Blackmon's clutch double gives Rox consecutive wins

May 11th, 2024

DENVER -- The Rockies’ stood at second base and clapped his batting gloved hands together exactly once.

The occasion of Blackmon’s eighth-inning two-run double that provided a 4-2 victory over the defending World Series champion Rangers at Coors Field called for more.

Blackmon’s hit sent the Rockies (10-28) on their way to a second straight victory -- something that hadn’t happened all season prior to Friday. Yet, he left the celebrating to those in the dugout and the giddy fans, who spent much of the evening cheering a pitching duel between lefty Austin Gomber and former Rockies standout Jon Gray.

Given the rough time Blackmon, 37, had experienced from early in April through the team’s last road trip, he could have been justified for giving his clutch hit more festivity.

“I’m not a big super rah-rah emotion guy,” Blackmon said. “I do like to come through in big spots, big team situations. I like to succeed. I was really happy about that, but at the same time, it doesn’t guarantee a win or anything. There’s still a lot of game left at that point.

“I’ll save my super-excitedness for after we win the game.”

Lefty reliever Jalen Beeks’ spotless ninth inning actually gave teammates a chance to light up while expressing their appreciation for Blackmon, who had gone through heartache -- and a stomach ache -- with his younger mates.

On April 12, Blackmon -- off to a .326 start through the first 12 games of his one-year, $13 million contract extension -- sat out the first game in Toronto with what became a team-wide stomach illness.

From April 13 through Sunday’s end of the team’s most recent road trip, Blackmon slashed .125/.170/.143. Even more, he was dropped from the leadoff spot as manager Bud Black peeked to the future and looked at Ezequiel Tovar and Brenton Doyle at the top. Blackmon spent the road trip more as a rotational player rather than a leader.

“If everything is going well, I probably wouldn’t be getting moved around,” Blackmon said.

However, Blackmon went 5-for-9 with a double, a triple and four RBIs while playing in two of the three games against the Giants. Back at leadoff on Thursday afternoon, he went 3-for-5 in a 9-1 victory.

After Friday’s winning double off Yerry Rodríguez, Blackmon talked of embracing his hard work and being “grateful for the opportunity” -- things a guy says in his 14th season, all with one club. But Blackmon, whose 598 career extra-base hits are one behind Hall of Famer Larry Walker for second in franchise history, was battling some of the same ills that beset teammates of far less experience. He and many Rockies were missing or fouling off pitches in the hitting zone.

“Hopefully, Charlie can get on a roll now,” Black said. “Charlie’s going to work through it. He sets a great example for the other guys who are going through it.”

Blackmon arrived at an answer. Since eliminating some early movement, his bat is arriving on time. And he’s relaxing about it all.

“I try to help keep my center, keep things in perspective,” Blackmon said. “An 0-for-2 or 3 in the sixth inning feels terrible at the time. But I can still help us win this game. It only takes one pitch.”

Sometimes it doesn’t even take a pitch.

He scored from first in the seventh to tie the game at 2 on Rangers center fielder Leody Taveras’ error on Elias Díaz’s popup to short center -- with shortstop Corey Seager distractedly racing toward the spot. Runners circle the bases with two outs, usually to no avail, but Blackmon knew not to stride lazily.

It’s the kind of play that Doyle, who scored on the winning hit, and his wife, Shelby Rose, will someday show to their young daughter, Braelynn, when she is old enough to understand.

“Whenever people talk to me about Charlie, I’m like, ‘That’s the player that I want my kids to watch play, because he does it the right way,’” Doyle said.

Gomber went 6 2/3 innings and held the Rangers to two runs, one earned. He pitched right with former teammate Gray, who struck out seven in six innings and gave up one run. The result, though, allowed him to appreciate his current teammate.

“Chuck’s the leader of the team -- a legend,” Gomber said. “He hasn’t been playing the way he wants to play, but he was great. He was great tonight, and he’s that common force that will get us going back in the right direction.”