Bullpen struggles continue for Rockies

Along with a rough start by Senzatela, the bullpen also struggled during the series opener against the Cardinals. Only three pitchers had to pitch in the game, a welcome surprise when the team gives up eight runs, but you would have liked to use more pitchers in a win than less pitchers in a loss.

In two starts since returning to the rotation, Senzatela has failed to get into the sixth inning and given up four runs in each start. He has also struggled with fastball command walking five in only nine innings. What Senzatela did early in the year, throwing strikes, commanding the fastball, pitching to contact, has escaped him recently. With no great secondary pitches yet, Senzatela really needs to dominate with his fastball, and he has just been slipping with that the later we get into the year.

Senzatela may find himself back in the bullpen when a starter returns, or if the Rockies make a move for a starter, which does not seem to be the case. They did make a move for a bullpen arm, but it was not one to be excited about and should hopefully be only a warmup come the deadline in six days. A frontline starter would be nice, but the focus still needs to be for a bullpen arm who can either bridge to Holland or eat up innings without being a complete train wreck.

With the offensive struggles on Monday, people may be looking for a bat as well, but that has to be the least important piece. A bench piece would be nice, but both Cargo and Story have been much better over the last week and the rest of the offense is doing very well. There are still reinforcements waiting down in the minors, but the Rockies will probably not make a move for one of them until September, unless of course an injury occurs.

The Rockies can still win this series with the Cardinals, but they need to improve both offensively and with the pitching to get the win. They have Jon Gray on the mound and he will try and get some quality innings for Colorado and they will need it while facing Lance Lynn. It has been feast or famine for Rockies players against Lynn, so hopefully the buffet is on on Wednesday.

Rockies bounce back after tough loss

After a huge loss on Friday night, the Rockies had a nice bounce back game on Saturday with a nice 7-3 win. Some clutch two-out hits and a really great outing by German Marquez fueled the win. The Rockies now have a chance to win the series on Sunday with Kyle Freeland on the mound, and his last start was nearly history.

Pittsburg did get on the board first and the game looked as though it would end up similar to Friday’s game, but he kept his cool and turned in a really good start. With two walks and a double, the Pirates had a 1-0 lead and they had a good opportunity again in the third. With Starling Marte reaching base with a leadoff single, the Rockies were playing with fire. Marte managed to steal second, but he was quickly erased on a line out double play.

In the bottom of the third, the Rockies got their first three runs. A one-out single and double put runners at second and third for LeMahieu who was able to hit a sac fly. Nolan Arenado and Mark Reynolds then had a couple two-out hits to score two more runners to take a 3-1 lead. The Rockies would only need one more run to win the game, but they got a few more as the game would go on.

Trevor Story, LeMahieu, and Desmond all had RBI singles as the game would go on and Alexi Amarista doubled in a run in his only at-bat. With Marquez going seven innings in the game, the bullpen did not need to cover that many innings and Bud Black even opted to use his closer in the eighth inning for a four out save. With two runs getting scored in the eighth, Holland probably could’ve been removed for someone else, but Black left him in and he gave up one run, but still earned the save and finished the game.

There was some drama in the game when the benches cleared after an inside pitch to Cargo, but it is unlikely there is any continuation of this in the finale of the series. This is similar to some drama that came in the first series of the year between these teams, but it was just some typical drama that Pittsburg always seems to be involved in.

Rockies flogged by Pirates

pirates-rockies-baseball-61994-jpg.jpegAP Photo/David Zalubowski

In the series opener against the Pirates, Jeff Hoffman could not even get out of the fourth inning and the Rockies never stood a chance. Scoring 13 runs certainly didn’t help anything and Hoffman’s four walks gave the Pirates an opportunity to score early and often.

Hoffman’s line was not a pretty one, in addition to his walks, he allowed seven runs and nine hits while only striking out two. A patient Pirates team is the biggest reason for this loss, as the Rockies still managed to score five runs and even had an early lead by scoring three in the first.

But whatever momentum the Rockies had was eliminated quickly as Hoffman could just not get outs. The bullpen was no better as Lyles, Oberg, and Diaz all allowed runs over the final six innings.  Eighteen hits and thirteen runs is the quick way to a loss and the Rockies just need to rebound in game two.

German Marquez has a win this year already against the Pirates and the Rockies have some good offensive momentum, despite losing on Friday. With a good, young pitcher and the offense finally rolling, the Rockies can win any game even with a bad performance, but the bullpen needs to do their job much better and the team really has need of an extra bullpen arm, or even two.

With the deadline nine days away, the Rockies are not expected to be big buyers, but they are expected to be buyers and should make at least one move. Some would like to see a bat added along with a bullpen arm. Some want to see a starter, but almost everyone agrees that the bullpen arm is an absolute necessity.

Series Preview: Pirates (48-48) vs. Rockies (56-41)

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Friday, July 21st 6:40pm: Trevor Williams (3-4 4.57) vs. Jeff Hoffman (6-1 4.33)

After sweeping the series with the Padres, the Rockies take on an improving Pittsburg team. With Milwaukee six games over .500, the Pirates and Cubs are still very much in the playoff race, so Pittsburg will be trying all they can to win the series. They had a good series against Colorado in Pittsburg, so the Rockies will try and take some revenge. Having Hoffman on the mound is definitely a good thing as he has been good all year, but Coors has been playing pretty offensively with the weather heating up, so either pitcher could find themselves out of the game quickly.

Saturday, July 22nd 6:10pm: Chad Kuhl (3-6 4.85) vs. German Marquez (7-4 4.34)

With another rookie on the mound and a Pirates rookie on the mound, this is yet another game that could be up in the air. Kuhl has had a strange July starting a game only two days after a previous start and then going seven days before his next start. He will be back to regular rest before this next start which may help him, but again, Coors. Marquez was good for a quality start his last start and will try and build off of that. Like all the other rookies, he has had a good starts and bad starts. The Rockies would really enjoy a quick series win again, which would come along with a six game win streak, but things don’t always work out the way they are supposed to.

Sunday, July 23rd 1:10pm: Ivan Nova (10-6 3.27) vs. Kyle Freeland (9-7 3.67)

Freeland missed his last start with his innings in mind. The Rockies are trying to keep him from running into late season fatigue problems. He faces off against Ivan Nova who has been terrific this year, the best starter on the Pirates. That is saying something as they have Gerrit Cole on the staff, but he has not been the ace that the team had expected. Nova is not the typical ace, but any pitcher that can get outs and keep the other team from scoring runs. Freeland made a spot appearance because of the Rockies getting destroyed by the Mets, it works well to give him the day of rest. Coming back to the rotation should not be difficult, but stranger things have happened.

Rockies clobber Padres to sweep series

When you score in all but one inning and tally 21 hits, you probably aren’t going to lose the game. In fact, the game probably won’t even be close and that was exactly the case on Wednesday afternoon in the final game of the series. With the offense rolling on all cylinders, the Rockies were able to sweep the Padres with a finale win of 18-4.

Nolan Arenado had what could be the most productive game of his career, swatting three home runs, driving in seven, and going 5-6. With the seven RBIs, Nolan took sole possession of the league RBI lead at 80, six over Nelson Cruz of the Mariners.

Along with Nolan’s big offensive day, quite a few other players went off as well. Trevor Story went 3-4 with a two run homer. Blackmon went 3-3 with a homer and three runs. Parra, who for the first time since coming off the DL failed to record an RBI, went 4-5 with two runs. And Ryan Hanigan had three hits on the day to cap off the productive bottom o the lineup.

Jon Gray had all the run support he could ask for and more and while he was not fantastic, he did get through six innings. Gray struck out seven while allowing four runs, all in his final inning of work, on seven hits and two walks. Gray was wild early, but starter to settle in as the game went on and did keep the bullpen work to a reasonable amount.

With the Rockies offense finally clicking on all cylinders, they may have a chance to streak themselves into the wild card lead, and maybe even a comfortable position. The Dodgers are showing no signs of slowing down so they will have to prep themselves for a one game playoff, but even that would be the best thing they’ve had in eight years.

It is hard to remember with how well the Rockies have played, but they were not supposed to do this well this year. It is also easy to be riding high after a sweep of one of the worst teams in the league, but the Rockies need to remain focused and take it to the Pirates before heading out on the road again.

Call it a winning streak, Rox win third straight

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

It has been a long time since the Rockies have been able to string together some wins and despite an ugly game played on Tuesday, the Rockies pulled out the win. They got down three runs early and the bullpen gave up some runs late, but with the offense hitting the best they have in quite some time, they were able to take a classic Coors field game from the Padres.

Antonio Senzatela came back to the rotation after a couple starts in AAA and his bullpen stint and was decent, not great, but decent. He gave up three quick runs in the first because of three hits and a walk, but his team gave him run support, as they have done all year long.

Mark Reynolds tied the game up on a three-run homer in the bottom of the first after Padres pitcher Timet walked two. It was Reynolds 20th of the year and turned an ugly first into a side note for what would be a high scoring game.

Senzatela would give up another run in the fifth, his final inning, to have a final line of five innings, four runs (three earned), with three walks and two strikeouts. He was certainly not as good as he has been in the past, but it was solid enough to keep the Padres from running away with it and the offense made sure to support the bullpen through their struggles.

With Senzatela out, Rusin came on and was not his usual self. Rusin recorded only two outs while allowing three hits and two runs in one of his worst performances of the year. Luckily for him, the Rockies scored four in the bottom of the fifth to give themselves a 7-4 lead. The two runs made it a one run game, but again, the offense rallied for a couple.

With a score of 7-6, a bloop double by Parra scored the first run of the inning and Cargo’s second hit of the game gave the Rockies a 9-6 lead. It was Parra’s second hit of the game and he has had an RBI in each game since coming off the DL. Along with him, Cargo’s two hits were hopefully a sign of him coming out of his season long slump, though we will just have to wait and see.

Greg Holland came on for the ninth inning with a two run lead and struck out the side. It was an easy, stress-free save that gave him his 30th of the year. Along with the game win, the Rockies take the series and can now go for the sweep during Wednesday’s day game. Jon Gray will look to rebound to give the Rockies a sweep of the Padres and perhaps even overtake the DBacks for the wild card lead.

Rockies win back-to-back for first time in a month

Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

The last time the Rockies won two games in a row were the last time they had wins before the atrocious June losing streak. Perhaps they are finally figuring things out and are ready to roll back into the winning ways, or maybe they just got a couple of lucky days. With the way the offense is right now, you have to assume that they may be figuring things out and that the pitching will be what decides wins or losses.

Monday’s game started on a high note with Charlie Blackmon hitting a home run on the third pitch of the game. Perdomo allowed another run in the second inning after three straight hits, but he did get an inning ending double play to prevent anymore damage.

The third inning would not get easier for Perdomo and this time it was mostly on him. After a walk, single, and error, the bases were loaded for Parra. He would not drive in a run, but Perdomo fixed that issue for the Rockies with the next two batters. Reynolds and Desmond would both get walked in to give the Rockies two easy runs and get Trevor Story to the plate. Story would the double to score two more runners. One more would score in the inning to give the Rockies five runs in the inning and a 7-2 lead.

The scoring would slow down for the next few innings until the seventh and eighth. After being removed with two outs in the seventh, Jake McGee came on to finish the inning and presumably take the eighth as well. He would get the final out of the seventh, but he gave up three runs in the eight on a homer, walk, and double before being removed. The final two runs came on a sac fly and single with Ottavino on the mound, but they were credited to McGee.

The Rockies would hold onto the lead, despite using five pitchers over the final 2.1 innings. Holland finished the game for Colorado relatively easily, but the rest of the bullpen made the win more stressful than it should have been. The bullpen needs help, and if the Rockies make any moves it needs to be for a bullpen arm or two.

Colorado will try and take a quick series win and earn a winning streak on Tuesday with Antonio Senzatela on the mound. They’d love for him to replicate what Marquez did and maybe see a less stressful win because of the bullpen.