Yost recognizes cycle of game

Yost recognizes cycle of game

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ned Yost has always preached that baseball games are played one game at a time, and that day-to-day trends can often get much more attention than they should.

Trends are, as Yost says, just a part of the natural cycle of the game, but often get blown out of proportion by those outside the clubhouse.

One of the biggest examples of this is Milwaukee's recent relative outburst with runners in scoring position. The Brewers hit .409 (9-for-22) with runners in scoring position in their past two games -- both wins.

That was a far cry from the .096 (10-for-104) the team hit with runners in scoring position in its previous 13 games, illustrating Yost's point about the cycles that are always working within baseball on a daily basis.

Prince Fielder's recent performance adds similar support for Yost's theory. Fielder went through a stretch where he was 0-for-13 in three games, and then immediately began his current hitting streak, which he extended to 11 games with an RBI single in the first inning on Friday night.

"He's seeing the ball really well," Yost said of his first baseman. "It's the same with any good hitter. When you're not seeing the ball well, it just jumps on you so fast. You start getting jumpy, your hands start coming forward a little and you start coming forward in your stance.

"You're always late on balls or you're always early, but when you see the ball well, everything slows down. That's where he's at right now -- seeing the ball really well."

When asked if there was a trigger that causes a hitter to see better at the plate, or anything specific that got Fielder back on track, Yost attributed it to another natural occurrence in baseball.

"It's just the life of an athlete," Yost said. "There is no pill that you take, nothing that somebody says to you that will make you see the ball better; it's just a cycle. The good hitters are the ones who can keep that cycle very small, they can keep that period where they struggle to see the ball very short."

Craig Counsell, who was back in the starting lineup on Friday, turned a hot streak into more playing time.

"You definitely try to ride the hot hand, and he's been playing well," Yost said. "We were struggling trying to get runners on, and Counsell had a good on-base percentage, works the count and took advantage of the opportunity."

Counsell carried a .351 on-base percentage into play on July 13, and since then, he's started seven of the past 12 games in which he's appeared. With Counsell in the starting lineup, it means players such as Bill Hall and Russell Branyan have received less playing time, but Yost knows this is a tough thing to avoid.

"Nothing is concrete in the last two months of the season," Yost said. "I'm always worried about keeping everyone sharp if they aren't playing every day. It's a constant worry. You have to use guys so they aren't overused, but they don't get stale either.

"It's a very difficult part of the job, but we're trying to win every game."

Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.