On Aug. 29, A.J. Reed took a quick peek at the home run leaderboard after going deep twice to take a share of the Minor League lead. He wound up with sole possession of the top spot the next day.
As it turns out, that last long ball was enough to give him a second Minor League home run crown, but the 24-year-old figured he'd add another tater for good measure on the last day of the regular season.
Reed tied a career high with his 34th homer and drove in four runs as Triple-A Fresno defeated Salt Lake, 9-7, on Monday at Smith's Ballpark. The slugger fell a triple shy of the cycle, adding an RBI double and a run-scoring groundout before igniting a four-run rally with a two-out single in the seventh.
Reed also hit a Minor League-leading 34 homers in 2015 with Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi. Doing so again made the University of Kentucky product the first player to twice win the Joe Bauman Home Run Award since its inception in 2002.
Gameday box score
"It's nice to be able to get to a goal you set for yourself and still have time to improve on it," Reed told MiLB.com recently. "We were talking about [the Minors lead] a little bit ... so I looked up to see who else was up there."
After homering seven times in a nine-game span from Aug. 21-29, Reed entered the season's last day in a 2-for-16 slump. He got off to a quick start in the first inning, ripping his 24th double to right field to plate the game's first run. The Terre Haute, Indiana native tallied his second RBI with a groundout in the third and brought Fresno to within a run with a two-run blast to right in the fifth.
With Fresno trailing by a run in the seventh, Reed singled to right and tied the score, 6-6, when he came home on Drew Ferguson's single to left. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound first baseman flied out to center in the eighth.
After appearing in 45 big league games with Houston last season, Reed played in two games in the Majors this year. He got off to a slow start in the power department in 2017, homering 12 times through the end of June. But Reed clubbed 22 jacks and drove in 58 runs over his last 52 games.
Trent Woodward's two-run triple in the seventh snapped the tie, while Colin Walsh had two hits and scored three times for the Grizzlies.
Fresno's Jacob Dorris (3-0), Andrew Thome, James Hoyt and Brendan McCurry combined to allow one run on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings of relief. Starter Cy Sneed was charged with six runs on seven hits and two walks with two punchouts in three frames.
Zach Houchins went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and fell a homer shy of the cycle and Dustin Ackley added two RBIs for Salt Lake.