Doyle continues torrid stretch with quality at-bats, two-homer game

July 10th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- What does a player do late in a game so full of discouragement as the Rockies’ 12-6 loss to the Reds? If he’s center fielder , he turns in a second home run of the game on an at-bat that the Rockies should bottle for better days.

By the eighth inning Tuesday, Doyle already had a walk, a solo home run and a double. The homer, on a full count against Reds starter Nick Lodolo, was a 107.3 mph screamer to center field.

Leading off the eighth against Reds reliever Buck Farmer, Doyle fell behind 0-2. Four pitches later, Doyle had worked the count full. Along the way, he fouled off a tough changeup. He also checked his swing -- Reds partisans at Great American Ball Park disagreed -- on a sinker.

Finally, Doyle lit into a 93.7 mph sinker that had no sink -- and his 13th homer of the season left his bat at 107.8 mph and traveled a Statcast-projected 442 feet to center.

“I’m just trying to stay stubborn up there, and trying to zone in on where I want the pitch to be,” Doyle said. “Game planning has been going well.”

Doyle is the reigning National League Player of the Week, thanks to a .524/.600/1.286 slash line with eight extra-base hits and nine RBIs from July 1-7. While there are good weeks, the at-bat against Farmer shows that Doyle’s execution matches the otherworldly numbers.

According to Statcast, Doyle entered Tuesday fourth in the Majors in Batter Run Value this month at eight -- one from a tie at the top spot. The stat takes into account such feats as coming from down 0-2 in a count to reach base, such as Doyle did with his second homer. After hitting .203 last season as a rookie, Doyle stands at .279 with a .813 OPS.

“That's where everybody wants to be in that spot where you're swinging the bat,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He's hitting the ball to right-center field, left-center field, staying in the middle of the field. He’s on time. He’s hitting all pitches, so he’s doing his part.”

Doyle, 26, is a second-year player on a team struggling so mightily this year (32-60, 12-33 record on the road) that it has no choice but to dream that future years will be better.

This is not that year, and Tuesday was not that night.

Cal Quantrill, unable to locate his secondary pitches in the second inning, pitched the Rockies into a 5-0 disadvantage before a 44-minute rain delay hit in the third inning. With the length of that second inning, Quantrill didn’t get a third, meaning no chance to keep the Rockies in the game.

“That was the plan -- get through five or six, but the rain came in,” Quantrill said. “Tough day.”

The first Doyle homer was part of a four-run fourth, which also included Michael Toglia’s two-run shot.

Doyle’s second homer came with the game largely decided. But he noted that good at-bats throughout games make anything possible.

“There are a lot of variables that could’ve cut us down -- the rain delay and getting down early,” Doyle said. “We fought back pretty good. Possibly next time, we’ll be on the winning side of it.”

The upturn in Doyle’s numbers reveals a thought process that is instructive for a Rockies team full of hitters struggling, in general.

There were other offensive performances that could turn into baby steps. Toglia knocked his 11th homer, although he is trying to become better than an all-or-nothing (.187) hitter. Hunter Goodman, who is fighting for playing time, but entered fighting a 1-for-20 skid, doubled twice. And Ezequiel Tovar, so smooth that the Rockies were less worried than they’d normally be about a dry spell, ended an 0-for-30 stretch with a single and later, a sacrifice fly.

Doyle said a key to reducing frustration -- of which he had plenty last year -- is to focus on what he can control with his pitch selection and contact quality. For example, Doyle entered Tuesday with six barrels in July, one behind Milwaukee's Christian Yelich for the MLB lead. Both of Doyle's homers were barrels, propelling him into the lead for the month.

“If you chase numbers, you’ll probably be disappointed a lot of times,” Doyle said. “If I get out and the swing is good, it’s a big jump for me this year. I'm not getting so upset about hard-hit outs. Last year, I’d get upset just because I was chasing numbers here and there. But this year, it's more just taking it day by day, and just trying to get my best swings.”