AT&T Park has been baseball’s least homer-friendly stadium this year, though that hasn’t mattered much to Nolan Arenado.
It will serve as the final stage for Arenado and teammate Carlos Gonzalez’s pursuit of the NL home run title as the Colorado Rockies close their season with a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants beginning Friday night.
Arenado’s 41 home runs tie him with Washington’s Bryce Harper for the league lead, while Gonzalez has a career-high 40. They’re both vying for the franchise’s first home run title since Dante Bichette, Andres Galarraga and Larry Walker three-peated for the Rockies from 1995-97.
"I don’t plan on sitting either one of them, really," manager Walt Weiss told MLB’s official website earlier this week. "They’re both chasing some things. They’re having unbelievable seasons. That competition is good for both of them."
Gonzalez has homered three times in his last five games, but despite Weiss’ words, rested for Thursday’s 8-6 loss at Arizona.
Arenado has hit nine home runs this year against San Francisco, the most by one player against a single opponent in a season since Evan Longoria hit nine against the New York Yankees in 2013. The last player to hit 10 homers against a single opponent in a season was David Ortiz against Tampa Bay in 2005.
While the 102 home runs at AT&T Park are the fewest this year, Arenado has gone deep five times there – trailing only the Giants’ Brandon Crawford, Matt Duffy and Buster Posey.
Gonzalez has been no slouch in the season series either with four homers in 15 meetings, though he’s homerless in his last eight games in the Bay.
The Rockies (66-93) are one win away from their second consecutive season series victory against San Francisco, hitting .302 while averaging 5.5 runs in holding a 9-7 advantage.
Both Arenado and Gonzalez have homered against San Francisco starter Chris Heston (12-10, 3.62 ERA), who has given up six home runs over 23 2-3 innings while going 1-3 with a 5.70 ERA in four meetings with Colorado this year.
The right-hander hasn’t given up a homer in three straight starts, however, and Sunday’s 5-4 victory at Oakland snapped his nine-start winless stretch. He’ll be looking to complete at least six innings for just the second time in 11 starts after doing so in 13 of his first 20 outings this year.
The Giants (83-76) managed a four-game split against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite hitting .183 for the series with 10 runs.
If Arenado and Gonzalez could dig in against their own Friday starter Kyle Kendrick (6-13, 6.54), they’d have good odds of adding to their home run totals. Kendrick’s 33 homers allowed are tied with San Diego’s James Shields for the most in the majors. He will finish with the highest ERA of his career, and his last two starts have been exemplary of his struggles in his first year with Colorado. The right-hander served up five homers in yielding 12 runs over nine innings against San Diego and the Dodgers.
Kendrick is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two meetings with San Francisco this year, and Posey is 8 for 15 lifetime against him.
DJ LeMahieu is batting .412 in the season series and is 6 for 12 off Heston in 2015.