The Colorado Rockies moved to 7-2 on the season on Monday night, yet there is a sense that there is plenty more to come from an offense that still hasn’t hit its stride.
With the San Francisco Giants in town for the first time this season, it was little surprise that Nolan Arenado hit his first home run of the 2020 campaign against Giants pitching. After all, the Colorado Rockies slugger has hit more home runs against San Francisco (29) and driven in more runs (102) against the Giants than any other Major League team in his career.
Perhaps what was a little bit of a surprise (at least based on games so far this season) was that the Rockies needed Arenado and the bats to rally Colorado out of a hole caused by an ineffective outing by the starting pitcher. In three innings of work on Monday, Chi Chi Gonzalez allowed three runs on five hits, marking the first time all season a Rockies starter had allowed more than two earned runs.
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Arenado’s blast (which tied Todd Helton for the most for any Colorado player against San Francisco) was part of a five-run sixth inning that not only pushed the Rockies past a 4-1 deficit they faced heading into the frame, but also carried them in the ninth when reliever Jairo Diaz couldn’t close out the Giants without a pair of runs crossing the plate and raising the anxiety level of Rockies fans.
Colorado has relied on pitching to boost them through the first eight games of the season (a 2.00 ERA put together by Rockies starters in that span). On Monday, it was Arenado, along with a big RBI single from Matt Kemp and Chris Owings belting his first home run as a member of the Rockies, who paced an offense that came through when needed.
The Rockies have now scored 22 runs in three September games, and needed all of those runs over the last two games when the visiting team rallied late to make things too close for comfort in the Rockies dugout. Whatever the Rockies have needed to do in the early going, they’ve done in order to win.
"“Our group is mentally in the right spot,” Colorado manager Bud Black said after Monday night’s win."
Are the Rockies thrilled with an 7-2 record and their spot at the top of the National League West? You bet. Are the Rockies thinking they could play even better? Absolutely. After Monday, Arenado is still hitting just .235 and Ryan McMahon has yet to hit his stride, posting a .242 average after three strikeouts on Monday.
Nearly one-sixth of the way through a shortened season and the Colorado Rockies are looking very good. Let’s face it. They’re two half-innings away from being 10-0, thanks to a 1-0 loss in the season opener to Texas and a Wade Davis ninth-inning meltdown against San Diego.
That’s exciting, but it’s about looking ahead rather than behind, meaning the truly exciting part for the team looking to return to Rocktober for the third time in four years is that there are opportunities to get better at the plate.