PADRES IN TOWN FOR 3 IN ADVANCE OF TRIP TO TROPICS
The Colorado Rockies headed out of Washington, DC under a head of steam, having taken 3 of 4 from the Nationals, and set about sustaining the run with wins Monday and Tuesday over the Pirates in Pittsburgh under miserable conditions, then got knocked-about Wednesday afternoon before flying back to Colorado for 3 at Coors Field against the Chicago Cubs. Chicago got the win under more crappy weather on Friday; the Rox retaliated Saturday, then with a sold-out park and spectacular Colorado spring conditions Sunday, failed to muster a sufficient comeback, dropping the weekend set to the Cubs.
They’re back at Coors Field tonight. It’s Chad Bettis (3-0, 1.44) toeing-up against Brian Mitchell (0-2, 5.03) of the San Diego Padres in a battle of right-handers. The Padres are in Denver for 3 before an off-day Thursday prior to a 3-day visit to Miami, Florida on the weekend.
A week ago tonight the Rockies got out to a 5-0 lead after 4 behind German Marquez. They took a 2-0 lead in the 1st on a DJ LeMahieu walk and Chris Iannetta double, then with 1-out in the 4th Ian Desmond walked, Carlos Gonzalez singled, and Trevor Story, “Air,” made contact, driving the runners home with his 4th 2018 homer, a line-shot to left. Pittsburgh tallied single runs off Marquez in the 5th and 6th before Chris Rusin and Adam Ottavino came-on and laid down the hammer. Charlie Blackmon blasted home run no. 7, a solo-shot in the 8th, to nail-down a 6-2 victory.
Tonight’s starter, Bettis, was out on Tuesday and turned-in a 7-1/3 inning masterpiece. His offense was selective, at best, scratching-out single runs on a walk, Blackmon single, and force-play in the opening inning, then another in the 4th on walks to Desmond and Gonzalez followed by a double from Air, who actually had an excellent week, logging 9 hits and 6 RBI to go with a relatively tame 5 strikeouts. Bettis held the Pirates scoreless on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking-out 3. Brian Shaw and Jake McGee each handled a batter in the 8th before Wade Davis came on for his 8th save. Pittsburgh got loose on Kyle Freeland after 3 the next day. Sean Rodriguez hit a 2-run homer in a 3-run 4th, and singles by Adam Frazier and Jordy Mercer leading-off the 5th chased the left-hander in favor of Scott Oberg, who couldn’t subdue the Bucs further. 3 more crossed the plate on a Josh Bell single and David Freese double. The Pirates added another in the 6th and 3 more in the 8th off left-hander Mike Dunn, running-out to a 10-3 win.
Following a day-off Thursday another drubbing was in the cards for Friday. Agbayani’s latest project, Jon Gray, made it into the 6th, but it wasn’t pretty. The Cubs tallied 2 in the 1st, another in the 3rd and 2 more in the 5th before Gray opened the 6th surrendering a single to Addison Russell and a triple to Jason Hayward. Gray gave way to Shaw, who had no answers, and 29 pitches later Chicago had 7 for the inning on their way to a 16-5 laugher. But Colorado regrouped Saturday. Tyler Anderson turned-in 6, 5 scoreless after spotting the Cubs 2 in the 1st. The Rockies scored all 5 of their runs in the 5th after 2 were out. With Mike Tauchman and Anderson on after bases-on-balls, LeMahieu doubled-in Tauchman, Gerardo Parra singled-in Anderson and LeMahieu, and after Blackmon, “Chuck Nazty,” walked, a single by Nolan Arenado and double by Air made it 5-2 Colorado. Anderson, McGee, Ottavino, and Davis shut-down the Cubs from there.
Gonzalez had pulled a hamstring making a fine catch Wednesday afternoon, and by Sunday was placed on the 10-day DL. Parra elected to accept his 4-game suspension from the April 11 fight with San Diego, Tauchman was demoted to AAA Albuquerque, and David Dahl and Noel Cuevas, a right-handed outfielder in apparent violation of the Rockies’ Charter, were recalled from the Isotopes. The Cubs refused to be intimidated, running-out to a 6-0 lead over Marquez, who looked sharp until beaning Kris Bryant and losing his mojo with 2-out in the 1st. The right-hander departed with 1-out in the 4th. Colorado rallied with 2 in the bottom of the 3rd, and another pair in the 5th on Blackmon and Arenado home runs. A botched wheel play followed by a Javier Baez double moved Chicago back-out to 9-4 in the top of the 7th, but Colorado answered with 3-back in the bottom of the inning. Nevertheless, Carl Edwards, Jr. and Brandon Morrow had little sense of humor finishing matters out. 2-out singles by Arenado and Story and a walk to Dahl had no effect in the 9th when Arenado was thrown out at the plate on a single by Desmond.
The Rockies are looking more and more like they will be very difficult to deal with, as long as they can get out ahead and nurse the young starting pitchers into the 6th. Rusin, and unexpectedly, Ottavino, have emerged as ferocious additions to the McGee-Shaw-Davis bullpen triumvirate RMH has christened “MSD.” So far it’s getting there, with the lead, that’s proving to be a challenge.
Bettis continues to demonstrate outstanding leadership for the young staff, and he and Mitchell are set to face off down at Coors at 6:40 MT. Manager Bud Black has edged-away from returning Chuck N to the lead-off slot, now pushing him back into the 2-hole, essentially a swap with LeMahieu, the logic of which escapes me for the time being. Dahl is now apparently set to be the moose, he’s hitting cleanup ahead of Air and Desmond. It’s week 4.5. Time to keep a-rumblin.’