As far as Michael Roth is concerned, Randal Grichuk can bat leadoff in every one of his starts from here on out.
In Roth's last three outings, Grichuk is 8-for-12 with five homers, two of which came in Arkansas' first at-bat of the game. Roth has been the winning pitcher in each of those games.
"We laughed about it," Grichuk said. "I had no idea before he said something."
Grichuk led off the game with a homer and went yard again in the second inning Friday night, sending the Travelers on the way to a 7-6 victory at Tulsa.
The Angels' fifth-ranked prospect reached base four times, drove in three runs and scored three times and has homered seven times in his last 12 games.
"I've been working on staying on my rhythm and timing," Grichuk said. "I got too stiff there for a while. I'm more comfortable now."
The 22-year-old outfielder came into Friday's game with a good feeling, knowing he'd had success against Drillers starter Tim Gustafson and at Tulsa's ONEOK Field. Of Grichuk's 22 homers this season, half have come against the Drillers, including nine in Tulsa.
"I've seen Gustafson pretty well. He's got good stuff, but I'm confident playing him," Grichuk said. "I like playing at Tulsa. I'm confident in the box here."
It didn't take long for that confidence to pay off. In the opening inning, the Texas native fouled off a 1-1 fastball and took pitches out of the strike zone before sending Gustafson's next offering over the fence in right-center for an opposite-field homer.
"He threw me a fastball middle-away," Grichuk said. "I stayed through on it and hit it out to right-center."
For Grichuk, not much compares to leading off a game with a longball.
"The opposing pitcher doesn't like it too much," he said, "and it gets momentum going for us. The team gets fired up."
In the second, Gustafson missed to Grichuk with three straight pitches before leaving one over the middle of the plate.
"I just got enough of it, I didn't get all of it," Grichuk said. "I was running down the line and I saw the left fielder running with his back to me. He was playing pretty deep and by the time I got to first, he was already at the wall."
On the short list of things better than starting a game with a homer, according to Grichuk, is starting a game with two homers.
"You know, it gets your confidence up," he said. "You feel good going into the next game."
The 2009 first-round pick -- the Angels selected him one spot ahead of Mike Trout -- admitted it was a challenge to not get greedy the rest of the night. He ended up 2-for-4 but drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and reached on an error in the ninth.
"You don't want to try to hit a home run again. You know they're not going to give you anything to hit. They're going to nibble. You've got to make sure you lay off," Grichuk said. "Getting the walk after the home runs really emphasizes how well I'm seeing the ball. I haven't walked that much. But I was seeing the ball well and I saw [Gustafson] wasn't giving me much to hit."
Grichuk already has more homers (seven) in August than any month this season. He's climbed into a tie for fifth place in the Texas League, nine behind Northwest Arkansas' Matt Fields for the top spot.
Robbie Widlansky added a two-run shot, his second in three games, for Arkansas, which has a one-game lead over Springfield and Northwest Arkansas in the Northern Division.
Tom Murphy, the Rockies' No. 6 prospect, doubled twice and knocked in a run for the Drillers.