ROX UP BY 2 OVER BREWERS FOR VISITING WILD CARD; MARLINS, DODGERS ON FOR 3 EACH, THEN IT’S A WRAP
With the “journalists” at TV broadcast partner AT+T SportsNet concentrated exclusively upon the mustache it is forcing analyst Ryan Spilborghs to wear, the Colorado Rockies stumbled back into Denver yesterday evening for a short night of rest ahead of their penultimate series of MLB Season 2017, a 3-game standoff with the Miami Marlins starting tonight at 6:40 MT at Coors Field in Lodo. The mustache is currently 2-4, is averaging 2-1/2 runs a game, and got shut-out 3 times.
No sooner had the Colorado offense heated-up than it melted down. Carlos Gonzalez was 1 for 12 for the week with 6 strikeouts and took a seat with a banged-up shoulder. Trevor Story relatively tore it up, going 4 for 23 with 10 strikeouts, and Charlie Blackmon had a rare week in the company of the rest of mankind, managing only 3 hits in the 22 at-bats he logged over 6 games. Week 26 started Tuesday in San Francisco where the Giants advised the Rockies they might as well just buzz-off. Johnny Cueto and 3 relievers held them to 3 runs on Monday, and walked-off on three 9th inning singles and a sacrifice fly off of Chris Rusin. Matt Moore and 5 of his bullpen mates shut them out on Wednesday afternoon.
The road trip, featuring the 4th and 5th place teams in the NL West, shifted south to San Diego on Thursday, where Colorado was shut-out again, this time by Clayton Richard, Kirby Yates, and Brad Hand. Tyler Anderson got the start for the Rockies, and surrendered only 3 over 5-2/3, but that wouldn’t cut it with the offense declining to score. Friday saw the 4-game slide interrupted. The scoreless skein ran-out to 24 innings before Nolan Arenado and Ian Desmond delivered solo homers off of former teammate Jordan Lyles. Jon Gray held the Padres to a run on 5 hits and a walk over 6-complete and struck out 8. Colorado got to Lyles for 2 more in the 7th, the first on a solo homer from Story. Desmond singled, stole 2nd, and scored on a base hit by Jonathan Lucroy for run no. 4.
Saturday the Rockies got another chance at a former teammate, Jhoulys Chacin, and elected to give the once promising right-hander a free pass. Chacin stifled his one-time buddies on but a hit and 3 bases-on-balls over his 6 innings, then Craig Stammen, Buddy Baumann, Yates and Hand did the shutting-down during the 7th, 8th, and 9th frames. But yesterday the Rockies finally found their hitting shoes, getting to Luis Perdomo, who went 5, for single runs in the 1st and 2nd, and 2 in the 3rd. German Marquez held San Diego to 2 scores over 5, and Colorado got another run off of Kyle McGrath in the top of the 6th, but Scott Oberg had a rough time in the bottom of the inning, surrendering 2 more for a narrow 5-4 edge, which held until the 9th when Pat Valaika, on for Arenado, who banged-up a palm on a “funky swing” on his at-bat in the 5th, drove a solo homer into the left-field seats with one-out. Blackmon followed with a solo shot to right, then Ryan Hanigan singled and pinch-runner Ryan McMahon scored on a double by 1st-baseman Mark Reynolds for an 8-4 Rockies’ victory. Arenado is back for the contest with the Marlins tonight, hitting 3rd behind Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu.
The St Louis Cardinals fell by a score of 4-1 to the Pirates in Pittsburgh, and the Brewers got shut-out 5-0 by the World Champion Chicago Cubs in Milwaukee, dropping the Cards to 2-1/2, and the Brewers to 2 games behind Colorado for the remaining NL Wild Card. St Louis gets the pleasure of hosting the Cubs for 4 in St Louis starting tonight. Milwaukee has a Monday breather before the Cincinnati Reds visit for 3, then the Brewers head to Missouri to close 2017 out with 3 against the Cards at Busch Stadium.
In the meantime Tyler Chatwood (8-13, 4.56) gets the go tonight against 30 year-old right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne (0-3, 4.37) of Miami. Anderson faces Luis Urena, another righty, in another 6:40 start Tuesday evening, and then there’s one last television-less contest Wednesday afternoon, when Jon Gray will be opposed by the left-hander Adam Conley. Thursday is an off day before the lordly Los Angeles Dodgers arrive for 3 on the weekend to close-out the regular season.
Somewhere back in the archives of this column you will find some complimentary comments on the subject of AT+T SportNet, which was known as ROOT Sports at the time, for cleaning up its act and executing tight, precise, to-the-point telecasts during the early stages of the 2017 season. One needs to be careful slinging around compliments, especially when they involve people in the television business, because the quality of the broadcasts has deteriorated considerably since then, largely due to AT+T’s inexplicable obsession with turning its top talent, Spilborghs, into its Broadcasting Buffoon. You know how it goes, “the book” says you have your play-by-play team, a guy like the late Craig Sager (Marc Stout) to prowl the sidelines, and a pretty girl (Jenny) to handle the “human interest” angles. But one of the play-by-play guys, I guess owing to the incomparable Bob Uecker, who rode the role all the way to the Hall of Fame (with a seat in the front row), is supposed to be a happy-go-lucky, fun loving goofy guy, apparently no matter what.
George Frazier played the role for the Rockies until his retirement in 2015, even though he wasn’t that type of guy at all, and to this day AT+T continues to perpetuate the myth: Drew Goodman can hardly keep from drooling all over himself whenever he recalls good old George, “that zany guy.” Spilborghs isn’t that type of guy either, in fact he’s the smartest and most insightful member of the broadcast team. The telecasts are consistently superior when Spilborghs is in the booth or working the camera well down by the dugouts, and AT+T is wounding itself mortally with this misguided attempt to make him play the fool. But I guess that’s what they like, looking foolish. Pitiful.
Six games to go for a chance to break the Diamondbacks’ hearts and steal a trip into the playoffs. Hold on to your hats, it’s bound to be bumpy.