ROX FUMBLE HOME STAND; ON TO KC, ATLANTA
Chad Bettis returned to the Colorado Rockies August 14 amid an overwhelming wave of emotion, and it couldn’t have gone better. The right-hander delivered 7 scoreless innings, and the Rockies scored 3 times in the 8th inning off of castaways Rex Brothers and Jason Motte before Greg Holland finished things off for a giant win to open a 7-game home stand. With lefty Kyle Freeland coming off the Disabled List the following night, Colorado would not only be getting a boost out of Bettis’ inspirational return, but from a practical standpoint was adding a pair of top-shelf arms to a pitching staff that had mixed and matched its way through the success-so-far, yet was showing unmistakable signs of wear. Freeland was shaky through 6, but exited in a 3-3 standoff. The Rockies had no finish, however– the Atlanta Braves scored the game winner in the 8th when Brandon Phillips doubled and the usually impeccable Nolan Arenado pulled Mark Reynolds off of 1st-base on Tyler Flowers’ ground ball.
Not to worry, the Colorado offense scored 14 times in the first 5 innings Wednesday and threw-in 3 “insurance” runs in the 8th to hammer the Braves, a harbinger, no doubt, of good things to follow. They didn’t happen. An allegedly ill Jeff Hoffman set the tone for a listless squad Thursday afternoon that scored twice in the 2nd then went silent until it trailed 10-2 and bled-out a couple of meaningless tallies in the 7th and 9th.
Three weeks prior general manager Jeff Bridich made his play, acquiring right-hander Pat Neshek to shore-up the bullpen and catcher Jonathan Lucroy to bolster the young pitching core, each move discernibly improving the team, alas with little noticeable affect. 85 days or so hence, one can state with confidence the 8-game losing streak in late June swept away the starch that propelled the Rockies on a romp through the first third of the campaign, just as surely as the summer grind has worn down the edges on the gears: Colorado appears to be running on fumes as it heads-out for a challenging 6-game trip through the Kansas City Royals and a return visit to the Braves, who are now actually located in a place known as Marietta, Georgia.
The Rockies lost 2 out of 3 to the Milwaukee Brewers on the weekend. German Marquez gave-up 4 runs over 5-2/3 and Colorado got home runs from Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, and Carlos Gonzalez in an 8-4 win on Friday night. On Saturday they fell behind 3-0, rallied to tie things-up in the 7th, then had nothing more to add. Holland coughed-up the contest in the 9th. Sunday the Rockies got a run in the 1st and were behind 6-1 before they got another one in the 8th and 2 in the 9th to fall 8-4 to the Brew Crew, which picked-up a game in the Wild Card chase. Colorado leads the Arizona Diamondbacks by a half game and is up on Milwaukee by 4. St Louis trails the Brewers by a game and the Florida Marlins follow the Cards, another game and a half in arrears.
Jon Gray (5-2, 4.74) gets the call tonight in Kansas City to do just what he’s counted on for, to be a stopper and set the course for a successful trip on the cusp of Meaningful Games in September. Gray faces left-hander Danny Duffy (7-8, 3.82) of the Royals, who are in a Wild Card chase of their own, a game and a half behind the Minnesota Twins, who in-turn trail the New York Yankees by 2-1/2 for the top slot in the American League. Antonio Senzatela returns to the rotation Wednesday, replacing Hoffman, whose flame-out last Thursday earned him a trip back to New Mexico. Senzatela will face-off against our old buddy Ian Kennedy, the one-time Padre. Marquez gets the Thursday day-game (there will be no TV), and he takes on Jake Junis, a right-hander getting his first MLB experience in 2017.
This week’s rest happened yesterday and is already over. It’s on to Georgia Friday afternoon for a 5:35 start in the first of 3 against the Braves, and we’re right back for more American League action Monday August 28, with the Detroit Tigers setting-down for 3 at Coors Field.
The grind lingers a bit longer; the stretch run looms. Time to get busy.