MIAMI -- There’s just something about the Marlins for Colorado second baseman Brendan Rodgers. After a slow start to the season -- he hit .078 in 14 games in April -- Rodgers has bounced back in a major way.
The first big sign of the rebound came as the culmination of his outstanding May, during which he hit .347. After his first three-homer game on June 1, also against the Marlins, Rodgers was named the NL Player of the Week. After his 4-for-5 performance in the Rockies’ 3-2 loss in Thursday afternoon’s series finale at loanDepot park, it seems possible another weekly honor may be in Rodgers’ future.
A Florida native, Rodgers had his family and friends in the stands for all three of Colorado’s games in Miami, visiting with them on the field during batting practice prior to the first two games of the series.
Though the Rockies were swept for the fifth time this season, Rodgers put on a clinic, going 6-for-13 with two triples (his first three-baggers of the season), three doubles, three RBIs and one walk. His performance Thursday marked his first four-hit day, though he’s had 10 three-hit games over his four-year career in the Majors.
“I knew what I was doing wrong, just getting a little too big, a little too over-aggressive,” Rodgers said of his struggles this season. “I got back to myself this series, just staying inside the ball and using the whole field. And that’s when I know I'm doing the right thing.”
All four of Rodgers’ knocks on Thursday registered as hard-hit balls. His single was the softest he hit, and even that had a 97 mph exit velocity. Rodgers’ three other hits all had an exit velo of at least 101.3 mph. Manager Bud Black was impressed by that power, as well as Rodgers’ use of the whole field: He smoked his first double into the left-field corner, while his other double and his triple were to center field and his single was to right field.
It all gets back to what Rodgers mentioned postgame -- when he’s hitting well, and feeling good at the plate, he’s using the whole field.
After his five extra-base hits vs. the Marlins this series, Rodgers boasts a .720 OPS while slugging .413. Narrowed down, the 25-year-old has a .467 slugging percentage over his past seven games, and that’s without any home runs over that stretch. His batting average, too, went up after Thursday’s outing, from .243 entering the series to .255.
To back up his performance at the plate, Rodgers showed off his athletic prowess at second base. On Wednesday, he applied the tag on a throw down from backstop Elias Díaz to catch Jazz Chisholm Jr. stealing in the first inning. Then, he made an incredible diving catch for the final out of the eighth inning, covering 95 feet before laying out just inside the first-base foul line.
“It’s nice to know that we have high-quality defensemen out there that are going to make the plays,” starter Kyle Freeland said after his seven-inning, five-strikeout start on Thursday. “It’s really nice to know that guys are out there who are wanting to make a good play.”
To make the series even more interesting for Rodgers, he got jeered at by some fans who he thinks it’s possible he played against while growing up north of Orlando. He didn’t notice the negative chants during the series opener on Tuesday, but Freeland did, and he pointed out a group of 20-something guys in foul territory down the right-field line that had been chanting only during Rodgers’ at-bats.
“[Brendan’s] going to be a special player,” Freeland said Thursday. “We saw a good chunk of it last year when he got off the IL, and then same thing this year after he had a bit of a slow start. When he rolls, he’s on a roll for a long time. He’s a special player in the box and out on the field."