Rook­ies put on power dis­play

Dodgers’ Ped­er­son hits two long home runs; Guer­rero hits a grand slam.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Dy­lan Her­nan­dez

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. dy­lan.her­nan­dez@la­times.com Twit­ter: @dy­lanoh­er­nan­dez

Doug Pensinger Getty Images

ALEX GUER­RERO, right, is met at the plate by Dodgers team­mates af­ter hit­ting a grand slam.

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