CLEVELAND, Ohio — Franmil Reyes can’t really explain it. If he sees a fastball when he’s standing in the batter’s box, he body just reacts. Which means the bat in his hands does the same thing.
“I don’t know why, every fastball they throw, whether it’s up, low, away or in, it’s just my body gets going and the swing is there,” said Reyes. “And right after that I make the ugly swing.”
Reyes is 6-5 and about 270 pounds. When his body gets going, it’s hard a thing to stop regardless if the swing is ugly or picture perfect.
In Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, Reyes was 0-for-2 headed into the seventh inning. In his next two at-bats hedoubled, driving in the Indians only run. All the while he was talking to himself in the box about fastballs.
“I always say like, ’Bro, come on. Just calm down and hunt your pitch,’” said Reyes. “So that’s when I create my little zone, I’m just looking for that pitch. So, right after those doubles Monday, that was the approach I took and I said Tuesday, ’I’m gonna to do the same thing today that I did Monday.”
No matter what pitch Reyes was hunting Tuesday, he bagged it. He went 5-for-5, falling a triple short of a cycle, to give him seven straight hits in his last seven plate appearances. Reyes, in Tuesday’s 10-1 win over the Royals, homered in the first inning, singled in the third, doubled in the fifth and seventh and singled again in the eighth.
Reyes is hitting .323 (42-for-130) with eight homers, 25 RBI and an OPS of .947 for the season. Since Aug. 4, he’s hitting .379 (36-for-95) with eight homers and 25 RBI.
On the Indians all Missouri trip through St. Louis and Kansas City, a trip that ends Wednesday night, Reyes is hitting .500 (10-for-20) with five doubles, two homers, seven RBI and six runs.
“That dude, it doesn’t matter where he plays, he’s going to be the same monster he is,” said left fielder Josh Naylor, who made his first start for the Indians on Tuesday. “He has incredible power to all parts of the field and he’s disciplined.
“He swings hard and he makes things happen throughout the game. Credit to him, big night for him. He got like, five hits. Just excited for him. I love watching that guy play, watching him hustle, watching him take every at-bat, every pitch serious.”
The Indians acquired Naylor and five other members of the Padres, Reyes’ old team, Monday in a deal for Mike Clevinger. Reyes and Naylor are so close that Reyes’ children call him “Uncle Josh.”
“He never wants to be out of a game, out of an at-bat,” said Naylor. “He always tries to do damage and I just love watching his game and I always remind him ‘You’re great, just be you.’”
Naylor, catcher Austin Hedges and right-hander Cal Quantrill, who all made their Indians debuts Tuesday, were able to get to Kansas City in time for Monday’s game because the Padres were playing the Rockies in Denver.
“It was a quick flight,” said Quantrill.
The Indians have turned into the midwest version of the Padres. Naylor, Hedges, Quantrill join former Padres Brad Hand, Adam Cimber and Phil Maton. Logan Allen, another former Padre, is at the Indians’ alternate training camp.
“It’s great to have my boys here,” said Reyes.
In the seventh inning Reyes needed a triple to complete the cycle. Yes, he was thinking about it. Carlos Santana, hitting in front of Reyes, singled with one out. Reyes sent a double to the fence in right, but Santana stopped at third.
“(Before my) fourth at-bat, right before the inning started, I went to the gym to stretch my legs, you know, . . .just in case,” said Reyes. “When Santana got up to hit, I said, ‘Please God, (have) Santana hit a homer so I can hit with the bases empty.’ I tell that to myself.
“But you know what? When I stepped up to the plate, I said, If I try to hit the ball like to the gap, I don’t think I’m gonna have success. I just got to do the same thing I’ve been doing this past three at-bats, try to put a good swing on the ball and it was a great at-bat. I put a good swing on the ball and drove it the other way like I wanted.”
Reyes is hot right now. Maybe even hotter than hot, but for every hot streak there is a cold one. Reyes started the season in a 9-for-47 slump. He was hitting .191 with one homer and six RBI on Aug. 6. The good work he’d done in Spring Training I in Arizona — .382 (13-for-34), five homers, 12 RBI — seemed to have disappeared after the season was delayed for more than three months by the coronavirus.
But Reyes kept working and listening to his teammates.
“I am very thankful for God, very thankful for my teammates, too,” he said. “They always remind me who I am as a person and as a player. That kind of motivated me to do my best every day. I have all my teammates right there.
“Like I told you guys a couple days ago, they never let me put my head down. They were always there supporting me and you know what, I am very proud of myself because I made the adjustment at the right time. I told you guys one day that this team was going to be good. But if we didn’t get going, we were not going to be where we are right now. . .Everybody now is getting hot and we’re really proud. All of us.”
Tuesday night’s win moved the Indians into a first-place tie in the AL Central with the White Sox at 22-14. They have won five of their last seven and 17 of their last 25 games.
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