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Nolan Arenado’s offensive eruption was a surprise to nobody

The All-Star third baseman’s teammates and manager said his three homer game was well within the range of expectations.

DENVER — Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black managed to sum up his team’s 18-4 win over the Padres perfectly in just one sentence.

“Our third baseman had a pretty good game,” Black said.

The Rockies’ third baseman did indeed have a pretty good game. Nolan Arenado went 5-for-6 on the day with three home runs and seven RBI. It was the first three home run game and the first five hit game of his career, while the seven RBI tied a career high he set earlier this season and brought his season total to 80, six more than anyone else in baseball.

To adequately describe the reaction to Arenado’s career day (so far) from his teammates and manager, you have to go across the pond: In England, when a soccer player shows an unexpected bit of skill, on a goal, pass or what have you, commentators and fans will note that they “didn’t know he had that in his locker.” With Nolan’s offensive eruption on Wednesday, everybody knew he had that in his locker. It was not a matter of if he would put together a game like Wednesday’s but a matter of when and how many.

“It didn’t seem out too of the ordinary for something he could do,” Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said.

Think about that, a guy hits three home runs — in three consecutive innings, no less — and his teammates aren’t surprised by it. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised either. A game like Wednesday’s always seemed within Arenado’s grasp. In fact, I was a little surprised he didn’t hit a fourth home run when he had a chance in the eighth inning, though he may have had an explanation for that.

“I was trying to hit a homer,” Arenado said. “That’s probably why I didn’t. The at bats before that, I was just trying to hit the ball hard, just trying to stay in front of the baseball.”

Entering Wednesday’s game, Arenado was hitless since Sunday’s 13-4 win over the Mets, as he went 0-for-5 on Monday and was given a day off on Tuesday, which left him chomping at the bit for the series finale against San Diego.

“Whenever I have a day off I’m always ready to play.” Arenado said. “But I really wanted to play today. I was actually stretching earlier than I usually do, just fired up about being out there. I don’t like days off.”

All that early stretching must have done Arenado some good, as he came out firing on all cylinders starting with a first inning single that brought home Charlie Blackmon for the Rockies’ first run. He then repeated the feat in the second, stretching the Rockies’ lead to 4-0.

The home run binge started in the fourth, as Arenado led off the inning with a solo homer to the concourse in left field off of Padres starter Clayton Richard, giving the Rockies a 7-0 lead. He faced reliever Kevin Quackenbush in the fifth and took him deep to right-center, another solo shot that extended the lead to 13-0. The final home run came in the sixth against Quackenbush, a three-run homer down the left field line, making the score 17-4. He flew out to left in his final at bat in the eighth, finishing his 5-for-6 day.

“The last off day we gave him he did the same thing, hit a big (two-run) homer,” Black said. “We’ll have to look at days off a little bit closer, but we don’t want to give him every other day off.”

In fact, Arenado said his goal is to make Tuesday his last day on the bench this season, citing the team’s abundance of off days in the second half. If he hits anything close to like he did Wednesday it will be tough for Black to keep him out of the lineup.

Rockies starter Jon Gray, who allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings on Wednesday, summarized what Arenado brings to the Rockies on a daily basis.

“It’s amazing to watch,” Gray said. “Great teammate, when he’s on the field you feel like you have this new level, this extra boost of confidence. He does a lot of good things for the club.”