It was one of those nights at The Hangar and Jeter Downs took full advantage.The Dodgers' No. 7 prospect fell a triple short of the cycle on a 4-for-5 night, reaching base five times, and teammate Devin Mann added four hits as Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga took down Lancaster,
It was one of those nights at The Hangar and Jeter Downs took full advantage.
The Dodgers' No. 7 prospect fell a triple short of the cycle on a 4-for-5 night, reaching base five times, and teammate Devin Mann added four hits as Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga took down Lancaster, 18-8.
In the JetHawks' hitter-friendly environs, Downs started off with a single to left-center field in the first inning and added a single to left in the third for his fifth multi-hit game in his last six outings.
"I'm just going out there and trusting the plan that we made pregame with the pitchers that we thought we were going to see," Downs said. "We're just out there, seeing the ball and hitting it, trying to make it as simple as that. I went out today and things worked out for me. God willing, he helped me out and things went right."
The shortstop's big shot came in the fifth. With the Quakes leading, 4-1, Downs clobbered a three-run homer to left-center to kick-start a five-run inning that broke the game open. One inning later, he helped engineer another big frame by following Drew Avans' leadoff single with a double to left-center. Rancho Cucamonga plated six more in that inning to set a season high for runs in a single game.
Downs narrowly missed out on his first career five-hit game during his team's three-run ninth when he reached on a fielding error charged to Lancaster first baseman Luis Castro.
Gameday box score
The performance wound up being the 20-year-old's second four-hit game and his first since April 12, 2018 with Class A Dayton when he was a member of the Cincinnati organization. In his first tour through Class A Advanced this season, the 2017 first-rounder is making the necessary adjustments.
"[Class A Advanced pitchers] know where the ball is going a lot more," Downs said. "They have two or three pitches, and they can command [them]. They can throw them to both sides of the plate, and I think that's the biggest difference. You can throw 85 (mph) and know how to do that well, and you're going to be a tough pitcher to face."
Downs has gone 14-for-30 in his last seven games to boost his average from .190 to .247.
"It's just baseball, honestly," he said. "That's what I would say. Sometimes you're swinging it well and things are falling in. Sometimes you're swinging it well and they aren't falling in. You can't really do anything about it but just keep going out there and playing the game."
Five spots down the order from him, Mann also had an impressive night. The Quakes second baseman singled up the middle in the second and doubled to left-center in the fourth. After plating two with a triple to left in the fifth, Mann singled to left in the sixth for his final knock.
Rancho Cucamonga rolled up 18 hits and went 6-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
"It's great. It's what we want from a hitting point of view," Downs said. "We want to go out, put good swings on it and hope everything else takes care of itself, because that's all we really can control."
While the young infielder is on a good roll at the moment, he has kept a level-headed perspective about his season's ups and downs.
"It's fun going to the ballpark whether it's going like this or going bad. At the end of the day, we're getting paid to play a sport, and not many people get to say that. Especially when you're around a great group of guys like we have, just go out there and have fun, try to enjoy the game as much as possible because we're not going to do this forever."
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.