Before Jared Walsh's latest three-homer heroics nearly pushed Triple-A Salt Lake through 10 innings of an eventual 10-9 defeat on Sunday, he spent an entire game on the pine. He watched the Bees beat Reno on Saturday at Greater Nevada Field. He was told that he might pitch -- Walsh
Before Jared Walsh's latest three-homer heroics nearly pushed Triple-A Salt Lake through 10 innings of an eventual 10-9 defeat on Sunday, he spent an entire game on the pine. He watched the Bees beat Reno on Saturday at Greater Nevada Field. He was told that he might pitch -- Walsh has thrown 12 innings for Salt Lake as the Angels dive further into experimenting with two-way players -- but four other arms got the call.
So Walsh used the scheduled time off to reset. He needed it after reaching base twice in 10 plate appearances to start the series. He took batting practice with third base coach Ray Olmedo, who throws gas. Their sessions get Walsh locked in but happen rarely at this point in the season because it's hot and 130-something games take a toll.
"It was almost like I was hitting off a pitching machine or something somewhat game-like," Walsh said. "I think that is probably what helped me with that reset. Then I took the day off [Saturday] and came in [Sunday] clearheaded, just ready to see a pitch over the plate and try to do some damage."
He saw three, and the Angels' No. 22 prospect recorded his second trifecta of the season. Walsh also doubled, drove in five runs and boosted his Pacific Coast League OPS to 1.125.
It was the 20th hat trick in the PCL this season and the fourth for Salt Lake. Jarrett Parker first pulled off the feat on May 31 against Fresno. Walsh mashed three dingers to lead a rout of Albuquerque on July 23. And Angels No. 26 prospect Michael Hermosillo needed only four innings to join the club on Aug. 16.
The milestone commenced in the fourth inning, when Walsh deposited a 2-1 pitch from right-hander Justin Donatella over the fence in center field to put the Bees up, 4-1. After the Aces scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to claim their first lead, Walsh struck again. His seventh-inning solo shot to center off right-hander Michael Tonkin tied the game.
With top Angels prospect Jo Adell aboard as the designated runner to start extra innings, the 26-year-old put the Bees back on top with a monstrous two-run blast to right off southpaw Lucas Luetge.
Reno spoiled the milestone night by stringing together four hits in the bottom of the 10th. D-backs No. 26 prospectKevin Cron -- the only PCL hitter with an OPS higher than Walsh's -- delivered a walk-off single to complete the comeback.
"As cool as it is, when you don't win the game, it's a little bittersweet," Walsh said. "I was very happy with the game, but it was kind of a tough loss. We were out there and our pitchers were working hard, defense and all that. Tough pill to swallow."
Gameday box score
If there is any solace, it's that Walsh's day off rolled into one of his best games in what has already been a successful season. Hitting escaped his mind for a few hours as he refused to overthink his recent struggles. He implemented a tiny adjustment to his mind-set at the plate, one that worked so well in its early stages that he wouldn't reveal the finer details.
"I'm going to hold that one close to home. I don't want to give up anything," the Wisconsin native said. "Just trying to be more tuned into my pitch is the best thing. Not trying to cover all sorts of pitches, just if I got something over the plate, be ready to hammer it and don't worry about anything."
That selectivity, Walsh said, is what has propelled him to 34 homers this season, five more than the career high he set last year. He established a franchise record by clubbing 13 home runs in July and has pitched in 16 games between the Minors and Majors, compiling a 2.25 ERA over 12 innings with Salt Lake. And he's done it while shuffling between Los Angeles and Salt Lake eight times.
There's a chance he could add one more trip to that travel log when big league rosters expand in a week. The sharp eye and big barrel he showed off Sunday should help his case.
"If I do get that opportunity, you want to be clicking on all cylinders when you have to go hit the best pitching in the world," Walsh said. "There's no question, everybody wants to get that ball rolling. Whether you're going to be a September callup or not, you want to finish the season strong and feel happy with your at-bats towards the end of the year."
Joe Bloss is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss.