Tape-measure shot highlights CarGo's three-HR night
Rockies slugger hits three long balls for second time in career
CINCINNATI -- After delivering a superhuman home run, the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez gave in to human curiosity.
The second of Gonzalez's three home runs in Wednesday night's 12-4 victory over the Reds traveled three-quarters of the way up the right-field grandstands at Great American Ball Park. The Reds announced the shot off rookie Pedro Villarreal at 476 feet, which is one foot farther than the longest homer listed on ESPN's Home Run Tracker this season. But ESPN itself placed it at 458 feet. The 476-foot figure would be the longest of Gonzalez's career.
Either way, it went a long way. Rather than measure it, the crowd, everyone on the field and even Gonzalez simply watched and enjoyed. When someone hits one that far, he is excused from the etiquette that says a hitter shouldn't admire his handiwork.
"It's tough for a human not to watch a ball when you hit it that far," said Gonzalez, whose three homers and six RBIs tied his career high in both categories. "It doesn't happen every night. It doesn't happen very often. It was a great swing and a good pitch."
The three-homer effort was the second of Gonzalez's career. He also did so May 30, 2012, against the Astros at Coors Field.
Gonzalez's solo shot in the first and the tape-measure shot came off Villarreal. He also homered home two runs in the eighth off Manny Parra. Troy Tulowitzki also homered twice and Todd Helton went deep once.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss allowed himself to enjoy Gonzalez's long shot, however far it went.
"It was loud, and it went really far," Weiss said. "That's basically what I saw."
Villarreal, 25, made one relief appearance last season. He was called up from Triple-A Louisville for the start because the Reds put Johnny Cueto on the disabled list before the game.
"The young kid got roughed up tonight and was throwing some balls up in the zone and in the heart of the plate," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You do that against guys that can hit, you're asking for trouble."
Gonzalez, who leads the Rockies with 17 homers, admitted his mental preparation was jogged by the pitching switch. He had walked a couple of times in Tuesday's game, once directly before Tulowitzki's game-winning two-run shot in the eighth for a 5-4 victory, but felt his swing needed work. He arrived early at the park and was greeted by news of the pitching switch.
"When you know you are going to face a great pitcher like Cueto, you have to come to the park prepared," Gonzalez said. "Then the first thing you know you are going to face a guy from Triple-A that you've never faced before, it's a weird feeling."
Gonzalez delivered a powerful first impression to Villarreal by homering the opposite way to left field in the first inning. Gonzalez popped out in the third. When he came up with two on in the fourth, the Reds were leading, 4-3. If the right-field stands weren't there, Gonzalez's go-ahead homer off Villarreal just might have bounced into the Ohio River.
"That was a big mistake," Gonzalez said. "I saw the replay. The guy was trying to come in and he just left it in the middle. It's a good pitch for a hitter. Those are the pitches that you can't miss at this level. To hit it that far was a good feeling."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.