Randy Reyes stood in the batter's box needing a triple to complete the cycle. He was in the same situation in his previous at-bat and hit a screaming liner off the left field wall that was smacked so hard he was held to a single. This was ironic because his double came on a ground ball up the middle when he moved to second, noticing the center fielder coming to the ball nonchalantly.
"I hit the ball and saw the center fielder kind of sleeping and said to myself, ‘I'm going to second base no matter what,'" Reyes said through translator and the game's DH Hamlet Marte. Marte remarked, "We saw that in Great Falls, (Michael) Cuddyer did it two times."
How awesome is that?
In his final at-bat, Reyes fouled off a few tough pitches, but it was clear that Ogden had seen enough of him and he was eventually issued a walk, bringing his line in the game to 4-4, with a double, a home run, an RBI, a walk, and four runs scored. Not a bad day at the ballpark.
Was Reyes frustrated that his opponent took the bat out of his hands with the cycle on the line? "No. I had a chance for the triple earlier but I wasn't even thinking about it. Not on my mind. The only thing I was thinking was we need a win. I really did completely forget about it."
When I asked hitting coach Lee Stevens earlier this year for a dark horse candidate -- someone to emerge beyond the Kevin Padlos and Forrest Walls of the world -- he named Reyes. The 21-year-old is hitting .304/.329/.536 with six home runs on the season.
Not to be outdone, fellow corner outfielder Yonathan Daza went 5-5 (the duo combined to go 9-9) at the plate in a magnificent all-around game for the Grand Junction.
Daza used his blinding speed to his advantage, reaching base on a bunt and then scurrying all the way to third on a bad throw from the pitcher. Later he beat out a near web gem from the opposing third baseman who dove and made a great throw, but it simply was not in time. Daza stole three bases in the game to go along with three RBI, and two runs scored. It was the first five-hit performance from a Grand Junction Rockie this season.
Daza is hitting .354/.407/.475 with three home runs and 14 stolen bases on the year.
The team's aggressiveness and athletic prowess was on full display in this game. The corner outfielders we've been discussing were nightmares on the base paths and even catcher Dom Nunez, who was magnificent defensively, got in on the act, going first-to-third on a passed ball. Not a lot of catchers pull that off ... in any league.
"He got behind in the count 2-0 and gave the guy an opportunity to sit on the fastball," pitching coach Ryan Kibler explained, "That's what made him successful all night long, he was getting ahead in the count, throwing strikes and keeping them guessing. But a 2-0 count after having already thrown a change-up, the guy was sitting fastball and he got it."
Palacios scattered three other hits and struck out four without walking a batter.
"That's what he does," says Kibler. "He is Mr. Dependable. When the game is on the line and he gets base runners, he keeps making pitches. He likes to pitch to contact, and when you pitch to contact you are going to get a few base runners at times, but he keeps it in the strike zone and he always has something in his back pocket to get out of it, too. Especially late in games."
"They made an adjustment on him in the fifth inning to come out aggressive and he adjusted right back and Dom (Nunez) helps with that too but they both understand at a high level how to make adjustments and did it perfectly tonight."
All told, it was a pretty good night for the Rookie Rockies, who snapped a four-game losing streak and seem legitimately intent on winning the Pioneer League and making some noise in the playoffs.
"We want that ring," said Hamlet Marte at such a prospect. "It's going to look good."