Rockies

Rockies unravel in the ninth as Blackmon and Black get ejected before White Sox’s late victory
Charlie Blackmon got the heave from home plate umpire Sam Holbrook in the ninth inning Saturday night. Then manager Bud Black got tossed. In a testy ending to a ragged night, a long losing skid finally showed its ugly face. Even strike calls hurt. Blackmon and Black did not have time to walk the dark hallway back to their clubhouse before the Rockies’ 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox became official in the stuffing game of a weekend interleague series. The outcome fell apart that quickly. Tim Anderson launched a leadoff home run off Colorado all-star closer Greg Holland in the ninth inning, then Chicago closer David Robertson struck out Blackmon and pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez to end the game. Blackmon did not appreciate his called third strike, a 92 mph fastball on the lower line of the zone. He screamed at Holbrook long enough for the thumb, then slammed his bat and helmet into the grass. Black’s protests did not help. He was ejected seconds later. “That’s a tough one,” Black said. “But you know what? That’s baseball.” Friday, the Rockies belted a season-high 17 hits for 12 runs in a blowout victory over the White Sox. It set them up for their first series victory since sweeping the San Francisco Giants on June 18. But in the 20 days since then, Colorado has failed to win consecutive games, going 5-13. And after the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers’ walk-off walk in the 10th inning of a victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, the Rockies fell 9 1/2 games behind in the National League West race. “Last night was a little different night, for sure,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “Tonight was more of a pitcher’s duel. We had our chances and we didn’t take advantage of them.” Holland drew an unusual assignment, entering a tie game to start the ninth. Colorado’s closer, who will pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Miami, is 28-for-29 in save opportunities, the best mark in the majors. But he was asked to win a game Saturday. And the score slipped. “It was just a mental lapse. I didn’t have great command and I thought maybe I could catch him down and away,” Holland said of Anderson’s home run to center. “It was more of a mental mistake than a physical one.” Anderson’s homer, on a 94 mph fastball, was the only hit Holland allowed. It nonetheless tagged Holland with his first loss of the season. “That stuff will really (tick) you off as a player,” Holland said. “It’s easier to deal with when you just get beat. But when you feel like you lose it, it’s a different story.” Colorado nearly rallied itself to life, like the club so often did earlier this season while racing to the division lead. Left fielder Gerardo Parra, who returned Friday from a month-long leg injury, hit a deep flyball to center field in the ninth off former Rockies reliever Tommy Kahnle to score Mark Reynolds on a sacrifice. Reynolds tripled off the right-field wall. The score was tied 4-4. Parra’s RBI double in the sixth brought the Rockies within 4-3. More important, it pushed Jose Quintana to the bench. He struck out 10 Colorado batters, including three in the second inning that stranded Story after a leadoff double to center. Related ArticlesJuly 8, 2017 Kiszla: The Rockies’ MVP? It might be general manager Jeff Bridich (except for that Ian Desmond deal) July 8, 2017 Rockies set up the second half, send down Antonio Senzatela, call up Zac Rosscup July 8, 2017 Kickin’ it with Kiz: Did Bud Black step over the line when dressing down rookie Kyle Freeland on the mound? July 8, 2017 Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu are finally all-stars together. But how long will they remain with the Rockies? July 7, 2017 Rockies fight back against a skid, rout the White Sox behind Arenado-Blackmon-LeMahieu homers The Rockies fought from the jump, flipping a 3-0 deficit in the first into a one-run margin heading to the second after Blackmon singled to right and stole second base, then Nolan Arenado blasted his 17th home run, a two-run shot to left that gave him a baseball-best 70 RBIs. Jeff Hoffman took some time to settle in. He used only eight pitches to strike out Adam Engel looking and get Melky Cabrera to ground out at Story. But the White Sox’s next four batters reached base, with a Jose Abreu triple, a Todd Frazier walk, a Yolmer Sanchez two-run triple and Kevan Smith’s run-scoring single. “I’m not happy with the way I threw at all,” Hoffman said. “I put Greg in a bad situation at the end of the game. He should never have had to deal with that. He should be coming in with a one-run lead.” Coors Field played large. Willy Garcia tripled off Hoffman again in the fourth to center field. A [...]
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Rockies fight back against a skid, rout the White Sox behind Arenado-Blackmon-LeMahieu homers
For more than two wretched weeks the Rockies stumbled around the West and fell south, losing a grip on first place, then second place, and sinking to their lowest spot in the standings since last year. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks, meanwhile, engaged in a series in Los Angeles that both sides thought might already decide the division — in July. “From Day 1, we knew we were the best club,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Thursday after his club swept Arizona one week after sweeping Colorado. “It’s just a matter of going out and playing.” Nearly half a season remains until baseball folds into October’s playoffs, and before the Rockies could object to Roberts’ assertion the race is over, they had a slump to bust. After Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu smacked home runs Friday in a 12-4 blowout, inter-league victory over the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field, Colorado, for one night to start, found some footing. The Rockies (51-38) won just a fourth game in their past 16, but they did it in style, knocking a season-high 17 hits, including four doubles, off the last-place White Sox. This is how summer is meant to look in Denver with 38,386 fans looming around LoDo: long home runs leaving the yard and pitchers taking early showers. “We are more of the team we saw tonight than what we’ve seen the past couple weeks,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. Arenado turned on a flat fastball from Chicago reliever Chris Beck in the sixth inning with such seeming ease, you might never guess this team split a series earlier in the week against the Cincinnati Reds, the worst pitching team in baseball. Arenado never blinked, his two-run shot flying 450 feet to the upper rows in left field. And his casual double to left-center in the eighth scored two more, for five RBIs. LeMahieu in the second golfed his own two-run homer against White Sox starter Derek Holland, two of the seven runs he allowed in just four innings. LeMahieu’s hit scored pitcher German Marquez, who lined his first career double two batters prior. Blackmon’s homer in the fourth was his 19th this season, tying Mark Reynolds for the club lead. Blackmon has more hits and more runs than any other player in baseball. So how did this team fall so far so fast in two weeks? The Rockies slumped largely at the plate, hitting .226 over the stretch. In the past three weeks before Friday, they averaged fewer than four runs per game. They last scored at least seven runs on June 16, two days before everything fell apart. “You play your best baseball, or all of us do our best work, when we’re loose and we’re poised and we’re calm,” Black said. On Friday, the Rockies picked apart the White Sox and tip-toed out of the dredges. Their first six batters reached base and four scored, on RBI singles from Arenado and Gerardo Parra and a two-run single to center from Trevor Story. Parra, a veteran clubhouse cut-up, returned from the disabled list to three hits, including a double. “The big point is we won today,” Parra said. “We had good at-bats. I don’t want to talk about anything that happened yesterday or the day before. We have to start today. We have to be ready for the second half.” Related ArticlesJuly 7, 2017 Antonio Senzatela may return to the Rockies rotation as Colorado continues to juggle its pitching July 7, 2017 Gerardo Parra is back and the Rockies hope he sparks an offensive revival July 7, 2017 Chad Bettis headed back to the mound to start a Rockies rehab assignment coming back from cancer July 6, 2017 Kiszla: Hitting .217, Rockies star CarGo is so far gone he curses his slump as a nightmare July 6, 2017 Chris Rusin delivering consistent quality to Rockies’ bullpen Marquez, the 22-year-old rookie who finished 2-for-3 at the plate, cruised into the seventh inning on just six hits and a run before Tim Anderson pinged him for a two-out, two-run homer to center. The right-hander from Venezuela, though, gave up just three runs with five strikeouts and no walks. He survived long enough to force Alen Hanson into an inning-ending groundout on his 102nd pitch. “I like the no walks,” Black said. “I really like no walks from every pitcher.” Marquez is just the second Colorado starter to last through seven innings in victory in more than a month, joining fellow rookie Jeff Hoffman, who did it on Monday. Black, in his first season with the Rockies, won his 700th career game as a manager. After a fortnight of frustration, everything fell into place for the Rockies to begin the final weekend before the all-star break. A summer is still ahead. [...]
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Chris Rusin delivering consistent quality to Rockies’ bullpen
The Rockies are sliding hard right now, but left-hander Chris Rusin is one player who’s been a stable force all season. The pitcher who started the season working essentially as a long reliever is being used more and more in high-profile, late-inning situations. Regardless of his role, Rusin has delivered. He pitched a perfect seventh inning Thursday afternoon, striking out one, in the Rockies’ 6-3 loss to Cincinnati. He is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 33 appearances and 47 innings pitched. “He’s been real big,” said manager Bud Black, noting that entering spring training Rockies pitching coaches Steve Foster and Darren Holmes were pushing Rusin for a spot in the starting rotation. “They went on and on about Rusin. We were going to give him a legitimate opportunity to do that, until he strained his oblique. But Chris has pitched really well for us.” One of Rusin’s trademarks has been is ability to induce groundball outs in key situations. “I guess you would call him crafty, but he can still bring it at 92 mph, which is pretty good for a lefty,” fellow left-handed reliever Jake McGee said. “He knows how to pitch down in the zone really well. But he also studies the scouting reports. Related ArticlesJuly 6, 2017 Kiszla: Hitting .217, Rockies star CarGo is so far gone he curses his slump as a nightmare July 6, 2017 Rockies’ offense a no-show again in loss to Reds July 6, 2017 Colorado Rockies vs. Cincinnati Reds live blog, July 6, 2017 July 6, 2017 Lunch Special: Is it time for the Rockies to lock up Nolan Arenado to a long-term deal? July 5, 2017 Jon Gray’s monster homer, stout bullpen lead Rockies to win over Reds “For example, Chris knows that if he throws a two-seamer inside to a right-hander who’s an aggressive hitter, he’s going to get a groundball, more often than not. The thing I like about Chris is that he’s always prepared.” Reynolds finishes fourth.  First baseman Mark Reynolds placed fourth in the final vote for a National League spot in the All-Star Game, so he will not be going to Miami next week. Two third basemen won the final vote for the first time in the competition’s 16-year history. The Dodgers’ Justin Turner set a record with 20.8 million votes, while the Royals’ Mike Moustakas (15.6 million votes) was the American League winner. Footnotes. Outfielder Gerardo Parra, out since June 7 because of a strained right quadriceps, was scheduled to play nine innings Thursday night for Triple-A Albuquerque and should be back in the Rockies’ lineup Friday to face the Chicago White Sox. … Left-hander Tyler Anderson was back in the clubhouse Thursday after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday. He is expected to be sidelined about four weeks. “They went in there and cleaned it up and got me all right,” Anderson said. “I’m not really sure of the exact terms, but they went in there and pulled out some floaters, and I feel better now.” Looking ahead Nam Y. Huh, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, June 9, 2017, in Chicago.Ross D. Franklin, The Associated PressColorado Rockies' German Marquez throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 2, 2017, in Phoenix.Jared Wickerham, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez throws during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.Denis Poroy, Getty ImagesGerman Marquez of the Colorado Rockies pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 2, 2017 in San Diego.Gregory Bull, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez, left, waits as San Diego Padres' Yangervis Solarte rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 2, 2017, in San Diego.David Zalubowski, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez delivers to St. Louis Cardinals' Tommy Pham in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 28, 2017, in Denver.David Zalubowski, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez, left, hugs right fielder Gerardo Parra, center, as Carlos Gonzalez looks on after they retired the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 28, 2017, in Denver.Matt Slocum, The Associated PressColorado Rockies' German Marquez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Philadelphia.Matthew Stockman, Getty ImagesStartung p [...]
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Kiszla: Hitting .217, Rockies star CarGo is so far gone he curses his slump as a nightmare
His batting average reads like a misprint: .217. CarGo is so far gone, it’s fair for the Rockies to worry if one of the best hitters in baseball is ever coming back. After Carlos Gonzalez failed to deliver in the clutch and went hitless Thursday during a 6-3 loss to Cincinnati, I asked what it’s like to be him in the batter’s box right now. “It’s a nightmare,” Gonzalez told me. How bad is this 3-month-old dream that has seen him drive in only 22 runs through 88 games? One so ugly Gonzalez described his nightmare with an adjective not fit for print in a family newspaper. “I know what it feels to be the best player in the game and the worst player in the game,” Gonzalez said. “Right now, I feel like I’m the worst player in the game.” The Rockies are so desperate to get Gonzalez going, they have tried everything and anything, from offering technical advice in the batting cage to writing his name in the cleanup spot of the batting order, as if that little psychological ploy might raise the ghost of the CarGo who hit .336, with 34 home runs and 117 RBIs, in 2010. Three months is more than a slump. It’s a disturbing trend. We saw the end of Dan Issel with the Nuggets and Peyton Manning with the Broncos, and it wasn’t pretty. But at age 31, Gonzalez is much too young to be washed up. He insists there is nothing wrong physically, and no strife in his personal life. So what’s wrong? And how do the Rockies get CarGo right? “I don’t know if there’s a simple answer,” manager Bud Black said. “It looks to me, in general, overall this season, that he is expanding the (strike) zone a little bit too much. He’s swinging at balls too often. … I’m seeing an expansion of his hitting zone, which always leads to trouble.” What are Colorado’s options with Gonzalez? While the Rockies could really use another right-handed pitcher in the bullpen, CarGo doesn’t have trade value as a highly paid, slumping veteran in the final year of his contract. Black can’t bench Gonzalez, because if he doesn’t get going, it’s hard to imagine the Rockies being a factor in October. The team, however, can reduce his workload to five games per week, allowing more at-bats for fellow corner outfielders Raimel Tapia and Gerardo Parra, who’s expected back from the disabled list for the weekend series against the Chicago White Sox. The peeps come to LoDo to see fireworks and explosive offense. Coors Field is so infamous for crooked numbers on the scoreboard that in a recent USA Today story that speculated the baseball is juiced in 2017, Miami reliever Brad Ziegler said: “It feels like every park is Colorado.” So as strange as it sounds, it’s true: The Rockies rank 10th among National League teams in home runs per game. There are reasons aplenty. Trevor Story is scuffling through a sophomore slump. Ian Desmond has been bit by the injury bug. Nothing, however, has hurt more than CarGo not being CarGo. With the Colorado offense sputtering, failure is not an option for Gonzalez. But failure has plopped down on CarGo’s couch, eaten everything in the fridge and refuses to leave. It’s depressing. “The manager wants me to execute. Everybody in the state wants me to execute. And I don’t get it done. Of course, I get down,” Gonzalez said. In the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday, after the Rockies rallied for a run but still trailed 6-3, Charlie Blackmon stood on third base. Gonzalez dug in at the plate. This is where Colorado needed one of the most feared hitters in the game to lash a double or blast a homer that would bring the ballpark to life and push the rally into overdrive. Instead, Gonzalez lined the second pitch from Reds reliever Raisel Iglesias into the right-field stands. It was the best-looking swing of the bat from CarGo in days. But it was nothing except a foul ball. Gonzalez worked the count to 3-2. But with the home crowd itching for any good reason to leap to its feet and cheer, he struck out. Related ArticlesJuly 5, 2017 Kiszla: How the Nuggets can make Paul Millsap earn the $365,854 they’re paying him per game July 4, 2017 Kiszla: Know what a baseball team in a free-fall sounds like? Step inside the Rockies clubhouse. July 1, 2017 Kiszla: Trying to save face, the Nuggets need free agent Paul Millsap in worst way June 29, 2017 Kiszla: Don’t spend crazy-stupid money on Paul Millsap or Blake Griffin. Here’s smarter choice for the Nuggets June 28, 2017 Kiszla: Tim Tebow could never be Peyton Manning, so now chases even crazier baseball dream This is how it feels to be the slugger formerly known as CarGo, when he gets one good pitch to hammer and comes up empty. “It feels like I misse [...]
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Jon Gray’s monster homer, stout bullpen lead Rockies to win over Reds
Jon Gray‘s jaw-dropping, tape-measure home run will make the highlight reels, for good reason. It’s not often a pitcher morphs into slugger, a la Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge. But the guts of the Rockies’ 5-3 victory over Cincinnati on a sizzling Wednesday night at Coors Field was the ability of the relievers to preserve a much-needed victory, and the supporting role played by utility man Pat Valaika, who knocked out a career-high three hits and drove in three runs. The first-pitch temperature was 97 degrees, the hottest game since the Coors Field thermometer hit 100 on June 25, 2012 vs. Washington. Hot air or no hot air, Gray’s second-inning, two-run homer was a monster, soaring 467 feet, the longest by any Rockies player this season. “I felt really good,” Gray deadpanned. Losers of 11 of their last 13 games coming in, Colorado’s spirits couldn’t afford another bullpen soap opera. Scott Oberg, Chris Rusin, Jake McGee and closer Greg Holland shut down the Reds for 3⅓ innings. In the ninth, Holland gave up a two-out single to Zack Cozart and pitched carefully to the dangerous Joey Votto, resulting in a walk. But Holland slammed the door by flagging down Scooter Gennett’s smash back to the mound and throwing Gennett out. Holland recorded his 28th save. “We picked each other up tonight, and that’s key,” said Rusin, whose  2.36 ERA illustrates his dependability this season. “That was good to see in a tight game like tonight’s. Sometimes a game like this can spark you into a run, get you hot. That would be nice as we head into the all-star break.” Valaika’s two-out, RBI single to score Carlos Gonzalez in the eighth loosened the Rockies’ tight collars just a bit. Gray, whose Twitter handle is Mr.GrayWolf22, arrived just a few days ahead of July’s full moon. The Rockies, by the way, have begun unleashing a wolf howl over the public address system when Gray strikes out a batter. And although Gray picked up his second win since returning from a foot injury, it has the moon shot that will be remembered. The home run left Gray’s bat like a rocket. Cincinnati starting pitcher Scott Feldman immediately knew it was gone. Billy Hamilton, playing a shallow center field, turned and gave chase, but only for a moment or two. The ball bounced off the seats and into the pond beyond the center-field fence. Despite the best efforts of Mike “Tiny” Pontarelli, the manager of the Rockies clubhouse, Gray’s home run ball was never recovered. “A found a lot of practice balls in there,” Pontarelli said. “I never found Jon’s. It was kind of like looking for a golf ball in pond by the green.” Gray even added a little home run hop at the plate after making contact on Feldman’s 1-0, 90.4 mph fastball. Then he did a home run trot worthy of a real slugger. “I guess that’s just something from back in high school,” Gray said with a grin. It was the first home run of Gray’s professional career. Indeed, he didn’t even hit a home run during his two years at Oklahoma. He said his last home run came in the fall of 2011 when he was playing for Eastern Oklahoma State. “I was a two-way player for half a year, then quit after hitting like a buck-70,” he said. The homer was not only the longest by a Rockies player this season, it’s the longest hit by a major-league pitcher since Statcast began tracking homers in 2015. Related ArticlesJuly 5, 2017 Gerardo Parra’s return will give Rockies pop at the plate and insurance at first base July 4, 2017 Kiszla: Know what a baseball team in a free-fall sounds like? Step inside the Rockies clubhouse. July 4, 2017 PHOTOS: Colorado Rockies on the 4th of July July 4, 2017 Kyle Freeland dressed down in Rockies’ sputtering blowout loss to the Reds at Coors Field July 4, 2017 Chad Bettis is near a rehab assignment. And the Rockies want him in their starting rotation. Valaika, starting at shortstop in front of Trevor Story, hit a two-run homer to right field off Feldman in the fourth to bump Colorado’s lead to 4-1. Valaika’s homer, his sixth, scored Mark Reynolds, who led off with a single. Valaika’s productive night means he’ll be in the lineup again Thursday afternoon. “Pat had a good game, and I’ve been saying all year that I’m a Valaika fan,” manager Bud Black said. “I’ll give you a heads up. He’s in there tomorrow.” The Reds cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth on three consecutive singles off Gray. Gray kept the game in control by striking out Scott Schebler and Jose Peraza before giving up another single to Tucker Barnhart to load the bases. Oberg entered the game and got what he wa [...]
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PHOTOS: Colorado Rockies on the 4th of July
The Colorado Rockies lost to the Cincinnati Reds, 8-1, on July 4, 2017 in Denver at Coors Field. Read the full story. Related ArticlesJuly 4, 2017 Kiszla: Know what a baseball team in a free-fall sounds like? Step inside the Rockies clubhouse. July 4, 2017 Kyle Freeland dressed down in Rockies’ sputtering blowout loss to the Reds at Coors Field July 4, 2017 Chad Bettis is near a rehab assignment. And the Rockies want him in their starting rotation. July 4, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: What National League team is the biggest threat to the Rockies’ playoff hopes? July 3, 2017 Rockies finally get right in return to Coors Field by battering the Reds [...]
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Clayton Kershaw gets MLB-best 13th win as Dodgers top Diamondbacks
LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out 11 to become the first 13-game winner in the majors this season, helping the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 in a matchup of the National League’s top two teams Tuesday night. Kershaw (13-2) ended up allowing two hits in seven shutout innings. He lost his bid for a second career no-hitter on an infield single by Chris Owings with one out in the seventh. Owings fisted a soft grounder to second baseman Logan Forsythe, but rookie All-Star first baseman Cody Bellinger broke for the ball when it was hit. Kershaw was too late getting over to cover the bag, and Owings beat the play at first as Kershaw had to reach back for Forsythe’s throw. The sellout crowd of 53,159 gave Kershaw a standing ovation after the play. He allowed one other hit, a single by Chris Iannetta. The three-time Cy Young Award winner issued two walks — both to Iannetta — and threw 117 pitches. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen entered with two runners on in the ninth and gave up a three-run homer to Daniel Descalso, leaving Arizona down 4-3. Jansen finished for his 18th save in as many chances. Kershaw has made 12 consecutive starts without a loss and is 9-0 with a 2.19 ERA since a 4-3 loss to San Francisco on May 1. The left-hander hasn’t allowed a run in his last three starts, giving him 76 career starts without allowing an earned run, the most among active pitchers. Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin (6-8) gave up three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked two. Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal drove in two runs apiece. Turner had an RBI single in the first and followed with a leadoff home run in the third, when Grandal’s two-out RBI single made it 3-0. Grandal added an RBI single in the eighth for a 4-0 lead. The Diamondbacks briefly threatened in the seventh with runners at the corners. After Owings’ single, Kershaw struck out Brandon Drury before Iannetta singled to left-center. Owings took off for third, making a headfirst slide. He got his left hand on the bag before Turner tagged him in the chest. The Dodgers challenged the safe call by third base umpire Vic Carapazza, but lost the replay review. Kershaw got Descalso on a grounder to end the inning. TRAINER’S ROOM Diamondbacks: OF Yasmany Tomas sustained another groin injury during his rookie-level rehab game last weekend. He was rehabbing his original groin injury when the new one occurred. An MRI showed the latest injury is a mild groin strain in a different area than the original. … OF A.J. Pollock was activated after being on the disabled list since May 14 with groin and quad injuries. Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu went on the 10-day DL because of a bruised left foot. He was hit on the foot by a comebacker last week against the Angels. Ryu is 3-6 with one save and a 4.21 ERA. UP NEXT Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Godley (3-2, 2.67 ERA) has yet to give up more than three runs in a start this season. Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (9-0, 1.83) is the first Dodgers pitcher to open a season 9-0 since Rick Rhoden in 1976. [...]
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Rockies finally get right in return to Coors Field by battering the Reds. “If you can do it once, you can do it again,” Blackmon says
The number of theories why the Rockies so often struggle to win outside the square state can only fit on a scroll, an unwinding list of shots in the dark, from “hangovers” to high-altitude spin rates to blood-oxygen levels and eyesight adjustments. Their manager rejected them all Monday as the Rockies returned home in a free-fall after losing eight of their nine games across the National League West and 10 of their past 12. “We just didn’t play well,” skipper Bud Black said before the Rockies kicked off a seven-game homestand that will take them to the all-star break. “When you don’t pitch and don’t hit, that’s a bad combo.” Coors Field, though, is a siren, a hitters’ paradise of highway-sized outfields. And as the Rockies posted a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, propelled by rookie Raimel Tapia‘s near-cycle performance and Charlie Blackmon‘s line-drive home run, their parachute opened. BOX SCORE: Rockies 5, Reds 3 The Rockies finally gained some ground on the idle Dodgers and Diamondbacks, improving to 6 1/2 games back in the NL West race after their division rivals buried them in rubble over the past week. Colorado’s lineup struck out in eight at-bats against Reds starter Luis Castillo, sure, but he was dinged for nine hits. “Regardless of how we played as of late, everybody is in a good spot,” Rockies right-hander Jeff Hoffman said. “Guys are doing their best, doing their jobs. A majority of time lately, it hasn’t worked. But we’re not changing anything. We’re putting our foot on the gas and trying to be the team we are.” Tapia’s home run to lead off the sixth inning, a soft shot to right field, gave the Rockies a 4-3 lead. The string bean 23-year-old outfielder has only two career home runs, but his speed can fly him around the bases. In the second inning, his line drive down the right-field line rattled around the corner long enough for him to sprint into a stand-up triple. And his ground-rule double to left field in the third inning only capped his run. With a cycle on the line to lead off the eighth, Tapia struck out. He returned to the Rockies’ dugout hearing applause from the first-base side of the Coors Field crowd of 49,131. “Stand-up triple, stand-up double, stand-up homer,” Black said. Blackmon’s homer in the fourth landed just about the time Major League Baseball announced the Colorado center fielder would compete in the Home Run Derby next week in Miami. His 18th home run this season, one behind Mark Reynolds‘ team lead and the most among NL center fielders, gave the Rockies a 3-0 lead. But Black’s explanation for his club’s losing skid served as a map for finally ending it. As the Rockies collected 10 hits Monday, they finally found a starting pitcher to throw some length. Hoffman, a 24-year-old rookie, weathered back-to-back home runs from Scooter Gennett and Joey Votto in the sixth that tied the game 3-3 before settling in for seven. He retired the final six batters he faced. Related ArticlesJuly 3, 2017 Charlie Blackmon will compete in the MLB Home Run Derby among a tough field July 3, 2017 Carlos Gonzalez returns to the Rockies after injury, but at a cost. Now Ian Desmond is injured. July 2, 2017 Nolan Arenado leads quartet of Rockies heading to MLB All-Star Game July 2, 2017 Rockies’ slump deepens with 4-3, walk-off loss to Diamondbacks July 2, 2017 Rockies’ Chad Bettis close to rehab starts as he continues comeback from cancer Hoffman gave up just four hits and three walks over 90 pitches, improving to 5-1 after his call-up from the minors in early May. “To the critical eye, I still want Jeff to hit his spots,” Black said. “But he knows the importance of keeping the ball down. What I do like: Overall, he threw strikes. I’m not going to flip my nose up at that one.” And the Rockies finally set up a bullpen with the two arms who most ably survived a week of blown leads and rough outings. Lefty Jake McGee faced just three batters in the eight after a routine double play to second baseman DJ LeMahieu. And all-star Greg Holland struck out Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez in a 1-2-3 ninth against the heart of the Reds’ lineup for his baseball-best 27th save, a club record for most saves before the all-star break. The Rockies played so well through 11 weeks to open the season, they inflated a cushion in the NL, a lead so deep that a week of frustration and ugliness still did not dent their hope. They remain well ahead in a wild-card playoff race, despite trailing two teams in their own division. And they are 8-2 in their past 10 home games. “I’ve already seen it,” Blackmon said. “I’ve seen the offense be good, I’ [...]
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Kenley Jansen blasts Dodgers fans over All-Star voting
LOS ANGELES — Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is blaming his own fans for not turning out the All-Star vote for his teammates. The National League leaders don’t have a starting player on the NL squad revealed Sunday for the game in Miami on July 11. Jansen, left-hander Clayton Kershaw, shortstop Corey Seager and first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger made the team via the player ballots, but starters are elected by the fans. “I’ll say it loud and clear again: It’s the Dodger fans’ fault,” Jansen said. Jansen is especially upset that Seager and third baseman Justin Turner weren’t picked as starters. He added that Seager should have beaten out Cubs shortstop Addison Russell for the starting spot last year, and that Turner — who has never made an All-Star team — should have been selected in 2015, 2016 and this year. Turner is one of five candidates in the online fan vote for the final NL spot this year. “We should have voted for those two guys,” Jansen said. “They deserved to be the starters.” [...]
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PHOTOS: Colorado Rockies lose to Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3
Arizona beat the Rockies 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Chase Field on a walk-off single by Ketel Marte off Chris Rusin. [...]
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David Dahl finally on path to return to Rockies
PHOENIX — If patience is a virtue, than David Dahl is a saint. The Rockies’ talented, young outfielder has been out since the second Cactus League game of spring training with stress reaction of the sixth rib. He has come close to returning a number of times, only to have the injury flare back up. Now, finally, Dahl is making steady progress, though there is no specific timetable for his return. He began hitting off a tee Thursday and he’s feeling no discomfort in the spot where the rib wraps around his back. He has stayed in shape while getting treatment at the Rockies’ facility in nearby Scottsdale, Ariz. “I haven’t felt any pain in a month,” he said. “That’s really encouraging. I feel like my time is coming. I feel good and I’ve been doing a lot of rotational work. Hopefully this continues to go well.” Dahl, 23, never thought the injury would take this long to heal. “I found out that when you have a stress (reaction) it can take a while,” he said. “You have to be patient, even though it’s tough. That’s the only way.” Related ArticlesJuly 1, 2017 Rockies, dominated by Diamondbacks’ Zack Greinke, lose for ninth time in last 10 games July 1, 2017 Saunders: A salute to Rockies’ Ryan Hanigan and all the hardscrabble catchers July 1, 2017 Jon Gray not a true ace yet, but Rockies right-hander is getting there June 30, 2017 Jon Gray returns with ace-like performance as Rockies beat D-backs, snap eight-game losing streak June 30, 2017 Rockies pitchers agree that baseballs might be “juiced” this season In 2015, while playing in Double-A, Dahl suffered a violent outfield collision that resulted in a ruptured spleen. He underwent surgery to have his spleen removed and played in only 73 games that season. “I tell myself that I’m getting all of my injuries out of the way now, when I’m younger,” Dahl said. “I mean, it stinks but you have to deal with it.” Dahl hit .315 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 63 games as a rookie last season and went into spring training to compete with Gerardo Parra for the starting job in left field. Parra is currently on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps. “It’s very difficult not being with the team,” Dahl said. “But I watch every game and I cheer them on. It’s been tough, but I’ve gotten through it and I’m ready to take those next steps.” DJ almost ready. Manager Bud Black said Saturday that injured second baseman DJ LeMahieu is “closer than you think” in returning to the starting lineup. That means LeMahieu is likely to be back in the starting lineup Sunday. LeMahieu strained his right groin during Tuesday night’s game at San Francisco. The Rockies never thought he would have to go on the disabled list. Anderson update. Left-handed starter Tyler Anderson, out with a left knee injury, will undergo arthroscopic surgery Monday in Denver. The Rockies had previously said that Anderson would have the procedure Friday. Footnotes. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (strained right shoulder) is scheduled to come off the DL on Monday. He doesn’t expect to have to play in any minor-league rehab games. … Black turned 60 years old Friday and center fielder Charlie Blackmon celebrated his 31st birthday Saturday. Looking ahead Rockies RHP German Marquez (5-4, 4.38 ERA) at Diamondbacks RHP Taijuan Walker (6-3, 3.50), 2:10 p.m. Sunday, ROOT; 850 AM Marquez needs a bounce-back start after a tough game at San Francisco on Monday when he was rocked for five runs on seven hits in four innings. He has already faced the Diamondbacks three times this season, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He received a no-decision in a 2-0, 13-inning loss to Arizona on April 30 at Chase Field, despite allowing no runs in six innings. Walker has pitched well against the Rockies this season, going 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in two starts. Walker is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last four starts.  Monday: Reds RHP Luis Castillo (0-0, 3.38) at Rockies RHP Jeff Hoffman (4-1, 4.04), 6:10 p.m., ROOT Tuesday: Reds RHP Homer Bailey (0-2, 27.00 ERA) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (8-6, 3.84), 6:10 p.m., ROOT Wednesday: Reds RHP Jackson Stephens (season debut) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (1-0, 3.93), 6:40 p.m., ROOT [...]
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Rockies, dominated by Diamondbacks’ Zack Greinke, lose for ninth time in last 10 games
PHOENIX — The Rockies fizzled out on fireworks night at Chase Field on Saturday, losing 6-2 to Arizona. Smothered most of the game by Arizona ace Zack Grienke, Colorado climbed back into game in the seventh inning on a two-run homer by Trevor Story, cutting the Diamondbacks’ lead to 3-2. Then came one of the Rockies’ ugliest, and most-costly, innings of the season. It began with a throwing error from shortstop by Story, followed by an RBI triple by Mike Mathis to center off Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood. Ketel Marte then hit what should have been a routine sacrifice fly to left, but Mike Tauchman dropped it for an error. Boxscore: Arizona 6, Colorado 2 A run-scoring double by David Peralta off Chatwood capped off the Diamondbacks’ three-run inning and the Rockies were on their way to another loss, their ninth in their last 10 games. They continue to slide farther behind the first-place Dodgers and second-place Diamondbacks in the National League West. Center fielder Charlie Blackmon tipped his cap to Greinke, but he made it clear he wasn’t happy with his team’s lack of offense. “Taking seven innings to score a couple of runs is not exactly doing what we could,” Blackmon said. “It was a combination of us not doing really good, and him doing his job. But I think we should do better than that.” Greinke won an American League Cy Young Award with Kansas City in 2009. He finished second for the NL Cy Young as a member of the Dodgers in 2015. Saturday night, Arizona’s $206.5 million man displayed his exquisite talent again. He pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on three hits, striking out eight and walking none. He improved to 8-0 with a 2.67 ERA at home this season. “That was as good as I have seen him until that base hit by Nolan (Arenado) in the seventh,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He was dealing. Good fastball location, tight slider, good curveball and that sort of split-change he throws. All four pitches were working for sure. He was on tonight.” The balance of the game changed quickly, if only momentarily, in the seventh. Arenado roped a first-pitch single to center and two batters later, Story lifted his two-out homer over the left-field fence. What was shaping up to be a complete-game shutout for Grienke was suddenly a 3-2 game. Story’s homer was his 11th this season, and his fourth off Grienke in 21 at-bats. Related ArticlesJuly 1, 2017 David Dahl finally on path to return to Rockies July 1, 2017 Saunders: A salute to Rockies’ Ryan Hanigan and all the hardscrabble catchers July 1, 2017 Jon Gray not a true ace yet, but Rockies right-hander is getting there June 30, 2017 Jon Gray returns with ace-like performance as Rockies beat D-backs, snap eight-game losing streak June 30, 2017 Rockies pitchers agree that baseballs might be “juiced” this season Then the rally caved in. Chatwood pitched relatively well, though the Diamondbacks tagged him for two triples that led to runs, one by Daniel Descalso to lead off the first innings and another by Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth. “I felt like I threw the ball good, and I don’t think my line reflected the way I pitched. But that’s going to happen sometimes,” said Chatwood, now 6-9 with a 4.41 ERA. Chatwood was right, his line was not very good: 6 ⅓ innings pitched, six runs (four earned) on seven hits. He walked three and struck out six. But, again, he thought the line was misleading. “I thought I had a lot of soft contact, and for the most part I thought I was in control of the game,” he said. The Rockies, 1-7 on the current road trip, will try to win the three-game series Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. Postgame Notes of Note Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood allowed six runs, tying a season high. However, only four of the runs were earned. Chatwood now as 401 career strikeouts. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado batted 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak against Arizona to seven games. He’s batting .357 (10-for-28) during the streak. The Diamondbacks’  51-31 record is their best 82-game start in franchise history. The D-backs are 16-5 in last their last 21 home games since May 15. Starter Zack Greinke improved to 8-0 with a 2.67 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 10 starts at Chase Field this season. Greinke’s 8-0 started ties Patrick Corbin (2013) for the best start of the season at home in franchise history. Arizona closer Fernando Rodney extended his scoreless outing to 11 straight, a career high. Rodney has not allowed earned run in 20 straight games since May 1. Arizona’s three triples tied a single-game high (10th time). Arizona’s Daniel Descalso (the former Rockies utility player) has safely reached base in eight [...]
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Jon Gray returns with ace-like performance as Rockies beat D-backs, snap eight-game losing streak
PHOENIX — Jon Gray thinks of himself as the Rockies’ ace of the present and future. It might be too early to bestow Gray with that honor, but he sure performed like a first-rate pitcher Friday night in a 6-3 victory over Arizona at Chase Field. Returning to the major-league mound after an absence of 77 days, the right-hander showed few signs of rust, giving the Rockies six solid innings and helping them break their season-high, eight-game losing streak. “I think I did a good job slowing things down, because I knew it might be a little awkward after missing so much time,” said Gray, who suffered a stress fracture in his left foot on April 13. Gray finished with 10 strikeouts vs. one walk. The game marked the seventh double-digit strikeout game of Gray’s young career. Manager Bud Black was most impressed by the consistency of Gray’s performance. “What I saw was a repeatable delivery, which was great,” Black said. “His last (rehab) start in Triple-A set him up for the endurance he needed in a big-league game. “And I think the key tonight was that he had a nice, tight slider. And he made some good pitches with his fastball, down and away, when he needed too. All in all, I think it was a good outing for Jon.” For a welcome change of pace, the Rockies paired a strong start with a rejuvenated offense as they took it to Arizona super lefty Robbie Ray. Colorado tagged Ray for four runs on five hits over six innings, and also drew five walks. Ray entered the game 6-0 with 1.29 ERA over his last seven starts. Colorado walked onto the diamond at Chase Field having hit only .206 during the eight-game skid, compounded by a .229 average with runners in scoring position. Although they had only eight hits Friday, and were just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, Black thought Colorado’s approach was better. “We did a nice job of advancing some runners,” Black said. “Overall I think our at-bats were better against Ray, even though he had (nine) strikeouts.” Boxscore: Colorado 6, Arizona 3  Arizona, one of the hottest teams in baseball just a short time ago, lost its third consecutive game, all at home. Charlie Blackmon hit a solo homer off Ray in the first, and Raimel Tapia led off the sixth with another. The first home run of Tapia’s career put Colorado ahead 4-2. The lead grew to 5-2 in the seventh on a triple by Nolan Arenado — his fourth in June — followed by an RBI groundout by Mark Reynolds. The speedy Tapia made noise again in the eighth, leading off with a double into the left-center field gap, moving to third on Ryan Hanigan’s sacrifice bunt and scoring easily on a wild pitch by D-backs reliever Jorge De La Rosa, the former Rockie. “It was really exciting and I hope it’s not my last,” Tapia said of his first homer. “I was just trying to hit the ball to the middle of the field. Sometimes balls find some holes, and tonight they did.” Christian Petersen, Getty ImagesStarting pitcher Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 30, 2017 in Phoenix. Gray’s fastball hit 97 mph, but his best pitch was his slider. Proof of the nasty nature of that pitch was displayed by three at-bats by D-backs all-star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He’s one of the best hitters in baseball, but Gray whiffed him all three times, with Goldschmidt waving over the top of his slider each time. “I felt very prepared,” Gray said. “I did everything in the game that I did mentally last night. It was just following my game plan tonight. I didn’t try to overthrow.  I felt very comfortable.” Related ArticlesJune 30, 2017 Rockies pitchers agree that baseballs might be “juiced” this season June 30, 2017 Rockies call up veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan, send Tom Murphy down to Triple-A June 29, 2017 Slumping Rockies counting on return of Jon Gray, and return of offense, as second half begins June 29, 2017 Rockies’ reliever Adam Ottavino trying to fix mechanical difficulties June 29, 2017 Nolan Arenado surges past Kris Bryant to take lead in All-Star Game vote The Diamondbacks hit Gray hard in the first inning with a leadoff single by Gregor Blanco and an RBI double by Jake Lamb. The fourth was rough, too, with Chris Owings leading off with a homer and Brandon Drury following with a double. Arizona teed off on mistake pitches left over the plate, Gray admitted. But Gray kept his cool and escaped further trouble. The Rockies wasted no time denting Ray’s armor. Blackmon drove the third pitch of the game into the right-field seats. Blackmon’s homer was his 17th of the season, his third leading off a game. Greg [...]
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