When the Rockies took the field on the afternoon of Sunday May 13, 2013 in St. Louis, Nolan Arenado was in the lineup, hitting sixth and playing third base. Charlie Blackmon, fresh up from Triple-A in his third trip to the big leagues, was in the lineup in right field, hitting eighth.
A baseball bond had begun.
Blackmon is the Rockies regular leadoff hitter, Arenado regularly entrenched in the No. 3 spot, the two having become the foundation the Rockies look to build upon for long-term success on the field.
It was Blackmon, who in the opening week of the regular season a year ago the Rockies signed six-year, $108 million contact the year before he would have been free-agent eligible. And it was Arenado in the opening days of spring training this year, who agreed to an eight-year, $260 million also a year ahead of potential free agency.
The last eight days have underscored what the Arenado/Blackmon combo means tot eh Rockies.
Arenado took center stage in the Rockies 7-5 victory against the Nationals at Coors Field on Monday night. After picking up a pair of doubles earlier in the game, Arenado led off the bottom of the seventh inning by delivering the go-ahead home run -- the milestone 1,000th hit of his career.
With their eighth win in nine games have regrouped from the worst start to a season in franchise history (3-12). They are two games out of second place in the NL West, 2 ½ games back of a potential second wild-card spot.
Arenado has hit .357 during the surge with team highs in home runs (4) and RBI (8) with Blackmon right behind him with six RBI, a .361 batting average, and leading the team having reached base 16 times in the eight games.
The night did belong to Arenado, underscored by the encased ball that he hit for the 190th home run of his career sitting on the ledge in his locker as Arenado met with the media. But in true Arenado style, he admitted he wasn't aware that the milestone was pending.
“I just didn’t know," Arenado said. "I mean I knew I was close, because we had talked about it, but like a week ago. I haven’t gotten a lot of hits lately, so it’s best that I didn’t know so that I didn’t think about it. I try not to know a lot of those stats. I’m just thankful I could put the team ahead there and just have a quality at-bat against a guy throwing hard and throwing a really good cutter.”
And to underscore the completeness of Arenado's game, as well as providing that go-ahead home run he also had the final word of the win, helping bail closer Wade Davis out of a one-on, two-out jam.
With the top of the Nationals lineup in the wings, Arenado fielded a ground ball down the line off the bat of pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki, racing to tag the third base bag and then firing to first in time to get Suzuki for a game-ending double play.
“Great players do great things,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “His 1,000th hit was a homer. How good is that? And then the play at the end of the game, he had a decision to make, whether to run to the bag, tag and throw to first or try to go the 5-4-3, and his decision was the right one.”
And great players is what Arenado and Blackmon have become since that first time they found themselves in the Rockies lineup. Keying the Rockies current seven-game surge is not a surprise. The two of them have climbed into the list of the Rockies all-time leaders in virtually every significant offensive category.
Todd Helton is the career in most everything -- except triples -- but Blackmon and Arenado are climbing the Top 10 Lists, on which by the time Arenado decides to call it quits, he is certainly in line to be at the top of virtually every categorty
He is, after all, already making en roads, and he just turned 28 a week ago.
And it's not just among Rockies hitters all-time that Blackmon and Arenado have made an impact, but since that first game they played togehter back on May 12, 2013 they have been among the most productive hitters in the National League.