Two swings of the bat gave DJ Stewart a career night, but it's a little more complicated than that.A combination of patience and capitalization served as underlying factors for the big game. The Orioles' 16th-ranked prospect drilled a couple of homers and plated a career-high seven runs as Triple-A Norfolk defeated
Two swings of the bat gave DJ Stewart a career night, but it's a little more complicated than that.
A combination of patience and capitalization served as underlying factors for the big game. The Orioles' 16th-ranked prospect drilled a couple of homers and plated a career-high seven runs as Triple-A Norfolk defeated Pawtucket, 9-4, on Wednesday at Harbor Park. He also doubled and walked on a 3-for-3 night.
For the third time in his career, Stewart went yard twice in a game. The previous two occasions came in a 10-day span toward the end of the 2017 season with Double-A Bowie. Before Wednesday, the 25-year-old had driven in six runs in a game but never seven. Norfolk's record for RBIs is eight, set by Phil Lombardi on May 13, 1988 in Rochester. Stewart became the first Tide to knock in as many as seven runs since Nick Green did it on July 8, 2011 at Durham.
"I wish that kind of run production could happen every time for all the hitters up there," Tides hitting coach Butch Davis said. "Tonight, he was the guy. I hope he can follow up [Thursday] and the rest of the season."
Gameday box score
Stewart drew a walk against veteran right-hander Erasmo Ramírez in his first at-bat of the game, which proved pivotal in Davis' eyes.
"It gave him a lot more confidence going into his next at-bat." the hitting coach said. "The first at-bat, I think, was the key, because he had a chance to see his fastball and the type of movement it had. It worked out pretty good.
"We're just trying to get him to be a little more patient, trying to get him to not chase pitches out of the zone. Tonight, he was very patient. He got some pitches that he could handle and he didn't foul them off."
The walk was Stewart's 22nd of the season, and his .400 on-base percentage indicates he's taking advantage of free passes. But an emphasis on the practice proved key, and he did much more than fight pitches off.
Stewart faced Ramirez again in the fourth inning. With two men on, the left-handed hitter worked a 1-1 count before sending the next pitch over the right field wall to break a scoreless tie.
The Florida State product came up in the sixth with the bases loaded. On the seventh pitch of his battle with 23rd-ranked Red Sox prospectBobby Poyner, Stewart crushed Norfolk's first grand slam of the season as right fielder Rusney Castillo stood and watched. It put the Tides up, 7-3.
The 2017 MiLB.com Organization All-Star didn't miss an opponent's mistake pitches, Davis said.
"A lot of times, you get some pitches over the plate, you just foul them off," he said. "That's just the way the game is. A lot of other times, you can capitalize. You get in that zone. You see the ball a little bit better. He saw the ball a lot better tonight. He didn't miss a pitch -- at all."
Stewart didn't stop there, leading off the eighth with a double to right against righty Domingo Tapia. He took third on a passed ball by Oscar Hernández, then scored his third run of the game on Christopher Bostick's sacrifice fly. The 10 total bases were another personal best for Stewart, who registered his third three-hit game of the season.
"That tells me that he saw the ball a lot better tonight," Davis said. "Everything came together with his rhthym and timing."
The 2015 first-round pick started last season with Norfolk, where he batted .235/.329/.387 in 116 games before the Orioles called him up in September. He went 10-for-40 in the big leagues with three jacks and 10 RBIs in 17 games.
"When you get a chance to go up to the big leagues like that it gives you a lot of confidence," said Davis, who spent eight years in the Majors. "Hopefully, it'll make you work even harder so that you can get back up to the Major Leagues. That's what he's been doing since he's been back here. We just hope that things work out well for him and that he keeps swinging the bat like he has the last five or six days this year. If he does, it'll work out well for him."
Through 29 games this season, Stewart is hitting .263 with an .885 OPS, five homers, seven doubles,and 19 RBIs.
Anthony Santander belted a solo homer and scored twice for the Tides.
Chris Bumbaca is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca.