Rockies

PHOTOS: Colorado Rockies best Los Angeles Dodgers 9-6
There are countless paths to victory and the Rockies chose a well-worn route at Coors Field. Ignoring, for a minute, a need to manufacture runs, they instead bashed their way to a 9-6 victory over the surging Dodgers behind Pat Valaika’s two two-run homers and another longball from Nolan Arenado. [...]
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Joe Maddon’s ideas to improve MLB player safety? Cup checks and on-deck circle cages.
By Scott Allen, The Washington Post If Cubs Manager Joe Maddon were MLB commissioner, he’d ban headfirst slides, put cages around the on-deck circles and mandate cup checks as players ran onto the field. Not really, but those were among the tongue-in-cheek rules suggestions that Maddon, still bitter about a call on Saturday, offered to increase player safety during a sarcastic rant before Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals. “I think we should consider now eliminating the headfirst slide to protect base runners, because that is really a dangerous slide,” Maddon said with a straight face, via USA Today. “You hurt your hand. Your eye could be poked out. There are all these different things that could occur on the headfirst slide. I also believe, you saw (Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris) Iannetta get hit in the mouth the other day on a pitch. I think the face mask should be mandatory for all hitters, and pitchers have been hit in head with line drives several times. Pitchers should be forced now to wear helmets. … I think there should be a cage in the on-deck circle now, so on-deck guys could stand behind the screen and not get hurt.” Maddon’s boldest suggestion was also the clearest sign that he was mocking MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s emphasis on player safety. “And finally, even when I coached third base in the minor leagues, I always wore a cup,” Maddon said. “I was always concerned, so I think there needs to be a cup check as players run onto the field now, in order to prevent the potential for the loss of future families. I’m on board with protectionism.” Related ArticlesMay 14, 2017 PHOTOS: Derek Jeter’s No. 2 retired by the New York Yankees May 14, 2017 Steve Palermo, former MLB umpire, dies at 67 May 14, 2017 Derek Jeter’s No. 2 retired by Yankees; Monument Park plaque unveiled May 14, 2017 Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman to miss at least month with shoulder injury May 13, 2017 Tony Cowell’s humidor brought Rockies baseball at Coors Field back down to Earth Maddon’s comments Sunday were a continuation of the disappointment he expressed following Saturday’s loss to the Cardinals, when the slide rule, which was adopted before the 2016 season, cost the Cubs a run in the fifth inning. (On a ground ball back to the pitcher, Ian Happ and Anthony Rizzo were both called out after Happ’s slide carried him a few feet past second base on the force out. It didn’t appear that Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz had a chance to turn the double play.) “I have no idea why these rules are part of our game,” Maddon said after the game. “There was an out created there. That was just one out they did not have to earn. I totally, absolutely disagree with that. It has nothing to do with safety and protecting the middle infielder.” Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester also ripped the slide rule after Saturday’s loss. “Baseball has been played for over 100 years the exact same way, and now we’re trying to change everything and make it soft,” he said. “That’s baseball, man. We’re out there playing with a bunch of pansies right now. I’m over this damn slide rule and replaying if it’s too far and all this other B.S. We’re grown men out there.” [...]
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Coors Field, a central character in the Rockies’ story, is about more than homers
Coors Field witnesses more purple-and-orange sunsets and more take-your-breath-away homers than in any ballpark in the majors. From third baseman Nolan Arenado, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, outfielder Larry Walker and many others, it has seen impossible plays become impossible to forget. Opened in 1995, in the third year of the Rockies’ existence, it is the third-oldest ballpark in the National League. Only Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914) and Dodgers Stadium (1962) are older, but Coors remains a gorgeous, well-maintained venue that helped revitalize a city. Players and managers have come and gone, but the LoDo landmark remains one of the central characters in the Rockies’ story. Following is a Q&A with the ballpark at 20th and Blake: Q. Entering Friday night’s game against the Dodgers, you had given up 4,773 home runs — 2,430 by the Rockies and 2,343 by opponents. What are your most memorable homers? A.  Well, Todd Helton’s blast off the Dodgers’ Takashi Saito still gives me goosebumps. Remember? Sept. 18, 2007, Helton hit a two-run walk-off homer for a 9-8 Rockies victory and a doubleheader sweep? I always thought Helton’s blast lit the fuse to Rocktober. Of course there was Spilly (Ryan Spilborghs) hitting a walk-off grand slam against the Giants in 2009, helping propel the Rockies to the playoffs. And you can’t forget that walk-off shot to left by Dante Bichette against the Mets in the first game I ever hosted, way back on April 26, 1995. It came in the 14th inning. It sure was cold that day. My longest homer, according to the newfangled technology, was the 504-footer the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton launched Sept. 6 last year off Chad Bettis. But I still think Mike Piazza’s 496-foot shot for the Dodgers on Sept. 26, 1997 was actually longer. Darren Holmes, the Rox current bullpen coach, served up that moonshot. Q. Before the humidor was put in play in 2002, you gave up a lot of home runs. Is there any number in particular that stands out? A. Oh, that’s easy: 303 homers in 1999. It’s still an MLB record. The Rockies mashed 144 that season, but the visitors hit 159. I averaged 3.7 homers a game that year. Can you imagine? Q. But you’re not all about home runs, right? A. Nope, I’ve hosted 16 cycles — two this year — and I’m just 23 years old. Fenway Park has allowed the most cycles, 17. And that stadium in Boston is 105! Q. But what about pitching? A. Well, contrary to East Coast media bias, I have seen plenty of well-pitched games, although not very many in my early days. Did you know that I hosted not a single 1-0 game over my first 10 years? Since then, I’ve witnessed nine. The first was started by Rockies right-hander Jason Jennings on July 9, 2005 vs. San Diego. Q. Why are you such an offensive park? Not smelly or rude, you just give up a lot of runs. A. It’s because of my size — specifically my playing surface. I give up a lot of bloop singles and lots of extra-base hits into the gaps. According to a 2014 story by Business Insider, my playing field covers 2.66 acres, 0.18 acres more than the average ballpark (2.49 acres). I’m one-third of an acre larger — about 14,400 square feet — than Fenway Park. Related ArticlesMay 13, 2017 Rockies’ most loyal fan is a homeless ex-con who lives in an abandoned batting cage May 13, 2017 Tony Cowell’s humidor brought Rockies baseball at Coors Field back to down earth May 13, 2017 Coors Field, a central character in the Rockies’ story, is about more than homers May 13, 2017 Vinny Castilla’s high-octane energy still driving Rockies after 25 years May 13, 2017 Jim Leyland, colorful and savvy, couldn’t figure out Rockies baseball at 5,280 feet May 13, 2017 Meet Mabel Miyasaki, 92, the ultimate Rockies fan Q. What’s the greatest game you ever hosted. A. Come on! That’s too easy! Oct. 1, 2007. Rockies 9, Padres 8, in 13 innings to send the Rockies to the playoffs and eventually their only World Series. One of the greatest, most topsy-turvy games in baseball history. There were too many plot twists to recount here, but I’ll sum up the final moments. After a mound visit from Padres manager Bud Black (who’s now with the Rockies, of course), the Padres intentionally walked Helton. But Jamey Carroll hit closer Trevor Hoffman’s first pitch into shallow right field where Brian Giles caught it. Matt Holliday tagged up at third and headed for home. The throw beat Holliday, but catcher Michael Barrett never caught the ball cleanly. Holliday did a combination slide/face plant and was ruled safe by home plate umpire Tim McClelland. Did Holliday ever really touch the plate? Many argue no, but this eyewitness says yes. ThatR [...]
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Tony Cowell’s humidor brought Rockies baseball at Coors Field back to down earth
Tony Cowell was sick and tired of Coors Field‘s infamous reputation. The media had dubbed the gorgeous ballpark “Coors Canaveral.” Talented Rockies players, their statistics inflated by baseball played at a high-and-dry mile high altitude, were being labeled “Coors Field creations.” Cowell, an electrician and crew foreman who helped build the ballpark at 20th and Blake, took the criticisms personal. “People were disparaging Coors Field, and that really bothered me,” said Cowell, who became a stadium engineer for the Rockies in 1996. “Look, I knew that baseball here wasn’t really normal big-league baseball. I wanted to do something about that.” So, after the 2001 season, when Keli McGregor, the late team president, asked all of his Rockies employees for suggestions to help make the organization better, Cowell began brainstorming. His “aha” moment figuring out how to improve baseball at 5,280 feet came to him at about 10,000 feet. “I was elk hunting in the Flat Top Wilderness when the thought popped into my my head, ” recalled Cowell, 55. “I was up there hunting and I had on this old pair of leather hunting boots and they got all wet and dirty. “Then they dried out and they got really uncomfortable. I remember thinking, ‘I hate the way these things shrink up when they dry out. That’s when I sort of put two and two together. ‘Wait a minute, my boots are made of leather. A baseball’s outsides are made of leather. It’s not just about the altitude. The baseballs are drying out, just like boots.” Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostTony Cowell, Engineering manager for the Colorado Rockies, is pictured inside the team’s humidor at Coors Field on May 9, 2017 in Denver. and there was a noticeable difference in how the game was played. The number of home runs diminished, as did total runs per game. In 2007, when the Rockies were discovered by the national media during the team’s Rocktober run to the World Series, Cowell and his creation became minor celebrities. The Elias Sports Bureau did some calculations to illustrate the difference Cowell’s creation had made. The number of home runs hit at Coors Field had dropped from 268 in 2001, most in major league ballparks, to 185 in 2007, ranking 10th. Runs overall were down as well, from 13.4 per game in 2001 to 10.6 in 2007. Coors Field, the largest ballpark in the majors, remains a hitter’s paradise, but it’s no longer “Coors Canaveral.” “I’ve always told people that the humidor was not going to fix pitching,” Cowell said. “It wasn’t going to make a bad pitcher into a good major-league pitcher, but it was going to normalize things a little bit. I think it has. I’m pretty proud of that.”     [...]
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MLB wants Marlins’ bidders to show cash up front
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball wants the groups bidding for the Miami Marlins to show their cash up front, and thus far the group led by the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appears to be ahead. A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the commissioner’s office has told the parties that before the team signs a sale agreement a purchasing group must demonstrate it has enough cash to close the deal and to operate the team. The Marlins have been negotiating with a group that includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, and a group led by businessman Tagg Romney, son of the former Republican nominee. MLB has told parties that based on submissions thus far, the Romney group has appeared to raise a higher percentage of the needed approvable equity, the person said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized. The Marlins hope to reach an agreement in the next few weeks and have an expectation a sale would close around the time of the All-Star Game, which will be in Miami on July 11. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, now 76, bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry, part of the Boston Red Sox ownership group that has celebrated three World Series titles. The two groups are bidding to buy the team for approximately $1.3 billion, which would include the assumption of about $100 million in baseball-related debt, the person said. More than $200 million in other debt associated with the team would be paid by Loria as part of the closing, the person added. Under baseball’s debt-service rule, a deal in the range being discussed would require about $800 million in equity. Groups have to show additional money has been raised to operate the team. The Marlins won the World Series in 2003 but have not been to the postseason since, the longest current drought in the NL. They were last in the National League in attendance 11 of the past 12 years despite a 2012 move to Marlins Park. Bush has said Jeter, a 14-time All-Star, would run the team’s baseball operations. Romney has not commented publicly on the bid by his group, which includes Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine. Related ArticlesMay 12, 2017 Grasshoppers, apple pie nachos and 9 more exotic hits on MLB menus May 11, 2017 Mets closer Jeurys Familia has clot in shoulder, surgery possible May 11, 2017 Andrew Benintendi fills enormous shoes for the Boston Red Sox May 9, 2017 Matt Harvey rejoins New York Mets, apologizes for skipping game May 8, 2017 Braves release former MVP Ryan Howard from minor league deal “We have two very strong groups that we believe will have sufficient financial resources to complete the sale and run the team effectively,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement last week. A sale requires approval of at least 75 percent of the major league clubs. ___ AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report. [...]
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Dodgers get one crooked inning on Tyler Chatwood and Clayton Kershaw cruises past the Rockies
On Friday at Coors Field, with the first-place Rockies trying to hold off the Dodgers’ hard charge in the National League West, they faced left-hander Clayton Kershaw, a “superstar,” Colorado manager Bud Black called him, a three-time Cy Young winner with a grudge. Kershaw cruised through just about every team he has faced this season, with at least one notable exception: a homer-heavy victory by the Rockies in early April that, in hindsight, was an omen for Colorado’s streak to the top of the division. Kershaw returned to a LoDo crowd of 40,146 Friday rounding into form. His seven controlled innings, and a crooked offensive output in the second, lifted the Dodgers to a 6-2 victory over the Rockies. Los Angeles (21-15) moved 1 1/2 games behind Colorado (23-14) in the NL West. The Dodgers scored five runs batting around the order in the second inning, then added a big insurance run with a Cody Bellinger home run in the eighth as Kershaw moved to 6-2 on the season, enacting a balance from his early-season Denver loss. Tyler Chatwood pitched a herky-jerky 4 1/3 innings to fall to 3-5. The second inning that shattered Chatwood’s line sunk the Rockies. The Dodgers sent all nine to the plate, with a triple, two doubles and three walks, good for five runs. Chase Utley’s triple plated Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, who both walked, with the first two runs. Joc Pederson’s two-out double scored Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager followed with a double to right to score Kershaw and Pederson. “If I knew, I would have made an adjustment out there,” Chatwood said. “It all comes back to walks. You have to throw the ball over the plate. Walks are the thing that’s killing me right now.” Boxscore: LA Dodgers 6, Colorado 2 Kershaw gave up seven hits in seven innings, although the former NL MVP, who ranks among the league’s top 10 in strikeouts, whiffed just four Rockies. But an early five-run lead for Kershaw is like a 300-foot head start in the 100-meter dash. The Rockies chipped away, but never caught up. Charlie Blackmon’s triple in the third, followed by a single from DJ LeMahieu, gave Colorado a run. Carlos Gonzalez’s line-drive single in the fourth pushed around Mark Reynolds for another. Nolan Arenado, though, fluttered, going 0-for-4 at the plate while grounding into two double plays. Chatwood got through 4 1/3 innings on 85 pitches, with six hits and five runs against him. He struck out six and walked four. Chatwood has given up three or more runs in six separate innings this season. “The big inning hurts,” Black said. “He lost his command and couldn’t get the ball in the zone. Not enough strikes. Walks will kill you.” Related ArticlesMay 12, 2017 Kickin’ it with Kiz: Does Broncos Country have a big enough heart to give Rockies some love? May 12, 2017 Jon Gray’s return to the Rockies rotation is delayed; Jeff Hoffman and Raimel Tapia shuttle between minors May 11, 2017 Jeff Hoffman dominates Dodgers early as Rockies hold on for win May 11, 2017 Rockies’ Tyler Anderson has inflamed left knee, start pushed back to Saturday May 11, 2017 Rockies SS Trevor Story placed on 10-day disabled list A pattern emerged: Chatwood’s sideways second was heavy on fastballs and cutters, his two favorite pitches. The three-up, three-down third inning from Chatwood mixed in a curveball, a high-spin and effective pitch that he, for some reason, is reluctant to throw. “He has the weapons. Use them,” Black said. “Part of the stubbornness, or some people might say conviction, but all the players who get to this level, they have a lot of self-confidence. The true greats keep their convictions, but also grow and make adjustments to become better.” If Kershaw did not exactly get better Friday — it’s difficult to improve, in one start, on such a stellar résumé — he did wriggle the Dodgers into spitting distance. With two more games in a four-game series, games that will cap Colorado’s 10-game homestand, the Dodgers now have a chance to wrest back a lead in the NL West. [...]
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Rockies’ Tyler Anderson has inflamed left knee, start pushed back to Saturday
Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson, fresh off his best start of the season, has a tender left knee and was scratched from his scheduled Thursday night start against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. He’s now scheduled to pitch Saturday night against the Dodgers, an indication that his injury is not major. Anderson was replaced on the mound right-hander Jeff Hoffman, who was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque. “It didn’t bother me during the last game,” said Anderson, who beat Arizona on Saturday, pitching six innings and allowing one run on six hits while striking out 10 and walking only one. “It doesn’t really bother me when I pitch, just when I run a lot on it.” Manager Bud Black is not concerned. “He did something to his left knee, prior to his last start, so he had some inflammation in his left knee,” Black said. “But he pitched (great) with that knee. So we just decided to push it back a couple of days, just to let the inflammation subside.” Wolters update. Starting catcher Tony Wolters, now eligible to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list, is getting close to going out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque. He took batting practice Thursday, ran the bases, caught two bullpen sessions and blocked pitches in the dirt. “I feel really good, my head feels really clear and I’m close to being ready,” Wolters said. “I just have to get a final clearance from the doctor.” Wolters, 24, took a shot to his helmet and catcher’s mask by a bat swung by Hector Sanchez during a May 2 game at San Diego. Wolters went on the concussion disabled list last year, too, from June 3-14. Wolters, who’s batting .346 with a .393 on-base percentage, said he’s eager to rejoin the team, but he understands reasons to be cautious. “This is about more than baseball,” Wolters said. “I want a life after baseball too, so it’s important to take my time and get my head right.” Related ArticlesMay 11, 2017 Jeff Hoffman dominates Dodgers early as Rockies hold on for win May 11, 2017 Rockies SS Trevor Story placed on 10-day disabled list May 10, 2017 Kiszla: The secret of the best start in Rockies history? Start with the Jedi mind tricks of Bud Black. May 10, 2017 Rockies’ rookie rotation trio drives them again, this time to a series win over Cubs May 10, 2017 German Marquez flirts with no-hitter as Rockies blank Cubs 3-0, take series Quotable CarGo: Carlos Gonzalez shot off one of the quotes of the year Thursday while talking to reporters about the great catch he made during the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. At the time, Gonzalez’s catch looked like it might preserve German Marquez’s no-hitter. Marquez, a 22-year-old rookie, ended up giving up a double in the seventh inning to  Cubs’ slugger Kris Bryant. Asked if he was on “high alert” in the outfield knowing that a young pitcher’s possible no-hitter was on the line, Gonzalez quipped: “Obviously not. I mean, what are you going to do? Are you going to get emotional about it?” The brought out a big grin from Gonzalez and laughter from the group of reporters. Footnotes. The Rockies honored the University of Denver’s NCAA national champion hockey team before Thursday’s game, and coach Jim Montgomery threw out the first pitch. … Outfielder David Dahl, out since spring training with a rib injury, has resumed dry swinging. He could begin hitting soon. Looking ahead Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-2, 2.40 ERA) at Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-4, 4.74), 6:40 p.m. Friday, ROOT; 850 This is an intriguing matchup between arguably the best pitcher in the National League — Kershaw — and a pitcher who Rockies manager Bud Black says has the talent to become one of the best in the NL: Chatwood. Kershaw is coming off an excellent performance at San Diego in which he allowed just one run on five hits over 7⅓ innings. In 34 career starts against Colorado, he is 19-6 with a 3.15 ERA, limiting Rockies hitters to a .220 average. At Coors Field, however, he’s 8-4 with a 4.71 ERA. Chatwood is coming off his best start at Coors Field in recent memory. He shut down Arizona on Sunday, pitching seven innings of two-hit baseball, allowing only one run. Saturday: Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (3-0, 2.73 ERA) at Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (2-3, 6.69),  6:10 p.m., ROOT Sunday: Dodgers LHP Julio Urias (0-0, 1.06) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (5-1, 2.86), 1:10 p.m., ROOT Monday: Off [...]
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Jeff Hoffman dominates Dodgers early as Rockies hold on for win
For years, the Rockies have suffered through a starting-pitching drought, leaving their bullpen in tatters, position players grumbling and fans thirsting for a drop or two of hope. Now, as the Rockies continue to look more and more like legitimate playoff contenders, they are being flooded with young pitching talent. They’re not complaining. Thursday night at Coors Field, rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman, the centerpiece of the 2015 trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, dominated the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers early in Colorado’s 10-7 victory. Hoffman struck out a career-high eight and won his first big-league game in his seventh start. “It was kind of chaotic, I guess, but just part of the business,” Hoffman said of his preparation for the game after a quick call-up from Triple-A Albuquerque for the start. “I had a good support staff around me, and they helped keep me in a good place, either here or down in Albuquerque.” Boxscore: Colorado 10, Dodgers 7 The Dodgers made things uncomfortable for manager Bud Black, who was forced to call on closer Greg Holland to get a save when L.A. battered relievers Jordan Lyles and Scott Oberg for a combined four runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Holland gave up a single to Chris Taylor to load the bases, then induced Chase Utley into a run-scoring double play before striking out Yasiel Puig to end the drama and collect his 15th save in 15 opportunities. Holland’s 15 saves to start a season — without a blown save — tied a franchise record. Jose Jimenez also did it in 2002. Hoffman became the third Rockies rookie starter to win a game in impressive fashion this week. Antonio Senzatela beat the Cubs in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, and German Marquez threw a no-hitter for six innings in Colorado’s 3-0 over Chicago on Wednesday. Only lefty Kyle Freeland faltered, hurt by one bad inning against the Cubs in an 8-1 loss in the nightcap of Tuesday’s double header. Over the last four games, Colorado’s rookie starters combined to go 3-1, with a 2.84 ERA. “Hoffman delivered tonight,” said Rockies left fielder Ian Desmond, who batted 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. “We are going to need that type of stuff out of those guys down there in Triple-A and Double-A. That was not an easy task for him. He wants it. He wants to be a big-leaguer.” Added Black: “I thought overall, Jeff pitched well. I thought the fastball had life, and he threw it for strikes. The curveball came into play. … The fastball, at times, had outstanding location. And the big curveball — 12-6 — he landed it.” Want more proof of a Colorado’s early-season pitching renaissance? Over their last nine games, Rockies starters have posted a 2.86 ERA with seven quality starts. Six of those nine games have been at Coors Field, which enjoys a nasty reputation as an ERA graveyard. The Rockies, fresh off a series victory over the defending World Series champion Cubs, halted the Dodgers’ five-game winning streak and improved to improved to 23-13. The Rockies are 10 games over .500 for the first time since 2010. Colorado’s offense jumped all over Los Angeles left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu early and never stopped stomping. That providing Hoffman with a nice comfort zone. In four innings, Ryu gave up eight runs (five earned) on eight hits. He walked six (one intentional), a cardinal sin at Coors Field, and also balked in a run in Colorado’s three-run fourth. Related ArticlesMay 11, 2017 Rockies’ Tyler Anderson has inflamed left knee, start pushed back to Saturday May 11, 2017 Rockies SS Trevor Story placed on 10-day disabled list May 10, 2017 Kiszla: The secret of the best start in Rockies history? Start with the Jedi mind tricks of Bud Black. May 10, 2017 Rockies’ rookie rotation trio drives them again, this time to a series win over Cubs May 10, 2017 German Marquez flirts with no-hitter as Rockies blank Cubs 3-0, take series Desmond blistered a two-run double in the first inning to jump-start Colorado. In a five-run second, Carlos Gonzalez, finally showing signs of busting out of his early-season funk, ripped a two-run double to right. It was one of Gonzalez’s best swings in a long while. He added a run-scoring single in the fourth. Hoffman, called up from Triple-A Albuquerque for a spot start created by Monday’s rainout Monday and subsequent doubleheader on Tuesday, blanked the Dodgers for four innings before giving up a pinch-hit, solo home run to Scott Van Slyke in the fifth. The Dodgers homed in on Hoffman in the sixth, with Cody Bellinger ripping a double and Chase Utley following with a run-scoring triple. In reality, Hoffman pitched better than his 5 1/3 inning, six-hit, three-run pe [...]
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Veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan guides another young Rockies pitcher to a win
As Germán Márquez was turning in the most impressive outing of his big league career en route to the Rockies’ 3-0 win over Chicago on Wednesday afternoon, veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan couldn’t help but notice the maturity of the 22-year-old rookie. Márquez looked calm, cool and collected while throwing eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball. It was a refined version of the pitcher that Hanigan, who was called up on May 3, had worked with at AAA Albuquerque. “He wasn’t trying to overthrow his off-speed — he wasn’t flipping them in there but they had good bite, and they were pinpointed and in control,” Hanigan said. “And all his pitches were competitive — even the balls in the dirt made the hitter think and weren’t wasted pitches. That’s why he was able to go so long and be so efficient.” Hanigan also noted Márquez’s ability to work out of jams in the seventh and eighth innings by being selective and effective with his slider and changeup. “Guys have to respect 95 (miles per hour), and when you’re able to get ahead in the count or back in the count with off-speed, then they’re in-between — that’s where we wanted some of those guys,” Hanigan said. “We had a little bit of shaking (off signs), but we had good tempo today. I understood what he was doing and he followed me as well, and when he shook, I was confident in what he wanted to do.” Hanigan, who previously played for the Reds, Rays and Red Sox, provides a veteran presence for a rotation that is the youngest in baseball.  He’s been sharing time with back-up Dustin Garneau in the wake of starter Tony Wolters’ concussion suffered on May 2. The Rockies are 4-0 with Hanigan in the lineup. The 36-year-old journeyman has also been on the receiving end of wins by Kyle Freeland on May 4 in San Diego, Tyler Anderson on May 6 against Arizona and Antonio Senzatela in the first half of Tuesday’s doubleheader. The veteran said he’ll continue to place a premium on working with the staff in bullpen sessions, where he believes their biggest gains can be made. “I try to catch all their pens so I can get a feel for where these guys are at, and I try to give them one or two tips I think will help them in-game if their mechanics get off or they get a little wound up,” Hanigan said. “Obviously, Márquez didn’t have too much of that today.” [...]
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Rockies’ rookie rotation trio drives them again, this time to a series win over Cubs
The royal blue bombardment in the stands at rainy Coors Field this week did not much worry the brain trust on the Rockies bench. But the Cubs did. The World Series champions have a dangerous lineup, top to bottom. And everybody loves hitting in Denver. The worry was on the mound. Colorado manager Bud Black wrote out three lineup cards with rookie pitchers at the bottom this week. Two 22-year-olds and another just 23. Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland and German Marquez seemed like raw meat to the wolves in Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero jerseys. But as the Rockies walked away with a delayed but successful series victory over the Cubs, after Marquez threw eight shutout innings Wednesday, the rookie engine of the Rox rotation is humming. Boxscore: Colorado 3, Chi. Cubs 0 “I’ll go back to the middle of spring training, after I met all these guys. What I learned really quick is, these guys have been well-prepared,” Black said. “These guys have been taught well.” In 20 innings against the Cubs, the Rockies rookie pitchers allowed just five earned runs. Behind Senzatela (5-1), Colorado routed Chicago 10-4 Tuesday afternoon. With Freeland (3-2), they lost 8-1 in a doubleheader nightcap. Marquez (1-2) led them to a 3-0 victory Wednesday. As a whole, including 27-year-olds Tyler Chatwood, a right-hander, and Tyler Anderson, a lefty, the Rockies rotation is streaking. They have a 2.63 ERA in the past eight games. Opposing teams are hitting just .192 off the Rox. Colorado has the youngest rotation in baseball, averaging 24.2 years old. But collectively, Colorado’s rookie arms are 9-5 over 19 games with a 3.33 ERA. “The performances that they’re showing now, is it surprising? In some ways, yes,” Black said. “But in a lot of ways, no. These guys are talented.” By park-adjusted ERA-plus, where 100 is the league average, Senzatela (177) and Freeland (173) are among the best young pitchers in baseball. Marquez, an in-season call-up from Triple-A to replace Jon Gray (broken foot), is quickly catching up. “The way I see them working in the ‘pen — which is really when you get better — is very productive,” veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan said. “They’re not just out there doing a few of these and a few of those (ideas). They’re really working on stuff. And they’re translating it into games. “They’re going to hit bumps in the road,” Hanigan added. “But the direction everyone is going right now is definitely positive.” Related ArticlesMay 10, 2017 Kiszla: The secret of the best start in Rockies history? Start with the Jedi mind tricks of Bud Black. May 10, 2017 German Marquez flirts with no-hitter as Rockies blank Cubs 3-0, take series May 9, 2017 Split decision: Rockies, Cubs swap lopsided victories in doubleheader at Coors Field May 9, 2017 Kiszla: Does unlikely Rockies ace Antonio Senzatela belong in the same sentence as Clayton Kershaw? May 9, 2017 Rockies-Cubs doubleheader brings out the unique as Antonio Senzatela reaches Clayton Kershaw Start open. The first-place Rockies and Dodgers, two games back before a late game Wednesday, open a four-game series Thursday at Coors Field with roles to fill. Neither team has settled on a Saturday starter. The Dodgers are dealing with injuries. The Rockies got in a bind after Monday’s rainout led to Tuesday’s doubleheader. Saturday’s start is Senzatela’s turn in the rotation. But he can’t go on four days rest. So Black is deciding on a replacement. Long reliever Chris Rusin is a possibility, as is minor-league starter Jeff Hoffman. Wolters’ health improving. Catcher Tony Wolters (head injury) took swings in a batting cage Wednesday for the first time since going on the seven-day concussion protocol list last Wednesday. He is eligible to return Thursday, but will likely need more time. “I feel like a baseball player, after not doing things like sitting around, getting bored for the last three or four days,” he said. Footnotes. Closer Greg Holland threw a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts for his major-league best 14th save. He remains perfect in save situations… The Cubs were shutout for the second time this season… Shortstop Trevor Story sat Wednesday for rest, Black said, in a day game after Tuesday’s night game… Carlos Gonzalez, who made an impressive diving catch in the sixth inning, went 0-for-4 at the plate with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .188. Looking ahead Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-4, 4.05 ERA) at Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (2-3. 6.69), Thursday 6:40 p.m., ROOT TV, 850-AM Anderson pitched his best game of the season earlier this week when the 27-year-old left-hander struck out 10 over six innings in a win over [...]
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Kiszla: Does unlikely Rockies ace Antonio Senzatela belong in the same sentence as Clayton Kershaw?
It’s not his 96 mph fastball that blows you away. It’s those eyes. Rockies rookie Antonio Senzatela doesn’t blink. Here’s the mess Senzatela stared down Tuesday: Top of the fourth inning. Bases loaded against the world champion Chicago Cubs. Nobody out. Coors Field so loud with Old Style-drinking, bandwagon-jumping, Joe Maddon wannabes it sounded a little like the inside of Murphy’s Bleachers when the Cubbies finally won something after 108 years. Senzatela peered at Colorado catcher Ryan Hanigan and checked for a sign, although maybe it would have been a better idea for somebody to check Senzatela’s heart rate. “A little bit nervous,” Senzatela admitted later. “But I got the ball and said: ‘OK, this is my time. Take it easy. And I’m making a quality pitch right here.’ ” With the pressure on, Senzatela made nothing but quality pitches to three straight Chicago hitters, inducing a weak popup from the bat of Albert Almora Jr., forcing Kyle Schwarber to roll a meek groundball to second base and getting a flyout from Kris Bryant, the reigning most valuable player of the National League. There was no joy in Wrigleyville West. Senzatela got out of the jam by turning the Cubs’ bats to jelly. Who does this Senzatela guy think he is, anyway? Bret Saberhagen? Clayton Kershaw? Colorado beat the Cubbies 10-4 in the first game of a doubleheader behind Senzatela, who lowered his earned run average to 2.86. On a cloudy afternoon crisp enough to feel like October if you shut your eyes and dreamed, he earned the victory against Chicago ace Jake Arrieta. “That’s special. Because (Arrieta) is a good guy, a big guy, he wins the Cy Young two years ago. He’s really good,” said Senzatela, born Jan. 21, 1995, in Valencia, Venezuela. “And the team beating him, that’s good.” Here’s betting most of the fans who applauded Senzatela as he walked toward the Colorado dugout after working six strong innings had never heard of him two months ago. Well, don’t feel bad. Before the coffee began to kick the cobwebs out of my brain on a morning in late February, I sat in the office of Rockies manager Bud Black at the team’s Salt River Fields complex in Arizona. Black was preaching. He believed young starting pitchers could be the most pleasant surprise for the 2017 Rockies. And I thought: This Senzatela dude has not even pitched above the Double-A level in the Colorado farm system, where he was a Hartford Yard Goat in 2016. He’s going to make the jump to the major leagues and make a big difference? Yeah, right. Sensing doubt in the room, Black asked if Saberhagen and Kershaw had not both jumped directly to the majors from Double-A. They did. In 1985, Saberhagen won 20 games for the Kansas City Royals at age 21. In 2010 at age 22, Kershaw posted a 2.91 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rare talent doesn’t require endless patience to blossom. But, at the same time, it seemed nervy of Black to put Senzatela in the same breath as Saberhagen and Kershaw. “I saw the makings of major-league stuff,” Black said. “And then you get to know the player.” What Black quickly discovered: The bigger the moment, the taller Senzatela stands on the mound. Yes, it is a small sample size. But nobody has seen this kind of magic on the mound in LoDo since Ubaldo Jimenez left town. Isn’t Coors Field a ballpark that eats a pitcher’s ego for lunch? But here is Senzatela. He’s 22 years old. His record is 5-1. If there’s really something mysterious and magical about the Rockies in 2017, the indescribable wow begins with Senzatela. Colorado is off to its best start in nearly 20 years. Could it be our cuddly Pet Rocks could actually make some noise in the pennant race? This wasn’t supposed to happen this year. And certainly not like this. The team’s best starting pitcher is Senzatela, who reported to spring training wearing No. 71 on his back. That’s the number of an offensive tackle, not a staff ace. “I make the team, I’m really happy for that. I make the rotation, I’m more happy,” Senzatela said. “I’ve got 5-1, that’s really good. Just try to keep doing the same.” Related ArticlesMay 6, 2017 Kiszla: Slumping Rockies shortstop Trevor Story might need trip to minors to fix holes in his swing May 6, 2017 Why the Raiders, not the Chiefs, will always be the NFL team Broncos Country hates best May 4, 2017 Kiszla: What do the struggles of the Nuggets, Avs and Rapids have in common? Kroenke May 3, 2017 Kiszla: Jamaal Charles can earn his Broncos salary by pumping life into NFL’s lamest rivalry April 29, 2017 Kiszla: Rebuilding a dirty word? NFL draft reveals the Broncos are going to have to win ug [...]
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Split decision: Rockies, Cubs swap lopsided victories in doubleheader at Coors Field
One unsightly inning, combined with a command performance by 38-year-old Chicago right-hander John Lackey, spoiled the Rockies’ chance of completing a statement-making doubleheader sweep Tuesday at Coors Field. Behind a 15-hit attack and a resilient performance by rookie Antonio Senzatela, Colorado squashed the Cubs 10-4 in the opening game. But Lackey made a statement of his own in the nightcap, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out 10 as the defending World Series champions rolled 8-1. When Lackey departed, many of the blue-clad Cubbie lovers — they made up a sizable majority of the 36,563 in attendance for Game 2 — serenaded him with a standing ovation. He became first visiting pitcher at Coors Field to toss seven or more shutout innings with 10 or more strikeouts and with as few as four hits allowed. “It was the mix of his fastball and his breaking pitches,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Lackey. “He had good command of the fastball, and the breaking ball was thrown at any time of the game.” Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland, who had performed so well in his rookie season, couldn’t match Lackey, but he didn’t pitching poorly. Freeland hung tough for six innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on only four hits, while striking out six. But one bad inning doomed him and the Rockies. Boxscore: Chi. Cubs 8, Colorado 1 “It was just one blemish, one inning where I didn’t have my stuff,” Freeland said of the second inning. “The result was five runs, and that walk to score a run didn’t help. … I learn each and every game, but you have to make adjustments on the fly.” Indeed, the second inning was messier than Interstate 25 at rush hour. The Cubs sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs. The Cubs hit the ball hard off Freeland, and he also walked three in the inning. Chicago’s key hits were RBI singles by Lackey and Kris Bryant. Compounding the mess were critical throwing errors by shortstop Trevor Story and second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Both infielders made excellent, athletic plays to reach the baseball — Story on Addison Russell’s hot shot, LeMahieu off Albert Almora’s ricochet infield hit — but their rushed throws to try to get forceouts led to two unearned runs. Javier Baez put an exclamation point on the Cubs’ victory with a two-run homer off reliever Mike Dunn in the eighth. Bryant added a solo homer off Jeff Hoffman in the ninth. Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner, was on the mound for Chicago in the opener, while the Cubs’ powerful lineup stared down the 22-year-old Senzatela. The big right-hander, though, proved much more resilient than Arrieta. Senzatela didn’t have his best stuff or his best command, but he delivered. “That’s special,” Senzatela said. “Because (Arrieta) is a good guy, a big guy, he (won) the Cy Young two years ago. He’s really good. And the team beating him, that’s good.” By the fourth inning, Arrieta was battered and gone, having given up nine runs (five earned) on nine hits in 3 innings. A throwing error to third base by shortstop Javier Baez opened the door for the Rockies, and when catcher Ryan Hanigan hit a two-out, three-run bloop single during a six-run third inning, Arrieta wouldn’t have been blamed if he had started searching for the nearest Coors Field exit. His 3-inning start was his shortest since July 5, 2012, when he was with Baltimore. “I’ll take it, man,” Hanigan said of his Coors-style single. “I had never faced (Arrieta) before, and he’s got this little crossfire action. He’s tough. “I wasn’t real happy with the swing. I was kind of sitting on the pitch, but it bottomed out on me at the bottom of the zone. I didn’t get it like I wanted to, but the result was there. I will take that any day.” Related ArticlesMay 9, 2017 Kiszla: Does unlikely Rockies ace Antonio Senzatela belong in the same sentence as Clayton Kershaw? May 9, 2017 Rockies-Cubs doubleheader brings out the unique as Antonio Senzatela reaches Clayton Kershaw May 9, 2017 Antonio Senzatela shines, Mark Reynolds homers again as Rockies pound Cubs May 9, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: Are Cubs fans more obnoxious than Red Sox Nation? May 9, 2017 Peyton Manning remains a big Rockies fan, visits clubhouse at Coors Field Senzatela (5-1) proved once again that he has the moxie of a weathered veteran. And he’s showing that Coors Field can be tamed. The right-hander limited Chicago to two runs on five hits over six innings, walking three and striking out four. It was his fifth quality start in his seven big-league games, and his ERA sits at a cool 2.86. Senzatela improved to 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in fo [...]
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Mark Reynolds’ sweeter, subtler swing has made him Rockies’ best hitter in early going
Mark Reynolds had an inkling he would get off to a good start with the Rockies this season. His offseason golf scores told him so. “My golf swing was terrible this offseason, so I sort of knew. I can tell that my baseball swing is coming back strong when my golf swing is (bad),” the veteran first baseman joked Monday before the contest against the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field was rained out, rescheduled for Tuesday at 12:10 p.m. as the first game of a split doubleheader. “My golf swing was never good this offseason, so I guess that meant I would hit OK.” Better than OK. Related ArticlesMay 8, 2017 Cubs-Rockies game postponed until Tuesday afternoon by hail and rain May 7, 2017 Photos: Colorado Rockies win 5-2 over Arizona Diamondbacks May 7, 2017 Mark Reynolds is making it very hard for the Rockies to keep him out of the lineup May 7, 2017 Tyler Chatwood takes the bait to pitch a gem and Rockies ding the Diamondbacks again May 6, 2017 Tyler Anderson regains his form as Rockies blast 14 hits in rout of Diamondbacks Reynolds, 33, is hitting .321 with a team-high 11 home runs and 27 RBIs. He was tied for third in the National League in home runs and RBIs. “He’s been huge. He’s been our best player, by far,” third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “After last season, I knew I wanted him back on this team. I knew he could help us win ballgames, but I didn’t know he was going to help us like this, right away. But I knew his impact in the clubhouse and on the field was going to be big for us.” Arenado, a student of the game and a baseball video junkie, has watched Reynolds closely this season. Arenado likes what he sees. “He’s not trying to do too much, and he’s letting the game come to him,” Arenado said. “It looks like he’s just trying to hit good pitches, and he’s finding them and he’s doing damage.” This is a different Reynolds from the 25-year-old who smashed a career-high 44 home runs for Arizona in 2009 while also setting career highs with 30 doubles and 102 RBIs. But his long, power-packed swing had a downside. His 223 strikeouts remain a major-league record for a single season. His strikeout rate in 2009 was a startling 38.6 percent. That’s not a record Reynolds thinks about unless he’s asked, and then he frequent responds by saying, “I’ve gotten kind of numb to questions about strikeouts.” Rockies first-year manager Bud Black didn’t know he would have Reynolds on his team when Black was hired last fall. Reynolds rejoined the Rockies as a nonroster invitee on a minor-league deal and had to win a spot on the team during spring training. But when new first baseman Ian Desmond broke his hand in a Cactus League game, Reynolds went from being a possible part-time player who could provide thump off the bench to an indispensable part of Colorado’s 20-12 record. Black has seen Reynolds morph from slugger to more mature hitter. Reynolds’ on-base percentage is .379, far better than his .328 career number. He has struck out 27 times in 112 at-bats, a much more manageable 24.1 percent. “When he was with the Diamondbacks, I wouldn’t say it was all or nothing, but it was a big, powerful swing that had some length to it,” said Black, who was managing San Diego when Reynolds was a wall banger for Arizona. “Back then, he had legit power, maybe as much power as anybody in baseball.” Now, there is a noticeable difference. “There is a still a natural power to his game and there is natural power to his swing, and he has a swing path for hitting mostly flyballs,” Black said. “But I’ve also seen a guy that can shorten his swing to make contact and produce a single when needed. He can shorten up and take some loft out of it, and he maneuvers the bat to take different bat paths, which is great. He’s evolved as a hitter.” Arenado concurred. “I’ve watched video of Mark’s old swing, and he was hacking … taking some serious hacks,” Arenado said. “Now he’s just staying within himself. He’s calmed down a little bit and trusts his swing. He loves to joke around and he’ll say he’s trying to hit homers every single time. But I think his swing looks a lot better than that.” Reynolds simply says: “I’ve just been looking for good pitches and trying to hit the ball hard. Pretty simple.” [...]
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