PHILADELPHIA -- Lorenzo Cain knew something wasn’t right with his swing. It was just a matter of identifying what was wrong.

The Brewers’ center fielder had hit safely in 10 of his past 13 games, but he didn’t have a multi-hit performance during that stretch, posting a subpar .172/.222/.276 slash line in the process.

More recently, Cain was mired in a 4-for-31 skid, producing three harmless singles without scoring a run in 15 at-bats over the weekend at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.

Frustrated by his lack of results, Cain dug out some old tape from his days in Kansas City, including footage from his first All-Star season in 2015. What he found may or may not be the turning point in his 2019 season, but for one night at Citizens Bank Park, it certainly seemed to make a difference for the 33-year-old, who recorded the first five-hit game of his career.

“I was raising my hands higher; it worked tonight, so we’re going to stay with it,” Cain said. “I just changed something with my swing today, got with [hitting coach] Andy [Haines] and worked on some different stuff in the cage. I had a good night, so hopefully that’s what I need.”

Cain’s 5-for-6 night included two doubles, a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base, but it wasn’t enough to get the Brewers back in the win column. Milwaukee dropped a 7-4 decision to the Phillies to open a four-game set, extending the Brewers’ losing streak to three.

Milwaukee had 12 hits and drew eight walks, but after scoring four runs in the first four innings, the Brewers were unable to scratch out another run, stranding 15 men on base.

“I feel like we most definitely should have won,” Cain said. “We had all the opportunities in the world, a lot of guys on base tonight. We just fell short. What can you do? We didn’t get it done when it mattered the most.”

Cain did his part Monday, adapting quickly to his new mechanical adjustment. After detecting the difference in his old swing and its current incarnation, Cain got to the ballpark and sought out Haines, eager to let the hitting coach in on his revelation.

“I was just looking at what my old swing looked like compared to now, and I noticed I’ve changed where my hands are and a few things in my swing,” Cain said. “I brought it to Andy when I got here today; we went over it, him and [assistant hitting coach Jason] Lane. We went into the cage and got to work.”

The results were immediate. Cain doubled to left-center to open the game, scoring the first run on Christian Yelich’s double. Cain singled to center in the second, then lined a double down the right-field line in the fourth, the hit that seemed to give him the most satisfaction.

“I did a great job of spraying the ball to the other side,” said Cain, who added a single to right field in the fifth inning. “I’ve always been able to do that pretty well. Getting back to my old approach is the main key, being on base as much as possible for these guys behind me.”

Indeed, Cain’s recent funk hadn’t become a concern for manager Craig Counsell, who said before the game that he remained confident in his leadoff hitter despite his numbers during the past week or two.

“He’s right there,” Counsell said prior to Cain’s big night. “I know the results haven’t been as good, but he’s doing every bit of what he did last year. He’s a ball-in-play guy; he’s going to continue to put the ball in play. Some days he’s going to find four holes and some days he’s not.”

After watching Cain reach base five times Monday, Counsell reiterated his pregame belief.

“It was good to see,” Counsell said. “The hits were going to fall in and they fell in tonight for him. Tough at-bats. He had a big game.”

The Phillies didn’t allow Yelich to do any damage after his big hit in the first inning, intentionally walking him twice after Cain reached base. The middle of the Brewers’ lineup didn’t give Philadelphia any reason to pitch to Yelich, coming up short time and time again after the initial scoring binge to start the game.

“We had a ton of opportunities and we weren’t able to get the hit to really break the game open; five or six at-bats to break the game open and we just couldn’t get it done,” Counsell said. “It’s a shame we wasted a great night from him.”

Despite establishing a new career-high with five hits, Cain downplayed the accomplishment as he and his teammates absorbed another defeat. On a personal note, he’s hopeful that Monday’s performance will be just the beginning for him as the Brewers look to get back on track.

“It’s always satisfying to see that, but in this game, you have to go out there and do it every day,” Cain said. “One day is nice, but I’ve got to show up and be ready to get out there, hopefully get some hits tomorrow, score a bunch of runs and win a game.”

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.