Colorado outworked Washington 6-4 to take the road series for the first time in over two months. The Rockies and the Nationals played role reversals; Colorado made the plays and Washington did not execute like a post season team should. Yohan Flande was asked to face Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer today. Flande was the usual himself giving up three runs on three solo blasts (Zimmerman twice and Werth) over 4.2 innings which was exactly his role. Oberg picked up the last out of the fifth. Scherzer also gave up three solo shots (CarGo twice and Descalso). Kyle Parker had an RBI single to give the Rox a 4-3 lead in the top of sixth. Four runs off Scherzer in six innings is a great day for any offense.
Late game execution was the difference maker in the game. In the bottom of the sixth Rafael Betancourt gave up a run and it could have been worse. With Jason Werth running on the pitch, Wilson Ramos hit a long fly ball to center field and he was walking admiring his hit. Chuck_Nazty made a quick retrieval high off the wall and limited Ramos to the longest single in Washington history. Plus Werth momentarily stopped after rounding second base because Chuck_Nazty put on an act that made it look like he would catch the ball forcing Werth to stop at 3B.
The Rockies failed to score in the seventh but Bryce Harper lost a high pop up in the sun that allowed Jose Reyes to get a double. In the bottom of the inning Boone Logan gave up a lead off double to Anthony Rendon, but struck out Harper for the first out. John Axford relieved Logan and D.J. LeMahieu came into the game in a double switch which turned out to be a great move. Sure enough Zimmerman hit a line drive single right at CarGo on one hop. Rendon did not read the scouting report on CarGo’s arm. Neither did the third base coach. Out by 15 feet on a perfect strike. Washington manager Matt Williams was so frustrated that he even challenged the plate collision rule on the play. Fort McKenry had the ball long before Rendon arrived.
Moving on to the eighth inning with the game still tied at 4-4, the Rockies executed in critical situations to score two runs off Drew Storen for the second time in the series. With Ben Paulsen on third base and Mike McKenry on second base, Parker bounced the ball back to the box that was looking like a two-run single but Storen made a great snare of the grounder above his head and got Paulsen in a rundown. It was teamwork all the way around; Paulsen stayed in the rundown long enough to allow Parker to hustle over to second. LeMahieu made Walt Weiss look good on the double switch with a two-out two run go ahead single. Axford came back out and pitched a clean inning except for a single and stolen base. It is a great day for Axford when he has zero walks over two innings.
Tommy Kahnle who is auditioning for the closer role made the game interesting, but the game ended with the Nats leaving the bases loaded. He had to work for four outs due to an error by NoDo to start the inning. Throw in two more BBs sandwiched around a shallow Harper fly out and the bases are loaded for Werth. Kahnle used his bulldog attitude to strike out Werth for the second out. A routine ground out by Ian Desmond finally ended the game. It is a great day for Kahnle when he is unfazed by an error and two walks going through the middle of the lineup. Washington failed to execute in the inning unlike D.J. who executed an inning earlier.
Colorado won for the third time in the last four games and all three victories were made possible by scoring in late and close situations. You can guess why!!! By trading Tulo, the Rockies got rid of an automatic out in late and close situations! CarGo continues to build up his value and he may bring in a bigger haul in the winter than had he been traded at deadline. With Kahnle’s bulldog attitude and his devastating FB/change up mix, the bullpen appears to be more settled lately.
On to New York for a four game set starting today (Monday). Eddie Butler will be the key to whether the Rox at least gain a split or not. As Purple Row has pointed out. it has been about 19 starts and he has a very bad strikeout ratio and lacking a swing and miss pitch. Will Butler go back to Albuquerque if he fails to keep his WHIP below 1.30 in his next start? There is a concern he will go Matzek on us as well.