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The road trip from hell had a happy ending in Baltimore thanks to rookie Hunter Goodman in his Major League debut. Then the return to Coors Field on Monday against Atlanta brought back the bad memories.
The Colorado Rockies won on Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the Orioles to snap a historic six-game losing streak, one in which they led in the sixth inning or later. No team had ever suffered so many heartbreaking losses in a row like that. Not even the abysmal Philadelphia Athletics who went 36-117 (.235) in 1916.
In has stepped Goodman to Orioles Park at Camden Yards and his 34 home runs at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque this season to help improve the offense of a club hoping to avoid the first 100-loss season in their 30-year history.
Two games into his tenure and the 23-year-old from Tennessee is batting .500 (4-for-8) with two runs batted in. He’s the ninth in franchise history to record four or more hits in his first two MLB games and just the third to record two hits and an RBI in each of their first two games joining Jeff Salazar (2006) and Todd Helton (1997). Not bad, but it nearly began with a home run in his first plate appearance as a big leaguer.
“That ball was smoked. Wind was blowing in a little bit and he hit out to 410 and (Cedric) Mullins tracked it down,” manager Bud Black said. “I thought the first at-bat showed a lot. Some good takes, he looked hitterish. He flew out to deep center, (but) he hit that ball good.”
In his third at-bat in Baltimore, Goodman singled up the middle to score a run for his first big league hit. It scored Ryan McMahon to give the former Memphis University catcher his first RBI.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 27, 2023
Goodman, who had his contract selected while Jurickson Profar was released in a corresponding move, ended up with the game-winning run, not to mention a diving catch for the final out.
“I think I did a good job just handling myself and being in the moment and not trying to do too much,” he said of his first game. “It was a lot of fun. It’s what you dream of, so what happened was amazing. It was a blur, but I tried to enjoy it the best I could.”
Monday’s 14-4 loss featured starter Austin Gomber leaving with a sore back, MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. having an outstanding 4-for-5 performance that included two stolen bases to give him 61 on the season, and a group of fans running onto to the field and accosting the right fielder during the seventh-inning stretch. Those series of events more than overshadowed Goodman’s second two-hit performance.
Bad fan interactions at Coors Field tonight with Ronald Acuña Jr.
— DNVR Rockies (@DNVR_Rockies) August 29, 2023
“Being able to get that hit and kind of get some pressure off your shoulders obviously playing for the home crowd the first time, it was nice,” he said of the base hit in his first plate appearance at Coors Field.
Despite his success at all four levels of the minors the past 18 months, Goodman said he had a tendency to put too much pressure on himself at each stop. He’d struggle for a week or two before getting back to what was working. So far, that hasn’t been the case since joining Colorado.
At Double-A this season, the fourth-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft slugged 25 home runs to set a new single-season record for the Yard Goats before hitting nine more in just 15 games at Triple-A. Even before his call-up, Black couldn’t help but comment on the homer total. “The thing that stands out is just the natural power, the raw power.”
Meet the new MiLB HR leader, Hunter Goodman 💪
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 26, 2023
It’s not as if everyone on the roster contributed to the recent losing streak nor the loss to begin the six-game homestand. The starting rotation has performed quite well, particularly Chris Flexen who surrendered three earned runs in 11 innings over two starts. Charlie Blackmon and Elias Díaz are proving that age is nothing but a number by batting a combined 18-for-40 (.450) with six extra-base hits and nine runs batted in during the skid.
So long as Goodman continues to hit and the outfield duo of Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle continue to play regularly — something Black said will continue — the losses of 2023 will be forgiven by fans with hopes of increased wins in 2024 and beyond.
Kris Bryant did some pre-game work at first base ahead of the game with Atlanta. The 31-year-old has missed the last 34 games on the injured list with a fractured left index finger. The results of his next x-ray could tell a lot about when he’ll be back for the Rockies.
#Rockies Kris Bryant gets work at first base.
Bryant will receive another x-ray today for a fractured left index finger. He’s been doing most baseball activities, including some cage work.
If all goes well with the x-ray, Bud Black said KB will be on the fast track to return. pic.twitter.com/W7CT0oS8GI
— Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) August 28, 2023
“If we have good news today, there’ll be a little bit of a fast track to get back,” Black said on Monday.
Bryant has played 107 games with Colorado since signing a seven-year, $182 million deal ahead of last season. He’s served as the designated hitter 30 times and has been in the outfield the remaining 77 games.
His return would mean some reduced playing time for the younger players on the roster, but Black reiterated that Doyle and Jones would not see any of their regular playing time diminished. As for Michael Toglia and Goodman, both can play capable defense in the outfield. Same with Charlie Blackmon as evidenced by his five starts in right field since his return from the IL on Aug 14.