Diamondbacks bats find life in Colorado, open series with win over Rockies

Nick Piecoro
Arizona Republic

DENVER — Perhaps the Diamondbacks needed the calendar to flip, eager for the fresh start July would provide. Or maybe they were close to breaking out anyway. But more than likely they just needed something only this setting could provide — a chance to play at Coors Field, which, of course, not only means at-bats at altitude, it means facing the Colorado Rockies’ pitching staff.

The Diamondbacks wasted little time taking advantage of the conditions on Friday night, scoring early and continuing to add on runs en route to a 9-3 win, their third victory in their past four games.

Josh Rojas and Alek Thomas opened the game with consecutive extra-base hits, setting the stage for a two-run first. Thomas added a two-run homer later in the game, and Carson Kelly and David Peralta connected for solo shots. It was more than enough for right-hander Merrill Kelly, who worked seven strong innings.

In all, the Diamondbacks knocked out 11 hits and drew three walks, cruising to victory in a game in which they never trailed.

The question now is whether they can turn it into something more than just fleeting success.

Through nearly three months, the Diamondbacks have found sustaining their offensive production to be difficult — more so than the typical ups and downs that tend to define a season. They started the season slowly, hit well for about a month, then have experienced about a month of poor results with small pockets of production sprinkled in.

They entered Friday in another mini-funk; they were hitting .189 over their past 10 games, including a shutout loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday in a game in which they managed only three hits.

They matched that total in the first inning alone on Wednesday. Rojas and Thomas made it a 1-0 game after just four pitches. Two batters later, Christian Walker grounded a single through the middle to make it 2-0 in an at-bat that stood out in the mind of manager Torey Lovullo after the game.

Alex Thomas #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Geraldo Perdomo #2 after hitting a two RBI home run against the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning at Coors Field on July 1, 2022, in Denver, Colorado.

“With a man at third base and less than two outs, he was just giving himself up with the infield back,” Lovullo said. “I think there was an awareness of what we were trying to do per at-bat, per pitch, and we executed at a very high level.”

Another thing that caught Lovullo’s attention was the timing of the runs. After the Rockies scored a run to cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, the Diamondbacks scored in the top of the sixth. That sort of tit-for-tat repeated itself two other times, the Diamondbacks thwarting any signs of momentum from the Rockies.

“That’s very powerful,” Lovullo said, “when you’re sitting in the opposing dugout and there’s a relentlessness to our approach and what we’re trying to do in scoring runs.”

Several Diamondbacks hitters arrived in town with good career numbers at Coors Field, and Carson Kelly acknowledged the vibes of past success can help set the stage for more positive results.

“I think when you see the ball well here and have some results here, you look forward to coming to play at a place like that,” said Kelly, who entered the day with a .316 average (12 for 38) and four homers in this ballpark. “I think a lot of guys on our team really enjoy playing here. It gives you that little extra confidence to trust your process and trust your plan to go out and execute.”

Short hops

Left-hander Tyler Holton and outfielder/catcher Cooper Hummel joined the club on the taxi squad on Friday.

*Lovullo said Ketel Marte was likely to remain serving as the designated hitter throughout the Rockies series as the club continues to bring him back slowly from a minor hamstring strain. However, he said Marte was likely to get a day off in the near future.

Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or nick.piecoro@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.