ROX SNAG 3 OF 4 IN DC; PIRATES NEXT, WEATHER IFFY
The Colorado Rockies were coming off a lackluster opening 10 games, including a miserable home opener and 1-2 series loss to the Atlanta Braves. Division rival San Diego was in Denver and outlasted the Rockies Monday night, prevailing 7-6 largely owing to a 3-run homer by starting pitcher Clayton Richard. Joey Lucchesi spotted Colorado 2 in the 1st inning Tuesday, then he and 3 relievers held the Rockies scoreless over the next 8. With 1 out in the top of the 9th Scott Oberg blasted a 95-1/3 MPH 4-seamer into the rib cage of Padres’ center-fielder Manuel Margot, dispatching Margot to the showers and a trip to the Disabled List as San Diego prevailed 5-2.
Wednesday afternoon German Marquez was on the mound for Colorado, and he skipped-one off the top hand of another Padres outfielder, Hunter Renfroe this time, with 2 outs in the top of the 2nd. Nolan Arenado would lead off for the Rockies an inning later, and Arenado had a good notion what figured to be coming. San Diego starter Luis Perdomo obliged, whizzing his first offering about a foot west of Arenado, whipping the Colorado all star into a fit of mound-charging righteous rage, and when they eventually got it all sorted out Arenado and Perdomo were ejected, along with Marquez and Padres’ catcher AJ Ellis. Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra got the boot as well, and about 20 minutes later Ian Desmond settled into the box with a count of 1-0, gazing out at San Diego left-hander Buddy Baumann. Desmond would reach on a throwing error, steal 2nd-base, and score on a grounder into center-field by Carlos Gonzalez. Trevor “Air” Story reached on a walk and Mike Tauchman sacrificed him and Gonzalez to 2nd and 3rd before Baumann walked Ryan McMahon to load the bases. Baumann ran Colorado catcher Tony Wolters to a count of 2-2 before Wolters grounded another single to center that San Diego’s Franchy Cordero would neglect to field, and Gonzalez, Story and McMahon all would score. Pat Valaika would drive Wolters in with a single off of Adam Cimber, and before Cimber was able to subdue the raging Rockies, Colorado had run out to a 5-0 lead they would translate into to a 6-4 victory to salvage 1 from the 3-game series.
Arenado’s antics had a salutory effect; the Rockies headed east for a 4 game set in Washington DC, the Swamp, with the deep and talented Nationals. Chad Bettis was first up, following-up 5-2/3 innings of 1-run ball in Colorado’s only win over the Braves the previous Saturday. Bettis was superb; he turned-in 7-complete, allowing a run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking-out 5. DJ LeMahieu played the lead offensively for the Rockies, homering to lead off the contest, and knocking in Parra twice, once on a double with 2-out in the 2nd, and again on another 2-out big fly in the 6th. LeMahieu had 4 RBI in Colorado’s 5-1 triumph over Gio Gonzalez.
On Friday the 13th Kyle Freeland took the hill and lasted 4-2/3. Freeland gave up the Nationals only run in the 5th before being bailed-out by Oberg. Cargo was the Rockies’ offensive hero, with a solo homer off of Tanner Roark in the 4th, and a sacrifice fly in the 6th that plated LeMahieu, who had reached on a Trea Turner error and moved-up on a single by Parra. The Nats got their only win on Saturday, when wealthy Max Scherzer bested Jon Gray. Gray got rolled for 4 in the 6th on 4 Washington singles and a double, whereas Scherzer surrendered 2 to Colorado in the 1st, then ran off 6 scoreless before giving way to single scoreless appearances by Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle.
That left yesterday’s contest between Tyler Anderson and Steven Strasburg. The Nats got 1 in the 1st before the Rockies tied things-up in the 4th when Charlie Blackmon homered. Anderson, who walked 6, issued 3 of those bases-on-balls in the 5th, and 2 scored on a single play when Chris Iannetta committed a passed-ball than then compounded it with a throwing error. Colorado struck right-back in the 6th when Tauchman singled with 1 out, LeMahieu walked, and both scored on a Blackmon double. Blackmon would score after Gonzalez followed with a single to left for a 4-3 lead, but the Nats tied it again in the bottom of the inning when Matt Wieters dropped his second homer of the series into the seats of right-center. The foes exchanged single runs again in the 8th, and then Desmond, a former Washington fan favorite, delivered the coup-de-gras with a big shot over the center-field wall. Wade Davis surrendered a walk on the way to his 7th 2018 save.
The Rockies continue to sputter offensively. Much like last week, LeMahieu, Blackmon, who missed 5 games with a balky back and subsequent balky quad, Arenado, and Iannetta are hitting for a little bit of average, and Gonzalez and Desmond have a bunch of RBI, but the rest of the group, including his Airness, who is at .177 with 26 Ks, are sucking at the wind. Arenado got a 5 game suspension, which he is currently serving among rumors of a balky knee. Parra got 4, which he is appealing, and Marquez will have to pay a fine. Blackmon has slotted into the 3-hole with Arenado cooling his heels in Arizona, and it looks to be permanent with LeMahieu missing nary a beat in the leadoff role.
Colorado is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this afternoon for the first of three with the Pirates. It’s cold and cloudy in the Steel City but no precipitation is in the forecast. Marquez (0-1, 4.97) is up, and figures to be strong after the short outing in advance of the brawl. He’ll face Steven Brault (2-0, 3.46), a left-hander, in an opener scheduled to commence shortly, at 5:05 MT. Bettis follows tomorrow against Trevor Williams, then it’s Freeland Wednesday morning versus Chad Kuhl in a 10:35 MT face-off. The Rockies get a day off Thursday before the Chicago Cubs visit Coors Field for 3 on the weekend.
Let’s keep the rumble rolling.