Batten down the hatches, take the kids to the cellar and make sure the humidor is plugged in. The Padres and Rockies are playing this weekend at Coors Field. That can only mean a plethora of runs, mile-high homers in bunches and shaky pitching.
The storm began Friday night with 10-8 Rockies victory in a game featuring 23 hits and five home runs. Fortunately for the Rockies, four of the homers were theirs — including No. 40 from Nolan Arenado — and they got a career-high, three-hit performance from Garrett Hampson.
“I’m feeling more comfortable at the plate, and I’m flirting around with my approach a little,” said Hampson, who has traded in a big leg kick for a more subtle toe-tap. “Solid contact is coming more and more, and obviously I have fewer strikeouts. I want to put the ball in play and hit the ball hard. It’s starting to come around.”
The last time the Padres and Rockies met at Coors Field, June 13-16, they combined for 92 total runs, the most in a four-game series in the modern era (since 1900).
Fortunately for Colorado, young relievers Carlos Estevez and Jairo Diaz, who will play a big role in next year’s bullpen, blanked the Padres for the final two innings. Diaz gave up an infield hit to Wil Myers in the ninth but got a double play and then struck out Luis Urias looking to record his fourth save.
“They are pitching with a great deal of confidence and no doubt they have good stuff,” manager Bud Black said. “They are pounding the strike zone making other teams beat them. That’s what I like. They are trusting their stuff in the hitting area.”
Arenado began the scoring for Colorado with a two-run homer in the first inning off Joey Lucchesi. Arenado’s 40th blast of the season made him just the second player in club history to hit 40 homers in three seasons. Vinny Castilla did it 1996-98. The only four third baseman in big-league history with three 40-home runs seasons are Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Mike Schmidt, and Castilla and Arenado.
“It means a lot, and I just thank God I’ve been able to compete and just stay healthy to do it,” Arenado said. “I’ll celebrate it when the season’s over. Right now it’s kind of surreal. But it’s an amazing feeling, and what a way to do it. I hit it ‘oppo’ which I never do. That’s kind of crazy. But it was cool.”
Colorado also got two home runs from Trevor Story, a two-run shot to right in the fourth and a 436-foot solo homer to center in the sixth. Story has 32 home runs, five behind the career-high 37 he launched last season.
Hampson mashed his first-ever Coors Field home run in the fourth inning, a 436-foot monster to center for his fourth homer overall this season. He also made a leaping catch in center field in the second to rob Greg Garcia of extra bases.
“That homer felt good, I got all of that one,” said Hampson, who was quite aware he’d never gone yard in LoDo.
The Rockies were in complete command until the Padres’ five-run sixth inning, featuring a bases-loaded, two-run single from pinch-hitter Ty France off reliever Wes Parsons.
Colorado starter Jeff Hoffman’s performance was a curious mix of solid pitches, wildness and good fortune. He won his first big-league game since May 29 and was 0-5 in his eight previous starts with a 7.00 ERA.
Over 5⅓ innings Friday, he gave up four runs on four hits, walked six (one intentional), hit a batter and whiffed four. He also served up a two-run homer to Austin Hedges in the second.
“The ball-to-strike ratio wasn’t great,” Black said. “But I told him after the game that his last 40 pitches were better than his first 50. But he battled and I loved how competed. We picked him up, but he kept battling.”
Hoffman averted trouble in the first, thanks to Arenado’s play at third. Hoffman walked two but Arenado snared Eric Hosmer’s scorching line drive and turned it into a double play to end the inning.
“I felt like I was just nibbling a little bit too much early,” Hoffman said. “I think I did a decent job of making adjustments. (I) got more aggressive at the end and just started driving the ball down the slope. When I get tentative, things start to drag and (bad) things happen.”