DENVER -- Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story continued their MVP-caliber campaigns in Thursday afternoon's finale of a four-game set with the D-backs, with each clocking a milestone homer to spark the Rockies to a 10-3 win at Coors Field.Paired with a dominant pitching performance from Kyle Freeland, the Rockies took
DENVER -- Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story continued their MVP-caliber campaigns in Thursday afternoon's finale of a four-game set with the D-backs, with each clocking a milestone homer to spark the Rockies to a 10-3 win at Coors Field.
Paired with a dominant pitching performance from Kyle Freeland, the Rockies took three of four in the series and extended their lead over the third-place D-backs to 4 1/2 games. The Dodgers, who beat the Cardinals, 9-7, on Thursday night, remained 1 1/2 games behind Colorado.
Arenado's blast in the first inning off spot starter Matt Koch was his longest homer since Statcast™ began tracking them in 2015, traveling 464 feet. Though Arenado had been slumping since sustaining a right shoulder injury on Aug. 10, the homer was his second in two days against the D-backs. For the series, he went 7-for-17 with four doubles, seven runs and five RBIs.
"He's on the fastball," manager Bud Black said. "He jumped that first-pitch fastball from Koch. That was a great swing. He's in a much better place, for sure. The swings on the fastball are what I look at, and he's on those."
The solo tater gave Arenado 100 RBIs for the season and made him the fourth third baseman in Major League history to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in four consecutive seasons, joining Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones and former Rockie Vinny Castilla. At 27, Arenado is the youngest to have pulled off the feat.
"I'm just trying to be ready to hit," Arenado said. "I feel like I've been getting beat by fastballs and then they're throwing some offspeed at me at times that I'm just not ready for. I'm just trying to be ready, hit the ball hard, I feel like I was able to do that. Hopefully I can continue that. Today was a good day."
Story then etched his own name into Rockies history with his 33rd homer -- a two-run shot in the third -- passing Troy Tulowitzki for the most homers by a shortstop in club history. Story's homer traveled 471 feet, making him the only player this season with two homers of at least 470 feet. It was Story's seventh homer on the Rockies' 10-game homestand.
"I really don't care too much about [the distance]," Story said. "Maybe later it's cool to see how far it went. Just trying to put a good swing on the ball. If it goes over the fence, that's all that matters."
Arenado is the fourth Rockies player to have four seasons with 30 homers and 100 RBIs, joining Larry Walker, Castilla and Todd Helton.
Freeland was brilliant for six innings of one-run ball, and he only faltered in the seventh, when the D-backs touched him for two. He left after 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out six. He threw just 82 pitches (62 for strikes), but he had a cramp in his calf that was beginning to bother him from the sixth inning on.
"I've had it on the mound a couple times this season," Freeland said. "It's nothing to have concern about. I feel it mostly at full extension when my toe would be pushing off the rubber."
Freeland yielded only two hits in the first six innings -- a leadoff homer to center from A.J. Pollock in the second and a single up the middle from Nick Ahmed in the same frame. After retiring Pollock to lead off the seventh, he gave up a Steven Souza Jr. triple that eluded center fielder David Dahl as he and the ball hit the wall simultaneously, followed by an RBI double to left from Ahmed. Reliever Yency Almonte gave up a Ketel Marte double to right to plate Ahmed and close Freeland's line.
Eight of the nine Rockies starters recorded hits, and Freeland had two of them -- a deep double to center to plate a run and break a 1-1 tie in the second, and a leadoff bunt single in the fourth to spark another run-scoring rally.
"It's great to see a guy who isn't supposed to swing the bat that well come through in a big spot," outfielder Charlie Blackmon said of Freeland. "You see how hard he's competing out there on the mound, and then to also do it at the plate kind of gives everybody a boost."
The Rockies finished the homestand with a 7-3 record, bookending the four-game set with the D-backs with offensive outbursts of double-digit runs on Monday (13) and Thursday. Colorado next hits the road for a nine-game trip through the division, facing San Francisco, L.A. and Arizona.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Blackmon finds way: Blackmon had a rare day out of the starting lineup, but came in to pinch-hit in the seventh in place of Almonte. The D-backs brought in southpaw Andrew Chafin to face Blackmon with the bases loaded, and he went the opposite way, knocking a two-run single to left as part of a five-run frame. It was his first pinch-hit of the season.
"It's important not to do too much right there," Blackmon said. "If he makes a really good pitch, I can't hit a grand slam. So I set the bar really low. In that situation we really needed a run to score, so I set my sights on that."
HE SAID IT
"We played a good series. We had really good at-bats today. Freeland obviously pitched great. It was a good day today. We're playing hard, we're playing good baseball. We're a very confident team. We have a lot of energy on the bench, energy everywhere. Everybody's playing a part, which is great. The young guys are playing a part here. The pitchers, bullpen, everybody's doing their part."
-- Arenado, on the Rockies finally clicking on all cylinders
OH DAY TO DAY
Seunghwan Oh did not appear in the series, and the Rockies confirmed Thursday that he has a left hamstring issue.
"We don't think [it's serious], but it is troublesome," Black said. "He truly is day to day. Hopefully 'The Final Boss' will be able to get back on track here in the next few days."
Tyler Anderson will try to keep the Rockies' momentum going as the team opens a nine-game road trip Friday at 8:15 p.m. MDT in a matchup with the Giants' Chris Stratton. Anderson has struggled prodigiously since a dominant June. He was knocked out in less than three innings for the second time in three starts Sunday against the Dodgers. He has struggled with location, posting an 0-5 record with a 10.13 ERA and 46 hits over his last seven starts, spanning 29 1/3 innings.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.