Colorado Rockies: Temperatures and bat warm up for Elias Diaz
By Duane DaPron
If the summer temperatures are heating up, it’s a good sign that so is the bat of Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Díaz.
Just as he did a year ago, Díaz is once again swinging a hot bat as summer continues and the pages of the calendar get ready to turn from July to August.
Elias Díaz of the Colorado Rockies picked up his first walk-off hit of the season this week
Most recently, Díaz collected the fourth walk-off hit of his career with a bases-loaded, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning to rally the Colorado Rockies to a 6-5 victory Wednesday afternoon against the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field.
All four of Díaz’s walk-off hits have occurred since the native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, joined the Rox in 2020, after beginning his MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015.
Entering the opener of a four-game home series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night, Díaz was batting .243 and had hit safely in a season-high eight straight games.
The first six contests in that streak were all multi-hit affairs, which was tied for the second-longest multi-hit streak in the Majors in 2022 and matched the third-longest streak in franchise history. It was also the longest such streak for a Rockies catcher.
While a .243 batting average isn’t eye-popping, consider that Díaz is hitting at a .467 clip (14-for-30) with five doubles, one triple, one homer, 10 runs batted in and has a .556 on base percentage in his eight-game hitting streak.
“Definitely. I feel great right now,” Díaz said of his recent success at the plate. “I have been working a lot. Now I see my results.”
Those results, as the temperatures have warmed up, include Díaz hitting .304 (21-for-69) with five doubles, two triples, a pair of homers and 12 RBI over his last 21 games since June 23.
The secret to his turnaround at the plate after he hit just .086 (3-for-35) with runners in scoring position during the opening two months of the season?
“Don’t try to do too much,” he said. “Don’t try to overswing. That is the key.”
A year ago, Díaz also caught fire offensively during the summer.
He slammed homers in four consecutive games (June 28-July 2, 2021), the longest single-season home run stretch by a Colorado catcher in franchise history and the longest streak by any Rockies player since David Dahl slugged homers in five consecutive contests from Sept. 24-28, 2018.
“It is kind of the same,” he said in comparing his play at the plate this summer as compared to last year.
“I don’t know if it is going to be like last year. I want to finish strong this season. I want to help my team to win, and hopefully make the playoffs, the wild card. That is what I want. I want to compete every day and do my best every day.”
On his way to a career-best 18 homers in 2021, two of which were walk-offs, Díaz belted his first two career MLB grand slams — the first Rox backstop to have multiple grand slams since Chris Iannetta turned the trick on two occasions in 2009.
Díaz has not let his stellar defense slip any while his bat has been heating up this season.
On Wednesday against the White Sox, with two runners in scoring position and two outs and Colorado nursing a 3-2 lead, his snap throw to third base caught a flat-footed Leurys Garcia to end a Chicago fifth-inning scoring threat before Díaz delivered his game-winning hit in the ninth in the Rox victory.
“Both sides. Defense and offense, I feel prepared right now,” he said. “I hope to continue to do it.”
Defensively, he has thrown out eight of 36 baserunners attempting to steal for a 77.8 stolen base percentage.
Now in his eighth season in the Majors and with 450 games under his belt, Díaz hopes his experience will help propel Colorado to post-season play in 2022.
“All the experience that I have, it gives you more confidence to play the game,” he said. “It helps you a lot.
“Everybody here is trying to put everything together to compete every night to find a way to win. When September comes, be there fighting for the Wild Card trying to make the playoffs.”
“For now, we will take it day by day,” he added. “Today we will take care of today then tomorrow we will take care of tomorrow.”