DENVER -- For many high-in-the-batting-order players with speed, the approach is to hit the ball on the ground. An infield hit, followed by a stolen base, is as good as a double. But the Rockies' Dexter Fowler doesn't fit that description.
Fowler is 6-foot-4 with long arms and a decent level of strength. When he's going well, whether he is in the leadoff spot or the second spot he currently occupies, his approach is to drive balls to the gaps. Why worry about stealing second when he can get there, or to third, out of the batter's box?
The only problem with the approach is that when he's struggling, he strikes out, pops up and generally looks bad. But Wednesday night's two-double, three-hit performance in a 17-8 victory over the Giants was an illustration of why he didn't change his approach during a 1-for-11 start to the season. The pleas to hit the ball on the ground and use his speed to first base, then work from there, aren't ones Fowler is hearing.
"With me, it is doubles and triples," said Fowler, a switch-hitter who doubled from each side of the plate Wednesday night. "That's what I do and what they want me to do. You can't really hit the ball in the gap on the ground.
"That's what everybody says [hit the ball on the ground]. I don't care what everybody says. It's my game. You go talk to the manager, ask him what he wants, or my hitting coach or the general manager. They want me to stay where I am. If the ball is in the gap, it's in the air."
Fowler said he has tried the ground-base approach. It didn't work for him.
"I tend to roll over balls and I feel myself guiding the ball," Fowler said.
Even though he has slumped and been demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs each of the last two years, Fowler has led the Majors in triples each year, and his 39 triples from 2009 through 2011 tied him with the Phillies' Shane Victorino for most in the Majors. He also has 87 career doubles since 2009.
So the proper approach for Fowler isn't necessarily to keep the ball out of the air, but keep the ball out of the air for long.
"I don't want him to hit a lot of fly balls, and he doesn't need to be a home run hitter, but I want him to be a line-drive/hard ground-ball type hitter," Rockies hitting coach Carney Lansford said.
The problem through Spring Training and the first four games hasn't been his approach but his mechanics, because he lost the timing of his leg kick. A minor adjustment of moving his back foot closer to the plate that he made Wednesday helped keep him in position to drive the ball.
Manager Jim Tracy also wanted to make sure Fowler kept his confidence. After seeing Fowler wilt when his playing time became inconsistent during the first half of last year, and seeing him flourish in the second half when he played regularly, Tracy is dedicated to letting Fowler play through his early slump.
"I wanted to reiterate to him yesterday that I don't care if your batting average looks like a bingo number right now, you're going to go out there, play and raise it up," Tracy said.
Reynolds stems tide to notch first win of 2012
DENVER -- Rockies left-handed relief pitcher Matt Reynolds saw runners crossing the plate at a dizzying rate Wednesday night, but maintained his equilibrium when asked to stop the flow of Giants runs.
Reynolds warmed up quickly as Jeremy Guthrie was giving up six runs in the fourth inning. Reynolds gave up one more while putting that inning to bed, with the Rockies down, 7-6. The Rockies took a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the frame, then Reynolds established some normalcy by shutting down the Giants in the fifth. He walked the second hitter of the inning, Brandon Belt, but ended the inning with two ground balls.
It was good enough for his first win of the season.
"At first I just wanted to stop the bleeding," Reynolds said. "I had to get warmed up in a hurry because the game snowballed. It all happened really quick. I didn't have time to think about it. Afte we came back the next inning, that was the time I really focused and made sure I had a shutdown inning to get us back in the dugout swinging the bats again."
One key for Reynolds is not to become intimidated by his own park. That's not easy when the numbers are piling up and reminding folks that Coors Field is an extreme hitter's park.
"You try not to have that mentality," Reynolds said. "You focus on making pitches, trusting that if you make a good pitch you're going to get guys out."
Cuddyer appreciates playing at Coors Field
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer is happy to have a home park that's inviting to his swing.
When the Twins, his team for the past 11 seasons, moved from the Metrodome to Target Field in 2010, the large right-center gap that seemed built for his swing was not there.
Cuddyer signed a three-year deal with the Rockies over the winter, and Wednesday night showed why. Cuddyer drove three doubles in the Rockies' 17-8 victory over the Giants. He will have to deal with the claustrophobia Rockies hitters have experienced on the road over the years, but he just might be prepared for it.
"I had basically the opposite in Minnesota; at home was a tough place, and on the road it got bigger," Cuddyer said. "But the thing is you go to other parks for three games at a time, then you get out of there. Then you come home for six, or nine, or whatever it is.
"I don't think when you go on the road, your home park has as much to do with it as when you play in a pitcher's park. When you play [home games] in a pitcher's park, you've got to change your game, change your swing."
The Rockies' 11 extra-base hits Wednesday were tied for third-most in franchise history and were the most they've had in a game without hitting a home run.
The Rockies' 17 runs and 22 hits Wednesday made Giants history. The last time they gave up that many runs and at least 20 hits in a road game was April 29, 1948, when the New York Giants lost in Brooklyn to the Dodgers, 17-4.
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.