Rockies week in review: Nolan Arenado continues to make the impossible look effortless

Nolan Arenado went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and made two snazzy defensive plays in the Rockies’ 11-5 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday.

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Colorado Rockies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Coors Field, June 9, 2016. (Photo by Jessica Taves)  baseball; rockies; jessica taves; coors field; sports; denverite; denver; colorado;

Nolan Arenado swings hard against a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher at Coors Field on June 9, 2016. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)

How it started

With a 4-0 loss the Padres on the road. Colorado went down 3-0 after the first inning, which caused normally reserved third baseman Nolan Arenado to get a few things off his chest in the dugout.

How it ended

With an 11-5 mashing of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Rockies racked up 11 runs on 11 hits on Pirates starter Jeff Locke, who lasted 4 2/3 innings.

This week’s record

4-3

Overall record

28-32

One big thing

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Starling Marte hit a soft dribbler down the left field line in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Rockies, the kind of ball that looked destined to be an infield hit. It would’ve mattered little if Marte reached base, really. The Rockies had a comfortable three-run lead.

But Nolan Arenado wouldn’t let that happen.

The Rockies third baseman charged the ball, bent down, picked it up barehanded and whipped it over to first baseman Mark Reynolds for the out. It was typical Arenado — making the impossible look effortless.

An inning later, he’d barehand another infield dribbler. Both plays were part of a 3-for-5, two-RBI day for the 25-year-old in an 11-5 Rockies’ win.

“I’m kind of used to it,” said second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. “He barehands those balls. And the whole time I’m like, ‘Don’t barehand it, don’t barehand it.’ Then he barehands it and makes it look easy. It’s become normal.”

Everything about the game seems easy for Arenado these days.

He’s only seemed to improve a season after slugging 42 home runs, 130 RBIs on a .287 batting average. After Thursday’s win, Arenado was batting .296 and slugging .591 with 18 home runs (a National League best) and 51 RBIs (also a National League best).

There’s no statistic for ridiculous barehanded plays made in the infield, but if there was, there’s a good chance Arenado would rank near the top of that category, too.

“He makes a spectacular play every game,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “And it’s become kind of routine for us.”

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Colorado Rockies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Coors Field, June 9, 2016. (Photo by Jessica Taves)  baseball; rockies; jessica taves; coors field; sports; denverite; denver; colorado;

Jorge De La Rosa on the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field on June 9, 2016. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)

The Jorge De La Rosa redemption tour rumbled on Thursday. The longtime Rockies’ starter pitched perhaps his best game out of the bullpen since he was demoted there on May 26.

De La Rosa pitched a clean four innings, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out five.

He’s now had three straight solid outings out of the ‘pen, which made reporters wonder whether a return to the starting rotation could be in the cards.

“That was always the big-picture plan,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “It’s a matter of when the time is right. Those are conversations we are continuing to have.”

Starting pitcher Chad Bettis had another rough outing Thursday. Colorado gifted him a 6-1 lead entering the bottom of the third, but Bettis let Pittsburgh back into the game by allowing four runs in the bottom half of the frame.

De La Rosa replaced Bettis after the inning, and the Rockies went on to win comfortably. But it was still concerning stuff from 27-year-old right-hander.

Over his last four starts, Bettis has allowed 21 earned runs, 32 hits and six home runs in 16 1/3 innings of work.

Catcher Tony Wolters could be back behind home plate soon for the Rockies. Weiss said Wolters will likely begin a rehab assignment with triple-AAA Albuequerque on Friday.

“He’s going to play a couple games (in Albuquerque), then we’ll go from there,” Weiss said.

Looking ahead

Colorado remains at home until late next week. The Rockies play a three-game set against the San Diego Padres that starts Friday, then host the New York Yankees for a two-game series.

Coors Field staff water down the first base corner during the Colorado Rockies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game on, June 9, 2016. (Photo by Jessica Taves)  baseball; rockies; jessica taves; coors field; sports; denverite; denver; colorado;

Coors Field staff water down the first base corner during the Colorado Rockies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game on, June 9, 2016. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)