“I was either going to hit another home run or probably strike out,” Arenado quipped.
Story’s own second homer didn’t need a follow-up. Career No. 101 was a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Rockies their third victory in four games, 8-6, over the Orioles at Coors Field.
Story’s century homer came in his 448th career game, faster than Alex Rodriguez (470 games) and Nomar Garciaparra (491). Hall of Famer Ernie Banks hit his 100th in his 500th game.
And while history is important to Story -- “About stats, I wouldn’t say I’m very knowledgeable, but I’m pretty in tune with the good players that have [played] in the past,” he said -- the big night was one for the here and now. And in today’s game, it’s hard to find a more dynamic left side of the infield than Story and Arenado. And their success is connected.
Arenado debuted in 2013 and 2014 with 10 and 18 homers, respectively, before breaking out for 42 in 2015. Story burst onto the scene in 2016 with a National League rookie shortstop record 27, despite missing the final two months with a torn left thumb ligament.
But in Story’s second year, his batting average dropped 33 points to .239 and he led the NL with 191 strikeouts. Yes, Story is bigger and faster than Arenado, but he needed to learn to sharpen what he has -- the way Arenado had done. Story saw Arenado gaining greater strike zone control with each passing season, and he wanted that trait for himself.
“When we walk a lot, we talk about how these guys are going to attack us, what we think is going to happen,” Story said. “We’re looking for balls on the plate. Sometimes, these guys have really great movement. They can get to the corners and off. It’s not easy. It’s just trying to find a ball in your zone, and don’t miss it when you get it.”
Arenado appreciated Story listening.
“In ‘17, when he struggled, he realized you’ve just got to take a step back,” Arenado said. “He didn’t have to do too much to make things happen. He’s just so toolsy. We talked about it, ‘You don’t have to overstride. If you simplify, you’re going to take off.’”
The ball took off for both Friday.
“Those two guys are part of our carriers,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “A lot of times, we go as they go. Nolan’s been playing really consistent the last month. We’ve seen his average raised.
“As a group, the first couple weeks it was a little tough. But the last month offensively it’s been so much better -- sort of led by Nolan’s resurgence, Charlie [Blackmon, who did not play because of a calf injury suffered Thursday in Pittsburgh], and Trevor has been pretty good the whole year.”
Arenado went deep off Orioles starter John Means in the first, before the Rockies fell down 5-1 as newly called-up starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman struggled (five runs in five innings, homers to Keon Broxton and Dwight Smith Jr. and three other extra-base hits). But the Rockies stayed close until two were out in the seventh.
Story’s first homer -- a Statcast-projected 448-footer, with a 108.2 mph exit velocity, that reached the upper bleachers in left -- came off Shawn Armstrong, who had replaced Richard Bleier. A charged-up Arenado also went deep off Armstrong.
Ryan McMahon singled to lead off the ninth and was at second, courtesy of a passed ball, when Story poked a Mychal Givens slider the opposite way over the out-of-town scoreboard in right.
“You never know how a game is going to unfold, but I always feel good about a number of our guys when it’s hot and it’s late in the game, and Trevor is one of those,” Black said.
Story finished the night with a choice. Which was his favorite?
“The hundredth, I really hit that one pretty good,” Story said. “I love that one. But I’ll take the ninth-inning one for sure, the walk-off.”