Corey Ray believes the key to his success is beginning each day with a clean slate. So he wasn't too worried about a recent skid that spanned his last 36 at-bats.
So even though Milwaukee's No. 6 prospect worked his way out of it Sunday by going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a walk, three runs and an RBI to set the table in Double-A Biloxi's 11-4 rout of Jacksonville at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, he'll still be starting fresh come Monday.
Video: Ray picks up fourth hit for Biloxi
"I work harder than anyone I know and I prepare the same way every single day and I think my preparation is what gets me ready for the game and helps me be successful," Ray said. "If I don't get a hit, I don't get a hit, but I'll prep the same way the next day and it will pay off. Like today, it worked out."
Ray started the game by hammering a double down the right-field line on a 2-0 fastball from No. 13 Marlins prospect Merandy Gonzalez. After stealing third base with Troy Stokes Jr. at the plate, he tagged up on a deep fly ball into center off the bat of Jake Hager to score the game's first run.
It was déjà vu for the 2016 fifth overall pick in the third as he led off the inning and turned around the same pitch in the same spot from Gonzalez into right for a two-base knock. A passed ball by Rodrigo Vigil moved Ray to third and then Hager again drove him in -- this time on a ground ball to second that turned into a 4-6-3 double play.
"The only thing I was focused on was getting started early and seeing the baseball," the center fielder said. "I wasn't really locked in on a particular zone, just waiting for a good pitch to hit, maybe a little elevated, and putting a good swing on it."
Gameday box score
Ray got to the right-hander again with a two-out base hit into center on a two-strike count in the fifth. Two innings later, the 23-year-old drove in seventh-ranked Trent Grisham with a hard-hit single into center again off southpaw Ben Holmes. Ray came around to score when Hager belted a towering three-run homer over the fence in left-center. It was the 25-year-old shortstop's fifth dinger in his last four games.
"Hager is a pro hitter," Ray said. "He always gets the job done. Whether there is a runner in scoring position and he needs to lift a deep fly ball or just someone on base and he needs to get them over, he always does what he needs to do. He's just a professional hitter."
The Louisville product faced right-hander Kyle Keller in the eighth and walked on six pitches. After third-ranked Lucas Erceg belted a two-run shot that cleared the bleachers in right and exited the ballpark in the ninth and Blake Allemand went back-to-back on the very next pitch -- the inning concluded with Ray on deck.
"I was really happy for [Erceg]. He works really hard and he's been struggling. I know that took some relief off his shoulders to see it go over the fence," Ray said of the third baseman going yard for the first time since May 30. "And usually when you see one, a few more go over the fence.
"I honestly didn't think I would get another at-bat, and as the lineup turned over, I actually was still putting on my batting gloves. But if I did get another at-bat, I would have been locked in and I believe I would have gotten another hit."
The Chicago native entered the day 5-for-36 over his last 10 games and coming off of an 0-for-5 performance Saturday.
"I never think about anything that I did yesterday," Ray said. "My focus is always the same, it's to wait for a ball in the zone and put a good swing on it. I never let myself get too big or try to do too much. Tomorrow is a new day and I'm going to get in early and do my routine and how I feel is how I feel. I prepare day to day, nothing ever carries over."
Milwaukee's No. 23 prospect Zack Brown did not factor into the decision, but has not recorded a loss over 13 starts. The righty allowed three runs on four hits and three walks while fanning three over five innings. Left-hander Nick Ramirez (8-0) picked up his Southern League-leading eighth victory after tossing 1 2/3 hitless innings with three walks and a punchout.
Video: O'Brien goes yard again for Jacksonville
Peter O'Brien accounted for all of Jacksonville's offense with a two-out three-run roundtripper in the third. The four-bagger extended his homer streak to five straight games.