Fay: Just as Hamilton's confidence was flagging, he got a hit that changed everything

Fay: Just as Hamilton's confidence was flagging, he got a hit that changed everything
Posted at 12:39 AM, May 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-02 00:39:41-04

CINCINNATI -- After a 4-for-23 road trip, you might have thought Billy Hamilton would rather not be the guy at the plate with two outs in the 10th and the winning run on second.

"I wanted to be in that situation," Hamilton said. "I wanted to make contact and put the ball in play. I didn't want to strike out. For me to have a chance to battle and not give up once I got to two strikes was a big deal to me."

Hamilton came through with a looping line drive over the head of the first baseman Josh Bell. The double scored Arismendy Alcantara and give the Reds' a 4-3, 10-inning win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"It really came down to him," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He came through."

It was a good game to win because it would have been a hard one to lose. Amir Garrett was terrific (seven innings, two runs). Adam Duvall gave the Reds' 3-2 lead with three-run homer. But Drew Storen gave up a home run in the eighth.

A game-winner is a good thing for any player, but Hamilton needed this more than any player on the roster. You could see his frustration building as his average dropped. It was down to .213 by the start of Monday's game. A 2-for-5 night with a game-winner was a boost Hamilton needed.

"You've got to build on stuff like that," Hamilton said. "Especially when I'm not hitting how I want to hit. This last road was to a point where my confidence went down a little bit."

So Hamilton went to work.

"Today, I got in the cage and felt something click in the cage," he said. "(Assistant hitting coach Tony Jaramillo) told me to go out and see how it works. I felt comfortable the whole day. I only had one hit be before the last at-bat, but I still had some good at-bats. I still felt good even on the strike out. I came and (Jaramillo) said you just missed it.

"That's what baseball is all about, to have that confidence to know you can hit with these guys. Baseball's tough. You got to get that confidence."

Hamilton's adjust in the cage was minor.

"I had my stance open a little bit," he said. "I was wondering why I kept flying open. Most guys who are open, you see them come back to being square. I don't want to be open. I was flying open. I didn't have a chance to see that outside pitch. Inside pitch was fine; I can hit that, but the balls away, I'm getting out of there so quick.

"I got squared up. I was staying over the ball. Even my takes were good, I could see the ball much longer. Me being square and staying over the ball was a big key."
Hamilton's advice to Alcantara before the at-bat was big as well. Alcantara came on to pinch-run for Tucker Barnhart and would go to second on Daniel Hudson's errant pickoff throw.

"Him getting to second base was big for us," Hamilton said. "He asked me how quick the guy was. I said, 'He's not quick, but in this situation, he's going to try to be quick with you over there.' Alcantara got a big enough lead to make the guy keep picking over there and make a bad throw to get in scoring position to give me a chance to do it."

Hamilton took a ball, took a strike, swung through a pitch. He took another ball to even the count. He fouled back before pulling a 95 mph fastball into  right.

"When I hit it I was like 'Oh, man, Josh is a tall guy. I hope it gets over his head.' It was one of those ones that it wasn't hit too hard to get to outfield, where he'd have a chance to throw home. It was just enough to get over his head.

"It was a fun game for us. It was a big win for us."

And a big hit for Hamilton.