Grichuk makes Rox history with tying, walk-off HRs

Colorado erases deficit with wild 5-run 8th inning before mounting winning rally in 10th

September 7th, 2022

DENVER -- Randal Grichuk craned his neck and marveled at a first-inning home run by the Brewers’ Christian Yelich on Tuesday night -- the second-longest in Coors Field history. “I wouldn’t even be surprised if it was farther than 499 [feet],” he said. 

Then, Grichuk participated in a big night for homers. His pull shot in the eighth inning tied the game, and his three-run, 457-foot launch off Taylor Rodgers in the 10th gave the Rockies a 10-7 walk-off victory.

“That’s the first ball that I’ve ever hit that I looked at the dugout and showed some emotion, and didn’t just sprint out of the box,” Grichuk said. “It was pretty fun.”

While improving his season homer total to 15, Grichuk became the first player in Rockies history with a tying homer in the eighth inning or later and a walk-off homer in the same game. He also helped Colorado match its biggest comeback of the season. The Rockies entered the eighth down, 6-1. They also came from five runs down to beat the D-backs on June 3.

With Colorado in last place in the National League West, the focus naturally turns to players seeking a Major League foothold, rather than an established vet like Grichuk. Some of the lesser-established players produced on Tuesday. 

Elehuris Montero homered in the third off Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff, who held the Rockies to two hits in seven innings, and doubled as part of the eighth-inning rally. Yonathan Daza, in his return off the injured list after missing 22 games with a dislocated left shoulder and trying to make sure there is a place for him next season, homered to dead-center off Luis Perdomo for three runs in the eighth. Alan Trejo, a September callup, went 3-for-4.

Grichuk, however, is plenty motivated.

A .249 career hitter with a .295 career on-base, Grichuk is at .272 and .314 in those respective categories. But because he has had higher home run totals -- 31 for the Blue Jays in 2019 and 22 last season before being traded to the Rockies -- this year has been difficult to put into perspective. 

Grichuk deals with the same home-road production that hurts many hitters, with a .208 road average. Still, the overall year is productive -- just not at home run projections or team expectations.

“I’m just trying to put the ball in the air more now,” he said. “I’m going to play with a few things and see what happens over the last month.”

Part of the thirst for power comes from the makeup of a team that was built around Kris Bryant, who has appeared in just 42 games because of back and foot injuries, and several other players with either power accomplishment or potential.

“Our thought for this group of players was there was a home run within our roster, Grichuk included,” manager Bud Black said. “Tonight, the homer showed up four times -- one early and then three late.

“We don’t have a ton of team speed … We thought that we’d hit homers, and Grichie is a big part of that. It showed up tonight, and hopefully in the next three weeks it shows up with a lot of guys.”

Where does Grichuk want to fall on what can be a sliding scale of homers and average?

“Have you asked the team?” Grichuk, retorted, smiling. “Honestly, there’s a happy medium. Everybody wants to hit for power. Everybody wants to have a high slug. No one feels good about a .220, .230 average.

“You’ve got to take the best of both worlds and see what you can do. I’d like to slug more than I have this year. I’m going to try that the remainder of the year and see what happens. If I can hit .270 and hit for power, that’s a good year.”

During a time when he’s trying to lift balls, on a night when the ball was flying, Grichuk took a couple at-bats to find his swing. The tying solo shot off Peter Strzelecki and the winner were more like it. He worked the count from 0-2 to full against Rogers.

“I got a little aggressive early on, saw the sliders pop,” Grichuk said. “I just kind of stepped out and breathed, and said obviously he’s not going to try to come to me. I’ve just got to put the ball in the air and win the game.”