LOS ANGELES -- It used to be that appreciating Charlie Blackmon was easy. You could count on him for around 30 homers a year. Now he is more a thinking man’s hitter.
But Blackmon has turned in a good week of brawn.
Blackmon’s 10th-inning, two-run homer off Jimmie Sherfy gave the Rockies the cushion they needed to extend their road win streak to a season-high three games with a 9-6 comeback on Friday night.
On Sunday, Blackmon’s 10th-inning shot ended a 6-5 Rockies victory at Coors -- and began the Dodgers’ current 1-5 spiral. That one didn’t require much thought: Jump on a mislocated cutter from Phil Bickford.
But Blackmon’s Friday homer, just his second since June 3 and sixth of the season, was born of strategy. Trevor Story -- who had homered in the sixth off starter David Price -- led off the 10th with an RBI single and advanced to second when left fielder Zach McKinstry mishandled the ball. The situation dictated what Blackmon did next, more or less.
“If I hit that ball to the right side, we get that runner over to third, and in a really good position to score,” Blackmon said. “But having said that, the pitch he threw me was a hanging breaking ball. That's a good pitch to elevate and pull for power. So he just laid one in there for me, and I was able to take advantage of it.”
Blackmon’s winner may have been exactly as he planned. But much of this rare road win -- the Rockies are 10-34 away from Coors Field -- was more scratched out than thought out.
Always strapped for power on the road, the Rockies parked four homers, with Elias Díaz’s off Price in the third inning and Sam Hilliard’s go-ahead shot off Darien Núñez in the ninth joining the round-trippers by Story and Blackmon.
And the 10th inning was made necessary, and possible, because of a strange ninth inning from closer Daniel Bard. After walking three, including one with the bases loaded, Bard proceeded to fan Will Smith, Sheldon Neuse and AJ Pollock to send the game to extras.
After the three-run top of the 10th, rookie lefty Lucas Gilbreath coolly earned his first career save as part of the Rockies’ objective to test their less-experienced relievers as often as possible.
“We're not where we want to be in the standings, but we come to play every night,” Bard said. “If I’m the Dodgers, the Padres, the Giants right now, I wouldn't want to play us because you just never know what you're going to get.”
It would be nice if the Rockies could count on offense like Friday, when their four home runs were among 12 hits. The Dodgers built leads of 3-0 and 4-1 against starter Chi Chi González. The Rockies should cherish any road victory, given their problematic away record compared to the 33-20 mark at Coors. But this one had a little higher value.
“The fact that we won right away -- first road game after a long homestand -- is more indicative of how well we played tonight,” Blackmon said. “It’s really nice to see the type of win where we score a bunch of runs. It wasn’t just Germán Márquez going out there and dominating somebody for eight innings. It was a lot of runs from the Rockies.”