The improbable Albuquerque Isotopes magical mashing melee rolled on Friday night.
It was not quite as ridiculous as Thursday’s barrage, but it came close. David Dahl just kept being superhuman on Superhero Night, going 3-for-4 with a grand slam as the Isotopes walloped Memphis 10-5.
Dahl now has 16 hits in five home games. He has never had less than three hits in any of those games. Yet the grand slam might be the most impressive hit yet. Dahl is a left-handed batter. The slam landed in the Memphis bullpen in left-center in the fourth inning to make it 7-4.
"In (batting practice) I try to work the other way, just try to get out (in front) a little bit," Dahl said. "In the game I really just haven’t been thinking in the box. I’ve been fortunate enough to take good swings."
In many ways for a player, being comfortable going the other way and being able to do so consistently is a sign of being locked in.
"Yeah, I’d say so," Dahl said. "Anytime going the other way, feeling good at the plate, really it’s just a clear mind."
That approach of going the other way has served the Isotopes well. A good example was the previous game, when all four of the hits that made up catcher Tom Murphy’s cycle were to the opposite field.
"It’s all relative; I think when players struggle the old cliche of stay on the ball longer and go the other way comes into play because sometimes going the other way may not be a guy’s strength," Albuquerque manager Glenallen Hill said. "So the fact that some of our players are hitting the balls far to the opposite field is just a reflection of their ability. You’ve got to have some kind of natural ability to hit the ball far to the opposite field."
As for Murphy on Friday, he went a quiet 3-for-4, with two singles, a double and two runs scored a night after hitting for that cycle. Murphy now has 21 hits in his last 28 at-bats.
"You know what’s happening? Guys are having at-bats where they’re comfortable," Hill said. "So when you have a team that’s very relaxed and comfortable the offense is going to show up."
Even one of the Isotopes’ veterans got in on the fun as Jeff Bianchi went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer back in the second inning. It was only the second blast of the year for the defensive specialist.
"I knew I got it well, but I wasn’t sure what part of the park I hit it at, so I came hard out of the box," Bianchi said. "I think hitting is contagious, we’ve got guys like Dahl stepping up and Murphy getting hot. It makes us all excited about going up there. I think there’s a different mindset, where we’re all feeling confident."
The old "hitting is contagious" cliche works for the Isotopes at this point, Bianchi said, but it goes beyond just the hitters.
"I think everything is just clicking right now for us," Bianchi said. "We’re getting great starting pitching. The bullpen has been great like it’s been for a while. Finally, the bats are getting going again. We’re doing well in good (run-scoring) situations."
The Isotopes’ sudden turnaround will be easily sustained. They just played two out of the 54 games they will play in 55 days to finish the Triple-A season. Still, after a stretch of seven-plus weeks where Albuquerque never played more than four at home or four on the road, creating some brutal travel schedules, it seems like a more stable stretch. It’s also one where the players can make a final push to prove themselves in the eyes of the Rockies organization.
"Yeah, the last month was one of the worst in terms of travel," Hill said. "This month it looks like we play almost 30 days without a break. That means that there’s a lot of players … everyone on the roster is going to play. It’s an opportunity and I know there’s some players about how this last six weeks is very, very important for a lot of them. I encourage them to take advantage of their opportunities."
Albuquerque and Memphis will meet again Saturday at 7:05 p.m. The game will feature a big pitching matchup between Isotopes lefty Kyle Freeland and Redbirds right-hander Alex Reyes, who was recently named the No. 2 overall prospect in the minors in Baseball America’s midseason update.