ROX BREAK EVEN ON TRIP; DETROIT, DBACKS UP NEXT
The Colorado Rockies shut out the Atlanta Braves 3-0 Sunday afternoon, taking the series from the Braves 2 games to 1 after dropping 2 of 3 to the Kansas City Royals in Missouri earlier in the week. The Detroit Tigers are in Lodo this afternoon, prepping for 3 with Colorado at Coors Field, beginning tonight at 6:40 pm MT.
The Tags, as the late George Kell was prone to call them, are not up to much this season, in fact they stink, sitting 56-73 in 4th place in the American League Central, some 17 games south of the Division leading Cleveland Indians, and have not been much of a factor since making a run at the World Series in 2013, when they featured a rotation that included Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anabal Sanchez, Doug Fister and 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, but still fell with a thud in the ALCS to the eventual champion Boston Red Sox. Detroit’s domination of the Central during the early years of the decade, and the resulting subsequent dearth of choice draft picks likely explains the current malaise under manager Brad Ausmus, who succeeded legendary Rockies fan favorite Jim Leyland after the 2013 flameout.
Despite taking their only road series for the month of August, Colorado lost ground on its Wild Card competitors for the week, 2 whopping games to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who follow the Tigers into Denver for 3 on the weekend, and 1/2 game to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Florida Marlins have moved ahead of the St Louis Cardinals and trail Milwaukee by a game and a half, 4-1/2 games out of the money.
On Tuesday, Kansas City’s Danny Duffy became the latest unfamiliar left-hander to buffalo the Rockies away from Coors Field. Jon Gray allowed 3 runs on 6 hits in a 6-2/3 inning performance, but Colorado went meekly against Duffy until Nolan Arenado homered in the 6th with DJ LeMahieu aboard on a walk. Four Royals relievers stifled Colorado the rest of the way. Wednesday the Rockies took a 4-3 lead into the 9th for Greg Holland. Antonio Senzatela hadn’t been sharp, but got through 5 surrendering only 2, and the offense tallied single runs in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th. Holland, who has struggled for much of August, followed fellow relievers Chris Rusin, Pat Neshek, and Jake McGee to the hill in the 9th. The righty walked leadoff hitter Alex Gordon and survived line-outs by Whit Merrifield and Lorenzo Cain, but then Melky Cabrera singled to left to bring Eric Hosmer to the plate, and Hosmer drilled Holland’s 1-1 slider into the right-field stands for a 6-4 KC walkoff.
Colorado got a bit of respite Thursday afternoon. German Marquez turned-in another nice outing, but trailed 2-1 when he exited after the 6th. Gerardo Parra, who had singled and scored on a Carlos Gonzalez double in the 6th, had another single with one out in the 8th and came around on a clutch 2-out home run by Pat Valaika, who got the start at short in the day game over Trevor Story. Holland handled the 9th and got a save, although the outs came ominously on two line drives and a substantial fly ball that Charlie Blackmon tracked-down in center-field.
The trip moved Friday to the Braves’ new digs in Marietta, which sits north and west of Atlanta. Chad Bettis made his third start of 2017 and fell behind 5-0 after just two innings and the Rockies offense could manage but a pair of runs versus Julio Teheran, who worked 7-1/3, and two thirds of the way through the 6-game trip Colorado was looking-up at 1-3 deficit in a region that hasn’t hosted a whole lot of pleasant Rockies memories. Saturday Kyle Freeland was out for 6 innings, exiting with matters tied 4-4 in a back and forth affair that Colorado led, trailed, then led again before Freeland surrendered 2 in the bottom of the 6th. The tie persisted into the 9th when Gonzalez singled ahead of Blackmon, who drove him home with a big fly into the seats in right-center, then LeMahieu, who had drilled a solo homer over the right-field wall in the 5th, followed with another one deep to left.
That brought about one more trial for Holland, and the results were horrifying. Ozzie Albies led off with a single and a batter later scored behind another late night homer, this time by Matt Adams. Rockies’ manager Bud Black jerked Holland following an Ender Inciarte single, and while Jake McGee coerced Brandon Phillips into a game-ending double-play, the pain and suffering Colorado was imposing on its fans was starting to cause concerns among public health officials. One called the Rockies’ performance “fundamentally inhumane.”
Gray was back out Sunday. He delivered 6 shutout innings on 5 hits, striking-out 7, and Neshek, Mike Dunn, and McGee each contributed shutout innings of their own to close-out the series win. The Rockies got a run in the 2nd on a Parra single and Story double, and Mark Reynolds contributed the big blow, a 2-run shot to left in the 6th, also with Parra aboard.
Senzatela (10-4, 4.52) gets the start tonight against Jordan Zimmerman (7-11, 6.11), the former Washington National. Marquez goes Tuesday against Mike Fulmer and Bettis will be back out Wednesday afternoon in a television-free contest against the still dangerous Verlander. There’s a day of rest Thursday before Arizona hits town for 3. The week presents a major opportunity for Colorado if it hopes to make something special out of the 2017 campaign. Detroit ought to be fresh meat, the weekend a chance to make-up ground on the hated Dbacks.
Meaningful games in September start Friday.