If the Colorado Rockies are going to advance to the postseason, they will need their biggest star, Nolan Arenado, to be the hitter he’s always been in the major leagues.
It’s been a struggle for the five-time All-Star, who’s batting .231 this season, but perhaps a recent day off and a trip to Chase Field in Phoenix have turned around Arenado’s season.
Arenado went 2-for-5 with a pair of run-scoring doubles in Tuesday night’s 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, a night after getting a hit and being intentionally walked twice. He collected his first two extra-base hits of the season on the road — in the Rockies’ 15th away game.
Given a day to rest on Sunday in Los Angeles amid his hitting woes, Arenado got away from baseball.
“I didn’t even pick up a bat. I tried to steer clear of it,” Arenado said. “Get away from it for a bit. At the same time you’ve got to stay ready just in case, so I made sure I stayed loose. I just cleared my head a little bit and that was it.”
Since then, the Rockies have won the first two games of a four-game series in Arizona, both by one run. They left behind a seven-game losing streak.
“We’ve got to continue to pitch well, both in the rotation and bullpen. I think our offense, as far as key hits, clutch hits, that has to improve, and play steady defense,” manager Bud Black said.
Right-hander Jon Gray (1-3, 6.23 earned run average) is set to start for Colorado Wednesday night against Arizona. He’s 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts on the road this season, but is 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA in five regular-season starts at Chase Field.
Tuesday night was just more frustration for the slumping Diamondbacks, who have lost seven straight and fallen into last place in the National League West. The offense did show some signs of life, however, but couldn’t overcome another shaky bullpen performance and a costly defensive mistake.
The Diamondbacks hit two home runs in the game and loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth to give themselves a chance to win. But they came up short.
Manager Torey Lovullo admitted that sometimes it’s difficult to look for positives from such a long stretch of losing.
“We’re just going to keep getting after it and doing all we can. It’s not easy to walk through some of the things that we’ve been walking through this season,” Lovullo said. “The highs and the lows, but that’s what we love about this game. We’re up and down junkies.”
On Wednesday, it’s left-hander Robbie Ray’s turn to try to end the string of losses. Ray (1-3, 8.33 ERA) will make his 19th career start against the Rockies.
The Diamondbacks did get some good news on right-hander Merrill Kelly, a key part of their starting rotation who went on the 10-day injured list Monday with a right shoulder issue. Kelly saw a specialist, who determined that he had a small blood clot in his right shoulder.
A catheter was inserted into the shoulder to help allow the clot to dissolve.
“We’re happy that the procedure took place and he’s in a very good spot,” Lovullo said.
–Field Level Media