DENVER -- After hitting two homers and driving in a career-high seven runs in the Rockies’ sixth straight victory, 13-6 over the Blue Jays at Coors Field, Trevor Story found it cool to acknowledge May -- one that was poor offensively before turning boiling hot -- before flipping the calendar.
“This game so repetitive and monotonous that a month can go by and you didn’t realize that May just went by,” Story said. “We’re going to ride this feeling that we have now and try to extend that as long as we can.”
Story powered the Rockies’ attack on Friday night with a pair of two-run home runs and a bases-clearing double in the third innings, giving him a career-high seven RBIs. He went 3-for-4 with a walk and four runs scored.
The Rockies’ 183 runs were their most in any month since scoring 173 in August 2016. They also led the Majors in May in batting average (.294), and topped National League clubs in slugging percentage (.516) and on-base percentage (.359). Plus, Nolan Arenado, who registered three hits and drove in three runs on Friday and Story called “the rock of the lineup,” batted an unreal .425. Colorado went 16-10 and ended the month by scoring 81 runs in its last 11 games.
But the true story of May for the Rockies, believe it or not, is one of overcoming empty offense.
In eight of Colorado’s first 14 games of the month, it finished with double-digit strikeouts. There was the frigid, strange May 14 night in Boston when the Rockies fanned 24 times -- 17 against Red Sox ace Chris Sale -- but pulled out a 5-4 victory.
But by the time Colorado was swept in three games in Philadelphia, with Aaron Nola fanning a career-high 12 and the Rockies making it a baker’s dozen in the middle game of the series, they had lost four straight, dropping to five games below .500. That led to a strikeout summit.
“We had a meeting in Philly where we addressed it,” said Story, who tied former Brewer J.J. Hardy for most home runs (15) before June 1 for a shortstop in NL history. “There are different kinds of strikeouts -- ones that are a little more acceptable and ones that are big no-nos in certain spots. It’s been a team effort. Collectively, we’ve grinded on that and tried to really cut down on those.
“We feel the best teams, the best offenses, they don’t strike out like that. We knew we had it in us, but seeing it being done is nice.”
As the Rockies head into June, Arenado is on an 11-game hit streak. Raimel Tapia, who scored a career-high four runs, has a 10-game streak. Heck, starter German Marquez (6-2), who struck out seven and held the Blue Jays to two runs over seven innings, has a five-game streak -- the most by a Rockies pitcher since Mike Hampton’s eight-gamer from July 22-Aug. 29, 2002. The right-hander went 2-for-3 against Toronto.
Arenado is hitting .344, David Dahl .318, Tony Wolters .303 and Story .294. Charlie Blackmon -- who hasn’t played since last Thursday with a right calf injury -- is at .300. Ian Desmond was batting .140 through April 14 but has hit .297 since to pull his season mark to .250.
And the only time the Rockies have reached double digits in K’s over the past eight games was Thursday, but that game took 11 innings and was won thanks to an RBI single by Daniel Murphy, who slumped after returning from a finger injury but has gotten hot of late.
“We’re swinging at strikes, taking balls,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Our strikeout rate the last couple weeks has gone down. Our walk rate has gone up. Guys are swinging a little bit more freely. They’re swinging aggressive early in the count at good pitches to hit. They’re fighting with two strikes, putting the ball in play.
“These things add up to a good offense.”