CHICAGO, Ill. – Time flies when you’re a rookie shortstop setting records on nearly a daily basis for the Colorado Rockies. One year ago today, Ezequiel Tovar was making his Major League debut and getting a base hit in the first two pitches he saw as a big leaguer.
On Saturday, he was firmly entrenched in the Rockies lineup for the 155th time since last season, going 3-for-4 with two doubles during a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs that extended the team’s losing streak to six games and gave the club 98 losses, tying the 2023 squad with 2012 for the most in a single season in franchise history.
”My wife reminded me today and I also got the little notification of one year, kind of photos that popped up on my phone,” Tovar said through an interpreter.
During a rookie season sure to garner some attention for National League Rookie of the Year Award, manager Bud Black and teammate Kris Bryant provided praise for the 22-year-old.
“He’s been a consistent performer for us. Obviously the defensive side is a must at that position. He’s shown that. He’s been durable. He’s played every day with a high level of energy and a great deal of competency. And the offensive side, right there, you know, .250, .260,” Black said. “But he’s doing his job, right, and he was a big part of it today for us.”
Bryant, who snapped an 0-for-17 streak that began on Sept. 17, doubled in his first at-bat of the day against Cubs’ starter Marcus Stroman. Though he spent a prolonged part of the year on the injured list, he’s been with the team throughout the season to observe Tovar’s contributions to the club.
“Yeah, he’s special, special defensively,” Bryant shared. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a shortstop as good as him. Offensively, he’s made huge adjustments. Just really doing a special thing. And he just turned 22. I mean, that’s pretty crazy. Just how he carries himself in here too, you’d think he’s 30 years old (like) he’s been here for a while. That maturity is gonna take him a long way, hopefully a long way here on this team.”
Bud Black talks about the consistency of Ezequiel Tovar this season. pic.twitter.com/nGSF05SHxu
— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM (@ATTSportsNetRM) September 23, 2023
Tovar singled in the second inning off Stroman and came around to score on a 2 RBI-double by Brenton Doyle that gave Colorado a 3-1 lead. By the time he doubled in the sixth against Javier Assad, the lead had shrunk to 3-2. And his second double, this time off Julian Merryweather, nearly sparked a bases loaded rally after the Rockies had given up the lead following Chicago runs in the sixth and seventh against Jake Bird and Nick Mears, respectively. Back-to-back strikeouts by Brenton Doyle and Charlie Blackmon snuffed out hopes of a comeback.
Prior to the bullpen’s folly, Chris Flexen was effective against the Cubs, much to the consternation of Chicago media inside the Wrigley Field press box. In two starts against the Northsiders this month, Flexen went 10.1 innings and allowed five earned runs. That may equate to a 4.35 ERA, but considering his season-long average is 7.01, the impending free agent found something against the Cubbies once again.
Tovar’s seventh three-hit game of the year was his 35th multi-hit performance of 2023, and since Sept. 13, he’s hitting .400 (16-for-40) with five doubles, one triple and nine runs batted in.
He leads all NL rookies with 36 doubles and is only one away from tying Todd Helton’s rookie franchise record of 37 in 1998.
“I’m thankful I’m able to play every day and I get the experience and I get to share in that experience with teammates and try to get better at it,” Tovar said. “And I continue to do that, continue to learn and then it’s a continuing process. Again, I’m just thankful for the experience.”