Franklin Morales (5-5, 5.21) couldn’t get anybody out in the 4th and Tommy Kahnle couldn’t get anybody out in the 7th, and the Colorado Rockies played “just bad enough” to lose to the Washington Nationals Monday night at Coors Field in Denver, 7-2.
Morales held the Nats scoreless in the other 5 of the 6 innings he pitched. Of the 9 hits he allowed, 4 came leading-off the 4th. Ryan Zimmerman singled and came home on Ian Desmond’s 17th home run, his 2nd against Rockies’ pitching in 2014. Wilson Ramos singled and came-around when Danny Espinosa followed with a double to left-field. Winning pitcher Doug Fister (9-2. 2.92) reached on a sacrifice bunt that moved Espinosa to 3rd when Morales threw wildly to 1st, and then Espinosa scored on a wild Morales pick-off attempt, of Fister, to make it 4-0.
Fister mowed through the Rockies until the bottom of the 6th, when Josh Rutledge, in for an ailing Troy Tulowitzki, grounded a single to center leading-off the inning. Corey Dickerson forced him at 2nd, then moved around to 3rd on another ground-single to center, by Carlos Gonzalez. Nolan Arenado singled to left, driving-in Dickerson, but Gonzalez got caught between 2nd and 3rd, slid awkwardly, then laid on his back in a heart-wrenching DLR-worthy piece of pain and frustration. Arenado moved-up to 2nd and scored when Ben Paulsen, making his major league debut, delivered his second career hit. The Rockies would go on to load the bases with 2 out, but Washington manager Matt Williams went to his bullpen for Aaron Barrett, who struck-out pinch-hitter Brandon Barnes.
If Colorado had any momentum the usually clutch Kahnle quickly dunked it in the ice bucket. Kahnle walked Zimmerman leading-off the 7th, then allowed singles to Desmond and Ramos, scoring Zimmerman. With Desmond at 3rd, Kahnle uncorked an obligatory Rockies’ league-leading wild pitch, plating a second run and neurtalizing the ground Colorado had gained in the 6th.
Kahnle handled the 8th, then Rockies’ manager Walt Weiss turned to LaTroy Hawkins for the 9th, finally realizing if he uses Hawkins solely when Colorado has the lead, the veteran righty will die of old age before his next appearance. Hawkins surrendered the Nats’ 7th run on a Desmond single and Espinosa triple.
Game 2 of the 3-game set is tonight, at 6:40 MDT back at the old ballpark in Lodo. Yohan Flande returns from Colorado Springs to make his 4th major league start. Washington sends-out ace Jordan Zimmerman.