The discussion on Jason Heyward inside the Braves’ clubhouse in the last 24 hours has featured the terms “flashes of greatness” and “unstoppable.”
Based on how Heyward performed in Atlanta’s two wins at Yankee Stadium, it would be hard to argue with the assessments of starting pitchers Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson.
“He shows flashes of greatness,” Hudson said of Heyward’s performance in Tuesday’s win. “Every now and then he shows you what he can do.”
Less than 24 hours later, Heyward hit two home runs and drove in three runs in the Braves’ 10-5 victory.
“It’s awesome,” Hanson said. “He’s a huge part of our lineup. Defensively and the way he plays the game, it’s top notch and when he’s going like he has been this past series, he’s unstoppable.”
Heyward turned in his third career multi-home run game yesterday. The last was June 7, part of a month that has him hitting .351 (20-for-57) and that included a hit Tuesday that was described by Mark Teixeira as one of the hardest hit balls he has ever seen.
“Stats-wise, it’s been a while,” Heyward said. “So it’s good to have a routine, good to have a rhythm, just go up there and trust myself and trust my approach at the plate and try to relax and have good at-bats.”
In each instance he won tough battles against Phil Hughes and Boone Logan.
In the fourth, Heyward saw six pitches from Hughes before turning on an inside fastball and sending it off the foul pole at the front of the second deck in the right field for a 5-1 lead.
In the eighth, he saw six pitches from Logan. On the seventh, he sent a hanging slider into the right field seats directly in front of the bleachers to turn a one-run game into a three-run lead after the Yankees had slugged their way back into it with four home runs.
“All I can do is battle and the more pitches I see the better chance I feel I have,” Heyward said. “I just have to go up there with the mindset, pay attention and focus on what they’ve done to try and get you out before. Sometimes they’re going to get you and the more times you face them [helps].”
Heyward’s had his best month since he hit .356 in July 2010 during his rookie season. He followed that by hitting .299 the next month but since then had not batted higher than .278 in any month.
“He’s hitting everything and he’s fouling off tough pitches,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “When he gets it in the strike zone like he did off Logan, he’s going to do damage no matter what the pitch is and no matter what side the pitch is coming from.”
“He’s swinging great,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Yesterday he beat with the bat and also with the defensive plays. Today he just flat out played good baseball. He’s been playing good baseball all year for me and we can’t ask for anything more.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.