Texas native Story HRs twice in homecoming

Rangers fan as kid, Rox SS first visiting player to HR at new park

July 26th, 2020

A trip to Arlington is usually a homecoming and features family time for Rockies shortstop . But in this pandemic-impacted 2020 season, the only comfort that Story, who grew up in nearby Irving, got on this trip home was “feeling the humidity -- that’s what I grew up in.”

Unable to visit with family or even his wife because of health protocols, Story made himself at home in brand-new Globe Life Field on Sunday afternoon. He homered twice in the Rockies' 5-2 decision that won the season-opening three-game series, going the opposite way to right field in the fourth inning, and crushing a 424-foot no-doubter to left in the sixth.

“My hotel room was looking right out at AT&T Stadium, so that was awesome -- one of the best views I’ve ever had, so that was cool,” said Story, a Dallas Cowboys football fan by birthright. “Tough not to not to see my friends and family, but times are different now.

“Just a lot of texts, and talking to my mom and dad. It’s just weird not being able to see them and share the experiences in a sweet ballpark like this. But we’ll make up for it.”

Story's homers represented the Rockies’ first of 2020 and the first by a visiting player at Globe Life Field. The Rangers’ Joey Gallo beat him, by two innings, to the first homer of any kind in the new venue.

“I grew up a die-hard Rangers fan, and that’s cool to be the first visitor to do that,” Story said. “But Gallo got a good one today to break it in.”

Story's first long ball was for two runs off Rangers lefty Joe Palumbo, who had replaced injured starter Corey Kluber (right shoulder tightness), to tie the game at 2. And Story's blast off Nick Goody to open the sixth gave the Rockies a 4-2 lead.

It was the 15th multi-homer game of Story’s career, placing him sixth on the Rockies' all-time multi-homer game list, passing Dante Bichette. Andres Galarraga ranks fifth with 17 multi-homer games.

Sunday’s occurred in a park that looks to be pitcher-friendly.

“He was close the last two days, and today it showed up,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.

Story, a Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalist last season, also made his signature play, a spinning throw from behind second base after fielding an Elvis Andrus grounder in the fifth.

Story also was part of a key third-inning double play behind lefty Kyle Freeland, who began putting a rough 2019 behind him by holding the Rangers to two runs and four hits, while striking out five in six innings. Freeland was also efficient, throwing just 80 pitches.

The Rangers had a 2-0 lead on Gallo’s homer in the second and three hits to open the fourth. But Freeland reset his inning by getting Danny Santana to ground to Story to start the double play.

“I’ve been saying it since I’ve been a big leaguer: Having that left side of the infield, [Story] and Nolan [Arenado, who started a fourth-inning double play], every single ballgame, you know they’re going to do something -- for the team, for the starting pitcher that day, for any relief pitcher,” Freeland said.

Story’s homers were bookended by two walks. For the series, he went 4-for-9 with four walks. While strikeouts were a problem for the Rockies (their eight on Sunday brought the series total to 31), chasing pitches out of the zone actually has not been an issue. Story and other accomplished hitters (Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Daniel Murphy) have been leaders in the push for selectivity.

“At the top of the lineup, we try to set the tone for the guys to follow,” Story said. “There’s always room to get better in this game. That being said, it’s hard to hit.”

But Story’s approach, and his power swing, will serve him and the Rockies anywhere -- at Coors Field, on the road or not far from Story’s boyhood home.