'Loose' Cron laces RBI walk-off single

June 19th, 2021

DENVER -- Near the end of the Rockies’ last homestand a couple weeks back, arrived at Coors Field to spend a morning with hitting coach Dave Magadan and the oft-talked-about machine that creates spin.

Fastball, slider, cutter … if a pitch was giving him trouble, Cron wanted to see it and whack it. It was hard, sweaty work -- all of which didn’t work. He went 2-for-15 on a rough road trip to Miami and Cincinnati, where the Rockies won just once. The solution was to, well, try softer.

“Just relax,” manager Bud Black said. “Our guys are trying hard -- home, road, it doesn’t matter. I think ‘Cronie’ took a step back and just realized he’s a good hitter. He’s done this before.”

And there’s always Coors, where it seems the hardest task for Rockies -- including Cron -- is determining whether relaxation comes from success or vice versa. Cron continued his stellar homestand Friday night with a 10th-inning RBI single for a 6-5 victory over the Brewers.

The Rockies’ win streak is a season-high five games -- naturally, the length of the homestand -- during which Cron is 7-for-20 (.350) with three home runs, a double and eight RBIs.

“As competitors, we want to fix everything as fast as possible,” Cron said. “But baseball is a weird sport. And sometimes you're not going to hit. Your timing is going to be off. Something’s going to be a little messed up. And you just understand it's not your swing. It’s more timing-based, and being late, all that stuff, is causing the bad mechanics.”

The opposite-way approach worked against the hard-to-unlock fastball-changeup approach of Brewers righty reliever Devin Williams, whose changeup pushed the count to 1-2. But after being fooled twice on changeups, Cron wasn’t fooled when Williams repeated it. With the count 2-2, Cron drove a pitch through the infield, then celebrated.

Cron started this homestand by going the opposite way on Monday night against the Padres’ Ryan Weathers for a homer. His next two homers, including his first-inning grand slam Thursday night off the Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff, were pull shots. But both his hits Friday went the opposite way.

Knowing when to work extra and when to back off not only has helped Cron, 31, who has appeared in eight seasons with the Angels, Rays, Twins, Tigers and Rockies. It can have an influence on a team that is depending on multiple players with way less Major League experience.

Rookie Brendan Rodgers doubled twice, one to tie the game at 5-5 in the seventh, and make a key throw to the plate to prevent the go-ahead run in the ninth. Yonathan Daza continued to make the most of his big opportunity with a pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth. Garrett Hampson, sharing playing time in the outfield and infield, had a run-saving diving catch in the 10th and an RBI double.

Rodgers admitted he thought it was going to be his night. He was on deck when Cron delivered the winning hit.

“I definitely wanted to get that, but I have a lot of confidence in ‘Cronie’ right now,” Rodgers said, smiling.

Whether with his hits or by simply remembering to have fun, Cron can keep a smile on everyone’s faces.

“I like to just keep it loose trying to make the guys laugh, have a good time, try to take some pressure off,” said Cron, who signed a one-year contract just before Spring Training. “We play every single day, and we're with each other every single day. So you got to have fun. So that's how I approach it, make you guys laugh and keep things loose.”