After hitting four home runs in his first six games, Colorado Rockies 2019 first-round pick Michael Toglia cooled off. Considerably.
The switch-hitter, who is ranked as the Rockies No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, hit .157 in May, despite ranking in the top seven of the High-A West for homers, RBIs and walks.
He’d been stuck on six home runs since May 21 but broke out on Sunday.
Toglia homered twice to retake the league lead, driving in three, and the Indians beat the Tri-City Dust Devils 8-3 in the finale of a six-game High-A West series at Avista Stadium.
Brenton Doyle added a solo homer and two-run single for the Indians. Spokane (13-17) stole eight bases, led by Aaron Schunk and Jack Blomgren with two apiece. Tri-City fell to 10-20.
[BOX SCORE courtesy MILB.com]
Toglia has eight homers on the season and after a 7-for-23 start to May has his average up to .189.
“Everyone goes through those phases where they start pressing a little bit,” Toglia said. “Honestly, that is never the answer. The best way to get out of a rut or to get something going is to just stay within yourself and just kind of stay with the process and taking good swings.”
“The first (homer) was a big one,” manager Scott Little said. “We needed it. We needed both of them. We just seemed like we were on base a lot, but we couldn’t really get that big lead to really separate ourselves.”
Indians starter Nick Bush (2-1) gave up three earned runs on seven hits and a walk with nine strikeouts over 51/3 innings.
Isaac Collins singled to lead off the first and Schunk followed with a single through the hole on the right side. Collins never slowed and headed to third and the throw by right-fielder Francisco Del Valle sailed into foul territory. Collins scampered home with the first run of the game.
Schunk stole third and Willie MacIver walked, then the Indians pulled off a double steal with Schunk scoring on the play.
“It’s just something that we do as the Rockies,” Schunk said. “Just part of our motto is, we want everybody to know that we’re gonna run hard, we’re gonna take bases when we can get them, so stealing is part of our game and we’re able to execute today.”
“We want to stay aggressive,” Little said. “And we are going to. If you allow us to take a base, steal the base we will take that. So we did that tonight.”
Schunk led off the third with a double and with two down Toglia lofted a log fly to left that carried out with the stiff breeze for his seventh homer of the season.
Bush got two strikeouts in the fifth but gave up a walk and consecutive singles which turned into a pair of runs.
Doyle answered with a shot that cleared the netting down the line in left. Two batters later, Toglia pulled one to the picnic area over the short fence in right.
“I was thinking the home park got me one there,” Toglia said.
Bush ran into more trouble in the sixth, giving up a run on three straight singles, but reliever Andrew DiPiazza bailed him out with a pair of Ks to escape without further damage.
Doyle’s bases-loaded single in the eighth plated provided a five-run cushion.
It’s the second consecutive home series win after a 2-10 start to the season
“We had a little bit of a rough start,” Schunk said. “But we’re kind of getting into our own and playing the way that we want to play so there’s a lot of confidence behind our guys.”
The Colorado Rockies promoted starter David Hill to Double-A Hartford before the game.
In six starts, the 27-year-old right-hander went 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA.
He struck out 27 batters with a WHIP of 1.01 over 232/3 innings.
Hill is finally healthy after recovering from two career-threatening injuries which robbed him of several developmental seasons within the Rockies’ organization.
“I think a lot of guys who went through what I went through probably would have got released in other organizations,” Hill said after Friday’s game, when he allowed just two hits and walked one with six strikeouts over six shutout innings in a 3-0 Indians win.
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