PITTSBURGH -- Perhaps people like Garrett Jones lack the flamboyance, are too blue-collar -- or, in Clint Barmes' description of his own play, too "vanilla" -- for their hot streaks to resonate beyond a box score. But Jones, who spent the first couple months as a platoon first baseman, is quietly authoring an impressive season. The last week hasn't been too quiet: Entering Tuesday night's game, Jones had hit .455 (10-for-22) since last Tuesday. That tear had raised his season average to .291, second best on the Pirates and nearly 40 points above the career mark with which he had begun the year.
Jones was also coming off consecutive three-hit games, having been the only one of the Pirates to solve Houston righty Edgar Gonzalez in Monday's 5-1 loss. "I'm just feeling comfortable. I'm seeing the ball well," Jones said. And seeing it big, too, manager Clint Hurdle chimed in. "When you're swinging the bat well, the ball's bigger and everything seems to slow down," Hurdle said. "He's in a very good place at the plate now. He's aggressive within the strike zone and has a lot of confidence." Jones' 23 homers have already set a career high, and he joins Pedro Alvarez (27) and Andrew McCutchen (24) in the first trio of Pittsburgh teammates in the 20-plus circle since 2008, when the threesome consisted of Nate McLouth (26), Adam LaRoche (25) and Jason Bay (22). "I'm relaxed and my timing feels good. My path to the ball feels good, so I'm just trying to maintain that and keep it going," Jones said.