Rookies put on power display
Dodgers’ Pederson hits two long home runs; Guerrero hits a grand slam.
DODGERS 3-9 COLORADO 6-8
DENVER — The baseball soared into the sky and remained suspended in the thin Colorado air as the outfielders below stood and looked up hopelessly. When the leather-covered sphere finally landed, it did so with a violent bounce in the second deck behind the right-field wall at Coors Field.
Joc Pederson rounded the bases as if the home run was like any other.
Several hours after hitting one of the longest home runs in the major leagues this season, Pederson hit another for the Dodgers in the second game of a Tuesday doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies. This one, his team-leading 16th, reached the upper half of a section of seats in center field.
Both home runs traveled about 470 feet, but neither was the most important of the day for the Dodgers. Alex Guerrero’s was.
With the Dodgers trailing by three runs and down to their final out in the ninth inning, Guerrero hit a grand slam that vaulted them to a 9-8 victory and prevented them from falling twice in the same day to the worst team in their division. The Rockies won the first game, 6-3.
No other player in Dodgers history has hit a goahead grand slam in the ninth inning or later with his team down by three runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
However, Guerrero said he hit one in a similar situation in Cuba.
“Over there, over here, the same,” he said in Spanish with a smile.
Guerrero also took a moment to praise Pederson, who has hit a home run in
each of his last four games.
“He’s a prospect with incredible talent,” Guerrero said.
MLB Advanced Media’s Statcast estimated that Pederson’s two-run home run in the first game traveled 477 feet. ESPN Stats & Info calculated the distance at 467 feet.
By Statcast’s count, the home run was the fifth-longest in the majors this year.
The two statistical services also failed to agree on how far Pederson hit the ball for a solo home run in the third inning of the second game, with ESPN measuring it at 480 feet and Statcast at 472 feet. ESPN said it was the farthest in the majors this season.
Pederson said he enjoyed the second home run more than the first because it contributed to a victory.
“It’s about helping the team win,” Pederson said.
Manager Don Mattingly said he was certain the 23year-old rookie would continue to improve.
“We’re just seeing the beginnings of Joc,” Mattingly said. “He has a chance to be a really, really good player.”
Pederson has been an atypical leadoff hitter and not only because of his power. He began the day sixth in the majors in strikeouts with 61.
However, he was also tied for sixth in the majors with walks with 33.
“Well, you want him to get on base and I know he’s close to .400 on-base, so I think he’s doing OK,” Mattingly said.
The rookie has an onbase percentage of .383.
Pederson was the team’s No. 8 hitter for the majority of April. With the pitcher batting behind him, Pederson walked 15 times in 57 plate appearances. As the leadoff hitter, Pederson has walked 18 times in 141 plate apperances.
Reminded that Pederson’s walk rate and on-base percentage declined considerably after he replaced Jimmy Rollins at the top of the order, Mattingly said, “We like what Joc’s doing. We can cut up any part of it and take it anywhere. We could hit him sixth, we could hit him eighth, we could hit him ninth, he’s going to do the same stuff. It’s not really going to matter where we hit him.”
The left-handed-hitting Pederson showed considerable improvement against left-handed pitchers in triple-A last season and has demonstrated the ability to hit them in the majors this year. Of his last four home runs, three were against lefthanders. email@example.com Twitter: @dylanohernandez
ALEX GUERRERO, right, is met at the plate by Dodgers teammates after hitting a grand slam.