Odubel Herrera wasn’t messing around when he said, “Bet on me,” as he showed signs of breaking out of a lengthy slump last week.
Since Herrera uttered those words, the Phillies are 4-2 and Herrera has delivered 11 hits, including five homers, and seven RBIs. He had his fourth multi-hit game in the span Wednesday and provided the big blow — a booming, go-ahead homer off the scoreboard in right in the seventh inning — to key a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Herrera's bat is ablaze and if you did bet on him — as he urged — you’re cashing checks.
“When I told you that you should bet on me, I meant it, because I knew that I was getting close to being my regular self and I'm going to keep working to stay positive and stay doing what I'm doing,” Herrera said.
The slump took Herrera from an NL-best .361 batting average on May 17 to .283 in 23 games.
Wednesday’s single-double-homer performance left him at .299 and had people comparing him to Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers.
Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta compared Herrera to Vladimir Guerrero for the way he can square up any pitch.
Manager Gabe Kapler used Ichiro Suzuki as a comp.
“They’re different style hitters, but not that different, though,” Kapler said. “It doesn’t matter where the baseball is. They have unique bat-to-ball skills.”
Herrera’s eyes lit up when he heard Kapler’s Ichiro comp.
“It's amazing to hear that because Ichiro is a legend,” Herrera said. “To be compared to someone like him is an honor. It's great.”
Herrera is not a legend, but he's colorful and his confidence is well established.
“I’m coming,” he said with a laugh. “I’m coming.”
Herrera pounded a go-ahead homer to right off Sam Tuivailala in the seventh, a half-inning after the Cardinals had tied the game on Yadier Molina’s two-run homer against Arrieta. The bullpen made the lead stand up (see game recap).
Herrera crushed the ball. It left the park in the blink of an eye at 109 mph and was projected to travel 422 feet.
“Fresh,” said Herrera, describing the feel of the ball impacting his bat.
As Herrera’s ball climbed out of the yard, Kapler made eye contact with Scott Kingery in the dugout.
“We were standing on the steps, and we just kind of looked at each other in awe,” Kapler said. “It was one of those, ‘Wow!’ moments. He’s so hot, but he’s such an incredible athlete. What he’s doing, I don’t remember seeing. It’s really special. It’s really elite barrel accuracy. I really don’t know how to describe it. He just knows how to find the barrel, knows how to find the sweet spot and it’s really impressive.”
How did it turn for Herrera?
“I kept working in the cage and now things are working out for me,” he said. “I don’t think it’s an adjustment. I’m just making good contact again and trying not to think about it too much.”
Herrera has heated up just in time for one of the Phillies' most important series of the season. After Thursday's off day, they will play at NL East rival Washington on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.