ROX SKIDDING AS RELIEF CORPS COLLAPSES; 3 UP IN CINCI AHEAD OF DBACKS VISIT
As headlined by RMH in his cheery, optimistic post from last week, the Colorado Rockies’ 2018 calendar turned to June on Friday, and there will be no rhyming. The Rockies Friday were sitting at 4-2 heading into the final set of a 9-game home stand, having taken 2 of 3 each from the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants, with a 1/2 game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. Rox fans, barely shaking loose the cobwebs after Thursday’s off-day, were learning the disturbing news that David Dahl and Adam Ottavino had landed on the Disabled List. Scott Oberg was up from Albuquerque and DJ LeMahieu would return from the DL to go 4 for 5 with a couple of ribbies Friday and 7 for 14 for the weekend. The Division rival Los Angeles Dodgers were at Coors Field for 3, but what promised to be an exhilarating weekend degenerated into tears as LA swept the Rockies out of town and headed for Pittsburgh.
Affairs started handily enough for the week with the Giants on for Memorial Day, and the back-and forth altercation that developed ended-up with Colorado on top 6-5 thanks to a bases-loaded single by Chris Iannetta in the bottom of the 10th. The news was even better on Tuesday with the Rockies going on a romp behind Kyle Freeland, who delivered another strong start despite getting knocked short of a Q by a 2-run San Francisco 6th. Colorado got RBI out of the 2 through 8 slots in the order on its way to an 11-4 victory.
But the current string of trouble really got started on Wednesday afternoon. Handed a 3-0 lead after 1, Jon Gray, who is really fighting it, lasted only an out into the 4th, already at 91 pitches, with the score tied 4-4. Harrison Musgrave surrendered 2 in the 5th to absorb the loss, and the Rockies were scoreless over the final 7.
Colorado took a 4-2 lead behind Tyler Anderson into the 4th on Friday, but the left-hander gave-up 5 consecutive 1-out hits and a sacrifice fly before wriggling free of things behind 5-4. The Rockies got back into a 6-5 lead after 5 with runs in the bottom of the 4th and 5th, but then Brooks Pounders came on for Anderson in the 6th. Pounders was good for a single, walk, and Chris Taylor home run before Justin Turner doubled and sent the right-hander back to the locker area. Oberg (big arm!), he of the flat, hard fastball, hit Matt Kemp, walked Max Muncy, and Turner scored on a Logan Forsythe sacrifice before Colorado got back to the plate trailing 9-6. The Rockies would get a run back before Chris Rusin had another shaky appearance that featured a 2-run Yasiel Puig homer to cap the 11-8 loss.
Colorado was up 4-2 after 2 again Saturday, but the Dodgers tallied single runs in the 4th and 6th to tie things-up against Rockies starter German Marquez. Brian Shaw came on to keep things in order in the 7th and did not. The right-hander lasted only an out, departing in favor of Mike Dunn after a 3-run shot by Kemp. Dunn was equally ineffective, leaving matters to Musgrave after 2 singles and 2 walks. Musgrave walked Enrique Hernandez, a run scored on a wild pitch, and 2 more came home on a triple by Taylor. LA had scored a total of 8 by the time Colorado got back to the dugout to play-out a 12-4 final.
The general theme continued as the home stand concluded on Sunday. The Rockies led 6-1 after 2, but starter Chad Bettis surrendered singles to Taylor and Kemp around a couple of pop flies before Max Muncy drove-in both runners with a 3-run fly into the right-field pavilion to bring the Dodgers to within 2. Bettis lasted 2 outs into the 6th before Puig reached on a double. Hernandez took a walk from Rusin, then with Oberg on Forsythe delivered Puig. Pinch hitter Breyvic Valera grounded to short, but Trevor “Air” Story was wild with his throw after fielding it, and after the 3rd out was finally recorded Los Angeles was on top 7-6. Colorado tied it in the 7th, and it remained tied in the top of the 9th when closer Wade Davis took the hill for the Rockies. Davis would escape the onslaught neither. Forsythe doubled, and after Cody Bellinger struck-out, Taylor took a walk. Forsythe scored on a Turner ground ball, and then Yasmini Grandal laid down the big hammer, a 2-run shot to center that put Colorado down 10-7.
Among the gloom were promising signs. LeMahieu is hot upon his return, his sidekick, Chuck Nazty, has regained his mojo, and the other worldly Nolan Arenado continues to rake. “Air” continues his surge, he’s up to a team leading 41 RBI, and Ian Desmond, Iannetta, and Carlos Gonzalez are showing renewed signs of life. The offense needs to circumvent a sea-level blackout in Ohio, and the pitchers, relievers in particular, need to use it to their benefit.
As fortune would have it, Freeland (5-5, 3.43) gets the call tonight with the Rox in Cincinnati for 3 with the Reds. Anthony DeSclafani (0-2, 6.35 at AAA Indianapolis) goes for Cincinnati in a 5:10 MT start at Great American Ball Park. Gray gets it against Sal Romano on Tuesday, and Anderson will be back at 10:35 Wednesday morning to close-out the short trip versus Tyler Mahle. Colorado returns to Denver Friday for 3 against the Dbacks on the weekend before another 6-game roadie breaks-out in Philadelphia and Arlington Texas.
After the Rockies’ big adventure last weekend the west is all jammed-up— 4-1/2 separate top from bottom. No time to dally.