Rockies

Brendan Rodgers has become nearly untouchable in the Rockies’ trade deadline dealings. His time will wait.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of them wore braces on his teeth, a suggestion of his age and place as a baseball prospect. The other carried the expectations of a franchise, something less obvious at first glance. Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies’ high-value minor-league middle infielder, rubbed elbows with Jose Gomez during spring training long enough to form a bond. And Rodgers is starting to see his friends churned through the business of baseball. Gomez was one of three Single-A players traded last week from Colorado to Philadelphia in a deadline week deal that netted the Rockies a much-needed relief pitcher. Rodgers, meanwhile, stands on firm ground. The 20-year-old slugger, the second-highest draft pick in club history, is affecting the future of the Rockies from afar. “A few of my buddies got traded,” Rodgers said by phone from Hartford, Conn., where he is excelling with the Double-A Yard Goats. “I know it’s part of the business. But with all the trade stuff going on, I try not to think about it or pay any attention on social media. Just go play hard and let it all work out.” As the Major League Baseball trade deadline rushes toward its conclusion Monday, with the Rockies in the thick of potential deals from multiple angles, Rodgers is the nearest they have to an untouchable. He is a hallmark of Colorado’s minor-league system who continually draws interest from other clubs enamored of his ability to hit for power and average and field with a rocket arm. As the No. 7-ranked prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America, Rodgers’ name is near others across the league who will soon affect playoff races. One of those races involves the Rockies, who entered the weekend 13 games over .500 and firmly grasping a wild-card spot. The playoffs are a siren, a tease that can lure fringe playoff teams into jumping into mistakes. The decision to trade for an immediate run while sacrificing future stability is a delicate balance. The Rockies, it seems, have decided Rodgers is worth the wait. But no prospect is off the table. “I’ve only seen a couple at-bats. But he’s one of our best prospects,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “I’ve been around long enough to know there are very few untouchables in this game. Very few, when you think about it. The Nationals have one. The Angels have one. And we have one. That’s the really hard part of a general manager’s job, assessing a player’s value, both your own and others.” The untouchables Black hinted at are proven names: Washington right fielder Bryce Harper, Anaheim center fielder Mike Trout, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Black first saw a trade deadline unfold from the front office as a special assistant in Cleveland for four years through 1999, when the mid-market Indians were consistently pushing toward the postseason. He watched general manager John Hart and assistant GM Mark Shapiro juggle the needs of the present, trying to piece to together a playoff team, with the demands of the future, as it relates to prospects. “I’ve been around long enough to understand,” Black said. “I’ve been around enough conversations and heard a lot of philosophical talk about that over the years. It’s given me perspective.” He knows the Rockies could flip Rodgers for immediate help to fill some glaring holes in their run through the National League West. Colorado, despite trading for sidearm veteran reliever Pat Neshek last week, could use a multiyear arm at the back of the bullpen to buffer the possible loss of Greg Holland before next season. They could use a veteran catcher to bolster a weary battery. They could use a veteran starting pitcher to mix with a rookie-heavy rotation. But Rodgers seems a price too high. He was hammering a 1.119 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) early this season for the Single-A Lancaster JetHawks before a jump to Double-A, ahead of schedule. In the past month, he quickly adjusted to better pitchers and lower altitudes, with an .830 OPS. He has learned to demand a hitter’s count, then know that the next pitch might not be a fastball, something less talented pitchers fall back on. “I have a long ways to go,” Rodgers said. He will likely need about 150 more at-bats in Hartford. “The ultimate goal for me this year was to stay healthy and get to Double-A. I did one of the two. I started the year with a nagging wrist injury, but after that, I was like, I have a chance.” Even Neshek, who joined the Rockies on Friday, can see the potential of a team that makes it difficult to destroy the future for incremental help in the near term. Related ArticlesJuly 29, 2017 Rockies cut the cord on Jordan Lyles; Greg Holland returns with a bundle; Raimel Tapia back too July 28, 2017 As the Rockies quietly pursued reliever Pat Neshek, he quietly rebu [...]
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German Marquez starts in perfection then wrestles the Rockies out of a road funk against the Nationals
WASHINGTON, D.C. — He blitzed the National League’s heftiest slugger with 99 mph high heat, as if, at 22 years old, German Marquez has not yet figured out who to fear. The Rockies right-hander, whose knees long ago stopped shaking in nervousness on the mound, flew through a hard-hitting Nationals lineup Saturday for more than five perfect innings. Marquez plopped down the first 16 batters he faced, including Bryce Harper on four whipped pitches in the fourth inning. And the rookie from Venezuela willed the Rockies out of a nasty road funk, leading them to a 4-2 victory at Nationals Park, just their fourth in the last 20 away from Coors Field. Marquez added another promising outing to a season that will set him up in a burgeoning career and, perhaps, carry him in an evolving rotation toward the postseason. The Rockies (59-45) snapped a three-game slump that skidded them through St. Louis last week and they lobbed a volley back at one of the best teams in the NL, a Nationals squad (61-40) who had demolished Colorado for 46 runs in four April days. Marquez strode through seven imposing innings, never retreating from a lineup with the best offensive slash line in the NL. His career-high 10 strikeouts, against no walks, included whiffs of Harper twice, both on high fastballs, at 99 mph in the fourth and 98 in the sixth, both to end an inning. He also dove a curveball to set down Adam Lind in the sixth after falling behind the count at 3-0, then rallying through a 10-pitch at bat. Lind was locked in. Marquez boldly buried the final breaking pitch at his feet. Marquez was perfect through 16 batters. Matt Wieters finally broke apart his no-hit bid with a solid single to left field. But as the Nationals followed with a double from newly-acquired pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick and a two-run single to left from Wilmer Difo, Marquez came back for his second strikeout of Harper to end the threat. He spun a pirouette and pounded his glove in celebration. Marquez became just the sixth Rockies pitcher in 25 years to get through at least five perfect innings. In May, Marquez approached an outing in Denver with similar aplomb. He kept the Cubs hitless through six innings that day, with a fastball-curveball combo that was still in its infancy. By Saturday in D.C., Marquez graduated to efficiency. Related ArticlesJuly 29, 2017 Brendan Rodgers has become nearly untouchable in the Rockies’ trade deadline dealings. His time will wait. July 29, 2017 Rockies cut the cord on Jordan Lyles; Greg Holland returns with a bundle; Raimel Tapia back too July 28, 2017 As the Rockies quietly pursued reliever Pat Neshek, he quietly rebuilt his veteran game July 28, 2017 Rockies-Nationals game rained out Friday, rescheduled for Sunday doubleheader July 28, 2017 Ian Desmond lands on 10-day disabled list in D.C.; Rockies activate new pitcher Pat Neshek He threw just 48 pitches in the first four innings while only two balls reached the outfield. His 99 pitches through seven innings resulted in just three hits and two runs. The Rockies offense met Marquez in kind. Trevor Story‘s two-strike home run to right field in the second inning scored Carlos Gonzalez for an early 2-0 lead. Story’s 15th homer was his third in five games. In the fifth, the Rockies hopped on Washington starter Tanner Roark for consecutive doubles, from Gerardo Parra to left field and Mark Reynolds to right. Both hits scored runs and the Rockies led 4-0. As the Rockies creep toward Monday’s trade deadline, having already acquired right-handed reliever Pat Neshek in a trade last week with Philadelphia, they added a reason for ambition by opening a rain-delayed weekend series with a sound victory over the NL Central leaders. Neshek pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in his Rockies debut, with two groundouts and a four-pitch strikeout of pinch-hitter Pedro Severino. Then closer Greg Holland, having returned from the birth of his daughter Thursday, struck out the side in the ninth. [...]
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Rockies-Nationals game rained out Friday, rescheduled for Sunday doubleheader
WASHINGTON D.C. — A consistent and, at times, heavy does of rain over the southeast quadrant of this city scuttled the Rockies opening game of a weekend series against the Nationals. After the National Weather Service issued a second flash flood warning for the neighborhood that includes Nationals Park, officials postponed the game. It was rescheduled for Sunday as part of a split doubleheader. The first game Sunday will start at 11:30 a.m. The nightcap will get under way at 5:05 p.m. German Marquez, who was scheduled to pitch Friday for the Rox, will bump to Saturday. The Nats will do the same with Tanner Roark. For the Rockies, if nothing else, it will enable them to rest an overused bullpen an extra day, perhaps bringing them all back to full strength. “This time of year, that’s a good thing,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. Related ArticlesJuly 28, 2017 As the Rockies quietly pursued reliever Pat Neshek, he quietly rebuilt his veteran game July 28, 2017 Ian Desmond lands on 10-day disabled list in D.C.; Rockies activate new pitcher Pat Neshek July 27, 2017 Rockies bolstered by acquisition of Pat Neshek, but still face tough road to postseason July 26, 2017 Rockies’ mounting road woes continue with loss to Cardinals July 26, 2017 Pat Neshek traded to Rockies from Phillies as Colorado bolsters bullpen [...]
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As the Rockies quietly pursued reliever Pat Neshek, he quietly rebuilt his veteran game
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pat Neshek drove driveway to driveway in the rain Friday, 150 miles south from Philadelphia to his new life. The Rockies’ latest reliever is a funky submariner, a right-hander who seems to skim the mound with his knuckles when he pitches. And changes, weird or otherwise, will not throw Neshek from his focus. On the eve of joining his seventh team in 11 years — after the Rockies traded for him Wednesday night from the Phillies — the journeyman all-star rolls along. “I knew it was going to happen,” he said. “It’s cool to go from a last place team to a team with, I don’t know what the total is, 25 more wins? We’re in the race. It’s going to be fun competing.” Neshek’s name appeared on Colorado’s game day roster for the first time Friday, part of an unusual 10-man bullpen, before the Rockies’ first game of a weekend series against the host Nationals was postponed because of rain. It did not stop him from considering the possibilities. Playing through the final year of a three-year contract on a rebuilding team in Philadelphia, Neshek foresaw the likelihood of his departure. The Phillies have no need to pay the remainder of his $6.5 million owed this season to help them not win games. They entered Friday 21 games behind the Rockies in the National League. Colorado, on the other hand, leaped at the idea of adding Neshek. He is a two-time all-star, including this season. And they got him with little pain, sending three down-list prospects to Philly in return. “His usage the last couple years is a guy who figures in the back end of a game, when the game is in the balance,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “He’s been very capable of protecting leads. And you feel comfortable about his performance.” Neshek’s addition allows the Rockies to mix and match their setup men. He will likely handle eighth innings in a rotation with lefty Jake McGee, depending on the matchups. Although both pitchers have proved adept at facing opposite-handed hitters. Even at 36 years old, Neshek continues to evolve. He added a higher-velocity slider to his arsenal this season, one specifically designed for left-handed hitters, a pitch that comes in hotter and harder than the slider he throws to right-handers. In turn, his strikeout totals have spiked. Neshek has a 9.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season — 45 strikeouts and just five walks — a number nearly three times higher than the best mark already with the Rockies (McGee, at 3.92). “To me, it’s not a big deal. It’s more about forcing weak contact,” Neshek said. “I like to throw a lot of strikes and be in the zone. That’s my game. But my slider has been really good lately.” Related ArticlesJuly 28, 2017 Rockies-Nationals game rained out Friday, rescheduled for Sunday doubleheader July 28, 2017 Ian Desmond lands on 10-day disabled list in D.C.; Rockies activate new pitcher Pat Neshek July 27, 2017 Rockies bolstered by acquisition of Pat Neshek, but still face tough road to postseason July 26, 2017 Rockies’ mounting road woes continue with loss to Cardinals July 26, 2017 Pat Neshek traded to Rockies from Phillies as Colorado bolsters bullpen Neshek knew a trade was imminent, pieced together between talks with his agent and whispers among other players and coaches, who called to tell him a scout had asked about his ability. The Rockies, though, were quietly familiar with him. Colorado bench coach Mike Redmond was Neshek’s catcher in Minnesota from 2006-09 — “one of my favorite catchers I ever had,” Neshek said — and Black was his manager in San Diego in 2011. “I never heard Colorado come up,” Neshek said. “I was wondering, though, ‘Hey this would be a good fit.’ ” The scouting went both ways. He saw the Rockies up close in May, over a four-game series in Philadelphia, when Colorado won three and outscored the Phillies 24-7. “This is a really good offense, one of the best I’ve seen,” he said. “It’s a matter of getting hot at the right time and staying in the race.” [...]
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Rockies bolstered by acquisition of Pat Neshek, but still face tough road to postseason
ST. LOUIS — The Rockies’ road to the playoffs once looked like easy street. Not anymore. Getting swept in three games at St. Louis was the latest detour for a team that has lost 16 of its last 19 road games and has gone 11-19 since its high-water mark on June 20 (47-26). The Rockies hold a 4 ½-game lead over slumping Milwaukee for the National League’s second wild-card spot. The Rockies, however, made a major statement Wednesday night by trading for Philadelphia right-handed reliever Pat Neshek. The two-time all-star will be used as a primary setup man to closer Greg Holland. Other moves might be in the works before Monday’s nonwaiver trade deadline. Adding another bullpen arm is a real possibility. Neshek, whose contract expires at the end of this season, is essentially a rental reliever. But the Rockies could also trade for a reliever who would be under the club’s control beyond this season, and perhaps take over for Holland. Holland has a mutual option and is likely to become a free agent after this season. Among the possible longer-term bullpen options for Colorado are Miami closer AJ Ramos, Detroit’s Justin Wilson and Baltimore’s Brad Brach. Also, with catcher Tony Wolters struggling, the Rockies have been exploring trade possibilities for a veteran catcher. As MLB.com reported earlier this week, Colorado has shown interest in Texas veteran Jonathan Lucroy, as well as Atlanta’s Kurt Suzuki and Detroit’s Alex Avila. All three catchers would be rentals, since they become free agents at the end of the season. Lucroy is the biggest name, but he has struggled at the plate, batting .245 with just four home runs. He also carries the biggest salary of the three — $5.75 million. The sooner help arrives, the better for the Rockies. They open a three-game series at Washington on Friday night against a muscled Nationals team that took three of four at Coors Field from April 24-27. The Nationals outscored Colorado 46-29 in that series. Thursday afternoon, the Nationals tied a franchise record with eight home runs in a 15-2 rout of Milwaukee, including two apiece by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Translation: the Rockies face a huge challenge to get back on course. That starts with their young starting pitching. “We didn’t pitch well two of the three games,” manager Bud Black said Wednesday night after the Rockies were blasted 10-5 by the Cardinals. “When your starter in Game 1 (Antonio Senzatela) and Game 3 (Jeff Hoffman) only go four innings and give up a number of runs, it makes it awful tough.” Despite getting swept by the Cardinals, the news that the Rockies’ front office made a major move by trading for Neshek provided a shot of energy to the clubhouse. “This was a really disappointing series for us here, but I think getting a guy like that, and having an off day (Thursday) is really going to help us,” all-star second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. “And playing the Nationals, I mean, if you can’t get up for that series than we are in trouble.” Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who continues to fight a season-long slump hitting just .227 with six home runs and 26 RBIs, believes the Rockies will get back on track. “We just had a bad series here,”  Gonzalez said.  “You can’t doubt yourself. This is a good team and we have been playing well for the entire year. We just have to put that series in the past. “We will show up and expect to win the series in Washington. I think that’s the attitude we have to have when we go to Washington. If it happens, great. It it doesn’t we still have to keep moving forward.” Looking ahead German Marquez (8-4, 4.20 ERA) at Nationals RHP Tanner Roark (8-6, 4.83), Friday 5:05 p.m., AT&T SportsNet; 850 AM Related ArticlesJuly 26, 2017 Rockies’ mounting road woes continue with loss to Cardinals July 26, 2017 Pat Neshek traded to Rockies from Phillies as Colorado bolsters bullpen July 26, 2017 Greg Holland goes on paternity list, so Tyler Chatwood joins Rockies’ bullpen July 26, 2017 Rockies, Cardinals experiment with shortened inning breaks July 25, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: Can the Rockies make the playoffs without making a trade? In his past three starts, Marquez, a 22-year-old rookie, has blazed through an effective run of command, striking out 23 batters and walking just four. That’s the kind of control and strike zone coverage that makes Colorado manager Bud Black smile. Last week, in a benches-clearing game against the Pirates at Coors Field, Marquez got fired up by the rhubarb and shut down hitters, giving up just two runs on three hits over seven innings. His WHIP (walks and hits per inning) and batting average aga [...]
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Rockies, Cardinals experiment with shortened inning breaks
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies tried to speed up the pace of play on Tuesday night and it was hardly noticed. Major League Baseball experimented with having the timing clock between half innings set at 1 minute, 45 seconds. Since 2016, the clock has been set at 2:05 for locally televised games and 2:25 for nationally televised games, down 20 seconds for each from 2015. “We all knew early in the day,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the team beat the Rockies 3-2. “Lance (Lynn) was excited about it. He asked, ‘Why isn’t it always like this?’ He feels like he has to wait around for commercials to be finished. To be honest I didn’t even notice. I notice the real long breaks because we’re just sitting around waiting. So I’m always a fan of keeping the game going.” Tuesday’s game took 3:11 to complete, about 6 minutes longer than the average nine-inning game this season. “It didn’t feel any different,” Lynn said. “I didn’t even know it happened really.” Rockies manager Bud Black echoed that sentiment. Related ArticlesJuly 25, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: Can the Rockies make the playoffs without making a trade? July 25, 2017 Rockies lose to Cardinals in gut-punch, walk-off July 25, 2017 Nolan Arenado revels in scoreboard watching as Rockies remain in playoff hunt July 25, 2017 Ian Desmond reinjures right calf, is removed from Rockies’ game vs. Cardinals July 25, 2017 Steve Foster, Rockies pitching coach, gets clean bill of health, returns to team. “I really didn’t notice,” he said. “I think both pitchers were prompt, which was great. Again I wasn’t really bearing down on that as much maybe others but if you’re asking me if I like one minute and 43 seconds over two minutes and 40, I’ll take the 1:43. As will most players. But on the other end of that as players we understand what that other minute means.” “It didn’t bother me too much,” Rockies right-hander Jon Gray said. “I just knew that I had to get out there a little quicker, a little earlier. That’s all yeah. It didn’t bother me.” Nine-inning games are averaging a record 3:05 this season — up from an even 3 hours last year and 2:56 in 2015. Management proposed three changes last offseason the players’ association didn’t accept, and MLB has the right to start them next year without union approval: restricting catchers to one trip to the mound per pitcher each inning, employing a 20-second pitch clock and raising the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level — at the top of the kneecap. “All the feedback we’re getting from our fan base, all across baseball, is that we have to figure out ways to get rid of some of the dead time,” Matheny said. “If this is a way to do it I hope it’s good feedback for the league and I know that they’ll do the right thing with that information.” [...]
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Steve Foster, Rockies pitching coach, gets clean bill of health, returns to team.
ST. LOUIS — When Steve Foster experienced chest pains Monday while he was out for a morning run, he had plenty of reason to be concerned. He knew it was a wise move to go the hospital and get checked out. “I have a family history,” the Rockies pitching coach said Tuesday after spending the night at Mercy Heart Hospital. “My father had a heart attack when he was 48, and I’m 50. That alerted (the doctors) immediately and they wanted to hold me overnight.” Foster missed Monday’s game, but he was given a clean bill of health and returned to his coaching duties Tuesday as the Rockies took on St. Louis in the second game the series. Foster underwent a treadmill stress test Tuesday morning, and also had an EKG and blood work. He cleared all of the tests. Related ArticlesJuly 24, 2017 Steve Foster, Rockies pitching coach, taken to hospital for tests after suffering chest pain July 24, 2017 Rockies’ offense smothered by Cardinals’ Mike Leake in 8-2 loss July 24, 2017 Tyler Chatwood could be moved to Rockies bullpen when he comes off DL July 24, 2017 Chad Bettis roughed up in first rehab start with Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate July 23, 2017 Trevor Story is “back to normal,” and with Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies have a “huge boost” “They ruled out that there was any heart episode and they ruled out any clotting in the lungs,” Foster said. “They said that I just need to be very careful and pay close attention. “They told me my risk level was times 10, because I’ve had this in my family, so I have to watch what I do.” Foster said he exercises regularly and is careful with his diet. Manager Bud Black, who expressed concern for Foster after Monday night’s game, said: “We are very relieved that things have sort of smoothed out for him. And the doctors here in St. Louis feel comfortable with him coming back to the team. They said he is in a good place, physically. It’s great to have him back.” [...]
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Report: Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could miss six weeks with back injury
Discomfort in Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw’s lower back overshadowed the comfortable 10½-game National League West division lead that Los Angeles carried into Sunday. Kershaw, who missed 10 weeks last season with a herniated disk in his lower back, left his start against the Atlanta Braves after two innings with what the team called “right low back tightness.” After the Dodgers’ 5-4, 10-inning victory, the team placed Kershaw on the 10-day disabled list. Monday brought potentially worse news, with Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reporting that the initial prognosis is Kershaw will miss four to six weeks. Rosenthal reported the Dodgers were still waiting for a final determination from orthopedic surgeon Robert Watkins. Kershaw retired the first five batters he faced Sunday before bouncing a curveball and grimacing after throwing a slider to the Braves’ Tyler Flowers. Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts and Dodgers assistant trainer Nate Lucero came out to check on the left-hander, but Kershaw remained in the game and struck out Matt Adams after walking Flowers. Trayce Thompson pinch-hit for Kershaw in the bottom of the second inning, and Ross Stripling replaced him on the mound to start the third. Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young winner, is 15-2 with a major league-best 2.04 ERA. He’s a big reason the Dodgers (67-31) lead the majors with a 3.16 ERA and are 45-13 since May 18. Despite their division lead and a strong starting rotation that also includes Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers were reportedly already interested in adding another pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline. Earlier Sunday, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported Los Angeles is among the teams showing interest in acquiring Rangers starter Yu Darvish. [...]
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Did Andres Galarraga hit a 500-foot homer? Rockies still think so.
Those who witnessed the now mythic home run swear, to this day, that it should rank as one of the longest home runs in major-league history. The date was Aug. 31, 1997. The ballpark was Miami’s Pro Player Stadium. The inning was fourth. The pitcher was Rockies’ nemesis Kevin Brown. The pitch was a slider. A hanging slider. The result was a grand slam that gave the Rockies a 7-0 lead. Related ArticlesJuly 22, 2017 Blake Street Bombers left unforgettable impression in Rockies’ first 25 years The batter was Andres “The Big Cat” Galarraga, the Rockies’ powerful first baseman from Venezuela. He launched a ball that landed in the 20th row of the upper deck above left field. In 2011, the spot was measured by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker as 404 feet horizontally from home plate and 82 feet above field level. The fall after the famous homer, former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, the club’s hitting coach at the time, went to a football game at Pro Player. Hurdle intentionally sat in the row where Galarraga’s famous homer touched down. Hurdle concluded there was no way anyone could hit a ball that far. The homer was originally tagged as one of the longest homers ever hit, traveling 579 feet. It was later reduced to a more modest 529 feet, as listed in the Marlins media guide. “I’ll tell you, that was special, especially against Kevin Brown, bases loaded,” the Big Cat recalled in June 2015. “There were a lot of people from Venezuela in Miami. So that was so special. That was 579 feet, longest home run ever. They changed it down to 529, maybe because of Mickey Mantle, I don’t know.” Recalled teammate Dante Bichette: “I never saw a ball hit that far. Mark McGwire used to hit them up there in batting practice, but not as far as Cat’s.” However, the measurements and calculations done in 2011 by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker concluded that the homer traveled “only” 468 feet. “Let’s give Galarraga credit for a very long homer, but it was not anything close to 500 feet …” the study concluded. To this day, the Rockies beg to differ. Bombshells Denver Post fileThe Blake Street Bombers at Coors field in 1995. Clockwise from bottom, Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, Vinny Castilla. Other famous homers swatted by the Blake Street Bombers: Vinny Castilla: On April 28, 1997 at the Houston Astrodome, Astros closer Billy Wagner tried to sneak a 97 mph fastball by Castilla, a notoriously good fastball hitter. Castilla hit a two-out, solo homer to deep left-center in the 10th inning to lift the Rockies to a 7-6 victory. Later that season — Aug. 23, to be exact — Wagner again challenged Castilla with a fastball with the game on the line in the Astrodome. The result a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth that gave Colorado a 6-3 victory. Those homers, and others like it, led to Castilla’s famous saying: “It had better be 100 (mph) if you want to sneak the cheese by the rat.” Dante Bichette: The first game ever played at Coors Field was April 26, 1995. It was cold, wet marathon approaching five hours. The New York Mets and Colorado Rockies were in the bottom of the 14th inning when Bichette smacked a two-run, one-out, walk-off homer, lifting the Rockies to an 11-9 victory. “I hit a three-run homer off (Atlanta’s) Greg Maddux in the 1995 playoffs, and that homer is a close second, but that homer to open Coors Field is my favorite,” Bichette said. Larry Walker: On Aug. 31 1997, he blasted his National League leading 39th and 40th homers in a 10-4 victory over Oakland. Related ArticlesJuly 22, 2017 German Marquez shines in Rockies’ 7-3, bench-clearing victory over Pirates July 22, 2017 Blake Street Bombers left unforgettable impression in Rockies’ first 25 years July 22, 2017 Rockies rookie pitchers still learning how to focus when going gets tough July 22, 2017 Saunders: Rockies GM Jeff Bridich’s desk is crowded with tough decisions July 21, 2017 Pirates, with a rookie pitcher, conquer Coors Field in runaway victory over cooled-off Rockies Walker hit a two-run homer in the third inning, but he was just getting warmed up. In the fifth, he rocketed a 493-foot shot to the third deck in right field, which was, at the time, the longest in Coors Field history.  The moon shot was six feet longer than the homer Galarraga hit against Seattle a few days earlier. “A home run is a home run and that’s the bottom line,” Walker said at the time. “I’ll open the paper tomorrow and it will say home run. So I’ll take that one that I hit off the top of the fence as well.” Ellis Burks: On Sept.  28, 1996, in the penultimate game of [...]
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German Marquez shines in Rockies’ 7-3, bench-clearing victory over Pirates
A Star Wars-themed evening at Coors Field almost turned into a bench-clearing brawl between Pittsburgh and the Rockies on Saturday night. Almost. Fired-up Colorado rookie starter German Marquez was smack in the middle of the near-brouhaha, but he was able to keep his poise and pitch seven sterling innings as the Rockies whipped the Pirates 7-3. Colorado won for the fifth time in its last six games and halted Pittsburgh’s season-best, six-game winning streak. The bad blood between the two teams dates back to June 14 at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. Marquez, who leads the Rockies with six hit batsmen, hit catcher Francisco Cervelli with a pitch in that game. Cervelli began yapping at catcher Tony Wolters and the benches cleared, though no punches were thrown. Chad Kuhl was pitching for the Pirates in that game, which ended with a 5-1 Rockies victory. BOX SCORE: Rockies 7, Pirates 3 Friday night, in Pittsburgh’s 13-5 rout, Rockies pitchers plunked the Pirates four times, giving the Pirates a major league-high 55 hit batters. Saturday night, blood began to boil in the sixth when Marquez drilled Pirates star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who was visibly upset. Kuhl counter-punched in the sixth, intentionally throwing high and inside with his first pitch to leadoff hitter Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez dropped his bat and slowly walked toward the mound as the benches and bullpens cleared. Gonzalez’s path to the mound was blocked by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild and Cervelli. Heated words were exchanged and fingers pointed. Marquez was particularly animated. Both benches were warned, but there were no ejections. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was short and to the point when asked about the incident. “We got hit five times in two games,” Hurdle said. “We try to push somebody off the plate and they take exception to it. It’s part of the game.” Said Rockies manager Bud Black, when asked about his players coming to Gonzalez’s defense: “Listen, this is a good team as far as having each other’s backs. They very much have each other’s back, and will always.” Marquez, who denied he intentionally tried to hit McCutchen, came back in the seventh to set the Pirates down in order and finish his evening strong and poised. “I just came out ready to go, and they were coming out ready to attack my pitches, but I was just out there with confidence in my pitches and ready to execute,” said Marquez, who improved to 5-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his last six starts at Coors Field. The Rockies needed a solid, lengthy start and Marquez delivered, giving up two runs on just three hits. With his curveball and slider carving up the Pirates, he tied a career-high with nine strikeouts and and walked only two. “My command was really good tonight,” Marquez said. “My second pitch was really there and I got a lot of strikeouts with it, so that was really good.” Black added: “We are seeing steady growth from German, but the trick is to keep it going. He’s done a really nice job his last three starts. He’s feeling confident and showing a great deal of poise. What I am seeing more than anything is command of his breaking ball.” Closer Greg Holland came on in the eighth with two on and two outs and got the dangerous Josh Bell to line out to a sprinting Charlie Blackmon, who chased the ball down in center. Though the Rockies plated two runs in the eighth on an RBI double by Alexi Amarista and a run-scoring single by DJ LeMahieu, Holland returned for the ninth. He got himself into a bases-loaded mess with two walks, gave up a run and threw 34 pitches, but he finished off the game by getting Josh Harrison to fly out to center. Holland recorded his 31st save in 32 tries. Though Black came to the mound in the ninth to visit Holland, he said he never considered taking Holland out. “That was just to give Greg a little breather,” Black said. “I told Greg, ‘You are getting this guy, you are getting this, this is your game.’ ” Colorado’s offense was as timely as it was explosive. Over their last six games, the Rockies are averaging 10.2 runs per game and batting .382. “There have been stretches like this before,” Black said. “I have seen better at-bats from all of our guys. I’m not seeing bad at-bats.” The Rockies nicely strung together four hits in a three-run third. Marquez started it all with a one-out single to center, followed by Blackmon’s double to right. LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly scored Marquez, and Nolan Arenado sliced a double into the right-field corner to drive in Blackmon. Mark Reynolds scooted a single into right-center to score Arenado. Related ArticlesJuly 22, 2017 Did Andres Galarraga hit a 500-foot homer? Rockies still think so. July 22, 2017 Blake Street Bombers [...]
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Pirates, with a rookie pitcher, conquer Coors Field in runaway victory over cooled-off Rockies
Early Friday afternoon within the concrete walls of the visitor’s clubhouse in Colorado, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle huddled his starting pitching staff together for a confab. Hurdle knows up-close, from his eight seasons as Rockies skipper, the exhausting power of Coors Field. “Just take your ERA, put it in your back pocket and check it a week from now,” he told them. “If you get dinged or doinked, hey, keep going because your offense has a chance to pick things up.” The Rockies, just as Hurdle cautioned, dinged wide-eyed Pittsburgh rookie right-hander Trevor Williams early Friday for three runs in the first inning. He survived. And the Pirates punched back, doinking Colorado and its two-pitcher piggyback for a runaway 13-5 victory in front of 41,192 fans in LoDo. Rockies rookie Jeff Hoffman endured just three high-volume innings for the Rockies. Long man Jordan Lyles suffered through the next three. And Pittsburgh star Andrew McCuthen tore his way to a 3-for-4 night with three runs scored and three RBIs in a lopsided start to a three-game weekend series. “That was a tough one for Jeff,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “Something had to give tonight.” In his introductory visit to Coors Field, Williams more than doubled the distance of Hoffman, slaloming through 6 2/3 innings of level-headed pitching. More impressively, he cold-stopped a Rockies offense that had scored 49 runs in four days, all victories. Williams gave up five runs, but on an elevated sliding scale, Hurdle will take it. Pittsburgh cleanup hitter Josh Bell, too, had his first career four-hit game. And the red-hot Pirates (49-48), who reached .500 Thursday for the first time since April 16, won a sixth consecutive game and a ninth in their last 10. “Oh my goodness. Good pitching beats good hitting every day,” Hurdle said. “But if you don’t pitch well here, you get clobbered.” That is what happened to Hoffman. Starling Marte’s leadoff single to open the game was not an impressive display of hitting, but after McCutchen walked, Josh Bell and David Freese singled in two runs. The Rockies volleyed with three runs in the first, on a DJ LeMahieu double and run-scoring singles from Nolan Arenado, Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez. Related ArticlesJuly 22, 2017 Saunders: Rockies GM Jeff Bridich’s desk is crowded with tough decisions July 21, 2017 Tyler Chatwood now in wait-and-see mode for Rockies after tip-top simulated game July 20, 2017 What is wrong with Carlos Gonzalez? Frustration is mounting, but the Rockies slugger is “just trying to be me” July 20, 2017 What could the Rockies do with the trade deadline approaching? July 19, 2017 Kiszla: For Nolan Arenado, one big hit in October would be way cooler than a three-HR game in July But as Williams blanked the Rockies through the next four frames, the Pirates put up three runs in the second, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth, capped by Jordy Mercer’s 444-foot, two-run homer off Lyles to left field. The Bucs were up 10-3 at that point. “There are rewards all over this park,” Hurdle said. “It’s not like you have to bang it right down the line to cover and carry. You can hit a ball out of this park from line to line. ” Hoffman’s issues covered simple command. He walked four batters in three innings, well above his season average of 2.5 freebies per nine innings. And they were poorly timed. After he whiffed Mercer with a fish-hook curveball in the second, Hoffman then walked Williams at the bottom of the order and hit Marte with a pitch on the top side. Those sins cost him when Josh Bell doubled them to the plate. Black yanked him after 82 pitches. “Everything goes back to the fastball command, no matter what question you ask,” Hoffman said. “When you don’t have your fastball, it’s tough to get to the curveball. You can’t just pitch with the curveball. You have to have something to go with it.” Lyles’ three innings included just four hits. But one was a leadoff double to Josh Harrison in the fourth (he later scored) and Mercer’s bases-clearing blast in the sixth. He did not walk anybody, at least. Arenado slammed a solo homer to left in the sixth off Williams, his 22nd of the year, but LeMahieu before him and Parra and Ian Desmond after, failed to reach base. And the Rockies (56-42) lost a third game in four against the Pirates this season. “It’s a different game here,” Hurdle said. [...]
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Saunders: Rockies GM Jeff Bridich’s desk is crowded with tough decisions
Baseball fans love to play armchair general manager. So do sportswriters and columnists. The most frequent question I get — besides what’s living and growing in Charlie Blackmon‘s beard — is about whom the Rockies are going to acquire before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. I’m on the record as saying the Rockies need to acquire a right-handed reliever, or two, before the trade deadline. No surprise there; even tight-lipped general manager Jeff Bridich is on record saying that. I’d like to see the Rockies trade for Miami closer AJ Ramos. I like his ability to strike out batters (averaging 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings this season) and his track record. He has 90 career saves and a history of success in the ninth inning. But I don’t know what the Marlins are asking in return, and I don’t know what the Rockies are willing to give up for a pitcher who’s eligible for arbitration in 2018 and can become a free agent after the 2019 season. Given the Rockies’ limited window for postseason contention, it would be a shame for them to miss the playoffs because the bridge to super closer Greg Holland kept collapsing. Left-handers Jake McGee and Chris Rusin have been mostly reliable, but after that things get shaky in a hurry. But what many fans seem to forget, and what I tend to forget, is that Bridich must examine the big picture. There are things going on behind the scenes that we don’t know anything about. For example, most of us assume that Holland will decline his option and become a free agent after this season. He easily will top the four-year, $62 million deal San Francisco gave Mark Melancon. We’ve taken it for granted that Holland, with agent Scott Boris whispering in his ear, will walk. But perhaps, just perhaps, the Rockies are already trying to find a way to sign Holland long term. If they do that, I could understand why they aren’t going to trade prospects for Ramos or another top reliever. There are other issues cluttering Bridich’s desk. Number one is philosophical, as well as financial. How many prospects do the Rockies give up for a one-game wild-card shot, likely followed by a playoff matchup against the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers? Next, surely Bridich knows that the Rockies’ window of opportunity is closing, at least with the current core of players. Tough decisions are pending.  McGee becomes a free agent after this season. Blackmon, an all-star center fielder, and all-star second baseman DJ LeMahieu are scheduled to become free agents after the 2018 season. Both will be looking for a career payday. All-star third baseman Nolan Arenado, the face of the franchise who’s on a straight path to Cooperstown, becomes a free agent after 2019. Some in the industry think he could land an almost unfathomable eight-year, $400 million contract. Related ArticlesJuly 21, 2017 Pirates, with a rookie pitcher, conquer Coors Field in runaway victory over cooled-off Rockies July 21, 2017 Tyler Chatwood now in wait-and-see mode for Rockies after tip-top simulated game July 20, 2017 What is wrong with Carlos Gonzalez? Frustration is mounting, but the Rockies slugger is “just trying to be me” July 20, 2017 What could the Rockies do with the trade deadline approaching? July 19, 2017 Kiszla: For Nolan Arenado, one big hit in October would be way cooler than a three-HR game in July Yes, some significant money will be coming off the books. Carlos Gonzalez is making $20 million this year, but his contract ends after this season. The Rockies have to pay only $4 million to the Mets’ Jose Reyes next season, not the $22 million they are paying him now while he plays in the Big Apple. Overall, the Rockies are in a good place. There is reason to believe in young starters Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, Antonio Senzatela, German Marquez and Tyler Anderson, along with prospect Riley Pint. For a nice change, the Rockies have quality pitching depth. But that doesn’t mean Bridich can cruise. I can write about what the Rockies might do, or should do. Fans can chime in too. That’s part of being a fan. But the blueprint for the Rockies’ roster is in the hands of Bridich and his lieutenants. Three up, three down John Leyba, The Denver PostColorado Rockies catcher Tony Wolters (14) is tagged out at third base by Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman David Freese (23) on a throw from the catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) in the third inning on July 21, 2017 in Denver. UP 1. Pirates: Ripped the Rockies on Friday to improve to 49-48, their first time above .500 since they started the season 3-2. 2. Cubs: With a 6-1 record since the all-star break, they’re making their move and figure to add a reliever after acquiring lefty starter Jose Quintana. 3. Royals: An American Lea [...]
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Best player available at MLB trade deadline is probably someone you’ve never heard of
Major League Baseball’s nonwaiver trade deadline has recently had a theme. In 2015, ace starters like David Price, Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels all changed teams before July 31. A year later, star relievers were all the rage, with Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Mark Melancon finding new homes. Pitching again dominates the stage this season. The Chicago Cubs showed they aren’t ready to yield the National League Central to the Milwaukee Brewers after adding starter Jose Quintana in a deal with the Chicago White Sox, and the Washington Nationals began a bullpen upgrade by acquiring relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from the Oakland A’s. But there is one reliever on a non-contending team that could change the complexion of any bullpen: Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres. The 27-year-old left-hander increased his strikeout rate year over year (from 30.5 to 31.6 percent) while decreasing his walk rate (from 9.9 to 7.1 percent) resulting in a corresponding drop in ERA (from 2.92 to 2.20). He’s pitched 49 innings of relief this season, holding opponents to a .589 OPS against, the fourth-lowest among relievers pitching at least as many innings this season. Plus, he’s reduced the number of times an opposing batter has hit the ball on the sweet spot of the bat, also known as a barrel, to just 0.52 percent of his pitches thrown this season, significantly lower than 2015 (1.09 percent) and 2016 (0.83 percent). The improvement comes from Hand’s slider, which he now uses almost half the time (43 percent), holding opposing batters to a .120 average against with 55 strikeouts in 92 at-bats ending on the pitch. But he is far from a one-pitch hurler – his four-seam fastball allowed just nine hits in 50 at-bats (.180) with 11 strikeouts, and features an average spin rate of 2,533 rpm in 2017, the ninth-highest among 389 pitchers with at least 100 four-seam fastballs thrown this year. The average spin rate on four-seam fastballs is 2,260 rpm in 2017, with a higher spin rate more positively correlated with swinging strikes and flyballs, making Hand’s fastball coveted by most pitchers in the majors. Related ArticlesJuly 20, 2017 Adrian Beltre, chasing his 3,000th hit, would rather help the Rangers chase a playoff spot July 19, 2017 Red Sox have officially released Pablo Sandoval July 19, 2017 J.D. Martinez traded to Arizona Diamondbacks from Detroit Tigers July 19, 2017 Yankees get Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle from White Sox July 18, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: Should the Rockies trade for an arm or a bat at the MLB deadline? He won’t come cheap. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported last month San Diego wants a “Will Smith-type return” for Hand, which included right-handed pitcher Phil Bickford, a consensus top-50 prospect, and a young position player in catcher Andrew Susac. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted the Padres want something “similar to what the Phillies got for Ken Giles.” Philadelphia received five players from the Houston Astros for Giles, including 23-year-old flamethrower Vince Velasquez and Mark Appel, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLB June amateur draft. Perhaps Hand isn’t worth the price to a team contending for a World Series title. If not, here are six other names to consider as the trade deadline approaches. Zach Britton, RP, Baltimore Orioles Last season, Britton was nearly unhittable. The left-handed reliever allowed a .162 average against with 74 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched, allowing 31 fewer runs than expected after accounting for runners on base and outs left in the inning – making him the most valuable reliever in 2016. He isn’t as spectacular this season, allowing just 3.5 runs fewer than expected, but he induces a large number of groundballs (68 percent of balls put in play) and can keep the ball in the yard – his last home run allowed was to Mookie Betts in April 2016, and the one before that was in September 2015. Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland Athletics The quintessential ace, Gray is striking out more batters this season (22.7 percent) than he has since 2013, his first year in the majors, despite losing velocity on his fastball since then. Relying on a combination of fastballs, breaking balls and off-speed pitches to keep hitters off balance, Gray’s 3.66 ERA is higher than his 3.36 FIP, which measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing. In other words, there might be room to improve after the trade deadline. According to FanGraphs depth chart projections, no available starter is expected to provide more wins above replacement than Gray (1.2 fWAR) for the remainder of the season. Alex Avila, C/1B, Detroit Tigers Avi [...]
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