HOUSTON -- Last month, Jake Marisnick's season took such an unimpressive turn that the Astros optioned him to Triple-A Fresno as a performance casualty, hoping lower-level pitching would clear his mind and his bat would become rejuvenated.
Entering Tuesday's 7-0 win over the Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park, Marisnick's rough year had continued. His .176 batting average in 136 at-bats caused real concern. His strikeout total soared into the 60s. He had the fewest hits (24) of any Astros player with 100 or more at-bats.
What changes did Marisnick need to make?
"The biggest thing for me is approach right now," Marisnick said. "I've been feeling better in the last couple weeks here, slowly but surely. It's not something that happens overnight. I'm spending more time on that side of things, just locking down with my approach."
Then came Tuesday, a long-awaited night of success for the struggling outfielder.
Marisnick, who despite his low offensive output has remained as an option for the Astros because of his defense, clubbed a three-run home run and slapped a double in one of his most productive games of the season.
Was it refreshing?
"Yeah," said Marisnick, whose average rose to .187. "To go out and help this team win is great."
"He had a great day," manager AJ Hinch said. "Both sides of the ball, to be responsible for so many runs -- either putting on the board or taking off the board -- it's got to be a great feeling for him, and certainly something we've seen out of him before. It was very much needed at a time where it really helped us."
If quantifying Marisnick's contributions, the homer is a plus-three in run differential. His leaping, acrobatic catch in the sixth inning -- a snag he deems as one of his best career catches -- prevented two runs from scoring. And had they scored, the game would have been tied.
Marisnick soared over left fielder Josh Reddick and used a padded portion of the field-facing visiting bullpen wall to record the last out of the inning on a deep fly ball from Justin Smoak.
It impressed Marisnick's teammates, including third baseman Alex Bregman, who called him the "best defensive center fielder in baseball."
"I think Jake knows that he's a really good baseball player," Bregman said. "He had a little tough first half, but it's a long season. But you know what, he brings it every day. ... Everybody knows that he's the best defender in center field in the league."
Now, Marisnick wants a memento to remember one of his multiple highlights on a potential slump-busting night.
"I just play like a kid out there," Marisnick said. "Ball goes up, and I catch it. I'm going to need a poster made of that, with Reddick a little bit lower than me."