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Nolan homers for 1K, then ends game

@harding_at_mlb
April 22, 2019

DENVER -- Nolan Arenado insisted he had no idea the next hit would make him the ninth player in Rockies history to reach 1,000. He just knew it was a big moment. Arenado’s milestone came on a Statcast-projected 419-foot home run in the seventh inning that put the Rockies ahead

DENVER -- Nolan Arenado insisted he had no idea the next hit would make him the ninth player in Rockies history to reach 1,000. He just knew it was a big moment.

Arenado’s milestone came on a Statcast-projected 419-foot home run in the seventh inning that put the Rockies ahead for good in their 7-5 win over the Nationals at Coors Field on Monday night, their seventh victory in eight games.

“I don’t know any of those stats, man,” said Arenado, whose homer into the left-field seats off Wander Suero gave the Rockies a 6-5 lead after they overcame two- and three-run deficits by scoring two in the first inning and then three in the fifth. “I was just trying to have a good, quality at-bat against a guy throwing hard, throwing really good cutters.”

It wasn’t the only time Arenado delivered a big moment on Monday.

Down two runs in the top of the ninth inning, the Nationals put runners at first and second base against Rockies closer Wade Davis with one out in the ninth. But Arenado showed off his Gold Glove by fielding pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki's grounder down the third-base line, stepping on third base then throwing to first for a game-ending double play.

“Great players do great things,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “His 1,000th hit was a homer. How good is that? And then the play at the end of the game, he had a decision to make, whether to run to the bag, tag and throw to first or try to go the 5-4-3, and his decision was the right one.”

There was even another historic hit on his 3-for-4 night -- which improved his hot stretch at the plate to 10-for-28 (.357) over his past seven games with all four of his homers and eight RBIs. And, of course, it came when the team needed it.

Arenado’s RBI double keyed a two-run first inning for Colorado, which was needed because starter Tyler Anderson had pitched the Rockies into a 2-0 hole in the top of the frame. That hit off Jeremy Hellickson put him ahead of Troy Tulowitzki for fifth on the club’s all-time doubles list.

Arenado led off the fifth inning with his 226th double, which set up a game-tying two-run home run by Mark Reynolds run off Hellickson. The shot was Reynolds’ 297th career homer.

Arenado is 11 hits behind the eighth-place player on the club’s list -- DJ LeMahieu, who had 1,011 from 2012-18 before signing with the Yankees over the winter. After a slow start, Arenado is swinging in a manner that should keep the numbers growing.

It wasn’t until his 16th game of the season that Arenado managed his first homer. Of course, it came in the first game of the club’s current hot eight-game stretch, a 4-0 victory at San Francisco on April 14. Arenado has made a living pulling balls hard, either into the seats or, as he did on his first-inning double, into the left-field corner. He does this while also being able to shoot a pitch the other way.

The pull shot was missing from Arenado's game for the season’s first two weeks.

“I’ve been working hard with the hitting coaches, and credit to them for really helping me and being in there with me,” Arenado said with a nod toward Dave Magadan, his assistant, Jeff Salazar and bullpen catcher Aaron Munoz. “They’ve been in there with me.

“That’s what I do, when I get a pitch inside I pull it when I’m going good. When I’m going bad, I feel like I flare it, like I have been.”

The rest of the story
Anderson, in his return from missing two starts with left knee inflammation, gave up five runs on four hits -- including Brian Dozier’s three-run homer in the fourth -- and three walks in three-plus innings. But right-hander Chad Bettis, in his second outing since being moved from the rotation, shut down the Nationals for three perfect innings.

“It was the key to the game,” Black said.

After seeing his four-seam fastball velocity drop below 90 mph in his third start, Bettis’ velocity has shot back up to the low-to-mid 90s, which sets up his cutter and changeup. There were no strikeouts, but he induced seven ground-ball outs and mostly weak contact.

“I feel like I’m able to step on the gas a little bit more [out of the bullpen],” Bettis said.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.