Blackmon ends Rox's HR drought, continues climb up club list

After game-tying homer in 7th, Colorado goes on to fall to Cleveland in 10th

June 15th, 2022

DENVER -- Baseball is unfeeling. On a night Charlie Blackmon should have been celebrated by Rockies history, and envied by his teammates, he ended Tuesday night’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Guardians at Coors Field -- at best -- numb.

Blackmon tied the game in the seventh with a long overdue two-run homer off formidable Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber. The home run moved Blackmon into a tie with Dante Bichette for sixth in club history with 201 homers. In the here and now, he ended the third-longest homerless stretch in Rockies history -- 266 plate appearances.

The last Colorado homer before Tuesday was by Blackmon himself -- a three-run pinch-hit homer into McCovey Cove that fueled a 5-3 win over San Francisco on June 7. By no means was it just for the Rockies to then lose because Blackmon was stuck on the third-base line in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Standing on third as Colorado had runners on the corners with no outs, Blackmon broke for the plate on Brendan Rodgers’ tapper in front of the plate. Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase flipped the ball to catcher Austin Hedges, and Blackmon was stuck. Even when Hedges let the ball slip from his hand momentarily, Blackmon couldn’t see it in time to seek safety. Hedges threw to Clase covering the plate, and then Clase tossed it to third baseman José Ramírez, who tagged Blackmon for the out. Meanwhile, Yonathan Daza couldn’t go from second to third, and Rodgers was stuck at first.

A C.J. Cron double play later, the game was over. Yes, it was a real bummer for Blackmon.

“If Charlie was to have it over again, he probably would’ve held his ground,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.

But go back to the homer drought, and you get Colorado's current predicament.

“That was a big homer that tied the game,” Black said. “But overall, our power is lacking. When you look at our roster, and you look at the names and what they’re capable of on the power side, right now we’re not producing the power that we anticipated.

“But there’s still a lot of baseball left for that to happen. Whether the guys reach their expected home run totals, we’ll see. But I do think there’s more home runs in there from the group. A number of guys are below their power numbers that you might want to see right now.”

Blackmon hit only 13 homers last year, a drop-off after averaging 27 per season from 2014-19. This year, he's already up to 10 home runs.

Cron is at 14 homers, although a recent slump is partially responsible for him having none over his past 43 at-bats. Cron had an RBI triple on Tuesday, and he seems to be nearing his best swing.

But Ryan McMahon has had 95 at-bats since his most recent homer, and Randal Grichuk is homerless over his past 81 at-bats. Sam Hilliard, full of power potential, is 0-for-20 with 10 strikeouts this month. Catcher Elias Díaz, who did not play Tuesday, had 18 homers last year, but he has only two and a .204 batting average in 2022.

The guy brought in to help a team that struggled with the long ball last year, Kris Bryant, has none -- mainly because he has played only 17 games because of two stints on the injured list with a back injury. Bryant hit on the field before Tuesday’s game, but there is no timetable for his return.

Right-hander Antonio Senzatela held the Guardians to three runs (two earned) in six innings while providing the Rockies' ninth quality start over their past 11 games. Yet, Colorado is 4-7 in those contests.

Since May 13, the Rockies have had 15 quality starts in 31 games, but they are 11-20 during that stretch.

Not coming up with big swings makes close games more likely, and winning them less likely. In June already, Colorado has had six extra-inning games and won only one.

“It’s something we’ve lacked a little bit -- in the offseason, it was something we targeted,” Cron said. ”The power hasn’t been there for us, especially playing in this ballpark. We’re facing good pitchers night in and night out. It’s tough to string together a lot of hits.

“We’ve got really good hitters on this team. It’s going to come, I’m confident in that. Once it comes, it’s going to stay for quite a while.”