Nolan Arenado has hit his way into the Colorado Rockies record books.
The third baseman will look to continue his historic hitting streak Friday night when the Rockies begin a three-game road series against the Cincinnati Reds, who could have closer Aroldis Chapman available for the first time this season.
With a third-inning single in Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Texas, Arenado set Colorado’s franchise record with a hit in 28 consecutive games. The streak is the longest in the majors for a player age 23 or younger since Albert Pujols had a 30-game run in 2003.
"Me having the mindset about me trying to help my team out and doing my job, I think that’s what made me get it," Arenado said.
Nolan’s historic hit came in a losing effort, however, as Colorado (22-15) managed only four more in its first shutout of the season.
The loss was the only the third in 12 games for the Rockies, who dropped to 9-10 on the road compared to a 13-5 mark at home. They averaged 8.2 runs and 13.5 hits in the first seven games this month.
”We’ve been doing really good the entire year, that stuff is going to happen even to the best clubs in baseball,” said Rockies cleanup hitter Carlos Gonzalez, who is batting .386 during a 10-game streak. ”We just have to put this in the past and show up tomorrow and try to score some runs. The offense was quiet tonight, so sometimes you just have to tip your hat.”
Colorado next faces a Reds team that will be happy to return home after losing its fifth straight road game, 4-3 to Boston on Wednesday. Cincinnati (15-18), which has won six of eight at Great American Ball Park, has a major league-leading 11 one-run losses.
A leaky bullpen continues to be a problem for the Reds, whose relievers have a 4.40 ERA, second highest in the NL.
The good news for Cincinnati is that Chapman could make his season debut as early as Friday. Chapman, who recorded 43 saves each of the past two seasons, has been sidelined since he was hit in the forehead by a line drive in a spring training game March 19.
"It will be nice to have (Chapman) back," reliever Sam LeCure said to the team’s website. "It’s nice to see him recover from it. I think, as a mental thing for the guys who pitch and are in the position to get balls hit back off of their heads, it’s nice to see he can come back, be OK and be that same guy. I think he will be very good for us."
Johnny Cueto has been more than very good for the Reds. Cueto (3-2, 1.31 ERA) has been one of baseball’s best starters this season, ranking first in the NL in ERA and opponents’ batting average (.132), second in innings (55) and third in strikeouts (60).
The right-hander pitched at least eight innings for the fourth start in a row, yielding two runs and three hits with 10 strikeouts in a 6-2 win over Milwaukee on Saturday.
Cueto, though, has been tagged for 10 runs and 21 hits over 10 2-3 innings in his last two starts against the Rockies.
Gonzalez is 4 for 10 with a home run and a double in their matchups.
Colorado counters with Jhoulys Chacin, who is making his second start of the year. Chacin (0-1, 7.20), who missed the first month of the season because of a right shoulder strain, made his debut Sunday, allowing four runs and eight hits over five innings in a 5-1 loss to the New York Mets.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Reds.