DENVER -- It had been a long time since the Rockies’ C.J. Cron hit a ball a long way, but he hit one Friday night that made the Coors Field long-ball history list.
Cron’s two-run first-inning homer -- his first to the opposite field in right this season -- ended a 50 at-bat homer drought. The return of the homer was a welcome development in the Rockies’ 10-4 victory over the Padres at Coors Field.
Cron’s second homer – both were off Padres rookie lefty MacKenzie Gore, who has dominated everyone but the Rockies -- practically brought rain on a hot evening. The fifth-inning, two-run homer went 486 feet, which is the second-longest homer in the Majors this year and tied for the sixth-longest in Coors Field history.
“That one felt good … yeah,” the understated Cron understated.
The longest MLB homer this season also was hit at Coors -- 496 feet by the Marlins’ Jesús Sánchez on May 30.
The Rockies, who managed just one homer while being swept in three close games by the Guardians before the Padres came to town, also got a three-run homer from Randal Grichuk, who had gone 90 at-bats without going deep.
Before Cron’s first-inning homer, Charlie Blackmon launched his 54th career triple, which drove in a run and moved him past Dexter Fowler and atop the club’s career triples list. The offensive display helped starter Kyle Freeland, who went seven innings and gave up four runs -- all in the fifth inning.
Cron, who had a five-RBI night while improving his team-high homer total to 16, greets his long drives with a smile and modesty. But his role in the middle of the order, he addresses with pride.
“I hit in the middle of the order,” Cron said. “I always want to succeed in big situations. That’s kind of my job, to drive in runners. And when I go through a lull of not doing that, it’s definitely frustrating. Tonight to get some RBIs in the middle, in the four-hole, I pride myself on that. Hopefully, I can keep going."
Between the homers, Cron drove one to the deepest part of left-center -- 409 feet for an out.
It was a big night for Cron, who has been gradually climbing out of a slump where he was chasing pitches just out of his hot zone.
Gore, who has given up 14 runs in 6 1/3 innings to the Rockies in his last two starts after holding all other opponents to eight runs in 48 innings, didn’t miss Cron’s power spot Friday.
“Especially after what we saw the second half of last year and what he’s doing this year, there’s always a belief that he’s going to do something great,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Cron. “He’s in a real good spot mentally. He’s confident. He’s comfortable.
“He’s been pitched tough. In some ways, I think he feels as though he has to do a little bit more because around him at times we’ve scuffled. That’s something we’ve talked about -- if they’re going to pitch around you, take a walk. When guys are on base, it helps.”
Earlier this week, Cron predicted: “It’s going to come, I’m confident in that. Once it comes, it’s going to stay for quite a while.”
Cron’s power display came as the Rockies set a target for Bryant return from a back strain. Limited to 17 games this season, Bryant hit off live pitching Friday at Coors Field. Black said the Rockies have pinpointed next weekend’s road set against the Twins for the slugger’s return.
Cron doesn’t want to wait until then to bust fences, but he said he will be happy to have another big bat. The lack of power is a key reason the Rockies went from five games above .500 when Bryant went to the injured list the first time to their current nine games below even.
“Hopefully, when K.B. comes back and we get some guys going, we can start really driving the ball and putting some runs up,” Cron said. “I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of that this year. Our offense has been fine statistically, but we can do a lot better as a group.”