Lucky ski helmet: Tovar earns first career multi-homer game

May 22nd, 2024

OAKLAND -- The ski helmet the Rockies are presenting to a hitter of a home run when he returns to the dugout rests nicely on the curly head of shortstop .

Tovar homered Tuesday night in the fifth and seventh innings at the Coliseum for his first multi-homer game in the Major Leagues. Tovar’s pair and the preceding Ryan McMahon two-run shot in the first inning were during the power hits and giggles portion of a night that ended in a 5-4 loss to the Athletics.

Tovar’s swings, which increased his homer total to seven, added to a strong last 13 games -- 19-for-58 (.328) with four home runs, six doubles and one triple. Tuesday’s homers came off Athletics starter Aaron Brooks (a 443-footer) and lefty reliever Scott Alexander.

“What do I know?” Tovar said with bullpen catcher Aaron Muñoz interpreting. “If I hit a home run, great. If not … I mean, I don’t go out there looking to hit homers.”

The power display from Elias Díaz’s three hits in his return from missing four games with a nagging left-hand injury and a strong outing from starting pitcher Cal Quantrill -- six innings, two runs on three hits, eight strikeouts (for his seventh quality start) -- all were undone by an inconsistent bullpen that has been a critical problem in the club’s 15-32 record.

A 4-2 lead evaporated in the seventh when reliever Justin Lawrence walked Zack Gelof before serving a Seth Brown tying homer. Then Tyler Kinley watched Abraham Toro swat a leadoff homer in the eighth.

The good times -- like the goofy celebrations centering on Tovar with increasing regularity -- have to suffice until the Rockies can play complete baseball.

But in Tovar, 22, the Rockies have the type of player who can bring better days quickly.

“You saw the first at-bat of the game when he chased the slider for the strikeout,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Then he got a pitch up in the strike zone, homer. And then he showed the talent with the low pitch off Alexander.

“He’s talented and he’s learning on the fly.”

Tovar’s swing runs from highly aggressive to shockingly aggressive, which is why he has 60 strikeouts against eight walks. However, he has been rewarded with hot streaks and impact swings. His batting average has been as high as .333, and his 21 extra-base hits lead the club.

Through Tuesday, he is slashing .279/.313/.468. If he can increase the middle number (on-base percentage), the others (batting average and slugging percentage) could improve and put him at star status.

For now, though, he is a young talent offensively and a force defensively. He was a Gold Glove finalist as a rookie last year and is putting himself into consideration this year. His dependability and durability have allowed him to participate in every game but one this season.

“There are days when I feel really good and I don’t do well, and there are days that I don’t feel that well and I go out and have a good game,” Tovar said. “I just want to stay consistent.”

Tovar is confident that the Rockies will learn from disappointments like Tuesday and become steady winners.

“I’m watching the guys work and go about their business,” Tovar said. “Everyone’s working hard to try to be the best they can, put up as many runs as we can. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but we’ve got to try to stay consistent and do the little things right.”