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Mental break paying off at plate for Thames

Brewers first baseman has three home runs in as many starts
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- When Eric Thames wasn't getting the results he wanted at the plate, he took matters into his own hands by asking Brewers manager Craig Counsell for a few days to rest his head.

Since his return to action on Saturday, the slugging first baseman is showing a newfound confidence, recording a hit and a walk in each of his three starts, including two solo home runs in Milwaukee's 6-2 win over the Orioles on Tuesday.

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MILWAUKEE -- When Eric Thames wasn't getting the results he wanted at the plate, he took matters into his own hands by asking Brewers manager Craig Counsell for a few days to rest his head.

Since his return to action on Saturday, the slugging first baseman is showing a newfound confidence, recording a hit and a walk in each of his three starts, including two solo home runs in Milwaukee's 6-2 win over the Orioles on Tuesday.

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"Just like hearing Counsell's voice and how he was like, 'There's no pressure. Just relax. Just take a few days off. Breathe and get back to it.' I was like, 'All right.' So you know, I did," Thames said. "I relaxed for a few days. I was hanging out with [hitting coach Darnell Coles] a lot, talking mechanics."

Video: Thames on multi-homer game, All-Star selection

Thames was 3-for-37 with 17 strikeouts in his previous 10 games entering his return to the lineup Saturday, including a four-strikeout performance against the Reds on June 28. That stretch prompted him to ask for a mental break to flush the past two months from his memory.

Since his return, Thames has yet to strike out once, crediting his relaxed mindset to the pressure of the All-Star voting period being over.

"All of the All-Star Game stuff and all of the pressure stuff, let go. Now I'm just playing," Thames said.

Was he wondering if he would be make the All-Star team?

"Yeah," Thames said. "Everybody is human, that's it. It is what it is. Now, just trying to have fun and keep playing."

Thames' first home run Tuesday came in the fifth inning off an 84.3-mph splitter from Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who was coming off his best outing of the season. Thames smoked the ball a Statcast-projected 402 feet, with the ball leaving his bat at 105.7 mph, his fifth-hardest hit homer of the season.

His second homer in the seventh left his bat at an even faster rate, traveling a projected 388 feet at 108.3 mph, his third hardest-hit dinger of 2017.

"My pitches were a little bit high today compared to my last game," Jimenez said. "I wish I could take those pitches back, but there's no way to take those back. They have a good lineup and they make you pay for mistakes."

Entering 2017, Thames had 21 career homers combined in 181 games in his career. He now has 23 in 2017. Tuesday also marked his third multi-homer game of the season, with his last coming on April 24. Counsell praised Thames' refurbished plate patience, but he is wary to draw too much attention to it, given the slugger's incredible start to the season.

"He's had a couple of good days, for sure," Counsell said. "He's swinging the bat well. I'm going to caution everybody to not get too excited about the last week of April. I don't want to go back to expecting that. I don't think that's fair. But he looks good. He's swinging the bat well and having very good at-bats."

Carson Mason is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames