|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Gomez homers twice, plates seven07/19/2011 12:51 AM ET
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com
Rockies infield prospect Hector Gomez has struggled with the bat for large parts of his first full year at Double-A. After a big night Monday, he hopes that is a thing of the past.
Gomez, who hit just .205 in the first half of the season and missed almost all of June with an injury, went 4-for-5 with two homers and a career-high seven RBIs in the Tulsa Drillers' 13-8 win over the Springfield Cardinals.
"I feel very good and I've been working hard all day," Gomez said through a translator. "I was actually pretty tired after all those hits, so I was ready for the end of the night."
He blasted a two-run homer to left field off Cardinals' starter Scott Schneider with one out in the second inning and he added a grand slam in the third -- one of three longballs in the frame -- as the Drillers batted around and plated seven to establish a 9-0 lead.
"I wasn't thinking about hitting a home run," Gomez said of his first at-bat, "but he threw me a first-pitch fastball in. Then in the third inning, I had two strikes on me, so I was just looking to put the ball in play."
Gomez, who entered Monday's contest with just one extra-base hit in his last nine Texas League games, grounded into an inning-ending forceout in the fourth and ripped a run-scoring single back up the middle in the sixth. In the eighth, the shortstop smacked a two-out double to center field, but was stranded on base.
"I have had some games like this in the Dominican, but I am even prouder to be playing professional baseball. I remember a doubleheader there when it was raining and I went 3-for-3 in the first game and then 3-for-3 with two home runs, including my first career grand slam."
The outing helped raise Gomez's batting average 12 points to .221 and he hopes that his rocky year is back on track. He has 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 61 games.
"I had a back injury in June, but I've been working with the hitting coach [Dave Hajek] and I'm a lot calmer at the plate now," he explained. "I was trying to do too much, but now I'm trying to relax. I need to work hard and finish the second half strong. Whatever happens, happens."
Monday's game marked the fourth time Gomez has gone deep twice in one game. He slugged two homers for the Drillers in an 8-6 loss to the Springfield Cardinals on May 22, and he also accomplished the feat twice in 2009 while playing for the Modesto Nuts -- first in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Giants on May 2 and then in a 7-6 triumph over the Visalia Rawhide on May 20.
Gomez's seven RBIs are the most by any Tulsa player this season. His previous high was four, which he achieved on three occasions. He plated four runs in his rookie year for the Casper Rockies in a 13-4 win over the Great Falls Voyagers on June 17, 2006; in his two-homer night against the Rawhide in 2009 and in an 18-7 victory over the High Desert Mavericks on Sept. 7, 2009.
His four hits also tied a career high. He was 4-for-5 for the Nuts in an 8-7 win over the Bakersfield Blaze on June 2, 2009, and he also collected four hits for the Asheville Tourists in a 12-2 rout of the Hickory Crawdads on June 17, 2007.
On Monday, Wilin Rosario added four hits, three runs scored and an RBI for Tulsa. Tim Wheeler and Brian Rike each added solo homers. Stephen Dodson (7-1) picked up his first win in almost two months, tossing two scoreless innings of relief. He surrendered two hits and struck out one.
Schneider (4-8) took the loss for Springfield. Selected by St. Louis in the 20th round of the 2009 Draft, Schneider surrendered seven runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out one batter over 2 1/3 innings.