Rockies rally falls short in ninth

666Blue Jays Rockies Baseball.jpegDavid Zalubowski AP Photo

With as bad as Toronto’s bullpen has been recently, it was a blessing that their starter was so terrific. Aaron Sanchez was able to go eight great innings where he only allowed a run and shut down a couple of key Rockies rallies. Rockies starter Tyler Anderson was also great, going six innings while allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out six. If it wasn’t for Sanchez’s terrific start, Anderson may have earned his first win, but the Rockies offense just couldn’t get anything going against the young righty.

Toronto managed to take an early lead in the second inning and with how great their starter was, they didn’t need many runs. Junior Lake drove in the first run with a double after Edwin Encarnacion reached on catchers interference and was moved up a base by a single from Kevin Pillar. Toronto got a couple more runs in the third with a Josh Donaldson homer and a Tulo single.

After those three runs scored, Anderson kept the Blue Jays off the board for the rest of his start. He got only one run of insurance however, a third inning RBI single from Daniel Descalso, and that was not enough to keep him from earning a loss. Anderson is 0-2 in four starts, but he has been very solid since his call up. He is averaging just over a strike out per inning and has a 2.66 ERA. His ERA+ is an absolutely fantastic 191, which means he is 91% better than the league average. Keeping that up would mean a historic season for a Rockies pitcher, and that’s ignoring the fact he is a rookie. Anderson has been an absolutely terrific addition to the Rockies rotation and has easily been the brightest spot in the Rockies month of June.

The Rockies almost managed a comeback in ninth inning against Toronto’s closer Roberto Osuna. Three doubles in the inning and a leadoff walk drove two men in and put the Rockies down 5-3. With runners at second and third and only one out, the Rockies had an excellent opportunity to tie the game up. Nick Hundley, pinch hitting with DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story unavailable, struck out. Blackmon then was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Cristhian Adames came up to try and keep the rally going, but on a check swing he was called out by the home plate umpire. While Adames did likely go around, a call earlier in the game really brings to attention the home plate umpire and his ability to call batters out on a check swing.

In a call that went Toronto’s way, the third base umpire called a batter safe on a check swing where he very clearly went around. The Rockies were unable to get that same saving grace when the home plate umpire made the call. This is a play the league needs to reevaluate and change. The home plate umpire already has to watch a plethora of things and a check swing should not be his call. He has no angle on the play and already has to call strikes and balls, which is hard enough. The home plate umpire has no right calling a batter out on a swing without asking for help. He has the help and the opportunity to take it, if it is a questionable call the corner umpires need to be asked.

Regardless of the final out, the Rockies lost this game and will have another losing month. They are not fading as quickly as they normally do at this time in the season and with some likely shakeups coming in the rotation and bullpen, they still have the chance to surge forward. But that is pending the rotation and bullpen stepping up like they need them to. The offense has been great, but pitching wins games and the Rockies need pitching.

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Toronto brings a storm of runs

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After a 2:41 minute rain/hail delay, the Blue Jays vs Rockies game was finally able to begin. And during a night when you would think the moisture and lateness of the starting time would slow the offense down, it appeared to only bring more. The final score was 14-9 in a game that favored the Blue Jays. It was the first time that the away team has won a game when these two teams play. The Rockies were previously 7-0 at home while Toronto was 9-0 at home.

The ball has been flying out of Coors during this recent home stand with at least 13 runs being scored in every game so far. The lowest scoring game was a 7-6 loss against Arizona that came on the first day of the home stand. Tuesday night brought with it more of the same with 23 runs being scored and 32 hits coming from the two teams.

The first two innings Toronto was shut down by Eddie Butler, but as many of his starts have gone, he fell apart the second time through the lineup. Starting in the third inning with Toronto down 1-0, Butler allowed the first run of the night on a Devon Travis single. He limited the damage to that run, but was at a very high pitch count early.

The Rockies got back at the Blue Jays in the bottom half of the inning regaining the lead. With two men on, Carlos Gonzalez hit his third home run in as many games and gave the Rockies a 4-1 lead. It was Cargo’s third home run that drove in three or more runs (grand slam, three run homer, three run homer) in the last three games and all three home runs either gave the Rockies the lead or put them within a run. It was the start of a great night for Gonzalez who finished with 4 hits and 5 RBIs.

The fourth inning went downhill quickly for the Rockies as they allowed 6 runs to the Blue Jays. Three singles, two errors, a home run, and a triple caused the damage and the Rockies went from being ahead by three to down by three. Toronto would continue to pile on runs the rest of the night scoring at least one run in every inning after the second.

The Rockies did some damage of their own over the course of the game, but a sloppy game on defense, some injuries to players, and a lack of limiting damage got to the Rockies and earned them a loss.

Not having DJ LeMahieu certainly hurt them a little bit and losing Trevor Story who re-aggravated his injured finger in the seventh were both reasons the Rockies had to go to an unorthodox lineup late. Having Wolters at shortstop, Raburn at first, and Reynolds at second is certainly not something the Rockies want to do often and it is lucky this game was not close or the lack of depth would be something to be angry about.

This game wasn’t close primarily because of another bad start by Eddie Butler. Butler is very much in jeopardy of losing his rotation spot and deservedly so with how poorly he has been pitching. With a few players coming off of the DL soon, some moves will be made and the rotation will be shaken up.

The series finale comes during an afternoon game on Wednesday with Tyler Anderson on the mound facing Aaron Sanchez. Anderson has been great and a blessing to this Rockies rotation during his rookie year and he will look to keep that up while hopefully earning his first major league win on Wednesday. A win gives the Rockies a winning home stand and that is something they need if they want to compete.

9 runs between two innings give Rockies the win

rockies-062716-015.jpg         John Leyba, The Denver Post

Jon Gray and the Rockies rode a 6 run seventh inning to a 9-5 win for the series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. Marco Estrada kept the Rockies at bay for the first five innings, but ran into trouble in the sixth when the Rockies final broke through.

Gray and his first inning struggles continued on Monday night when he allowed a solo shot to Devon Travis. From there Jon Gray settled down through the second and fifth innings. He ran into some more trouble in the sixth. After getting two quick outs, the middle of the Blue Jays order attacked for three runs. After Travis doubled, Josh Donaldson singled him in. Then Edwin Encarnacion homered to put the Blue Jays up 4-0.

The Rockies were in desperate need of seizing back some of the momentum and after getting nothing going against Estrada all night, the Rockies finally got to him. A walk and a double by Blackmon and Adames put two one for the heart of the order.  Arenado was unable to do anything as he struck out, but the Cargo came up and put the Rockies back in the game. On a 2-2 count, Estrada through a change up to Cargo that got way too much of the plate. Gonzalez lined a ball to right field that got out of the park for a three run homer and put the Rockies right back in the game.

Jon Gray went out for the seventh in an inning that would eventually give him the win. Gray finished with a pretty good line and despite it not being a quality start, it was still very effective. He finished with 8 strike outs and he didn’t walk a single batter. The Blue Jays did get to him for four runs, but he kept the game in check for the Rockies to comeback.

Th Blue Jays bullpen came on in the seventh and gave the game up. The inning started harmless enough when Brandon Barnes singled and was bunted over by a pinch hitter.  But then it started to fall apart. The next two batters got hit by pitches and the bases were loaded. Arenado came to the plate and although he was hitless up to this point, he was ready to come through. Nolan singled down the left field line and drove in two, putting the Rockies up 5-4. Cargo then singled to load the bases again for Reynolds. A walk scored another run and Descalso came to the plate with the bases still loaded. He singled down the line to score two more run. One more run would cross in the inning and the Rockies would enter the eighth with a 9-4 lead.

Encarnacion would hit another home run in the ninth, but it was too little, too late and the Rockies finished with a win. It was a good win for the Rockies and sets them up for the series win. Eddie Butler takes the mound on Tuesday for the second game of the series and with a good pitching performance, the Rockies can with the series.

Series Preview: Blue Jays vs. Rockies

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Monday, June 27th 6:40pm: Marco Estrada (5-3 2.70 ERA) vs. Jon Gray (4-3 4.80 ERA)

The series opens with a good pitching matchup between Marco Estrada and Jon Gray. Estrada is a veteran and has been pitching really well this year, some might even call it a career year for him at age 32 and in his ninth big league season. Gray on the other hand, is still very young and learning how to pitch in the big leagues. This year he has showed through multiple stretches that he is very capable and a possible future ace for the Rockies. He will need to pitch like that again tonight as the Blue Jays offense is a potent one. It will also be a reunion between Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies. Tulo harbors some obvious hard feelings towards the organization, but this is a game where the Rockies players need to take that and have it motivate them to win. Although Trevor Story will be sitting this first game with an injury, the other two games Story would love to show why the Rockies felt comfortable trading their star shortstop away.

Tuesday, June 28th 6:40pm: J.A. Happ (9-3 3.42 ERA) vs. Eddie Butler (2-4 6.71 ERA)

Having Happ on the mound going against Bulter benefits the Blue Jays and this is very likely a game that will need to be picked up by the offense. Butler has been good the first time through an order, but has quickly fallen apart after the second and third times. The Rockies really need Butler to put some good starts together in order to stay relevant, but that is a lot to hope for a pitcher that has not shown much consistency at all.

Wednesday, June 29th 1:10pm: Aaron Sanchez (7-1 3.33 ERA) vs. Tyler Anderson (0-1 2.55 ERA)

This is a game that mirrors the opener in that it is two good pitchers going against each other. Sanchez and Anderson are both young, with Sanchez in the midst of his third season and Anderson making only his fourth career start. Anderson still has not earned a major league win despite pitching great in all three starts and it would be great if he could earn a win in this series. The Rockies will very likely not sweep this series, but winning two out of three is possible with at least a decent performance on the mound and the offense continuing to produce. Facing an American League team is always a little bit different and facing an old star player will be a unique experience for many players and fans. Winning two of three against Tulo would be sweet, but sweeping the series and reaching the .500 mark would be the dream.

Rockies earn first walk-off on homer happy day

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With Chad Bettis on the mound and the Rockies close to losing a series against the Diamondbacks, someone had to step up. Luckily that someone was actually a few different players for the Rockies as the offense and bullpen stepped up to grab the win. Four home runs for the Rockies and a shutout over the final four innings gave the Rockies a 9-7 walk off win.

The Dbacks got to Bettis early and often knocking him from the game in the sixth inning, but not before tallying their six and seventh run off of him. Those runs gave the Diamondbacks the lead after they had lost it in the fifth.

Down by a score of 5-1 in the fifth inning, the Rockies got a sac fly and their second home run on the day, a grand slam from Carlos Gonzalez, to give them a 6-5 lead. It was Cargo’s 16th homer on the year and his fifth career grand slam. It was a clutch home run at the time, but the Rockies quickly found themselves in a deficit again and having to fight back, like they’ve had to in every game this series.

But fight back is exactly what the Rockies would do. Down by a run in the seventh, Trevor Story hit his 19th homer of the year, a solo shot to center, to tie the game at 7-7. Tying the game hardly meant the Rockies would win this game with the way the bullpen has been going, but on Sunday afternoon the bullpen stepped up and kept Arizona off the board.

Coming on after Chad Bettis left in the sixth was recent call up Yohan Flande. Flande, Lyles, Logan, and Estevez worked the sixth through ninth innings while striking out six, walking none, and allowing three harmless singles.

Taking a tie into the ninth, the Rockies had a great opportunity to walk off for their first time this year. Trevor Story was hit by pitch in the hand, a moment that may have Story away from a couple of games, but it also capped an excellent day for Story at the plate in which he reached five times, with two hits, two walks, and the HBP. The next two batters didn’t do anything productive and Mark Reynolds came to the plate. With the man on, Reynolds absolutely crushed his first career walk off home run to deep center field. That shot sealed the victory for the Rockies and earned Estevez the win. It kept the Rockies ahead of the Dbacks in the division and kept them at 4.5 back of the wild card.

Despite being 3 games under .500, the Rockies are sticking around and with some streaking upwards, they could see themselves competing down the stretch. They will take on the Blue Jays on Monday and see Tulo for the first time since trading him away last year. It should be an explosive series as both teams can hit some bombs, so it will come down to which pitchers can step up.

Rockies offense makes sure they win

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After three straight ninth inning losses, the Rockies offense finally had enough and made sure they wouldn’t lose another. An eighth inning rally by the Dbacks made it a close game at the time, but the Rockies made sure to separate themselves in the bottom of the inning to make for an easy 11-6 win.

Jorge De La Rosa did what he does best, pitched around traffic. De La allowed six hits and walked 5 batters through six innings, but managed to allow only one run earning some key strikeouts and two double plays with runners on base. De La stranded 8 Dbacks through his six innings with the only run coming in the first inning from a Paul Goldschmidt single.

Charlie Blackmon countered that run with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning. Blackmon is atypical from most leadoff hitters because of his ability to hit bombs and Blackmon has been showcasing that ability lately.

The Rockies came into the fourth inning looking to generate some more offense and take the lead and that is exactly what they would do. Trevor Story would double with one and out and came around to score on a Descalso single. Brandon Barnes, rocking the barehands, would single to put runners on the corner for Tony Wolters. A ball down the line easily scored Descalso, but Brandon Barnes hesitated while trying to score and was cut down at the plate. However, after a review, it was clear that Barnes snuck a hand in and it went as a two run double for Wolters.

The Rockies scored another run from a DJ walk and Nolan double in the next inning to take a 5-1 lead. In the sixth inning the Rockies scored two more runs from the best offensive day of Tony Wolters career. After his double in the fourth, he came up with a man on an crushed his first career home run on a ball that made the second deck over the Rockies bullpen.

Over the next two innings, the Diamondbacks would score five runs to storm back and make the score a 7-6 lead. The Rockies bullpen nearly gave up this game for the fourth time in a row, but the offense flat out refused to lose and came back in the bottom of the inning to score four runs. The big blow of the inning was a three run DJ LeMahieu home run, his fifth of the year, which is only one short of a career high.

The game ended on a line out double play and the Rockies won a game that they desperately needed to win. It gives them a chance to tie the series at 2-2 and still have a good home stand. Chad Bettis takes the mound and although he has not been that great lately, the way the offense has been going he has a decent chance to win this game.

Rockies lose third straight in ninth

542901130.jpgSeth McConnell, The Denver Post

In what was the longest nine inning NL game in history at four hours and thirty minutes, the Rockies and Dbacks rode a rollercoaster going back in forth in which either team probably didn’t deserve the win. The final score was 10-9 for Arizona in a game that saw 16 runs scored in the final four innings.

There’s no way around this one, the Rockies had plenty of chances to win this one, but their pitching let them down big time. After Tyler Anderson left the game, who was terrific by the way allowing two runs over 5.2 innings while striking out 8, the Rockies bullpen allowed 8 runs. Near every bullpen pitcher struggled in this one, for both teams, but ultimately it was the closers that had the final say in who won this game.

The story of this game really starts in the seventh inning. With the Rockies ahead 3-2, Miguel Castro came on to pitch. Castro has been struggling a lot this year after his injury and needs to right the ship and quickly for both the Rockies sake and his own. Two men reached and Castro recorded an out before being replaced by Boone Logan. Logan has been effective this year for the most part, but Friday night saw the Diamondbacks getting to him and quickly. A triple, an intentional walk, and a single allowed three runs to score and the Rockies lead was gone just like that. But the Dbacks weren’t done in the inning. Logan was removed and Jason Motte came on to try and salvage the inning. He did anything but that as the first batter, Yosmany Tomas, crushed a three-run home run.

The Rockies appeared to be too far out of this game and too late into it to make a comeback, but as the Goonies saying goes “Never say die!”The Rockies would score two runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game at 8-5, one coming off the bat of pinch hitter Trevor Story, who was sitting with a scheduled night off. The Rockies got through the eighth inning unscathed and it was their turn to tear into the Dbacks bullpen.

Daniel Hudson came on in the eight to face the heart of the Rockies order and they made him pay. DJ LeMahieu led off the inning with a ground rule double and Arenado followed that with a double of his own to score DJ. Three batters later, Cristhian Adames came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and third. Adames singled in a run to keep the inning going and put the score at 8-7. Wild pitch by Randal Delgado gifted the Rockies a run and then an error by Jake Lamb allowed Brandon Barnes to reach to keep the inning going. Cargo then came to the plate in a pivotal moment for the Rockies. Gonzalez was sitting with an injured wrist and he was marked as day-to-day, but they needed him in this game and Cargo came through big. With two out and two on, Cargo laced a double to center and Adames scored the leading run at the time. The Rockies went to the ninth with a 9-8 lead and they were primed and ready to win this game, or give up another ninth inning lead and take a crushing loss.

Carlos Estevez came on in a game that probably should’ve been a rest day, but the Rockies really didn’t have any other option. Estevez earned an out before allowing a game tying home run to Tomas, his second of the game. He then got a strikeout before allowing a double and single that gave the Diamondbacks the lead at 10-9. The Rockies had the chance to win this game, multiple times they did, but each time the bullpen erased those chances.

The ninth inning didn’t end without some more drama, as it was just one of those games. Arenado led the inning off with a double and was bunted over by Wolters, who was able to also reach on an error by the catcher. With nobody out and runners on the corners, the Rockies had all the chances they need to tie this game up by some mistakes by the Rockies and great defense ended this game. Reynolds grounded to short and Nolan, moving on contact, was thrown out at home. Wolters should’ve moved to third while Nolan was in the rundown but he made the mistake of not advancing. The next batter could’ve tied the game had he advanced, but instead it meant the Rockies wouldn’t keep it going. Hundley came to the plate with an out and runners on second and first and lifted a ball to left field. Rickie Weeks Jr. made a spectacular play at the wall to rob Hundley of a possible home run, but a for sure game tying hit. Adames then grounded out and the game ended without any further threats.

For the third game in a row, the Rockies took a gut check loss. These last three games are season defining losses and without some major shift in the way the bullpen is pitching, the Rockies will quickly fade into obscurity like they do most years. Jake McGee is close to a rehab assignment and Adam Ottavino is nearing a return, so there is a chance for salvation, but that also means the team needs to start clicking on all cylinders and players need to perform.