Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon has cemented his name into the National League MVP conversation by being one of the best leadoff hitters in the history of the game and obliterating some long standing records. Teammate and third baseman Nolan Arenado took a moment on Monday night to remind everyone who watches baseball games just who he is and what he is about, showing that his name absolutely belongs in those conversations as well.
Arenado tied the game. Arenado saved the game. And then Arenado won the game. 5-4, Rockies. Colorado has won five in a row on the road in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks got the first of the elusive runs in the bottom of the second. J.D. Martinez hit a one-hopper off the wall in left for a one-out double. Brandon Drury followed by drawing an easy walk and the pair of base runners moved up on a groundout to first. The Rockies intentionally passed on Ketel Marte to get to Greinke hit hit a comebacker to the mound that deflected off of Kyle Freeland's glove, going down as an RBI single, but Drury was thrown out at home by DJ LeMahieu to end the inning.
Colorado tied it in the third. Jonathn Lucroy smashed a triple to center field and it looked like the Rockies were going to strand him there after a groun dout from Freeland and a three-pitch strikeout by Charlie Blackmon. But LeMahieu delivered his patented single to right field with two outs to cash in on the opportunity.
The bottom of the fourth started with a scary moment when a Martinez line drive caught Freeland in the upper body and he needed to be removed from the game. He was later diagnosed with a left arm contusion. He was replaced by Tyler Anderson who was making his return from having spent most of the season on the Disabled List. Anderson uncorked a wild pitch allowing Martinez to reach second and the wise veteran took advantage of the lefty's slow mechanics to swipe third base. That ended up being huge when he scored the go-ahead run on a sac fly to left from Adam Rosales.
The scoring went dry until the sixth when LeMahieu pulled a one-out double down the left field line and scored on a two-out double off the very top of the wall in center field by Nolan Arenado. He came about two feet short of hitting the go-ahead home run, having to settle for his 42nd double of the season. Gerardo Parra pulled a hard line drive but right at Martinez in right and the game remained tied.
On the very next play of the game, Arenado made one of his best defensive plays of the season which, my friends, is absolutely saying something:
Reflejos felinos en la antesala de #LosRockies...Señoras y señores: Nolan Arenado.
Anderson continued to pitch exceptionally well in his return, allowing just one hit and striking out four without walking a batter. He even employed a quick-pitch the likes of which Chris Rusin made famous for Rockies fans in the recent Dodgers series. He ended up throwing four innings.
LeMahieu sparked a two-out rally in the eighth by hitting a triple to right field despite the fact that the Diamondbacks had employed such an extreme shift that they practically had all three outfielders on that side of the field. Carlos Gonzalez followed by drawing a four-pitch walk, something he has done a lot throughout the season, even when he was struggling. The Diamondbacks elected to pitch to the MLB RBI leader and it did not pan out in their favor. Arenado crushed his 33rd home run of the season on a hanging slider after apparently getting some jeering from the crowd which he returned in kind after touching home plate with the Rockies now up 5-2.
Nolan Arenado already flashed the leather, hit a game tying double & now CRUSHES the go ahead 3-run homer #Rockies
Arizona mounted a rally of their own in the bottom of the eighth. Jake McGee got David Peralta to fly out but walked Chris Iannetta before giving way to Pat Neshek. Neshek had one of his tougher outings since joining the Rockies, giving up a double to center off the bat of A.J. Poollock. He got Paul Goldschmidt to ground out to second but surrendered a two-out single up the middle to Martinez to make it 5-4. Neshek got a ground ball to third from Drury but Arenado was pulled into foul territory and his low throw skipped on first baseman Mark Reynolds and Drury was safe. Mike Dunn was the third Rockies reliever called upon in the inning and after a long and intense battle with Daniel Descalso, got the former Rockies to fly out center, keeping the Rockies on top by a run.
Greg Holland came on in the ninth and was victim to a rare LeMahieu error out of a shift against Jake Lamb, bobbling a ball in shallow right field. He then walked Perala, got a deep line out from Iannetta and spiked a pitch to put the tying run at third and the winning run at second. But Holland induced a weak ground out to short from Pollock to end it, collected his NL-leading 40th save of the year and secure the win.
With a double in the first, Charlie Blackmon became the sixth leadoff hitter since 1914 to collect 80 or more extra base hits. He also increased his MLB-leading hit total to 196. With four RBI in the game, Arenado now leads MLB with 123. With a three-hit night, LeMahieu is now tied for third place in the National League in that category.
Colorado improved to 79-65 and maintained a three-game lead over St. Louis who were inactive on Monday and gained a game on Milwaukee who lost to the Pirates and are now four games back. Game 2 of the series takes place tomorrow night in Arizona and will see Jon Gray take on Taijuan Walker.