ROX HOME FOR FIREWORKS, 7 IN ADVANCE OF BREAK
Starting back on June 15, the Colorado Rockies faced a stretch of 20 straight contests within the National League West Division. It started positively enough, as they took 4 in a row from the Giants, then the opener of a 3-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks. But suddenly, in the 4th inning on Wednesday June 21, Jeff Hoffman got lit-up for 9, setting forth a losing streak that would last 8 games, ending only when Jon Gray returned from the Disabled List to deliver a victory Friday evening in Phoenix. Colorado went-on to lose the other two weekend face-offs with the Diamondbacks, and has now lost 10 of its last 11, finishing the stretch through the Division with 6 wins against 14 losses.
The early stages of the downhill trip featured a breakdown of the starting pitchers, along with a continuation of less than spectacular bullpen action, but the latter phases have been marked more marked by an offense that other than the 6 in support of Gray Friday hasn’t been able to manage more than 3 runs a game since it spurted-out another 6 in a drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 25. Another run in yesterday’s valiant little 9th inning rally at Chase Field might have made a big difference, but instead we got Ottavino, not Holland, in the bottom of frame; a loss, not a win.
DJ LeMahieu returned to the lineup for the first time since tweaking a groin on Tuesday and had 2 hits, but Ian Desmond left in the 4th with what was said to be cramps of the calf muscle, hopefully the result of inadequate hydration in the desert and not the playing surface in Phoenix, which actually looks even worse than some of those Scottish golf courses they play the British Open on. As noted above, Gray returned to the rotation with a victory, and he was accompanied by catcher Ryan Hanigan at the expense of Tom Murphy, an apparent nod to the veteran’s value to the pitching staff. Outfielder Mike Tauchman has also arrived, getting some time in left on Saturday and coming-on yesterday when Desmond couldn’t continue. And despite all of the gloom and doom, one couldn’t help but feel some sense of confidence with the way Antonio Senzatela was bringing it yesterday in the 7th and 8th.
Gray put-in 6 in Friday, surrendering 2 runs on 7 hits. The right-hander didn’t appear optimally sharp, but he struck-out 10 and only walked one Dback. The Rockies got a lead-off homer from All Star starter Charlie Blackmon, 2 in the 3rd with the benefit of only a Hanigan single, then single runs in the 6th, 7th, and 8th to get things to Greg Holland.
The other-worldly Nolan Arenado will join @Chuck_Nazty in Miami for the All Star game as fans nationwide show some respect for our guys playing out here dead-set in the Middle of Nowhere. MLB saves leader Holland will just as undoubtedly join them as Adam Ottavino will not, and Mark Reynolds deserves everybody’s support in the on-line poll for the final NL roster slot. But before all of that transpires the local heroes have 7 to play at Coors Field, starting tonight with a sellout and fireworks on-hand at 6:10 MT.
Rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman (4-1, 4.04) gets the call for Colorado against fellow righty Luis Castillo (0-0, 3.38) of the Cincinnati Reds, who are on for four Monday through Thursday. The American League’s Chicago White Sox follow for three over the weekend to give Arenado and Blackmon some pre-ASG experience at pounding AL pitching. Kyle Freeland goes against Homer Bailey for more fireworks on July 4, Gray will be out again Wednesday against Scott Feldman, and Tyler Chatwood doesn’t know who he’ll be facing yet Thursday, when cruelly in advance of the All Star Break there will be no television (I feel a stroll down to the old ball park coming on).
The big crowd will embrace their wounded warriors under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 80s with a bit of serious wind blowing rarefied air straight in at 10 MPH. 7 wins makes for 55 at the Break. Let’s get that bandwagon back on the roll!