Rox sud­denly hit stride

Black­mon’s in­side-park homer helps blast Mets

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Patrick Saun­ders

NEW YORK» The Rock­ies needed a vic­tory. Even a drama-filled, white-knuckle win would have been just fine with them.

What they got in­stead was a most wel­come 13-4 cruiser over the New York Mets at Citi Field on Sun­day af­ter­noon. The Rock­ies set sea­son highs for runs, hits (18) and ex­tra-base hits (10). The smor­gas­bord in­cluded a two-run, in­side-the-park homer by Char­lie Black­mon in the seventh in­ning.

The Rock­ies main­tained their 5½-game lead over the Chicago Cubs for the se­cond wild-card play­off berth in the Na­tional League, and they’re just one game be­hind slump­ing Ari­zona for the top wild-card slot. The Diamondbacks lost their fifth con­sec­u­tive game Sun­day, fall­ing 7-1 at At­lanta.

Rookie right-han­der Jeff Hoff­man, who pitched a mostly solid six in­nings to im­prove to 6-1, re­ceived a big boost from the Rock­ies’ four-run first in­ning off Mets lefty Steven Matz.

“When we get hot, watch out,” Hoff­man said. “Look at this of­fense, the line­ups we can put out there. I’m hop­ing this opens a wa­ter­fall.”

The of­fense had been more of a trickle over the last three-plus weeks as the Rock­ies lost 15-of20 games en­ter­ing Sun­day. They had been outscored 131-79 dur­ing that stretch, hit­ting just .243, in­clud­ing a .258 av­er­age with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion.

But the drought ended with a first-in­ning down­pour. DJ LeMahieu, who tied his ca­reer high with four hits, sin­gled to start things. Then came a two-run sin­gle by Ian Des­mond, who was fresh off the dis­abled list, and a two-run dou­ble by Trevor Story.

“That was a big hit from Ian, for sure, and I think it did set the tone,” man­ager Bud Black said. “And we just kept go­ing. We’re ca­pa­ble of that. I thought our at-bats were re­ally sound to­day.”

Be­fore the game, Black made it clear that he thought the Rock­ies’ of­fense would even­tu­ally come around. His con­cern, as usual, was with pitch­ing.

“For me, the state of the team de­pends on the ro­ta­tion,” Black said. “And the bullpen too.”

But the man­ager was cer­tainly pleased to see the of­fense come back to life.

Colorado knocked Matz out of the game with a three-run se­cond to take a 7-0 lead. A dou­ble by Black­mon and a sin­gle by LeMahieu set the ta­ble for Nolan Are­nado’s three-run homer to right. Are­nado’s homer was his 18th of the sea­son, and he leads the Rock­ies with 73 RBIs.

Ger­ardo Parra, siz­zling since com­ing off the DL on July 7, hit a two-run homer in the eighth.

The crazy play of the game came cour­tesy of Black­mon. With Story on base, Black­mon launched a scream­ing line drive that barely cleared the orange line atop the left-cen­ter wall. The ball car­omed back onto the field and Black­mon kept run­ning. The um­pires in­cor­rectly ruled the ball in play, but Mets cen­ter fielder Cur­tis Gran­der­son was aware it was a home run. So he jogged af­ter the ball and lobbed it back to the in­field.

“I’m not go­ing to run af­ter a ball I know is over the fence,” Gran­der­son said.

Black­mon, waved home by third-base coach Stu Cole, had his se­cond in­side-the-parker of the sea­son.

“I didn’t think it was go­ing to go out,” Black­mon said. “When I saw it bounc­ing around, I just as­sumed it hit the wall.”

The Rock­ies got a big kick out of Black­mon’s 21st homer of the sea­son.

“Parra told me, ‘Char­lie was only guy that ever hit two home runs in one at-bat,’ ” Black said with a laugh.

Black­mon’s first in­side-the-parker hap­pened April 21 against San Fran­cisco at Coors Field. The only other Rock­ies player with two or more in­side-the-park home runs in one sea­son was Bran­don Barnes in 2014. He also had two. In fact, the last ma­jor-lea­guer with two or more in a sea­son was Barnes that year.

The of­fen­sive fire­works were big, but Hoff­man’s per­for­mance was vi­tal. Af­ter a two-in­ning start by Jon Gray on Fri­day and a start of less than one in­ning from the in­jured Tyler Chat­wood on Satur­day, Colorado was in dire need of qual­ity in­nings. Hoff­man de­liv­ered.

He blanked the Mets for three in­nings be­fore Lu­cas Duda ripped a solo homer to right with two outs in the fourth. As­drubal Cabr­era added a two-run homer in the fifth. But thanks to a big lead, Hoff­man was never in trou­ble.

Jim McIsaac, Getty Im­ages

Rock­ies cen­ter fielder Char­lie Black­mon sprints to the plate dur­ing the seventh in­ning Sun­day to com­plete his in­side-the-park home run against the Mets at Citi Field in New York. Black­mon is hit­ting .320 af­ter go­ing 2-for-6 with two RBIs.

Jim McIsaac, Getty Im­ages

T.J. Rivera of the New York Mets is late with the tag as the Rock­ies’ DJ LeMahieu steals third base dur­ing the fourth in­ning Sun­day at Citi Field.

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