April 17, 2012
Blasting 20-plus home runs three times in the past four minor-league seasons should have given Andrew Brown job security. Yet the Cardinals gave up on him. And he was ticked.
It was “a little defeating,” he said, when the Cardinals placed him on waivers in October, ending his stint with Triple-A Memphis. “At first, I was pretty frustrated about it.”
Within a week, Brown was acquired by the Rockies, and he’s now hammering the ball all around the yard with the Sky Sox, a beneficiary of the hitter-friendly altitude in Colorado Springs and plenty motivated to prove he can be a Pacific Coast League All-Star again.
Brown, 27, went 1-for-4 on Tuesday, as the Sky Sox (8-5) cruised to an 8-1 win against the Tucson Padres (3-10) at Security Service Field. It was on the heels of a 3-for-6 effort Monday in a doubleheader sweep against Las Vegas in which he won the first game with a seventh-inning walk-off home run and ripped an RBI double and a triple in Game 2.
There’s lots of value in Brown, who started Tuesday as a left fielder but is also capable of playing right field, first base and third base – and he’s an effective designated hitter. His average has jumped to .234 following a lackluster start, his two homers lead the Sky Sox and his seven runs are tied for the team lead. He has six RBIs, along with 21 total bases.
“It’s early in the season, and you’re still trying to get timing,” he said. “You’re relearning pitchers and the way that they want to work and how they’re going to work you. You’ve got a different climate here. It’s just getting back to a rhythm and not trying to overdo it. … You’ve always got an upside when you’re going to a new team and they like you.”
In Monday’s twinbill, “it just felt like I was taking good swings,” Brown said, adding that “you keep the same approach, and you keep the same swing. If you’re missing (pitches) early, they’re going to keep trying to pound you in those same spots.” Extra-base hits are “just something that seem to happen,” Brown said. “You’re trying to put the bat as solid on the ball as possible. Extra-base hits will come as long as you’re hitting the ball hard.”
Brown hit .284 last year with Memphis, accumulating 73 RBIs and 20 homers, with 105 strikeouts – he has fanned 15 times this season. He said, “You can’t try to hit home runs. If you try to hit home runs, you start guessing on pitches, and that’s not the way you want to go about it. You want to try to hit the ball solid in the gaps, and the results come.”
The primary focus for Brown remains a chance with the Rockies. “Hopefully they notice, and I do the right things, and I put myself in the greatest situation,” Brown said. “My goal is always to make it hard on the guys above me, to put the pressure on them and not on myself. All I’ve got to do is come out and play the game the way I know how to play.”
SKY SOX REPORT
A blowout from the start: The Sky Sox took control with a five-run first inning in which Tommy Field crushed a three-run home run and Tucson committed two errors. Charlie Blackmon and Matt McBride tallied RBI doubles off Josh Geer (1-2) in the fifth, and Guillermo Moscoso (1-2) gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings, with 10 strikeouts.
Escalona up, Chatwood down: The Rockies recalled reliever Edgmer Escalona from the Sky Sox, who received reliever Tyler Chatwood in return. In four appearances as a closer for the Sky Sox, Escalona went 2-0 with two saves, and he didn’t allow a run. Chatwood posted a 1-0 record with one save and a 5.63 ERA in four outings with the Rockies.
Short hops: It marked the fourth straight win for the Sky Sox, whose seven-run triumph was their largest margin of victory of the season. … The Sky Sox went 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and every batter other than Moscoso had a hit, while seven of the eight position players scored a run. … The 10 strikeouts by Moscoso were the most by a Sky Sox pitcher since Jeff Francis fanned 12 in 2004. … After a 14-0 loss to Las Vegas on Friday, the Sky Sox have allowed six runs in the past four games. … Carlos Torres (no record) will start against Jorge Reyes (0-2) of Tucson on Wednesday.
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