Saturday 4x4: Arenado Powers Rockies Victory
Nolan Arenado established himself the last three seasons as a legitimate-middle-of-the-lineup bat. Now he is having to make adjustments, pitchers showing they are going to approach him differently in light of the 120 home runs and 393 RBI he had from 2015-17.
Friday night, Arenado sent a message that he adapting to his new role. His first inning home run in the Rockies 5-4 victory against the Reds at Coors Field ended a 64 at-bat home run drought, which dated back to his second at-bat at Citi Field in May 5. Just as importantly, he walked in two of his three other plate appearances, avoiding the temptation of trying to force the issue.
“I think every year brings a different adversity to it, every year’s a different thing,” Arenado said. “This year, it’s not getting pitches to hit. It’s been tough, but it’s an adjustment I have to make. I need to continue to do what I’m doing. When I start feeling really like me, I believe I can hit some of these pitches out and start doing damage.”
It is, Arenado has learned, the price that comes with having emerged as one of the game's best. Pitchers don't want to give him a chance to beat them.
“I’ve earned, I guess, that respect in a way,” Arenado said. “But at the same time, I’m also not feeling like me. I know I can do a better job of hitting mistakes, and I’m just missing them right now. It’s been a little frustrating. It’s been hard. But it’s just an adjustment I’m going to have to make, and I’m going to learn from it and I’m going to get better from it.”
The Good, The Frustrating and The Results
With a youthful bench, the Rockies have struggled at times in late-inning situations. Noel Cuevas, however, shows signs of being able to deal with the role, even though throughout his minor-league career he was an every day player.
He made a strong statement on his own behalf Friday night. With the scored tied 4-4, one out in the sixth and Tony Wolters on second base, manager Bud Black called on the right-handed-hitting Cuevas to hit even with right-hander Sal Romano on the mound. Cuevas tripled, driving in what turned out to be the game-winning run.
And he was excited to get the chance to face a right-handed pitcher in that situation.
"It means that I'm totally gaining confidence from the coaching staff to put me in those situations," said Cuevas, hitting .273 against right-handed pitching. "I'm glad that I was able to get the hit against a righty. That gives me the confidence that I can hit against righties, too, not just lefties."
With a .302 overall average, Cuevas has hit .273 against right-handed pitchers, and his .286 average as a pinch-hitter is the best on the team. He also has the only extra-base hit among Rockies pinch-hitters, and has struck out once in 15 pinch-hit appearances, including a walk.
A Hit in the Pinch
Source: Stats, Inc.
The Rockies have taken an aggressive approach on the bases. They have been successful on 82.5 percent of their attempts, which ranks second in the NL, and is higher than any single-season percentage in the franchise's first 25 years.
On the Run
Source: Stats, Inc.
Coors Field has not been kind to the Reds. Since installation of the humidor in 2002, the Reds are 18-35 at Coors Field, a .340 winning percentage, which is the Reds third lowest success rate as a visitor in current NL ballparks.
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