DENVER -- Nolan Arenado is in a funk.
The Rockies' All-Star third baseman hasn't been himself since early August, slashing .250/.355/.500 since Aug. 8, when his season-long batting average reached its zenith at .317. Arenado's slump has become more pronounced lately -- he's hitting .220/.304/.341 since Aug. 25 -- and Colorado needs him if it plans to earn a National League Wild Card spot. They enter Thursday's game against the Dodgers with a two-game lead over the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card.
"It's been pretty disappointing lately, but unfortunately, it is what it is, you know?" Arenado said after Wednesday's 11-3 Rockies loss to the Giants at Coors Field. "I'm not going to say it's baseball, because at the end it is, but I'm not going to use it as an excuse. I just need to be better, and right now, I'm not."
The biggest difference is Arenado's performance with runners in scoring position. Once hitting well over .400 with RISP, Arenado is 1-for-12 in such situations with just four RBIs overall since Aug. 25. Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton caught up to Arenado for the NL's RBI lead.
Arenado struggled Wednesday, going 0-for-4 with a fielding error and came about three feet short of a potential go-ahead home run in the third. In the thick of the playoff hunt, Arenado isn't focusing on other teams.
"I feel like my mindset hasn't changed just because of what's going on. [I'm] just trying to hit the ball hard and do my part," Arenado said. "I'm not even thinking about the race, I just want to win every game."
Manager Bud Black isn't focusing on the race either, only on the Rockies. Black said the best way to get Arenado hitting is extra batting practice and making sure he isn't pressing, but that "there's really no magic formula."
"I wish I could answer that, but I can't," Black said. "All I know is he's a very talented player, an All-Star-type player because of the things he does hitting with runners in scoring position.
"So no doubt we need him the last few weeks here, and that's why we play, to find out if it will happen."
Arenado has had multiple memorable performances, from his walk-off cycle June 18 to hitting three home runs in consecutive innings July 19. He yearns for, and thrives in, high-leverage situations.
"I want the at-bats with men on base. I want to hit, I want those moments, but for some reason, like I said, it's just not working out right now." Arenado said. "I'm here to drive in runs and do my part and play third base."
But lately, it hasn't clicked.
"I expect for that to change," he said.