Blackmon's 6-for-6 sets tone in Rockies' rout
Second in team history to reach feat; CarGo plates 4; Nicasio cruises
DENVER -- Perhaps the bushy beard Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon grew over the offseason was a message. Matured by three stints in the big leagues and grizzled by the injuries that shortened his time in the Majors, Blackmon is ready to claim his career.
Blackmon gave the D-backs reason to fear his beard Friday afternoon, when he went a career-best 6-for-6, including three doubles, a two-run homer and five RBIs to lead the Rockies to a 12-2 victory in their Coors Field opener in front of a sellout crowd of 49,130.
Blackmon became the first player in big league history to homer and have three doubles as part of a 6-for-6 game. It was just the second 6-for-6 game in franchise history. Andres Galarraga did it on July 3, 1995, against the Astros. Also, Blackmon is the first player in team history to have five or more hits, drive in three or more runs and score four or more runs.
"You can't do everything right every day," Blackmon said. "No matter what you did today, good or bad, you've got to erase it. You've got to come back tomorrow and try to win a baseball game. That's the beauty of it."
Also trying to foreshadow a coming of age was the relatively baby-faced Juan Nicasio (1-0). After tripping up in the sixth inning or earlier in most of his 31 starts last season, Nicasio went a strong seven frames and struck out six, against one run on four hits and a walk. Also, Carlos Gonzalez bruised the face of the third deck with a two-run homer in the sixth inning, and he tripled in two runs in the third.
It was a rousing home beginning for the Rockies, who dropped three of four at Miami to open the season before coming to Denver to entertain the eighth-largest crowd in the history of Coors, which opened its 20th season.
"I think it's a really big deal," Blackmon said. "We played some great defense behind really, really good pitching, and a lot of offense. If you can do that consistently, you're going to have a good baseball team."
By his final at-bat, a two-run, eighth-inning double off Oliver Perez, fans were cheering and chanting Blackmon's name.
"I missed it, but I received a lot of applause when I went out to left field," Blackmon said. "That was really nice. I enjoyed it. We've got great fans, they really love our team and you can tell they've been waiting for baseball for a while."
There was good reason to cheer.
During Spring Training, Blackmon was hitting in the low .200s and facing speculation that the team might send him to Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the year. Blackmon acknowledged that he was searching for his proper swing, but he carried the confidence of a man who trusted his ability.
It was a little easier to trust because manager Walt Weiss didn't discount Blackmon's .309 batting average in 82 games last season, or his promising snippets the previous two years -- when foot injuries weren't slowing him. Since going 0-for-4 in his Opening Night start in Miami, Blackmon is 8-for-11.
The left-handed-hitting Blackmon started in center and moved to left late in the game. Weiss plans to also give starts to right-handed-hitting Drew Stubbs and left-handed-hitting Corey Dickerson. But he said of Blackmon, "He'll be in there tomorrow."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson might now want to see him.
"He had a good day," Gibson said. "One he'll never forget, I'm sure. Got to give him credit. We'll have to do something different than we did today with him."
Blackmon, 27, making his third start -- and, possibly, a statement -- in the Rockies' center-field rotation, doubled to open the bottom of the first, singled in the third and homered off D-backs starter Randall Delgado (0-1) in the fourth to give the Rockies a 6-0 lead. He also came close to a cycle.
In the sixth, Blackmon's looping liner to left field off Joe Thatcher bounced beneath the D-backs' Mark Trumbo, but not far enough for Blackmon to advance beyond second base.
"I didn't even know where it went when I hit it -- you know when you're having a good day when you just kind of hit a ball and it ends up two inches inside the line," Blackmon said. "It's just one of those days.
"I might've spent a little too much time making sure he didn't catch the ball and almost missed first base. That could be my fault there."
Blackmon tapped a single in the seventh to score Brandon Barnes, who had tripled off Brad Ziegler as pinch-hitter to open the inning.
Blackmon would score his fourth run, yet another career high, when Thatcher hit Charlie Culberson with the bases loaded.
Nicasio, who has added a split-finger fastball to his pitch mix and is fully healthy after either injury or the after effects of injury for three seasons, shut down the D-backs on 88 pitches, 64 for strikes. He held the D-backs hitless until Martin Prado's infield single in the fourth. The run came when Nicasio missed over the plate on an 0-2 slider to Trumbo, who homered to center.
Weiss arranged the pitching schedule for Nicasio to get the home opener, rather than one of the staff's newcomers. Nicasio is 11-7 career at Coors.
"I feel comfortable," Nicasio said. "This is my house. I feel good pitching here in Denver."
The D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt singled in an eighth-inning run off reliever Chad Bettis to extend his hit streak to 26 games, dating back to last season.