Ender Inciarte homered twice and the Braves launched four solo shots off Rockies rookie starter Jeff Hoffman in a 10-4 victory on Thursday at Coors Field. The result pushed the Rockies into a tie with the D-backs for the top National League Wild Card spot.
Inciarte has hits in 19 of his last 20 games but hadn’t homered since July 19 before going deep to lead off the third and fifth innings. He improved his homer total to 10 — one more than his combined total of the previous two years — and helped the Braves earn a split of the four-game set. Tyler Flowers opened the second with his 10th homer, and Freddie Freeman added his 22nd homer to chase Hoffman after 4 1/3 innings.
The power barrage provided all the necessary support for Braves rookie starter Lucas Sims (1-3), who allowed two runs over five innings to record his first career win in what was his first start at Coors Field — an offense-friendly stadium. His effort helped the Braves quickly distance themselves from Wednesday night’s 17-2 loss.
“To bounce back the way that we did and put up all of those runs shows a lot of resiliency,” Sims said. “It makes for a little bit better of a flight home.”
Hoffman (6-5) gave up two other hits, both for extra bases — Ozzie Albies’ second-inning triple and Freeman’s fourth-inning double. After averaging 94.5 mph on his four-seam fastball before Thursday, Hoffman — who admitted feeling “under the weather” — saw his velocity drop to a 92.1 clip in the game, with the first three home runs allowed coming on fastballs. Freeman’s homer, on a curve, was by far his longest this year at 439 feet.
“I’ve been through stretches like this, whether it’s this year or in the past,” said Hoffman, who has yielded eight runs in nine innings over his last two starts. “I’ve been through worse than this. You’ve just gotta tell yourself to forget about it and take the positives away from it, whatever positives you can find, and go out there next time out and try to get the job done.”
The Rockies, who saw Ryan McMahon — their No. 3 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com — earn his first RBI on a second-inning double, also saw third baseman and National League MVP Award candidate Nolan Arenado leave the game with an apparent re-injury to his left hand. A hard, seventh-inning shot by Lane Adams hit the bottom of the hand — on or near the spot where he suffered a bone bruise when hit by a pitch in Miami on Sunday.
“The trainer told me, ‘I can’t believe it hit that spot,'” Arenado said. “I was thinking the same thing, ‘Man, you’ve got to be kidding me.’ That’s the way it goes. That’s baseball. Just something I have to deal with.”
After the Rockies grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second, Inciarte crushed a 1-1 Hoffman pitch 434 feet into the upper deck in right field. It stands as the longest home run the Braves’ center fielder has hit since Statcast™ tracking began in 2015. His fifth-inning homer traveled a projected 429 feet, making it his second-longest homer within that span.
Inciarte became just the second player in MLB history with two homers, two stolen bases and two walks in a game, joining the Mets’ Howard Johnson, who did it July 11, 1987. He also became the first Braves player with two homers and two stolen bases in a game since Rafael Furcal did so on April 15, 2005.
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard today,” Inciarte said. “I got good pitches to hit and took advantage of them. The ball carries here pretty well. So, I got the help of the stadium and had a good game today.” More >
Sims passes the test: In his fourth Major League start, Sims (1-3) dealt with traffic in the first two innings and yielded two runs in the second. But with two on and no outs in the fifth, he quieted the Rockies on a Jonathan Lucroy grounder, a strikeout of Trevor Story on a 2-2 fastball and a harmless McMahon grounder. Sims pitched around five hits and three walks to hold the Rockies to two runs.
The Braves entered Thursday with two homers over their past eight games at Coors Field and exited with their fifth four-homer game of the season. They hit at least four home runs just once in both 2015 and ’16.
Charlie Blackmon hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, matching his runs-scored total (111) from last season in the Rockies’ 121st game.
R.A. Dickey will take the mound at SunTrust Park when Atlanta opens a three-game series against Cincinnati Friday at 6:35 p.m. CT. Dickey has allowed one earned run or less in seven of his past 10 starts. .