ARLINGTON — Rockies outfielder Randal Grichuk was in the perfect position for an outfielder’s dream come true.
Sprinting over from the left-center-field gap to the wall in right-center, leaping high and reaching over the short wall in front of the bullpen at Globe Life Field, Grichuk snatched a possible home run away from the Rangers’ Corey Seager in the fifth inning of the Rockies’ 4-1 victory on Tuesday. The key moment in the game, it helped Colorado complete a two-game series sweep of Texas and give the team its best start in three seasons.
The home run robbery has quickly become one of the most unique features of Globe Life Field, where high-flying thefts happen so often the fence needs security guards. The place was good for multiple highlights in 2020, when it served as a postseason neutral site through the World Series.
Grichuk’s play was as important as any in April. The Rockies led, 3-1, when Seager — in the first homestand of his 10-year, $325 million free-agent contract with Texas — made a bid for both his first game-turning moment and first homer with his new club against righty reliever Jhoulys Chacín.
As it played out, Grichuk made Seager have to wait a little longer for his moment. His sterling sequence helped the Rockies improve to 4-1 on the young season, which is tied with seven other Rockies clubs for the best start in team history, the most recent occasion coming in 2020.
The pair of wins in Texas also posted the Rockies a 2-0 road start — this, from a team that began its travels last season 1-10 and finished with a 26-54 record away from Coors Field.
“Any park, those are the catches you dream of,” Grichuk said. “You always get the question, what’s better: hit the homer or rob the homer? Honestly, robbing a homer is better because someone else is connected to it.”
The 6-foot-2 Grichuk is athletic, but doesn’t consider himself a leaper. As he noted, “Someone asked me if I could dunk. I don’t think the answer is yes.”
For reference, a standard basketball hoop is 10 feet high. The outfield wall in Arlington is only 6 feet high. But don’t let that make you think the short fence made anybody think any less of Grichuk’s play.
There was a bit of history to the play, too. Back in July of 2020, Garrett Hampson stole glory from Shin-Soo Choo, who made a bid for the Rangers’ first homer at their new ballpark but was denied by Hampson’s excellent grab in the outfield.
From his spot at third base on Tuesday, Hampson enjoyed the view.
“Given the circumstances of the game, as well, just to hold them off the scoreboard in that inning was unbelievable timing for him,” Hampson said, adding, “The play itself was one of the best catches I’ve seen in person.”
Grichuk also stole more than just Seager’s homer and the hopes of Rangers fans on the night.
He usurped the headlines from Kris Bryant, another well-publicized “new guy” on the roster, who delivered his first two RBIs with the club with a third-inning double and a seventh-inning sacrifice fly.
Though it took a few games to post his first RBIs, Bryant is off to a .350 average and .891 OPS as a Rockie.
Bryant’s offensive output drew happy handshakes and handclaps, sure. But Grichuk’s catch? “I ran inside to watch it on replay,” said Bryant.
Grichuk’s grab had Chacín, who is in his 14th Major League season, leaping with hands above his head and gleefully pounding his fist into his glove.
Chacín’s 2 2/3 scoreless innings were part of a three-man bullpen effort that went 4 2/3 scoreless on the night, continuing a strong early-season showing that saw the Rockies enter the day with an 0.98 bullpen ERA, the best such figure in the Majors.
Grichuk jumped in jubilation after the play, as well, and for good reason. He’s made plenty of solid catches over the course of his nine-year career, but few as flashy as Tuesday night’s. According to Sports Info Solutions, it was Grichuk’s fifth career homer-robbing catch (first since 2018) and the first time Seager has been robbed of a homer.
But this one was so special, Grichuk could sense the excitement from his outfield neighbor, the usually stoic Charlie Blackmon in right field.
“I normally don’t get excited much out there,” Grichuk said. “But when he got excited, I let it out.”