Valaika comes up big in return to 'Topes

Rockies infielder drives in six runs in first career five-hit game

Pat Valaika is 15-for-35 (.429) with nine extra-base hits and 12 RBIs in his last eight games. (Albuquerque Isotopes)

By Daren Smith / MiLB.com | July 15, 2019 12:08 AM

Pat Valaika said he would not get complacent after the Rockies assigned him to Triple-A Albuquerque over the weekend. He followed through on Sunday night.

The veteran infielder recorded his first career five-hit game, homered twice and drove in six runs to lead the Isotopes to a 12-3 romp over El Paso at Southwest University Park.

Video: Valaika blasts second tater of game

The Rockies sent the 26-year-old back to the Pacific Coast League on Saturday after he hit .235 (4-for-17) with a homer and two RBIs in his latest eight-game stint in the Majors.

"Just go down and play and be ready for the next time," Valaika told the Denver Post. "You can always work on everything. I don't want to get complacent in anything."

He did much of the damage as Albuquerque finished off a four-game series in which it totaled 34 runs. Valaika lined a two-out single to center field and stole second in the opening inning, then capped a five-run second with a three-run homer off starter Dietrich Enns. In the fourth, he extended the Isotopes' lead to 7-1 with a two-out RBI double to left. 


Gameday box score


Valaika homered again in the sixth, connecting for a two-run shot off southpaw Travis Radke that cleared the fence in left-center and made it 11-1. It completed the fifth multi-homer game of the season for the 2013 ninth-round pick, who has 18 dingers in only 191 at-bats with the Isotopes. 

With seven career four-hit games, Valaika bounced a single up the middle in the eighth to wrap up a 5-for-5 night. The six RBIs were one short of the personal best he set on April 8, 2017 when he hit for the cycle for the second time.

2019 MiLB include

"Pat had such a big '17 that we thought, Pat thought and everybody thought it was just going to continue," Rockies manager Bud Black told the Post. "A lot of times guys' career paths divert. But I told Pat [Saturday] and I've said it often to him that I think he's going to be a big leaguer for a long time. Sometimes it takes a while to just really find your niche and, obviously, there is a performance aspect to that, too. He's been a little bit off this year.

"But I expect Pat, with who he is as a player and who he is as a guy, that eventually he's going to be just fine."

Dom Nunez also homered twice on a three-hit night for the Isotopes, while Rockies No. 14 prospect Yonathan Daza led off the game with his 10th long ball and added an RBI single.

Daren Smith is an editor for MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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