Rockies

Mr. Burns’ all-star softball team from “The Simpsons” is heading to Cooperstown
Steve Sax won two World Series rings, was a five-time All-Star and got nearly 2,000 hits in the big leagues. Yet to many fans, it’s those half-dozen lines he uttered to a bunch of yellow cartoon characters a long time ago that really made him famous. “I get asked as much about being on ‘The Simpsons’ as I do about baseball,” Sax said this week. “They don’t want to know how it was to hit against Nolan Ryan. They want to know about being on that show.” All thanks to “Homer at the Bat.” Still hugely popular 25 years after it first aired, that Simpsons episode featuring the voices of Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco and a lineup full of luminaries gets a fitting tribute Saturday from the national pastime. Frinkiac.comKen Griffey Jr. was among a handful of MLB stars who appeared on the “Homer at the Bat” episode of “The Simpsons.” That’s when the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, will present a plaque to Homer — well, really a piece of paper. Plus, a Simpsons-themed exhibit will open inside the shrine. Actual Hall members Ozzie Smith and Wade Boggs will be in town to talk about taping their roles as Homer’s teammates on the ringered-up Springfield Nuclear Plant softball squad, as will Sax. Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly was playing for the New York Yankees when he lent his voice to the animated show that was sweeping the nation. “I didn’t know a whole lot about it, honestly. I knew it was hot and my kids watched it, but I didn’t really know that much,” he said. Doesn’t to this day, either. He’s never seen the half-hour episode from start to finish. “No, not the whole thing,” Mattingly said. Frinkiac.comIn the episode of “Homer at the Bat,” Mr. Burns insisted that Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly shave his sideburns. But plenty of people saw “The Simpsons” the night it aired on Feb. 20, 1992. In their third season, Bart & Co. outdrew “The Cosby Show” for the first time in a head-to-head matchup, and also topped the telecast of the Winter Olympics. The show took months to assemble, with players taping when their teams played at Dodger Stadium or the Angels in Anaheim during the 1991 season. Members of “The Simpsons” staff divvied up which guys they would direct. Executive story editor Jeff Martin, a Red Sox fan from his days of rooting for Carl Yastrzemski, drew Boston pitcher Roger Clemens. Great, only one hitch: Martin had to inform the imposing Clemens the script called for him to cluck like a chicken. Over and over. D’oh! “I had visions of telling him and having him stomp out,” Martin recalled this week from Fenway Park. “But without missing a beat, he started clucking away.” Frinkiac.comRoger Clemens clucks like a chicken in the “Homer at the Bat” episode of “The Simpsons.” Clemens was fine with his character being put under a spell by a hypnotist. In the cartoon, Sax was arrested for hundreds of unsolved murders in New York. “I liked mine in the show. Got to show off my rough side,” Sax kidded. Frinkiac.comSteve Sax gets arrested in the “Homer at the Bat” episode of “The Simpsons.” The only player who wasn’t happy with his part was Canseco — rather than a scandalous plot, he wanted to be more gallant. And the Simpsons crew got every star it wanted except one, with Ryne Sandberg passing and Sax taking his place at second base. In the episode, most major leaguers hired by the evil Mr. Burns to play for Springfield in the championship game vs. the Shelbyville Nuclear Plant are befallen by some odd fate. Strawberry is the lone starter, and Homer pinch hits for him in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded. Frinkiac.comMr. Burns calls upon Homer Simpson to pinch hit for Daryl Strawberry. This time, Homer turned out to be a hero. He gets hit in the head with a pitch, giving Springfield a 44-43 win. There were a lot of unusual twists, in fact, even by Simpsons standards. “At the time, I think we thought maybe this show is too weird for some people,” Martin said. As it came out over the years, a couple of actors who voiced prominent characters in the show notably didn’t like the episode written by Simpsons great John Swartzwelder. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia liked it then, and now. He was catching for the Los Angeles Dodgers when he did his part, which had him miss the big softball game because of acute radiation poisoning. “I’m still signing Simpsons items,” he said. The residuals are nice, too. Related ArticlesMay 25, 2017 Dusty Baker to attend son’s graduation, miss weekend games May 24, 2017 The Orioles have given Ubaldo Jimenez a long leash, but it’s time to [...]
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Tyler Chatwood pitches one-hit gem, Carlos Gonzalez stays hot as Rockies blitz Phillies again
PHILADELPHIA — A perfect storm struck Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night. The Rockies’ potent offense — now featuring a red-hot Carlos Gonzalez — combined with starter Tyler Chatwood’s seven excellent innings to leave the foundering Phillies flattened. Colorado won 7-2 for its fourth consecutive victory and eighth win in its last 10 games. Owners of the best record in the National League, the Rockies improved to 31-17 overall and are an astounding 18-7 away from the friendly confines of Coors Field. The Phillies, meanwhile, continue sinking lower in the National League East. Losers of 20 of their last 24 games, they sit in the basement with a 15-29 record. Boxscore: Colorado 7, Philadelphia 2 Chatwood, who has run hot and cold this season, sizzled Wednesday night. The right-hander blanked the Phillies for seven innings, allowing just one hit — a two-out single by Andrew Knapp in the fifth. Chatwood struck out a season-high eight, but he walked four and his high pitch count prevented him from chasing his second compete game of the season. “For the most part, I had pretty good command of my two-seamer, mixing it in and out. And I had a good curveball and a good changeup,” said Chatwood, who threw 112 pitches, his most since June 25, 2011, when he was with the Angels. Chatwood, 4-6 with a 4.50 ERA, attacked hitters, and it paid off. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 batters. “I thought Tyler had good stuff, all the way through his very last pitch,” manager Bud Black said. “That’s something he’s able to do — truly hold his stuff. That means hold his velocity, the action on his pitches, the stamina. Tonight, even though some pitches got away from him … I thought his delivery was under control.” Chatwood and Black had an animated discussion in the dugout after the sixth inning; a debate about how long Chatwood would continue pitching. “He told me I had 10 pitches to try to get through (the seventh),” Chatwood said. “That was pretty much the whole conversation. He said I had 10 pitches. I think I threw 11 and got through it, and that’s what counts.” The Rockies, holding down first place in the National League West since May 3, clinched another series and are 11-2-2 on that front this season. They have a chance to sweep Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, although heavy rain is in the forecast. The Phillies are a bad team, but dominating them has not been an easy task for Colorado. Prior to this season, the Rockies had won just once series at Citizens Bank Park since 2005. All of Colorado’s runs came in one inning, but that seven-run third was a showcase for its increasingly formidable lineup. Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson got the full Charlie Brown treatment when the Rockies sent 11 men to the plate and pounded out six hits. Colorado had 12 hits total, marking just the second time in franchise history it has produced double-digit hits in six consecutive road games. Gonzalez’s three-run homer to score Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu was the shot that blew Hellickson’s socks off. Gonzalez hit a screaming, low line drive into the right-field seats to boost the Rockies’ lead to 6-0. It was just Gonzalez’s fourth homer of the season, but his second in four games. Related ArticlesMay 24, 2017 Rockies pitchers are bunting better, and Charlie Blackmon is reaping the rewards May 24, 2017 Rockies’ leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon is driving in runs at a historic rate May 23, 2017 Charlie Blackmon torches Philly, again, as Rockies romp, again May 23, 2017 Trevor Story returns to Rockies; Bud Black not concerned about juggling playing time May 23, 2017 Should Trevor Story get his job back as Rockies starting shortstop? “It’s nice to see my bat get going to help the club,” he said. “It’s all about timing. I can go into batting practice and hit bomb after bomb everywhere, but I’m trying to put that swing into a game. “You want to get that foot down and let your hands go to work and be on time. When I’m able to do that, good things happen.” Gonzalez had been ice cold. Entering a May 11 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was hitting .181. But the right fielder is heating up in a hurry now, going 3-for-5 on Wednesday night. He’s riding a season-high seven-game hitting streak, during which he has batted .464, raising his average to .252. Blackmon, baseball’s leadoff RBI machine, delivered a two-run single in the seventh to increase his RBI total to 42 in 47 games played. The Phillies avoided being shut out when Michael Saunders crushed a two-run homer off reliever Mike Dunn in the eighth inning. Matt Slocum, The Associated PressColorado Rockies’ Tyler Ch [...]
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Charlie Blackmon torches Philly, again, as Rockies romp, again
PHILADELPHIA — Certain things just say “Philly.” Ben Franklin. Broad Street. Independence Hall. Cheesesteaks. The Liberty Bell. Joe Frazier. Rocky Balboa. And, of course, Charlie Blackmon blasting home runs at Citizens Bank Park. The Rockies’ bearded wonder, staking his claim as the best center fielder in the National League, rocketed a pair of two-run homers to right field and drove in four runs as the Rockies ripped Philadelphia 8-2 on Tuesday night. “I know this is a place I like to hit, but you can’t assume you are going to do well here,” Blackmon after the eighth multiple home run game of his career, four of which have come at Citizens Bank. “It’s just a place that I enjoy going to on the road, as opposed to a lot of other places on the road that I could name, where I don’t like going to play.” Boxscore: Colorado 8, Philadelphia 2 Blackmon led the Rockies to their third consecutive victory as they improved to 6-2 on their current 10-game road trip.The woeful Phillies lost for the 19th time in 23 games. Colorado, a National League-best 30-17 overall and an amazing 17-7 on the road, got another solid start, if not a particularly pretty one, from rookie right-hander German Marquez, who improved to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.86. After a wobbly beginning, including walking Andres Blanco in the third with the bases loaded to push across a run, Marquez righted himself. He pitched six innings, allowed one run on seven hits, struck out six and walked three. “I just went out there and battled,” Marquez said. “At times I battled with my command, but I just went out there and made pitches when I had to and gave my team a chance to win.” It was the latest example of Colorado’s young pitchers blossoming this spring. The rookie foursome of Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzaleta, Marquez and Jeff Hoffman have now made 26 combined starts, going 16-5 with a 3.53 ERA. “There is a poise to these young guys in the rotation,” manager Bud Black said.  “These guys have a have nice heartbeat, their pulse is good, they don’t scare off, and the catchers have done a great job with the collaboration and the dialogue. It’s been good all over the place.” Blackmon was impressed by Marquez, who escaped a sticky situation in the third by getting a double-play grounder out of Odubel Herrera with the bases loaded to end the inning. “Our young guys don’t seem like rookies,” Blackmon said. “They have control over their emotions. Like tonight, things could have gone badly for Marquez, but he got runners out in scoring position. He got out of those jams without giving up runs. That’s impressive.” Both of Blackmon’s homers came off Philadelphia starter Zach Eflin, and the homers were practically carbon copies, careening off the right-field facade. Blackmon hit a two-run laser in the third to score Tony Wolters. Blackmon’s two-run shot in Colorado’s five-run fourth brought home Alexi Amarista. By then, a handful of fans in the small announced crowd of 17,109 could be heard chanting “Char-lee Black-mon!” Related ArticlesMay 23, 2017 Trevor Story returns to Rockies; Bud Black not concerned about juggling playing time May 23, 2017 Should Trevor Story get his job back as Rockies starting shortstop? May 22, 2017 Jeff Hoffman dominates Phillies as Rockies’ road show rolls on May 22, 2017 Rockies’ young pitchers thriving under pitching coaches Steve Foster, Darren Holmes May 21, 2017 Rockies’ Kyle Freeland revels in first homer since days at Thomas Jefferson High School The leadoff hitter is hitting .325 with 11 home runs, and his 40 RBIs lead the majors. Three of his last four multihomer games have come here in Philly. Then again, Blackmon bullies the Phillies whenever and wherever he sees them. In his last five games against them, he has nine home runs, two doubles, 12 RBIs and a .500 batting average (11-for-22). With Blackmon as their ringleader, the Rockies’ offense has been been taking a flamethrower to opposing pitching. The Rockies had 10 hits Tuesday night, including a solo homer by Gerardo Parra to lead off the sixth, and have now put up double-digit hits in five consecutive road games for just the fourth time in franchise history. [...]
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Jeff Hoffman dominates Phillies as Rockies’ road show rolls on
PHILADELPHIA — Jeff Hoffman‘s presumed role as a spot starter was to fly into Philly from Triple-A Albuquerque, gobble up some innings and give the Rockies a solid chance to win. Instead, Hoffman pitched like an ace in Colorado’s 8-1 romp over the Phillies on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. Now the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft just might be knocking on the door to Colorado’s starting rotation. The rookie right-hander, mixing his 93-94 mph fastball with an 82-83 mph slider, and unafraid to unleash his 77-78 mph curve in big moments, pitched seven innings of three-hit baseball. Hoffman retired the first 11 batters he faced, allowed one run, struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. He needed only 99 pitches, throwing 65 strikes. BOX SCORE: Rockies 8, Phillies 1 Hoffman, 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA, will be sent back to Triple-A, for now, and he said he accepts his current role. Related ArticlesMay 22, 2017 Rockies’ young pitchers thriving under pitching coaches Steve Foster, Darren Holmes May 21, 2017 Rockies’ Kyle Freeland revels in first homer since days at Thomas Jefferson High School May 21, 2017 Kyle Freeland, Rockies put on home run derby in win over Reds May 20, 2017 Rockies’ Jordan Lyles still struggling, but manager Bud Black sees talent May 20, 2017 Rockies’ “bridge relievers,” collapse in 12-8 loss to Reds “I’m just excited that I was able to come through for the team,” said Hoffman, who also got his first big-league hit with a single in the fifth. “I have two wins toward our total, and that’s two wins toward winning the (National League) West and hopefully the World Series. “But it’s one of those things where I’m grateful for whatever role they need me.” Asked if he was pitching to show the Rockies something, he answered: “Yeah, no doubt about that. But I think Bud (manager Bud Black) and ‘Fostie’ (pitching coach Steve Foster) know what I can do. I might not have shown it last year or early on in the spring, but I think they have confidence in me now. Whatever that brings for me for the rest of the year, I’m happy to do it.” Hoffman’s impressive repertoire came into play in the seventh. After yielding a leadoff double to Aaron Altherr, Hoffman whiffed Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco with benders good enough to send them for chiropractic care. Hoffman ended the inning by getting Odubel Herrera to top the ball to third baseman Nolan Arenado for an easy out. “Our game plan was to pitch to Jeff’s strengths,” Black said. “Where Jeff is right now in his career — with a nice arm, good velocity to the fastball, with a good breaking ball — we just leaned on what he can do best and not on what the Phillies or another club might be able to do.” But there’s no question Hoffman impressed his manager. “He was outstanding,” Black said. “It’s been a process for Jeff since spring training. I think his mind and his attitude is in a really good spot. It’s really great to see.” The foundering Phillies, now 3-15 in May, squeezed out their lone run against Hoffman in the fourth on Altherr’s two-out double (their first hit of the game), followed by Joseph’s run-scoring single to right. And so, the Rockies’ road show keeps on rolling. They improved to 5-2 on this 10-game trip east and are now 16-7 away from Coors Field. Colorado’s overall record is 29-17. Some perspective: Colorado didn’t win its 29th game last season until June 11, when it was 29-33. Matt Slocum, The Associated PressColorado Rockies’ Jeff Hoffman pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Monday, May 22, 2017, in Philadelphia. Monday night, the Rockies’ offense was efficient and productive. Arenado blasted a two-run homer to left-center field in the ninth, his 12th home run of the season. The Rockies had 13 hits, their fourth consecutive game with double-digit hits. Since spring training, Black has prodded his team to string together solid at-bats to generate runs. The Rockies did exactly that in a three-run third inning against Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff. It began with back-to-back singles by Alexi Amarista and Tony Wolters, followed up by a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt by Hoffman to advance them to third and second. Up to the plate stepped Charlie Blackmon, who doinked a two-run double down the left-field line, giving him 35 RBIs and improving his average with runners in scoring position to an otherworldly .447 (17-for-38). “I think we played good offense tonight in the sense that we just didn’t hit balls over the fence — well, Nolan did,” Blackmon said. “But we [...]
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Kyle Freeland, Rockies put on home run derby in win over Reds
CINCINNATI — It’s easy to drown in baseball statistics, but some numbers the Rockies are putting up are too important to be ignored: 10-2-2: Their series record after beating Cincinnati 6-4 on Sunday afternoon to take a three-game weekend series at Great American Ball Park. 15-7: Their road record — best in the National League — as they head to Philadelphia for a four-game series that begins Monday. The Rockies have posted only one winning road record for a season — 41-40 in 2009, the last time they made it to the playoffs. 19-for-19: Greg Holland’s perfect record as a closer this year. By the way, his ERA is 0.96. Home runs were flying Sunday at Great American Ball Park, or, as some have called it, the Great American Bandbox. Or Great American Small Park. There were six homers in all, including one from Rockies rookie starter Kyle Freeland, the first of his career. But Holland was the last pitcher standing at the end. He issued a leadoff walk to Devin Mesoraco, but struck out pinch-hitter Scooter Gennett, got Billy Hamilton to pop out to center and struck out Jose Peraza with a 95.4 mph fastball to end the game. Box score: Rockies 6, Reds 4 “This guy has done it before,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Holland. “He has the experience of doing it in the ninth inning, which is different than the sixth or seventh, as we know. When the heat is turned up just a little bit, Greg has a way of working his way through an inning to get the save, regardless of what is going on.” Said Holland: “I didn’t tell myself it was OK when I walked (Mesoraco). I was pretty upset. But I just think that over time, with more experience, you know what you are doing out there. You know your cues and you know what to tell yourself.” Bullpen assists must be handed out to Rockies relievers Chris Rusin and Adam Ottavino, who combined to blank the Reds for 2⅓ innings on a day when the ball was landing on the banks of the Ohio River. All four of the Rockies’ homers were solo shots, including Freeland’s drive to right-center in the fifth inning. Cincinnati hit two bombs, driving Freeland from the game in the sixth inning. “There are outings when you just don’t quite have that feeling or that command and you have to grind through,” said Freeland, who improved to 5-2 and sports a solid 3.31 ERA over the first nine starts of his career. Carlos Gonzalez, showing another sign that he’s emerging from his spring-long hibernation at the plate, led off the fourth with a homer that just cleared the fence down the right-field line off veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo. It was just Gonzalez’s third homer of the season and his first in 76 at-bats. But it also was his milestone 200th homer in a Rockies uniform. “We have been talking about CarGo getting closer,” Black said. “We saw that here in Cincinnati. I mean, he hit some bullets, some rockets. It’s gradually getting there. At some point, you’re going to see the three-hit game and the four- or five-RBI game. It’s coming.” Joe Robbins, Getty ImagesKyle Freeland #31 of the Colorado Rockies hits a double to left field in the third inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 21, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Related Articles Rockies’ Kyle Freeland revels in first homer since days at Thomas Jefferson High School Rockies’ Jordan Lyles still struggling, but manager Bud Black sees talent Rockies’ “bridge relievers,” collapse in 12-8 loss to Reds Saunders: Rockies’ bullpen has changed spirit, mood of entire team Kiszla: Are the Rockies legit World Series contenders? Believe it. Now they need to act like it. Freeland’s homer was the first by a Colorado pitcher this season. Two batters later, DJ LeMahieu, 4-for-5 on the day with two RBIs, launched a homer to deep left-center. Pat Valaika homered into the left-field seats in the sixth inning to put Colorado ahead 6-1. But not comfortably ahead — not in this ballpark, and not on this day. Freeland’s performance on the mound was uneven: 5⅔ innings, four runs (three earned) on five hits allowed. When the left-hander was on his game, as he was in innings three through five, he was throwing pitches as heavy as bowling balls, inducing groundball outs. But when he left the ball up, the Reds blasted away, especially in a three-run sixth inning. Peraza led off with a triple to left-center that hit the top of the wall, followed by Joey Votto’s two-run homer to left. Scott Schebler’s two-out solo shot to right cut Colorado’s once-comfy lead to 6-4. “Kyle’s got such good action in the strike zone, so when he’s pitching from the knees on down, he creates a l [...]
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Rockies’ Kyle Freeland revels in first homer since days at Thomas Jefferson High School
CINCINNATI — In the spring of 2011, while a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School, Kyle Freeland hit .631 and launched six home runs. Those were the last homers off his bat in game action. Until Sunday. The Rockies’ rookie pitcher led off with a fifth inning with a solo shot off Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo, by the way, is 40. Freeland turned 24 on May 14. “When I first hit it, I thought it had a chance,” Freeland said. “When I checked when I got to first base, I thought, ‘I think that’s gone.’ But I wasn’t sure until I saw it land over the fence.” Freeland warmed up by hitting a double over the head of left fielder Adam Duvall in the third inning. Although Freeland’s energy and concentration are channeled to his duties on the mound, stepping into the batter’s box remains a big deal to the Denver native. “Absolutely,” he said. “I feel like any batter in the (National League) should take pride in their at-bats. Because I know that sometimes the pitcher on the mound will take the pitcher (at the plate) for granted. I know I’m guilty of it and it’s hurt me. If you take pride in all aspects of your game, it should pay off.” Freeland’s skills at the plate have not gone unnoticed by manager Bud Black. “This guy is athletic,” Black said. “The double over the left fielder’s head, that’s a slash. There’s some strength to his swing.” Freeland’s homer was the first by a Rockies pitcher since fellow left-hander Tyler Anderson did it on July 9 at Coors Field. John Minchillo, The Associated PressColorado Rockies’ Kyle Freeland (31) celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Cincinnati. Nolan’s shiner: Third baseman Nolan Arenado received a double shot of pain in the first inning. He attempted to bare-hand a chopper off the bat of speedy Cincinnati leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton, but instead, the ball flicked off his hand and caught Arenado below the eye. Arenado was charged with an error, his first of the season. Arenado stayed in the game, but his eye swelled up over the course of the afternoon. “I think he’s going to come out of it fine,” Black said. “We’ll ice it on the plane. It was pretty square blow to the eye. But he hung in there.” Then Black, ever the sports historian, made reference to Muhammad Ali’s former fight doctor. “As the game went on (assistant trainer) Scotty Gehret became Ferdie Pacheco,” Black said. “He didn’t have to get to the point where he had to cut it, bandage it, a little Vaseline. He looked like a prize fighter.” Related ArticlesMay 21, 2017 Kyle Freeland, Rockies put on home run derby in win over Reds May 20, 2017 Rockies’ Jordan Lyles still struggling, but manager Bud Black sees talent May 20, 2017 Rockies’ “bridge relievers,” collapse in 12-8 loss to Reds May 20, 2017 Saunders: Rockies’ bullpen has changed spirit, mood of entire team May 20, 2017 Kiszla: Are the Rockies legit World Series contenders? Believe it. Now they need to act like it. Dunn’s deal. Left-handed reliever Mike Dunn has been getting rocked a bit of late. In Saturday’s 12-8 loss to the Red, Dunn was unable to quell a rally what started with right-hander Chad Qualls on the mound. Dunn allowed both inherited runners to score and gave up a three-run homer. Dunn has a 10.13 ERA since coming off the disabled list on May 3. He had a 1.17 ERA before going on the DL with a mid-back strain. “The layover might’ve had a little bit of an impact on him,” Black said. “Whether he was a little bit rusty coming back, he hasn’t gotten back to the consistency he showed early in the year.” Footnotes. Carlos’ Gonzalez hit his third homer of the season and his 200th in a Rockies uniform, joining an exclusive club that includes Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, Larry Walker and Todd Helton. … DJ LeMahieu went 4-for-5 with a homer, tying his career high with four hits. It was LeMahieu’s ninth multihit game in May. Looking ahead …   Matthew Stockman, Getty ImagesStarting pitcher Jeff Hoffman #34 of the Colorado Rockies throws in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on May 11, 2017 in Denver. Rockies RHP Jeff Hoffman (1-0, 5.40 ERA) at Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-4, 5.53), 5:05 p.m. Monday, ROOT; 850 AM Hoffman, who’s been trying to perfect his craft at Triple-A Albuquerque, makes his second spot start of the season. He gets the call because Colorado’s rotation was set back as a result of last [...]
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Rockies’ Jordan Lyles still struggling, but manager Bud Black sees talent
CINCINNATI — Former Rockies manager Walt Weiss used to praise the raw talent of former starter-turned-reliever Jordan Lyles. Current manager Bud Black likes Lyle’s fastball velocity and sharp breaking stuff too. But clearly, something isn’t working. Lyles allowed four runs Friday night in Colorado’s 12-6 victory over Cincinnati. He has been scored on in seven of his 12 appearances.That adds up to team-high 8.53 ERA that includes five home runs, the most among Rockies relievers. Saturday, Black was asked what’s going wrong with Lyles, who signed a one-year, $3.175 million contract in December to avoid arbitration. “In general, when a pitcher is getting hit hard, it’s about (bad) location,” Black said. “He’s got the weapons. His fastball has velocity and movement, and he has a tight slider, and a good curveball. “But for Jordan, it’s about transitioning from a starter into a reliever. He’s a guy who came in with a starter’s mix of pitches … and sometimes it gets a little convoluted as to what a pitcher’s trying to do.” Related ArticlesMay 20, 2017 Rockies’ “bridge relievers,” collapse in 12-8 loss to Reds May 20, 2017 Saunders: Rockies’ bullpen has changed spirit, mood of entire team May 20, 2017 Kiszla: Are the Rockies legit World Series contenders? Believe it. Now they need to act like it. May 20, 2017 Three up, three down May 20, 2017 Spotlight on: Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Phillies Philadelphia story. Starting shortstop Trevor Story, currently rehabbing at Triple-A Albuquerque as he returns from a strained left shoulder, likely will rejoin the Rockies in Philadelphia this week for a four-game series that begins Monday. Black didn’t say exactly when Trevor Story is going to be activated, but he dropped several hints. When a reporter mentioned the City of Brotherly Love, Black said: “Story loves the Liberty Bell. He loves Ben Franklin. He might not love it all four days. But he loves it.” Story played the first game of his rehab assignment Friday night, going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. “Opposite-field home run,” Black said. “Opposite-field, hard-hit single. Drew a walk. Looked good in the field. Running well. He had a really good game.” Golden Nolan. Despite a 12-8 loss to the Reds on Saturday, third baseman Nolan Arenado made yet another Gold Glove play, drawing applause from appreciative Cincinnati fans. Arenado snared Devin Mesoraco’s sizzling grounder along the third-base line, righted himself, and then gunned the ball from his knees to cut down Mesoraco at first. “Defensively, he’s been unbelievable,” Black said. “Seeing him firsthand, every day, this is a special player on both sides. I’ve said this many times: This is the best defensive third baseman that I have seen.”   [...]
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Alexi Amarista’s four-RBI night sparks Rockies’ romp of Reds
CINCINNATI — Alexi Amarista, listed at 5-foot-6, 158 pounds, is affectionately referred to as “Little Ninja” by his Rockies teammates. Manager Bud Black says, only half-jokingly, that Amarista possesses “sneaky pull-pop” in his bat. Friday night at Great American Ball Park, Amarista played little-big man and sparked the Rockies to a 12-6 victory over Cincinnati. Amarista, starting at shortstop as Trevor Story began a Triple-A  rehab assignment, hit a three-run homer down the right-field line off starter Lisalverto Bonilla, and later singled off reliever Wandy Peralta to drive in another run and tie his career high with four RBIs. “I think it’s really funny,” Amarista said when asked about Black’s reference to his hidden power. “But I just try to barrel balls up to the pull side and if they leave the yard, great. If not, that’s all right, that’s not my game. I just try to make solid contact.” The Rockies have, quite uncharacteristically, become a road juggernaut, improving to 14-6 away from Coors Field for the best road record in the National League. And here are a few more mileposts: They improved to 11-3 in series openers, including 6-1 on the road, and their 27-16 overall record is the best in the NL. Boxscore: Colorado 12, Cincinnati 6 Amarista’s homer was his second of the season, which is something of an avalanche for him. He also slashed a pinch-hit homer on April 29, his first home run in 251 at-bats. “One of the things we talked about this winter when we were putting the roster together … was that we liked Lexi, because he was a good fit,” Black said. “We liked his versatility. You can put Lexi anywhere in the field and you feel good about the defense. And the bat comes into play.” By the way, all four of Amarista’s RBIs came in an eight-run sixth inning that included a two-run double by DJ LeMahieu, immediately followed by a two-run homer to left by Nolan Arenado. His 11th homer of the season was a towering shot into the second deck above left field. The eight runs were Colorado’s most in an inning this season and the first time Reds pitchers allowed eight runs in one inning since July 26, 2015 at Coors Field, where they allowed 10 runs in the bottom of the third. “We have talked about really stringing at-bats together, which we did tonight,” Black said. “I think we are capable of that, where we have good at-bats, we square balls up and we put a big number on the board. That was really, really good to see.” Related ArticlesMay 19, 2017 Rockies work overtime to get scoop on unfamiliar Reds’ pitchers May 19, 2017 Groke: Why Jeff Hoffman remains on the Rockies’ minor-league shuttle is a study in major-league smarts May 18, 2017 Twins’ Jose Berrios denies Rockies doubleheader sweep May 18, 2017 Rockies’ Nolan Arenado striking gold in first inning this season May 18, 2017 Rookie German Marquez outpitches Twins’ Ervin Santana in 5-1 Rockies’ victory Overshadowed, perhaps, by Colorado’s season-high, 16-hit night was the performance of starter Tyler Anderson, who incorporated a quick-pitch into his delivery to keep batters off-balance and keep baserunners more honest. The left-hander, his command sharp from the beginning, gave up two runs on four hits, struck out seven and walked two in six innings. He improved to 3-4 with his second quality start of the season. Over his last three starts, Anderson is 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA, 25 strikeouts and 15 walks. “I’m making a lot of good quality pitches down, whereas earlier I was leaving them up in the zone and they were getting hit,” Anderson said. “There are still some of those but they are just not as frequent.” His one big mistake was a 1-2 changeup left over the plate that Eugenio Suarez blasted for a solo homer in the fourth, cutting Colorado’s lead to 2-1. Colorado led 10-2 after six innings before reliever Jordan Lyles provided CPR to the Reds’ dormant offense. Cincinnati blitzed him for four runs (three earned) on four hits in the seventh and eighth innings, including a two-run homer by Jose Peraza.  Lyles’ ERA climbed to 8.53, by far the highest on the team. The Rockies, seeing Bonilla for the first time, ambushed him in the first inning. Charlie Blackmon led off with a double and then Colorado loaded the bases when LeMahieu was hit by a pitch and Arenado singled. Colorado cashed in with an RBI single from Mark Reynolds and a sacrifice fly by Carlos Gonzalez to stake Anderson to a 2-0 lead. John Minchillo, The Associated PressColorado Rockies’ Alexi Amarista connects for a three-run home run off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla during the sixth innin [...]
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Rockies’ Nolan Arenado striking gold in first inning this season
MINNEAPOLIS — Nolan Arenado is big on first impressions. The Rockies’ all-star third baseman wowed Minnesota fans with his 24-karat play during a three-game series that concluded Thursday with a doubleheader. In the first inning of the nightcap, he barehanded leadoff hitter Brian Dozier’s roller and threw him out with ease, adding another play to his highlight reel. Arenado has been especially potent at the plate during the first inning this season. In Thursday’s opening-game, 5-1 victory, he hit a solo blast into the second deck above left field off Twins ace Ervin Santana. It was Arenado’s 10th homer of the season, leaving him with a .516 batting average (16-for-31) with four homers, five doubles and 13 RBIs in the first inning. Love of country. After beating the Twins in the first game, Rockies rookie pitcher German Marquez made it a point to show support for his native Venezuela, a country gripped by political and social turmoil. “I want to dedicate this victory to Venezuela and the situation the country is going through,” he said. “Besides us — the Rockies — this win goes to Venezuela.” Hoffman could start. The washout of Wednesday’s game between the Rockies and Twins forced Thursday’s split doubleheader and left the Rockies searching for a starter for Monday night’s game at Philadelphia. There is a good chance right-hander Jeff Hoffman will be called up from Triple-A Albuquerque to make another spot start. Hoffman, 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA at Triple-A, started last Thursday against the Dodgers at Coors Field, picking up his first big-league victory. He pitched 5 ⅓ innings, allowing three runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Hoffman would be pitching on extra rest. He pitched Tuesday for Albuquerque, going five innings, allowing Memphis just one run and one hit and striking out four. However, he did walk four. Related ArticlesMay 18, 2017 Twins’ Jose Berrios denies Rockies doubleheader sweep May 18, 2017 Rookie German Marquez outpitches Twins’ Ervin Santana in 5-1 Rockies’ victory May 18, 2017 Facebook to stream MLB game each Friday starting this week with Rockies-Reds May 18, 2017 Carlos Estevez is Rockies’ 26th man; Jeff Hoffman in line to start; Trevor Story to rehab at Triple-A May 18, 2017 Rockies vs. Twins doubleheader live blog Story begins rehab. Shortstop Trevor Story, his strained left shoulder fully healed, is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Friday night at Albuquerque. He will play shortstop for the Isotopes, not just play as a designated hitter. “Trevor is feeling great,” Black said after watching Story take batting practice in an indoor cage Thursday morning. “He’s going to play. His stamina is good enough for him to play. He’s been fielding grounders. The only problem initially was whether or not he could extend his left arm enough to make plays. But he’s fine and he’s totally ready to play.” Story has struggled to find his swing so far this season, hitting .180 with six homers and six doubles. He has struck out 48 times in 111 at-bats. The closer. Greg Holland faced just one batter in the first game Thursday, but it was enough to earn him his major league-leading 18th save. In his last 11 appearances, he’s allowed four hits, one walk and struck out 15. Looking ahead Matthew Stockman, Getty ImagesStarting pitcher Tyler Anderson of the Colorado Rockies throws in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on May 13, 2017 in Denver. Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (2-4, 6.43 ERA) at Reds RHP Lisalverto Bonilla (0-1, 4.85), 5:10 p.m. Friday, ROOT; 850 AM If Anderson can begin pitching like he did last year, the Rockies’ rotation would be formidable. But the left-hander is still trying to find his way. He was excellent in a May 6 start vs. Arizona, striking out 10 and allowing one run on six hits over six innings. He regressed a bit in his last start vs. the Dodgers, taking the loss after giving up three runs on five hits in 5 ⅔ innings. Anderson can’t leave the ball over the plate at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, because the Reds will make him pay. He’s served up 10 homers in 42 innings this season vs. 12 in 114 ⅓ last season. Bonilla, in his first -big-league start since 2014, needed just 62 pitches to get through six innings and finished with 98 pitches in a complete-game, 3-1 loss to the Giants last Saturday at San Francisco. He was sharp, allowing three runs on six hits with five strikeouts.  Saturday: Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (6-1, 3.31 ERA) at Reds RHP Tim Adelman (2-2. 5.27), 2:10 p.m., ROOT Sunday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (4-2, 3.13) at Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo (3-3, 6.31), 11:10 a.m., ROOT [...]
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Twins’ Jose Berrios denies Rockies doubleheader sweep
MINNEAPOLIS — The Rockies’ joyous road journey ran into a major detour Thursday night at Target Field. His name was Jose Berrios, Minnesota’s 22-year-old right-hander who dominated Colorado hitters and led the Twins’ to 2-0 victory in the second game of a split doubleheader. Berrios, utilizing a nasty curveball, manhandled the Rockies for 7⅔ innings, allowing Colorado two paltry singles and striking out 11, the most by any Twins pitcher this season. He whiffed Raimel Tapia three times and Carlos Gonzalez twice. “He was electric,” said Ian Desmond, whose six-game hitting streak came to an end. “It looked a lot like (former Marlins ace) Jose Fernandez, to be honest. Explosive, quick heater and with that sweeping curveball that he can turn into a slider, too.” The Rockies made noise in the ninth inning against closer Brandon Kintzler on a one-out single by Nolan Arenado and walk by Gonzalez, but Desmond grounded into a double play to end the rally. The Rockies won the opener, and clinched the three-game series, with a 5-1 victory behind their own 22-year-old, German Marquez, who continued the charge of the Rockies’ rookie starters. Colorado, 26-16 overall, is 13-6 on the road, tied for the second-most road wins in the majors. By comparison, the 2014 Rockies won a not-so-grand total of 21 road games the entire season. MLB Scores and Statistics In the nightcap, Colorado veteran right-hander Tyler Chatwood was simply no match for Berrios. Chatwood, in fact, was erratic, but give him credit for hanging tough, allowing two runs in five innings, despite walking five and throwing 105 pitches, just 54 for strikes. “With all of the traffic I had out there, I only gave up two runs,”  said Chatwood, now 3-6 with a 5.09 ERA. “None of the walks scored, (and) they have been killing me all year. So I felt like I sort of kept us in the game.” Added manager Bud Black: “When it came down to it, he got critical outs to keep the game in check. … The stuff was outstanding, the fastball had velocity and movement, but it just looked a little bit out of sync, mechanically.” The Twins’ Max Kepler singled to drive in Robbie Grossman in the first inning, and Grossman drove in Ehire Adrianza with a single in the fourth to put the Rockies in a 2-0 hole they remained in for the rest of the night. Gerardo Parra led off the fifth with a single but was thrown out trying to steal on a failed hit-and-run play. In the opener, Marquez outpitched Minnesota ace Ervin Santana, writing another chapter to the remarkable story of the Rockies’ young pitching through the first quarter of the season. Marquez (2-2, 4.34 ERA) allowed one run on four hits over five innings. “The fastball command wasn’t quite there, but I had to make adjustments and continue to battle and give the team a chance to win,” Marquez said. As for besting Santana, Marquez said: “I have a lot of pride in beating Santana, one of the best pitchers in the game right now. He’s a guy that’s been in the big leagues for 11-plus years now, so there is definitely a lot of pride in beating him.” Marquez blanked the Twins for four innings, extending his scoreless streak to 15 innings. Eddie Rosario’s triple and Brian Dozier’s sacrifice fly halted Marquez’s streak in the fifth inning. Related ArticlesMay 18, 2017 Rockies’ Nolan Arenado striking gold in first inning this season May 18, 2017 Rookie German Marquez outpitches Twins’ Ervin Santana in 5-1 Rockies’ victory May 18, 2017 Facebook to stream MLB game each Friday starting this week with Rockies-Reds May 18, 2017 Carlos Estevez is Rockies’ 26th man; Jeff Hoffman in line to start; Trevor Story to rehab at Triple-A May 18, 2017 Rockies vs. Twins doubleheader live blog Four Rockies relievers — Chris Rusin, Adam Ottavino, Mike Dunn and Greg Holland — blanked Minnesota for the final four innings. With two on and two out and the tying run on the on-deck circle, Holland was brought in to face one batter in the ninth.  Holland struck out Dozier on four pitches and was rewarded with his 18th save in 18 tries. Santana entered the game on a remarkable roll, having gone 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA over his last 26 starts, dating back to June 19, 2016. But he threw first-pitch strikes to only three of the first 15 batters he faced Thursday, and Arenado pierced his armor in the first inning with a solo blast into the second deck above left field. Arenado’s homer was just the beginning of the Rockies’ solid day vs. Santana, who pitched seven innings, allowing five runs on six hits. The Rockies scored three runs in the third inning to take a 4-0 lead. The key hits were a two-run single over the third-base b [...]
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Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon is one of best leadoff hitters; stats confirm it, so does Bud Black
MINNEAPOLIS — There’s a lot going on behind Charlie Blackmon‘s Civil War-era beard and his dark, competitive stare. But getting the Rockies’ center fielder to talk about his personal success is never easy. Consider Blackmon’s words after Colorado’s 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night in which he batted 3-for-5, mashed his ninth home run and drove in three more runs. “I just try to simplify things,” Blackmon said. “I’ve stopped thinking so much. I just try to stay loose.” Blackmon spent Wednesday afternoon in an indoor batting cage, honing his craft as thunderstorms drenched Target Field, forcing postponement of Wednesday night’s game against the Twins. It will be made up Thursday as part of a split doubleheader. The first game begins at 11:10 a.m. MDT, followed by the nightcap at 5:10 p.m. Whatever Blackmon’s hidden thoughts, he’s producing like an all-star. He made the National League team in 2014, playing in the All-Star Game at Target Field. Now he could be headed for Miami in mid-July for another midsummer classic. The Rockies’ leadoff man is batting .319 with 30 RBIs and generating other eye-popping statistics. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other leadoff hitter in the last 10 seasons to have 30 RBIs in his team’s first 40 games was Ian Kensler for Texas in 2009. Here’s another stat to chew on: Blackmon’s nine homers, six triples, 30 RBIs and 51 hits are the most among major-league leadoff men this season. After tipping his cap to Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson as the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, manager Bud Black praised the man at the top of his order. “I think, present day, Charlie ranks up there as one of the best, for sure,” Black said. “You look at the batting average, the (.360) on-base percentage, the power. “When he steps in the box to start the game, it’s dangerous for the pitcher. That’s not a good feeling when the guy has the ability to homer.” While Blackmon has been good setting the Rockies’ table, he’s been excellent clearing it, too, especially in clutch. With two outs and runners in scoring position, he is batting .500 (9-for-18) with one double, four home runs and 15 RBIs. Those four homers and 15 RBIs lead the majors. Walk talk. If there is one thing Black hates, it’s watching his pitchers give up walks. The former major-league pitcher doesn’t have much patience with free passes, and he makes sure the Rockies’ pitchers — particularly starters Tyler Chatwood and Kyle Freeland — know about his displeasure. Chatwood, who will start Game 2 against the Twins on Thursday night, and Freeland have both walked 22 batters in eight starts, tied for fourth-most in the National League. Related ArticlesMay 17, 2017 Rockies-Twins game postponed by rain, setting up doubleheader on Thursday May 16, 2017 Rockies ride Charlie Blackmon’s big night to beat Twins, improve to 12-5 on road May 16, 2017 Rockies’ David Dahl, Trevor Story and Tom Murphy moving closer to return May 16, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: Do the Rockies really need Carlos Gonzalez? May 16, 2017 Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis completes final chemotherapy treatment Black praised Freeland for his gutsy performance in the Colorado’s 7-3 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night, but he made it clear the walks were troubling and need to be cleaned up. “I liked the competitive nature of his game, and Kyle outpitched their starter,” Black said. “But the walks always concern me, regardless of where they are coming from, starter or reliever. “Kyle’s track record in the minor leagues is that of a strike thrower, but this is the major leagues now, and the walk rate now is climbing a little bit for Kyle. We will get on top of that.” Story’s story. Trevor Story, working his way back from a strained left shoulder, took batting practice in the indoor cages Wednesday afternoon. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday at Cincinnati, but he’s likely to be sent out on a minor-league rehab assignment. Looking ahead Thursday’s Game 1: Rockies RHP German Marquez (1-2, 4.88 ERA) at Twins RHP Ervin Santana (6-1, 1.50), 11:10 a.m., MLB Network; 850 AM Thursday’s Game 2: Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-5, 5.25) at Twins RHP Jose Berrios (1-0, 1.17), 5:10 p.m., ROOT; 850 AM Marquez stood in the visitors dugout at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon watching the rain come down. He was hoping to square off against Santana in his latest test as a 22-year-old rookie. “I hope I get to pitch,” he said. Alas, the rain postponed his start until Thursday. Marquez is coming off a superb performance, pitching eight [...]
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Rockies-Twins game postponed by rain, setting up doubleheader on Thursday
MINNEAPOLIS — The Rockies’ game against Minnesota on Wednesday night at Target Field was postponed by heavy rain. It was rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader on Thursday. First pitch for the first game is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. MDT, with the second game set for 5:10 p.m. The first game will be televised by the MLB Network, and Root Sports will televise the nightcap. Both games will be broadcast on radio by KOA 850 AM. The Rockies, 7-3 over their last 10 games, are 12-5 on the road this season, their best road record through 17 games in franchise history. Looking ahead Thursday’s Game 1: Rockies RHP German Marquez (1-2, 4.88 ERA) at Twins RHP Ervin Santana (6-1, 1.50), 11:10 a.m., MLB Network; 850 AM Thursday’s Game 2: Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-5, 5.25) at Twins RHP Jose Berrios (1-0, 1.17), 5:10 p.m., ROOT; 850 AM Marquez stood in the visitors dugout at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon watching the rain come down. He was hoping to square off against Santana in his latest test as a 22-year-old rookie. “I hope I get to pitch,” he said. Alas, the rain postponed his start until Thursday. Marquez is coming off a superb performance, pitching eight scoreless innings against the Cubs at Coors Field last Wednesday, a game in which he no-hit Chicago for six innings. The right-hander whiffed eight and walked only one. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he was just the fifth pitcher to throw at least six no-hit innings at Coors. He did it using excellent fastball command and mixing in a variety of breaking balls, in a variety of counts. Santana is off to the best start of his career, having tossed six-plus innings and allowing one run or fewer in seven of his eight starts. Opponents are hitting just .129 against Santana. He’s 2-1 with a 6.31 ERA with 24 strikeouts and eight walks in four career starts vs. Colorado.  Chatwood has been brilliant in small doses this season. Remember his complete-game shutout at San Francisco on April 15? But overall he has been frustratingly inconsistent. In his last start vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field, he lasted only 4 ⅓ innings, giving up five runs on six hits. Home runs have been problematic for Chatwood this spring. He has given up nine in eight starts after giving up only 15 in 27 starts last season when he was 8-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 road starts. Berrios is making his second start of the season. He sparkled in his 2017 Twins debut last Saturday, allowing one run and striking out four at Cleveland. Berrios was terrific in six starts at Triple-A before getting called up, going 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA with 39 strikeouts vs. just eight walks. Friday: Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (2-4, 6.43 ERA) at Reds RHP Lisalverto Bonilla (0-1, 4.85), 5:10 p.m., ROOT Saturday: Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (6-1, 3.31) at Reds RHP Tim Adelman (2-2. 5.27), 2:10 p.m., ROOT Sunday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (4-2, 3.13) at Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo (3-3, 6.31), 11:10 a.m., ROOT Related ArticlesMay 17, 2017 Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon is one of best leadoff hitters; stats confirm it, so does Bud Black May 16, 2017 Rockies ride Charlie Blackmon’s big night to beat Twins, improve to 12-5 on road May 16, 2017 Rockies’ David Dahl, Trevor Story and Tom Murphy moving closer to return May 16, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: Do the Rockies really need Carlos Gonzalez? May 16, 2017 Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis completes final chemotherapy treatment [...]
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Rockies ride Charlie Blackmon’s big night to beat Twins, improve to 12-5 on road
MINNEAPOLIS — With apologies to Minnesota native Robert Allen Zimmerman (a.k.a. Bob Dylan), the times they are a changin’ for the Rockies. Road kill for nearly all of their existence, the Rockies have been road warriors through the first quarter of the 2017 season. They proved it again Tuesday night at Target Field, beating Minnesota 7-3 to improve to 12-5 away from home. Considering that Colorado has posted one winning road record in its existence (41-40 in 2009) that early-season success grabs your attention. But newcomer Ian Desmond said it’s time to discard the “early-season” qualifier. “These games, to us, matter, and I don’t think that needs to be discredited,” said Desmond, who started at first base and finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. “Every win is important, I don’t care if it’s April, May or September. You want to give yourself a chance to play meaningful games. “I’m really confident in what we can do and I like this team and direction we are going. … It’s exciting. We’re going to be good and it’s going to be a fun summer. I hope the Rockies fans hang in there.” The Rockies, 25-15, opened their 11-day, 10-game road trip with timely hits, including home runs by Charlie Blackmon and Gerardo Parra, and a hang-tough, six-inning performance from rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland. “He battled, he really did,” manager Bud Black said. “The thing with Kyle is that he had too many balls to the mid-thigh and up. But there were a coupe of key pitches to make and he made them. That’s always a great sign.” The Rockies took command with a four-run sixth inning. Carlos Gonzalez lashed a double to right and scored on Desmond’s single. A double by Tony Wolters, compounded by an error by right fielder Robbie Grossman, chased home another run. Then Blackmon stepped up and hit a towering fly to center off Tyler Duffey that drifted over the wall for a two-run homer. It was Blackmon’s ninth home run and was the cherry on top to a 3-for-5, three-RBI night. Boxscore: Colorado 7, Minnesota 3 Freeland was not especially sharp, walking four batters, but he pitched with guts and guile when he had to. His best pitch of the game arrived with two on and one out in the fifth. After lengthy battles, Freeland surrendered back-to-back walks to Brian Dozier and Grossman. Then Freeland went to his escape plan — a worm-burning grounder to get him out of trouble. It worked. Kenny Vargas grounded into a double play and Freeland let loose a yell as he departed the diamond. “We chose to bust (Vargas) inside on this hands and we were able to do that,” Freeland said. “We got a broken-bat ground ball to (shortstop Pat) Valaika and he was able to start the double play.” It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Freeland entered the game with a 66.7 percent groundball percentage (82 grounders vs. 19 flyballs), the best groundball rate in the majors. His line Tuesday night: three earned runs allowed on five hits with three strikeouts. He had three groundball outs vs. three outs through the air. Freeland improved to 4-2 and is carrying an impressive 3.13 ERA, but he wasn’t thrilled with his performance. “It was a struggle, for sure, tonight,” he said. “I didn’t have my best stuff and you never want to walk four batters … but I was able to get out when I needed to.” The bullpen quartet of Chris Rusin, Adam Ottavino, Jake McGee and Greg Holland combined to pitch three scoreless innings. Holland had to face just one batter, but he notched his 17th save in 17 tries. Related ArticlesMay 16, 2017 Rockies’ David Dahl, Trevor Story and Tom Murphy moving closer to return May 16, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: Do the Rockies really need Carlos Gonzalez? May 16, 2017 Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis completes final chemotherapy treatment May 16, 2017 Lunch Special: When will Jon Gray return, and who will be bumped from Rockies rotation? May 15, 2017 Behind closer Greg Holland, the Rockies’ rebuilt bullpen is thriving — even at Coors Field Black is not surprised by the Rockies’ road success. “This goes all the way back to spring training,” he said. “We just talk about how we play. We don’t worry about the opposition and we don’t worry about where we play. We just worry about playing good baseball.” The clubs swapped homers in the fourth, leaving the game tied 3-3. Parra, starting in left field, cranked Phil Hughes’ 1-2 pitch deep into the right field seats for his fourth homer of the season. Parra hit seven all last year. But Byron Buxton countered with a 418-foot solo blast to center off Freeland, the 16th consecutive game in which the Twins have homered, [...]
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