The Colorado Rockies came into the All Star Break on the heels of two disappointing losses to the Minnesota Twins that resulted largely from ineffectiveness from the middle part of their bullpen. Back after the break, deja vu has happened all over again, with Rex Brothers squandering a 2-1 lead in the 7th and Matt Belisle (2-5, 5.26) losing it in the 8th, 4-2, to the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Jorge De La Rosa started for Colorado and delivered his typical workmanlike performance, lasting 6 innings and allowing only a run on 4 hits, with 3 walks and 2 strike-outs. De La Rosa worked in a lot of traffic, dealing with baserunners in every inning but the 4th, before finally getting burned by his own whiff on an easy Gregory Polanco grounder back to the mound and the Starling Marte triple that followed.
The Rockies’ offense meanwhile struck-out 12 times, including 5 by returning warrior Carlos Gonzalez, and left 11 runners on base. They loaded them up in the 1st and 2nd with one out both times. Nolan Arenado grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the 1st. In the 2nd they scraped-out a run when Pirates’ shortstop Jordy Mercer bobbled a double-play grounder off the bat of Corey Dickerson and Charlie Culberson trotted home.
The Marte triple had tied it in the bottom of the 5th, but Colorado got De La Rosa the lead right back in the 6th when Wilin Rosario reached on Pittsburgh 3rd-baseman Pedro Alvarez’ 21st 2014 error with 2 out, Culberson singled, and Zero Improvement Guy DJ LeMahieu singled him in with a blooper in front of right-fielder Polanco. On would come Brothers and Belisle, whose foibles of late are depressing to chronicle.
Brothers struck-out Alvarez for the first out of the 7th, but then Mercer got him for a single to left, which inspired a wild-pitch to preclude a double play. Pinch hitter Josh Harrison then reached on a throwing error by Arenado, and Polanco singled to load the bases. A woeful Walt Weiss took the ball from Brothers and handed it to Adam Ottavino for yet another miracle bail-out, but Zero instead brought the stadium to a hush with a 2-strike beaner to the helmet of Marte, bringing Mercer to the plate and tying the game. Marte remained in the game for the 8th, although Ike Davis replaced him in left for Colorado’s last bats in the 9th.
Belisle couldn’t even make it out ot the 8th. Neil Walker led-off with a single, Gaby Sanchez singled to follow, and Travis Snyder doubled-in Walker and sent Sanchez to 3rd. Belisle struck-out Mercer for the only out he would record, then Tommy Kahnle came-on to clean things-up, surrendering a sacrifice fly to Harrison that made things 4-2 before getting Polanco on a grounder to short that necessitated a successful Rockies’ replay challenge. Dickerson singled to lead-off the Colorado 9th, but ground-outs by Josh Rutledge and All Star Troy Tulowitzki sandwiched Gonzalez’ fifth strike-out to end it.
The middle game of the 3-game set is this afternoon at 5:05, back at PNC. Brett Anderson is right-back in the soup for Colorado and Charlie Morton will get the call for Pittsburgh.