The Colorado Rockies managed 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning Monday night against a shaky Seattle Mariners bullpen, but pinch hitter Mike McKenry and Charlie “John” Blackmon, who was 4 for 6, failed to deliver with runners on 1st and 3rd to let the Mariners escape with an 8-7 victory Monday night at Coors Field in Denver. Eddie Butler (3-8, 5.45) dug the Rockies a deep hole early in the contest, allowing 4 in the 1st, 2 in the 2nd, and 1 in the 3rd as Seattle ran-out to a 7-1 lead.
Christian Bergman, just back from a rehab stint in Albuquerque, came on for Butler in the 5th and delivered 2-2/3 innings of 1-run relief. Gonzalez Germen added an inning and a third of scoreless work, and deposed closer John Axford turned in a clean 9th to give the Rockies’ offense room to draw within a run before falling short against Carson Smith.
Colorado got one in the 1st on a Blackmon double and single by Jose Reyes in his first Coors Field at-bat as a Rockie. They added 2 in the 4th on singles by Nick Hundley, Kyle Parker, Drew Stubbs and Reyes. Blackmon knocked-in Hundley with his second double of the night in the 6th. Then in the 9th Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez led-off with singles and scored after DJ LeMahieu struck-out on a Ben Paulsen double. Hundley plated Paulsen with his third single of the night, and Parker singled pinch-runner Brandon Barnes to 3rd with one out, but Smith knucked-down to retire McKenry and Blackmon to end matters.
Butler was hittable in the in the middle of the plate from the start. The Mariners battered him on 2 doubles, a walk, and 2 singles for the 4 in the 1st. From there it was the long ball that haunted the right-hander, who to be fair is only in the majors because 4 of the Rockies’ more credible 2015 starters are disabled. Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz took Butler deep with solo shots in the 2nd, and Brad Miller matched them with one of his own in the 3rd. Felix Hernandez (13-6, 3.13) went 6-2/3 and got the win for Seattle. He allowed 4 runs on 11 hits and struck-out 9.
It’s a 3-game set, and game 2 is tonight, again at 6:40 MDT at the old ball park in LoDo. Jon Gray makes his MLB debut for Colorado against the Mariners’ Vidal Nuño.