Telvin Nash is a hard guy to please.
The Astros prospect homered twice and singled in six trips to the plate Friday night, knocking in a career-high seven runs in Lancaster's 19-13 win over visiting Stockton. But he wasn't happy with his performance.
Nash struck out three times, and no amount of success in his other at-bats would have made him comfortable with that.
"I'm [ticked off]," he said. "I'm very upset with myself. It's cool to hit home runs, but nobody wants to have three strikeouts. That kills my day. The Astros have expectations for me and I have a lot to prove to my organization. Having three strikeouts doesn't help my cause at all. That's not what my hitting coach and the Astros are teaching me to do. I'm not happy with that at all."
After Stockton put up four runs in the top of the first inning, Nash belted a three-run homer as the JetHawks answered with six off Ports starter Sergio Perez (0-1).
"It was kind of crazy because we faced a guy who was with the Astros," Nash said, referring to Perez. "I knew the guy kind of well, so I wanted to go up there and just try to hit the ball hard. We've been struggling as a team with runners in scoring position, so I was trying hard to do my job. He missed with the pitch. I was real excited about that first one. We were scoring, but that right there just put the nail in the coffin, like, 'OK, we're swinging the bats now.'"
M.P. Cokinos chased Perez with a two-run double in the second and Nash welcomed T.J. Waltz to the game with another home run.
"[Waltz] was real good. He had really good stuff. I wasn't trying to do too much," Nash said. "I was just trying to get something good and hit it hard. He came with a fastball down and away, and I hit it on a line and the ball took off."
The 22-year-old first baseman struck out in the fourth but plated two more runs with a single up the middle later in the inning. It was at that point that his night turned.
"Actually, [Lancaster manager Rodney Linares] was coaching first base and he told me, 'Hey, you have seven RBIs.' I was like, 'I'm going to try to get 10 RBIs in one game,' and I started pressing and messed with my game plan.
"I let it mess with my game plan, man. I was chasing bad pitches. Tomorrow's a new day and I'll get back to my game plan. If they don't give me anything to hit, I'm going to take my walks, working the count, getting better pitches."
Nash fanned again in the sixth and the eighth. His final strikeout of the night came against Ports shortstop Wade Kirkland, who pitched a scoreless frame. Nash admitted Kirkland's pitching messed with his head a little bit.
"It did, it did. It threw my timing off a whole lot," he said. "He was just lobbing balls up there. He was pretty good though. He was harder to face than some pitchers. He kept me off-balance, and that's what a pitcher is supposed to do."
Nash, a 2009 third-round Draft pick, ranked second in the California League with 29 homers last year. Back spasms and an oblique injury kept him in extended spring training last month, but he has five homers and 16 RBIs in 18 games with the JetHawks. The injuries behind him, he's focused on making the switch from the outfield to first base while staying cool at the plate.
"I like to be involved in the game, I'm vocal. I like to talk to my pitcher. My coach tells me to call some plays, lets me be a little more involved. Playing at first, I love it," Nash said. "I like it way more than the outfield.
"Home runs come, man. My goal is to just keep doing what I'm doing, keep putting good at-bats together, stay humble, keep my average up, take my walks. Home runs come. I'm just worried about putting my A-swing on the ball. Home runs are thrown, not hit. Pitchers throw home runs and you just hit what they give you. That's how I look at it. I'm just trying to stay line-drive conscious, just hit the ball hard on a line. That's all I'm trying to do."
A's top prospect Addison Russell went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a pair of runs scored for Stockton. Needing a single to hit for the cycle, he grounded into a double play in the eighth and was left in the on-deck circle in the ninth.
Perez was charged with nine runs on seven hits and three walks in his second Cal League start of the season, exiting after facing three batters in the second inning.
Reliever Chris Devenski (3-1) got the win, despite surrendering six runs on six hits over four innings.
Games like Friday "are fun," Nash said, "but then again, you're like, 'Dang, that's a long, long, long game.'"