DJ spinning different tune with long balls

DJ spinning different tune with long balls

DENVER -- DJ LeMahieu insists he hasn't made any mechanical adjustments to his swing in a season in which he has flashed a significant power surge.

With a three-run homer in the eighth inning of Saturday's 11-6 win over the D-backs, LeMahieu bailed out a bullpen that has allowed 18 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings since Wednesday, giving reliever Gonzalez Germen enough cushion to pick up just his third career save.

"I just feel very relaxed," said LeMahieu, who is three extra-base hits shy from matching his career-high 32 set last year. "I don't really think anything physical. I don't think I've made any physical adjustments. Mentally, I feel very comfortable and I feel like I can't get beat, so when I get a pitch I can drive, I feel like I take a little bit more of a chance to drive it. But that's nothing new for me. It's just probably just executing better."

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LeMahieu elevated his average to .328 after a 2-for-4 outing that helped the Rockies snap a skid of three straight come-from-behind, one-run losses.

LeMahieu struck out in the sixth inning for the 35th time this year, fifth fewest among second basemen with a minimum of 200 plate appearances. He did so on a foul tip, playing to his 3.9 percent swing-and-miss rate, per FanGraphs, which ranks second in the Majors.

"I hit eight-hole my first two years in the league, and I felt like that really helped me understand the strike zone -- when pitchers were going to come after me, when pitchers were not," LeMahieu said. "When I first got called up and when I was in the Minors, I swung at everything."

The Rockies have one of the most formidable 1-through-5 lineups in the Majors, and LeMahieu hitting second as a set-up for Nolan Arenado has been a pivotal part of that.

"It makes your offense multi-faceted, and that's what it takes to win," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "because you're not going to slug. I've talked about that, especially in our division. I mean, look, we've got a who's who of Cy Youngs in our division. You're not going to slug those guys consistently. Every once in a while, maybe, so you've got to figure out ways to score. DJ helps us do that."

Entering Saturday's games, among big league second basemen, LeMahieu ranked third in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage (.389), sixth in slugging (.488) and tied for seventh in extra-base hits. Yet he's not ranked among the top five at the position in the latest All-Star Game voting, which closes on Thursday.

"Last year was a surprise to me," LeMahieu said. "I thought I had a chance to make it. Kind of a surprise to me. The whole experience was unbelievable, and just to do it once was awesome. So that's not really what drives me, to get back. If it happens, great. If not, I feel like I'm doing all I can do."

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.