Garrett Jones might have felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders over the past two nights at Tokyo Dome.
In two games against the Chunichi Dragons this week, on Wednesday and Thursday, the Yomiuri Giants outfielder was 4-for-8 with a home run and eight RBIs. It’s only a small sample size, but for Jones, who has played better away from Tokyo Dome than in the Big Egg for most of the year, it was another big step in the right direction.
“I’m feeling good,” Jones said. “It’s nice to have success at Tokyo Dome. For some reason I had trouble tracking the ball here. I finally feel like I’ve figured out what I need to do here. I’ve been feeling comfortable and just trying to finish strong.”
Jones has been hot at Tokyo Dome as of late. In his first nine games at the Big Egg this month, he hit .363 with a home run and 10 RBIs.
Tokyo Dome is generally one of the better hitter’s parks in Japan, but for most of the season, Jones was unable to take advantage. He hit .153 with four home runs and 14 RBIs over the first five months of the season in his home park. Jones, in his first NPB season, has been better at Tokyo Dome, but his stats still reflect his earlier troubles, showing him with a .215 average at home, including games the Giants hosted outside the Big Egg, compared to .302 on the road.
Jones hopes his recent upswing is here to stay. He’s gotten hot at home at a great time, with the Giants in a good position to finished second in the Central League standings. That would give the Kyojin the chance to host the first stage of the Climax Series against the Yokohama BayStars, a team Jones was hitting .347 with nine home runs, against before Friday’s game between the CL clubs.
“It’s definitely going to help my confidence going into the playoffs,” Jones said. “It’s a great place to hit, because the ball jumps out of here. I feel good. I definitely feel like it’s taken me awhile to finally feel comfortable here and see the ball well.”
Jones hasn’t just been better in Tokyo Dome. His career in Japan got off to a slow start and the 35 year-old was dropped from the roster on May 23; he was hitting .225 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs at the time. Jones used his time on the farm to get himself together and has hit .281 (through Thursday) since returning to the top team on June 10.
“I think going down to the minors for a little bit just helped me mentally and to just relax,” he said. “I think I put a little extra pressure on myself early to hit a home run every time and to do too much. It was just a combination of things.
“I think mentally and mechanically fixing a few things, seeing some pitches, seeing how the pitchers pitched and just figuring out timing, just a combination of a bunch of things. It helped going down to the minors to kind of get a break and just figure it out a little bit and come back and get to swinging it.”