STORY BLASTS HOT ROX INTO BREAK
Events had been breaking the way of the Colorado Rockies since almost exactly the day the calendar turned from June to July. Winding down the final home stand prior to the annual All Star recess, Colorado Sunday had a chance to sweep the Seattle Mariners, pull their season record at Coors Field even to 23-23, and ascend a notch closer to the Division leading Dodgers and Diamondbacks. Tyler Anderson got the start for the Rockies against Mike Leake of the Mariners, and the two traded punches for 6 innings, the Mariners touching Anderson for 2 in the opening inning, whereas the Rockies used a 2-out, 2-on single by Nolan Arenado to tie things-up in the bottom of the 3rd. Seattle nicked shaky Jake McGee for one in the 7th on a lead-off single, sacrifice, and 2-out Dee Gordon single, but the Rox countered with a 1-out triple by Unspeakable Awful Ian (UAI) Desmond and Chris Iannetta’s sacrifice fly. Alex Colomé got the Mariners through the 8th, and Brian Shaw and Scott Oberg took Colorado into the bottom of the 9th even-Steven for shortstop Trevor Story.
Story debuted in 2016 in the wake of the Troy Tulowitzki purge, wreaking havoc on first Zack Greinke, and later the balance of the National League, before a season-ending encounter with 2nd-base in New York turned a potentially record-setting rookie campaign unremarkable. Upon Story’s return in 2017, the league had learned how to get him, and 191 strikeouts kept things cool for the hitters following Story in the batting order. As late as April 30 this season Story appeared equally clueless, but gradually the RBI began to accumulate, home runs began to fly, a chronic .230 batting average suddenly read .292, and on July 8 Story got the news he’d be playing in the mid-season classic Tuesday evening in Washington DC.
Story took a ball from Nick Vincent. He fouled-off a cutter. An outside fastball made it 2-1. Story slapped another fastball and another cutter out of play. Vincent tried the cutter one last time. Rox Walk Off.
The other-worldly Arenado leads a 3-Rockie delegation to Washington that along with Story includes center-fielder Charlie Blackmon, Chuck Nazty, with Colorado coming off a 13-3 stretch dating back to June 28, when the Rockies salvaged the last of 3 on a mid-week series in San Francisco. Ironically, the starting pitchers have been the key to success. Kyle Freeland has but a single shaky start dating all the way back to April, and he, Anderson, and German Marquez each came-up strong 4 times, while Antonio Senzatela contributed a win and a loss before joining Chad Bettis on the DL with blistered fingers. Jon Gray, exiled to Albuquerque to learn how to eat nails, apparently got into some of those nice galvanized roofing types that have the flat heads and the barbed shanks, because he ripped through the Mariners in a spot-start on Saturday.
The starters’ work has eased the burden on a precarious bullpen that has yet a great deal to prove. Outside of snubbed all-star Adam Ottavino, nobody in the group is inspiring any particular degree of confidence, especially the putative “big 3” of Brian Shaw, Jake McGee, and Wade Davis, and to a large extent, the ‘pen’s ability to retrench after a disastrous month of June is crucial to Colorado’s prospects going forward.
Regarding the offense, Gerardo Parra has never been forgiven for a couple base-running blunders committed back in early 2016, then going-on to have an admittedly dismal season all together. 2016 was bad for Hillary Clinton as well, but Parra is actually a very good outfielder who is hitting nearly .300 while knocking-in 41 runs. Carlos Gonzalez has never become the transcendent superstar we were all assured he would be, and Gonzalez also had the audacity to be bad in 2017, but he too is a very fine outfielder currently batting-it-up at a pace of .280, including 3 homers in the past week. UAI, also is not such a horrible person once you get to know him. Building his reputation as a steady, but not spectacular, shortstop on a team that won a lot of games, Desmond has unquestionably performed with mixed results in scarcely a full season as a Rockie, but he too is up to .235, .313 in his last 30, with 18 home runs and 56 RBI. Not to be overlooked is the catching position, where Tom Murphy, up from Albuquerque since June 12, has contributed some added punch.
As the Stars go to show-off a week later than usual, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline hovers a short 15 days away. The gossip wire will be all a-twitter with who is coming and who is going, but in the meantime a series to be called Gut-Check, the Sequel, looms in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, Friday night, 7:40 MT at Chase Field. Freeland is rumored to be Rockies’ manager Bud Black’s choice to get the second-half started, followed by Anderson and then Marquez. The Diamondbacks have not officially announced their starters, either, with game-times scheduled for 6:10 on Saturday and 2:10 on Sunday afternoon. Colorado gets a day off next Monday before more American League action at Coors Field, this time featuring the World Champion Houston Astros, followed by sdcarp’s beloved Oakland A’s.
But first it’s Chuck N, Trevor, and Nolan being Nolan in DC. Go Rox!