Rox suddenly hit stride
Blackmon’s inside-park homer helps blast Mets
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.
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.
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.