PHILADELPHIA -- On Tuesday, when Domonic Brown's name was out of his starting lineup for the first time in 28 games, Ryne Sandberg said the struggling left fielder could use a "mental break." He was noncommittal, however, when asked if that break could extend beyond one game.
The answer to that query came a day later, when Brown was back in Sandberg's lineup for the third game of the Phillies four-game series with the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.
Brown's one-day break didn't pay dividends.
With two outs and two runners on base in a scoreless game in the fourth inning, Brown badly misjudged a line drive to left field, allowing the ball to sail over his head and to the wall. The first run of the game crossed the plate and the Marlins were on their way to a 3-2 victory.
After the game-changing play, ruled a hit since it never touched Brown's glove, Jarrod Saltamacchia ripped a two-run double to center field to increase Miami's lead to 3-0.
Brown, who has started 70 of the team's 77 games this season, also misjudged a lazy, shallow fly ball in the first game of the series, also a loss. A first-time All-Star last year, Brown isn't making up for his shaky defense with his bat: He was hitting .217 at the conclusion of Wednesday night's game.
Before the game, Sandberg was asked about plugging Brown back into his lineup.
"He had a nice session yesterday about leveling out his swing, really getting on top of the ball and being quicker to the ball," Sandberg said. "Hopefully resulting in contact and not in swinging through his pitch or fouling it straight back."
But it's worth wondering if Brown is becoming his own worst enemy, in need of something more than a one-day hiatus from the lineup. He's not in a two-week hitting drought; he's batting .189 in a 51-game span since April 27.
"I know that he wants to be more consistent with his at-bats and have a better batting average and put together better contact through at-bats, throughout a game and throughout a long period of time," Sandberg said before the game. "I know that's where he wants to be. It's just about making some adjustments and applying it in the game."
Brown entered play on Wednesday hitting .217. Only three major league players with at least 275 plate appearances had lower batting averages.
Brown's .594 OPS ranked 114th out of those same 115 major league players.
His return to the lineup on Wednesday wasn't a complete disaster, however. Brown cut the Marlins lead to 3-2 with a one-out run-scoring single in the sixth inning.
It was Brown's 22nd hit this season with runners in scoring position. Only 21 major league players have more.
Brown is batting .324 with runners in scoring position this season.
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