DENVER -- Charlie Blackmon trusts that baseball will give him what he deserves in the end; it’s just an averaging of the odds. This is not a work-a-day, pay-a-day proposition. Rewards and punishments are dealt in what seems like random ways -- especially in a year that’s as random as
DENVER -- Charlie Blackmon trusts that baseball will give him what he deserves in the end; it’s just an averaging of the odds. This is not a work-a-day, pay-a-day proposition. Rewards and punishments are dealt in what seems like random ways -- especially in a year that’s as random as it gets.
Blackmon never asked to be a .500-hitting national story through 18 games, but he was. He knew there would be a comedown, and it was unprecedented for him -- at least one strikeout in a career-worst 14 straight games, over which he batted .157 as the Rockies fell below the playoff line of eight teams.
But good hitters take good swings at good times. With the bases loaded and one pitch from winning the game with a walk, Blackmon drove a walk-off grand slam to give the Rockies an important 8-4 victory over the Angels at Coors Field on Friday to open a vital nine-game final homestand.
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“There are ups and downs in baseball, and I knew when things seemed [to be going] so well that there was going to be a corresponding down period,” said Blackmon, who was 2-for-5 with no strikeouts. “I haven't been as good lately as I normally feel like I should be. I've been making mistakes, pitchers have been making good pitches … good defensive plays, and bad calls, whatever it is.
“It just seemed like things piled on. And that's part of baseball. Just keeping things in perspective and knowing that it's never as good as it seems, or it's never as bad as it seems, is really a good perspective.”
The homer came off lefty reliever José Quijada, who’d fallen behind in the count, 3-1. Even when the numbers aren’t going his way, the thought process that made Blackmon a four-time All-Star didn’t go anywhere. Besides, Blackmon is hitting an unheard-of .455 vs. lefties this season, as opposed to .262 against righties.
“That particular at-bat, I really just needed to not make an out,” he said. “But that's it.
“Honestly, that's a pretty tough matchup right there. I just wanted to make sure that if I swung the bat, it was going to be in the zone. I didn't want to give him any extra strikes.”
The Rockies -- who, at 21-23, sit a game and a half out of last of the eight National League playoff spots -- fell behind on a pair of Angels homers, with Jared Walsh taking Mychal Givens deep in the eighth and former Rockies farmhand catcher Anthony Bemboom going yard off Daniel Bard in the top of the ninth.
But the previously slumping Ryan McMahon, who has gotten some recent bench time, homered to tie it, and the Rockies rallied behind him, with Blackmon winning it via his sixth homer and second grand slam of 2020.
“I thought he was going to take the pitch; it ended up being a grand slam,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.
“Let’s hope that jump-starts Charlie, and he can put more swings like tonight, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that -- the next 16 games,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
The Rockies are in a tough spot, entering Friday having dropped 10 of their previous 14 at home. They were coming off a road trip that was not as successful as they wanted, but not a total bust. They became the first team this year to win a series against the Dodgers, winning two of three in Los Angeles, before getting swept in three by the surging Padres.
With much of the lineup struggling, swings like Blackmon’s feel even bigger. Another star of the team, Trevor Story, also came through with an RBI double and an RBI triple.
Yet stars won’t do this alone. McMahon’s opposite-field game-tying shot off Ty Buttrey with one out in the ninth was essential in setting the table for Blackmon’s walk-off blast.
“This is a 17-, now 16-game push,” McMahon said. “What you've done before doesn't matter. It's all about what you do moving forward. So that's the approach we're taking as a team, and the approach I'm taking, for sure.”
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.