SAN FRANCISCO -- If baseball’s constitution accepted write-in candidates for the Starters Election phase of All-Star Game balloting, David Dahl could launch a viable grassroots bid for a spot on the National League squad.
Dahl continued to demonstrate that he’s worthy of at least consideration for a trip to Cleveland for next month’s Midsummer Classic. He belted his third home run in four games Wednesday, a third-inning grand slam that helped propel the Rockies past the San Francisco Giants, 6-3, and added a run-scoring single in the seventh to give him a career-high five RBIs.
The decision enabled the Rockies to win the three-game series against San Francisco, 2-1, and build enthusiasm as they approach Thursday’s opener of a four-game series at Coors Field against the NL West-leading Dodgers. The Rockies trail Los Angeles by 12 games, but the competitiveness generated by facing the Dodgers should motivate the Rockies to perform at their best.
The Dodgers swept Colorado last weekend in Los Angeles, but needed walk-off hits from rookies in each of the three games to survive.
“I think we’ll be ready for them,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We know where they are and I think they know what they’re up against, too. They know what we’re about. We’re looking forward to this series.”
Dahl will certainly have to be reckoned with. Entering Wednesday, he ranked among the league’s top 10 in numerous traditional statistical categories, including batting average, doubles and triples. Additionally, he ranked in the top 10 among NL outfielders in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. During a three-city trip in which the Rockies were inconsistent offensively, Dahl remained among the club’s leading run producers, scoring six runs and driving in 10.
Dahl’s second career grand slam, which he delivered off right-hander Jeff Samardzija, erased a 2-0 San Francisco lead.
Black defined Dahl’s drive as an instance of “where one swing can change the complexion and momentum of the game. ... There’s an example of one guy taking the game over and helping us win.”
Having worked the count to 3-2, Dahl sensed he’d receive a hittable pitch from Samardzija, since he knew that the right-hander would not want to force in a run with a walk. Indeed, said Samardzija, “I knew we needed to attack him.”
Dahl, who’s batting .320 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs, refuses to be distracted by All-Star Game chatter -- which is difficult, since the Rockies have three players eligible for election as starters: third baseman Nolan Arenado, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and shortstop Trevor Story.
“If you start thinking about it with 10-something games left, and you struggle because you’re thinking about it, it does no good,” Dahl said. “It’s like the first half goes to waste.”
Black didn’t sound worried about any dropoff from Dahl, who’s in his fourth Major League season.
“David’s talented,” Black said. “I think this year he’s really solidifying himself as a good big league player. Days like today validate what you’re seeing from David.”
Though Dahl’s contributions were the most noticeable, others made a difference for the Rockies.
Starter German Márquez wasn’t nearly as sharp as he was in his last Oracle Park appearance on April 14, when he one-hit the Giants. However, relievers Jake McGee, Jairo Díaz, Scott Oberg and Wade Davis pitched a scoreless inning apiece to sustain the Rockies. Black cited instances when his relievers fell behind on the count before recovering to retire the hitter and stop rallies before they began. Case in point: Davis, who recorded his 11th save, yielded Brandon Crawford’s ninth-inning leadoff single before retiring Joe Panik on a 3-1 pitch.
“The game comes down to just a couple of different events, if you really look at it – David’s swing and a couple of big pitches to keep the Giants at bay,” Black said.