ROCKIES ROUT WHITE SOX WITH LIFT FROM 17 HITS
ROCKIES 12, WHITE SOX 4 Colorado pounds Chicago with 17 hits, including three homers
For more than two wretched weeks, the Rockies stumbled around the National League West and fell south, losing a grip on first place, then second place, and sinking to their lowest spot in the standings since last year. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks, meanwhile, engaged in a series in Los Angeles that both sides thought might already decide the division title — in July.
“From Day One, we knew we were the best club,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Thursday after his club swept Arizona one week after sweeping Colorado. “It’s just a matter of going out and playing.”
Nearly half a season remains until baseball folds into October’s playoffs — and before the Rockies could object to Roberts’ assertion the race is over, they had a slump to bust.
After Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu smacked home runs Friday in a 12-4 interleague victory over the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field, Colorado, for one night, found some footing.
The Rockies (51-38) won just a fourth game in their past 16, but they did it in style, knocking a season-high 17 hits, including four doubles, off the last-place White Sox. This is how summer is meant to look in Denver with 38,386 fans looming around LoDo: long home runs leaving the yard and opposing pitchers taking early showers.
“We are more of the team we saw tonight than what we’ve seen the past couple weeks,” Colorado manager Bud Black said.
Arenado turned a flat fastball from Chicago reliever Chris Beck in the sixth inning with such seeming ease, you might never guess this team split a series earlier in the week against the Cincinnati Reds, the worst pitching team in baseball. Arenado never blinked, his two-run shot flying 450 feet to the upper rows in left field. And his casual double to left-center in the eighth scored two more, for five RBIs.
LeMahieu in the second golfed his own two-run homer against White Sox starter Derek Holland, two of the seven runs he allowed in just four innings. LeMahieu’s hit scored pitcher German Marquez, who lined his first career double two batters prior.
Blackmon’s homer in the fourth was his 19th this season, tying Mark Reynolds for the club lead. Blackmon has more hits and more runs than any other player in baseball.
So how did this team fall so far, so fast in two weeks? The Rockies slumped largely at the plate, hitting .226 over the stretch. In the past three weeks before Friday, they averaged fewer than four runs per game. They last scored at least seven runs on June 16, two days before everything fell apart.
“You play your best baseball, or all of us do our best work, when we’re loose and we’re poised and we’re calm,” Black said.
Friday night, the Rockies picked apart the White Sox and tiptoed out of the dredges. Their first six batters reached base and four scored, on RBI singles from Arenado and Gerardo Parra and a two-run single to center from Trevor Story.
Parra, a veteran clubhouse cut-up, returned from the disabled list to post three hits, including a double.
“The big point is we won today,” Parra said. “We had good at-bats. I don’t want to talk about anything that happened yesterday or the day before. We have to start today. We have to be ready for the second half.”
Marquez, a 22-year-old rookie who finished 2-for-3 at the plate, cruised into the seventh inning on just six hits and a run allowed before Tim Anderson pinged him for a two-out, two-run homer to center. The righthander from Venezuela, though, gave up just three runs with five strikeouts and no walks. He survived long enough to force Alen Hanson into an inning-ending groundout on his 102nd pitch.
“I like the no walks,” Black said. “I really like no walks from every pitcher.”
Marquez is just the second Colorado starter to last through seven innings in a victory in more than a month, joining fellow rookie Jeff Hoffman, who did it Monday.
Black, in his first season with the Rockies, won his 700th career game as a manager. After a fortnight of frustration, everything fell into place for the Rockies to begin the final weekend before the all-star break. A summer is still ahead.
Rockies all-star second baseman DJ LeMahieu hits his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning of Friday night’s interleague series opener against the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field. All-star center fielder Charlie Blackmon and all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado also homered for the Rockies, who improved to 51-38.