LeMahieu all about team goals, not batting title

Rockies second baseman has reached base in 35 straight games, leads NL in hitting

September 20th, 2016

DENVER -- If Rockies second baseman 's plate appearances, which double as clinics in situational hitting, fly under the radar, it's time to recalibrate the device.

LeMahieu drew a first-inning walk, went 2-for-4 and scored two runs in the Rockies' 5-3 loss to the Cardinals on Monday at Coors Field. The fact he struck out with one on during an unsuccessful comeback attempt in the ninth inning qualifies as news, the way LeMahieu has been performing.

LeMahieu has reached in 35 straight games. His night left his batting average at .349, which leads the National League by one point over the Nationals' .

LeMahieu is better measured by the mission and accomplishment.

For example, on Monday, Cards starter was finding the strike zone and his breath -- he needed oxygen at one point -- in Denver's atmosphere when LeMahieu patiently walked on a full-count curveball. With the Rockies down, 2-1, in the third and just needing a baserunner, LeMahieu singled into center and would score on 's two-out single.

The examples come almost daily.

During a four-run second in Friday's 8-7 victory over the Padres, had given up two hits and two walks when LeMahieu came up and watched the count go 3-0. The next pitch was down the middle, and one LeMahieu could legitimately have tried to crush. But he let it go, then smoked the next pitch to right for a three-run double.

In a five-run fourth during Sunday's 6-3 win over the Padres, LeMahieu let struggling pitcher 's full-count pitch go for a bases-loaded walk.

"He's very secure in the box; you don't see the game speed up on him when he's taking an at-bat," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said this weekend, while noting that LeMahieu set and reached a goal of cutting down his strikeouts.

It's all because LeMahieu lets the scoreboard dictate the at-bat. And, no, it's not the life-sized batting average number.

"If a runner needs to be moved over or I need to get an RBI, I've been doing that stuff all year, and I'm not going to change that for anything," LeMahieu said. "So that's it, just have good, team at-bats and try to help our team win. If the average is good, then great. If not, helping the team win is all I can do."

LeMahieu and Murphy have been vying for the batting lead for much of the second half, but it seems a byproduct rather than a goal for both. Murphy has been out of the lineup the past two games with what he called "left leg discomfort," and the Nats appear to be making sure he is fresh for the playoffs. LeMahieu is not keeping an eye on Murphy but on a Rockies club looking to finish strong.

"I'll tell anyone that asks me, I'm trying to get on base for Nolan Arenado and , trying to move over," LeMahieu said. "That's what it's all about. I don't think of the other stuff too much.

"If I focus on things I need to focus on, personal stuff happens."