Eymann plates career-high eight in slugfest
Reds farmhand lines three doubles in Lookouts' 17-11win over M-Braves
By Danny Wild / Special to MLB.com
Eric Eymann doubled his RBI total with three swings on Sunday, and everyone in the Chattanooga dugout knew it.
Eymann went 3-for-5 and drove in a career-high eight runs to power the Lookouts in a 17-11 slugfest win over the visiting Mississippi Braves.
"It felt great," said Eymann, who added that he wanted that his career night made up for him lining out with the bases loaded Saturday. "Just getting the opportunity to hit with the bases loaded twice, it doesn't come very often. I was able to take advantage of that."
The Reds prospect entered the game batting .237 with eight RBIs in 97 at-bats over 33 games this season. He hit three-run doubles in consecutive at-bats in the third and fourth innings and added a two-RBI double in his fourth plate appearance in the sixth to fall one shy of the Southern League record.
"My teammates kept getting on base," he said. "I had the opportunities and the confidence to get them in."
Eymann has had little to complain about lately. The Kansas State product entered the game batting .290 in his previous 10 games. The hot streak came after enduring a 10-game stretch from April 19-30 in which he did not drive in any runs. On Sunday, he couldn't stop sending teammates around the bases, and they made sure he knew it.
"After the second [double], some of the guys were saying 'Man, you just doubled your RBI total on the season,' and I said, 'No, I have eight, don't play it out like that,'" he laughed.
After officially doubling his RBI total in the sixth, he really started hearing the side comments.
"I went up there and thought, 'Oh man, let's try to get these,' and they were giving me some heck about it," Eymann said.
It was the third baseman's biggest offensive output in almost exactly a year. He homered twice and drove in three runs for Class A Advanced Sarasota last May 19, the only multi-homer performance of his career.
"I've been swinging the bat well lately, so it makes me feel better, everything is starting to come to fruition," Eynmann said. "I was able to come through."
The eight-RBI performance was easily a career best. He never had more than two RBIs in 119 games for Class A Dayton in 2006. He drove in three runs on four occasions last season.
After striking out in the second, Eymann found himself up with the bases loaded and two outs in the third.
"I think I had two strikes on me, so I was looking to see a pitch and just drive it," said Eymann, who then doubled to center to plate Justin Turner, Tonys Gutierrez and Sean Henry. "Just wanted to put the ball in play, put a good swing on a good pitch. I got a pretty good pitch to handle."
An inning later, he found himself in the exact same situation.
"The second one, I was coaxing myself into not thinking about the first time," Eymann said. "I tried focusing on every pitch and just getting another ball to drive. I think it was a slider."
His second two-out double drove in Turner, Chris Valaika and Gutierrez to put the Lookouts ahead, 12-7. His third double in the sixth plated Gutierrez and Henry again for a 14-7 advantage.
"I was trying to sit back, just stay back and use my hands instead of getting too eager," he said. "Going up with confidence and knowing I can help the team, it feels pretty good. And it gives your teammates confidence too."
Only four players have ever driven in nine runs in a game in Southern League history. Jose Canseco managed the feat on June 24, 1985 and Butch Garcia was the last to do so on Aug. 4, 1989. Eymann, Cincinnati's 19th-round pick in 2005, has steadily scaled the Reds' Minor League system since breaking in with Rookie-level Billings in '05. The University of Illinois product hit .238 with 42 RBIs for Dayton in '06 and batted .246 with 53 RBIs for Class A Advanced Sarasota last summer.
"You just have to stay focused and in it," he said. "Take every at-bat as it comes." Eymann's confidence seemed to spread all around the ballpark -- the clubs combined for 31 hits.
Cody Strait went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, Craig Tatum drove in two runs and Shaun Cumberland clubbed a two-run homer in the third for Chattanooga (23-21). Robert Manuel (2-0) hurled three scoreless innings of relief for the win after Chattanooga starter James Avery was slammed for seven runs in four innings.
Van Pope hit a three-run homer and Jason Perry knocked in three runs for the Braves (16-28). Mississippi starter Thomas Hanson (1-1), the first of five pitchers used, allowed eight runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings for the loss.