Work pays off for Adames in historic 7-RBI game

April 27th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Willy Adames put in the work with the Brewers coach who knows him best. Then, he watched that work pay dividends.

Coming off a series of afternoon sessions with hitting coach Ozzie Timmons over the past week, Adames erupted for two home runs, four hits including three for extra bases and a franchise record-tying seven RBIs in the Brewers’ 12-8 win over the Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park.

Adames and the Brewers set a season high for runs, logged double-digit hits for the first time since Opening Day and picked up starter Brandon Woodruff on a night the right-hander needed 95 pitches to record 12 outs and twice saw a lead slip away.

“I know we may not have been hitting collectively as a group, but all it takes is that one, and tonight the team as a whole got after it,” Woodruff said. “We saw it last year -- the energy [Adames brings] every day. He wants to win, and you just never know when those firecrackers are going to go off like they did tonight.”

Adames homered in his final at-bat of Monday’s loss to the Giants at home and kept hitting on Tuesday. He hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, a two-run double in the fifth and -- after the Pirates rallied against Woodruff and Brent Suter to tie the game at 4 -- a game-breaking, three-run home run to punctuate the Brewers’ six-run sixth.

Adames became the first player in MLB to drive in at least seven runs in a game this season, and the 11th Brewers player to match the club record for RBIs. Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun each did so twice.

The only other Brewers shortstop to drive in seven runs in a game is Jose Hernández, who did it against the Astros in April 2001.

Did Adames sense a big night was coming?

“To be honest, no,” he said. “We've been working a lot, so I'm happy to see some results. I'm going to continue to work and to try to be better.”

By “we,” Adames was referring to coaches and support staff including Timmons. He goes back as far as 2015 with Adames, when Adames was beginning his first Spring Training in Tampa Bay’s Minor League system after coming over the year before from Detroit in the David Price trade, and Timmons was was one of the organization’s Minor League hitting coaches. In ‘17, Timmons was Adames’ hitting coach at Triple-A Durham. In ‘18, Adames made it to the Majors, and Timmons was there, serving in his first year as the Rays’ first-base coach and assistant hitting coach. 

Now, they are together again with the Brewers, who traded for Adames last May before hiring Timmons as co-hitting coach (with Connor Dawson) in November. 

“He knows my strengths, knows my weaknesses,” Adames said. “He knows who I am. He’s going to be there for me right away.”

What were they working on during those early batting practice sessions?

“Right now, I’m missing a little bit underneath the ball,” Adames said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m trying to balance out my swing, make it more flat. I’m working on squaring up the ball a little bit more and not missing those pitches I’ve been missing. I feel like I’m on time and everything now, I’m just missing pitches a little underneath. We’re working on that.”

Said Timmons: “Most of the time, it’s him telling me what he needs to do. That’s a good thing, that he has great self-awareness. So we did a little hot toss, thinking about hitting the top half of the ball, trying to create good backspin and hitting line drives. Then, as the game speeds up, the adrenaline kicks in and you get your path where you need to be.”

Adames had a productive start to this season with two doubles and a home run before the end of the Brewers’ fifth game, but then fell into a funk that prompted the early work with Timmons. Going into his final at-bat on Monday night in Milwaukee, Adames had five hits in his previous 42 at-bats (.119) and no extra-base hits.

Then he found his power stroke with a tying solo homer off Giants reliever Jake McGee for a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning of what became a 4-2 loss.

That positive result carried into Tuesday.

“I was sitting there 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, and Willy is over there going off, hitting another homer, and I was going, ‘Man, I want to enjoy it! I want to get in on this!’” said veteran Andrew McCutchen, who stole a base in the final inning to join Mike Trout as the only active players with 200 homers and 200 steals.

Can one player, and one game, be the spark that changes a team’s results?

“That’s the nature of it. That’s what happens,” McCutchen said. “You get off of your soapbox and you stop thinking so much and you go, ‘I want to get in on this, too.’”