'I love to hit': Márquez eyes Silver Slugger

September 11th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- continued to build a compelling case on Friday night in his quest for an end-of-the-season award.

No, it's not the National League Cy Young Award that the Rockies right-hander has in his sights -- though he did turn in a Cy Young-caliber performance against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Instead, Márquez has been candid about his desire to win a second Silver Slugger Award. He certainly improved his resume on Friday, ripping an RBI single to back his six scoreless innings in what turned into an 11-2 rout of the Phillies. Márquez set the tone early, and the rest of the team followed his lead on a night when all nine Rockies starters reached base safely and all eight starting position players scored a run.

Though Márquez was the only starter not to score a run, he did help key a three-run rally in the second with his seventh RBI of the season. Those seven RBIs rank second among NL pitchers, trailing Dodgers lefty Julio Urías by one. Márquez also ranks second among NL pitchers with at least 40 plate appearances in batting average (.245), OPS (.633) and hits (12) -- all behind Braves righty Max Fried.

Márquez won the 2018 NL Silver Slugger Award after hitting .300 (18-for-60) with five RBIs and a .650 OPS. After being unable to hit last year with MLB using the universal DH in the shortened season, he also knows this could potentially be his last chance to claim a second Silver Slugger, depending on whether the DH is instituted in the NL next season.

“It would be fun to win the Silver Slugger again,” Márquez said. “You guys know that I love to hit. I love to get on base.”

Though the Rockies pulled away late, Márquez played a pivotal role in two key moments to help the club notch its season-high-tying third straight road win. One of those moments came with Colorado leading 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth, when he notched an inning-ending strikeout of NL MVP candidate Bryce Harper to strand a pair of baserunners.

The other, of course, was his early run-scoring hit.

"I think it's the competitiveness that Major League players have, that professional athletes have. He wants to do well," manager Bud Black said. "I think because of his success at the plate the last couple years, he's sort of gained momentum and confidence, and you want to do more. It feels good to get a hit. It feels good to be recognized as a Silver Slugger winner. It feels good to hit a ball on the barrel and knock guys in as a pitcher. It's a great feeling."

Black would know, having put together a couple decent hitting seasons -- by pitcher standards anyway -- of his own during his four seasons playing in the NL with the Giants. The Rockies skipper hit .243 in 1993 and finished his career with 26 hits and four doubles -- numbers that he recalled immediately when quizzed about it.

"There are a lot of competitive players out there who would love to have that in their trophy case, and looking back on it at your career and say, 'Yeah, I was one of the best hitting pitchers during my playing days,'" Black said. "It's a great feather in the cap and athletic accomplishment. I think that's what drives Germán."

It also helped drive the entire offense against the Phillies. After Márquez keyed the early rally, the Rockies piled on late. Trevor Story and C.J. Cron connected for back-to-back homers in the seventh inning to push the lead to 6-0. Cron added an RBI single in the ninth before Elias Díaz hit his second grand slam of the season to make it 11-0.

As for Márquez's work on the mound, he struck out six and walked one while allowing six hits over six spotless frames. It was a bounceback effort from the righty, who entered the night with a 7.77 ERA over his last five starts, a span in which he had conceded 21 earned runs (including eight homers) in just 24 1/3 innings.

Just as important on this night, though: He was equally as effective with the bat as he was with his arm.

“It's amazing, man,” Márquez said. “It's a good feeling, being a part of everything -- hitting, pitching, making plays. It's just amazing.”