Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Hiura leads rout of Bucs with first multi-HR game

Rookie busts out of 4-for-28 slump with 3 hits, 3 RBIs
@JakeCrouseMLB
August 7, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers had no answers for Trevor Williams throughout 2018. In 19 innings, the Pirates right-hander held the team scoreless, and manager Craig Counsell described the problem succinctly: “You never got a pitch to hit.” Keston Hiura wasn’t on last year’s team. Even though the rookie second baseman

PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers had no answers for Trevor Williams throughout 2018. In 19 innings, the Pirates right-hander held the team scoreless, and manager Craig Counsell described the problem succinctly: “You never got a pitch to hit.”

Keston Hiura wasn’t on last year’s team. Even though the rookie second baseman had faced the Pirates 12 times this year entering Wednesday’s 8-3 win at PNC Park, none of them came with Williams on the mound.

Box score

“Last year, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Hiura said. “He was definitely a fun challenge at the plate.”

It was fun for Hiura, at least. He notched his first career multihomer game in the Majors off the righty, who gave him plenty of pitches to hit this time around. Hiura turned in an opposite-field blast in his first at-bat to score the first two runs of the game, then launched a solo homer to center field in the fifth, raising his season total to 13.

“Unfortunately for me, I missed [my spots],” Williams said. “He had the first shot in the first inning. The second one he hit, I thought it was a good pitch, but he’s a strong guy and hit it over the fence.”

“The first one was the homer he hits consistently in BP,” Counsell said. “The second one was just impressive. That seems like it’s a fly-ball out to deep center, but his just keep going.”

Hiura also hit a double in the third inning and was hit by a pitch in the sixth, working his way out of a 4-for-28 skid in the first eight games of this nine-game road trip with a 3-for-4 day.

Known as one of the best hitting prospects in baseball last season -- he touted a 70-grade hit tool as the Brewers’ top prospect -- Hiura showed he fit at the Major League level when he won the National League Rookie of the Month award for July. But he’s maintained for years that the mental side of his game is the part that gives him the most success.

“There are times where you may have a couple of bad games or a few bad games in a row, you try to search for something,” Hiura said. “You kind of overanalyze things a little bit, when at the end of the day it’s right in front of you. It’s just keeping it simple, trusting what you’ve got and just being able to put quality at-bats together.”

His trust paid off Wednesday, and he matched his 2018 Minor League home run total in the process. It required 123 games last season. It’s taken only 52 games this season.

“It feels really good to be able to find the barrel, and be able to drive the ball,” Hiura said.

A couple of other new Brewers shined on Wednesday, too. Trent Grisham showed his outfield range by making a spectacular play to rob Jacob Stallings of extra bases in the fifth that Counsell called “a huge play.”

Devin Williams pitched a scoreless sixth inning in his Major League debut in front of his mother, sisters and friends, though he was charged with two unearned runs in the seventh. He struck out the first batter he faced -- NL batting title contender Bryan Reynolds -- and reached 98 mph on the radar gun.

“There were more butterflies last night when I got up in the ninth than today,” Williams said. “I told myself I’d be ready to go and I was.”

The anxiety that comes along with a rough stretch has also subsided for the Brewers with a decisive three-game sweep of the Pirates. They assessed the task at hand coming out of their series in Chicago, in which they’d been swept by the Cubs, and realized that nothing was out of reach.

“We had a little team meeting and just said, ‘Alright, now’s the time to do it. There’s no better time to do it,’” Hiura said. “As poorly as we’ve been playing in the last few weeks or so, we’re still right in it and we’re still not far behind.”

The Crew is now tied with the Phillies for the second NL Wild Card spot, and despite injuries -- and major injury concerns -- they appear to be hitting their stride.

And one outstanding rookie will have to help continue the charge.

“He’s a good hitter that we’re going to count on,” Counsell said.

Jake Crouse is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter @JakeCrouseMLB.