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Confidence is key for Seiya Suzuki, Cubs

11 months agoTony Andracki

Tuesday night’s offensive outburst was big for the Cubs in a variety of ways.

It was a stat-padding type of game where the back of every player’s baseball card saw a significant boost.

But the biggest impact may come in a way that cannot be measured.

Confidence is a huge part of baseball. A 17-run showing will always help the confidence but the way the Cubs went about their business on Tuesday night is what can carry over.

The entire lineup produced and there was a very contagious feeling up and down the Cubs dugout. They scored twice in the 6th to tie the game, then added 6 runs in the 7th and poured it on with 8 more in the bottom of the 8th inning.

“Extremely [important],” David Ross said. “The confidence of just getting 3-4 knocks in a game or just that 1 knock that comes through of all the work that you’ve been doing. There’s these moments in the batting cage when you’re doing your drill work and working on things or timing after games, there’s these aha moments that just go, ‘oh, that felt right. That feels like it. That feels like when I’m at my best.’

“… It could be in a game — it could be a hit — to turn that over to the next day and then all of a sudden you get on a run offensively. You feel really good and get in those stretches where homers come in bunches, hits come in bunches and try to get on a little bit of a roll. That’s how guys have great seasons.”

The Cubs were able to carry that momentum over to another strong offensive performance Wednesday night with 5 more runs in the 8th inning and an 8-3 victory.

Tuesday night’s win was especially key for a number of players to get back on track after entering the day in a slump at the plate — Seiya Suzuki chief among them.

Over a month’s worth of action (dating back to June 15), Suzuki had a slash line of .182/.242/.250 (.492 OPS) while striking out 27 times in 23 games.

On Tuesday night, he smacked 4 hits — including a homer — and drove in 3 runs. He utilized the whole field, starting with a 114.6 mph single in the 1st inning that was the Cubs’ hardest-recorded hit of the season.

“I think it was huge for me, confidence-wise,” Suzuki said through his translator, Toy Matsushita. “There’s a lot of things that I was trying to find and I felt like I was able to grab something.

“Moving on, I hope I can continue this and keep on having my groove in the remainder of the games.”

Suzuki said he felt like his vision was the key in Tuesday night’s game — he was seeing the ball really well.

He carried that over into Wednesday night with a pair of singles and a walk in 4 plate appearances.

Suzuki has shown flashes of his potential throughout his first year-and-a-half in the big leagues. He started out hot in 2022, went through some slumps in the middle of the season and then finished on a high note.

This year, he had a strong month of May (.319 AVG, .977 OPS) but followed that up with a tough June (.177 AVG, .475 OPS).

Suzuki knows he needs to find more consistency and he believes the key to that is confidence.

“It starts in the cage and whatever I feel during practice,” he said. “If I can put that out when I get into the game and get those results, I feel really good and I feel like I’ll get more confident.

“Even in certain games where I got a couple hits, I still wasn’t able to feel some satisfaction. But I feel some confidence now in what I’m trying to do.

“I feel like I haven’t played up to my expectations yet. I’ve just been really inconsistent. Trying to find that one thing that would click for me. [Tuesday], I feel like I was able to find that one thing that could click for me. I’m gonna try really hard to stay consistent and keep on performing.”

Suzuki said he doesn’t feel like he’s putting any undue pressure on himself but he was honest that he feels like he should be doing more for his team.

The Cubs have been working with Suzuki to be a bit more “quiet” in the box, keeping head movement to a minimum and not drifting forward as he’s swinging.

Prior to last season, they paid Suzuki like a star (5 years, $85 million) and believe the 28-year-old is on the right track.

“He is important and I think we still haven’t seen the best version of him as far as long stretches,” Ross said. “He’s got one of the best swings, I think, in the league when you watch him. He’s just gotta get consistency with that timing when it’s there.”

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