Rockies

Rockies’ Chad Bettis blasted in road loss to Diamondbacks
PHOENIX — One of the Rockies’ biggest road trips in years began with celebratory fireworks, only to end with a big dud. After winning the first six games, including a four-game sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Rockies fell hard in the final two games at Arizona, losing both including a 7-0 drubbing Thursday. The D-backs blasted starter Chad Bettis in the first inning. “To go 7-1 would have been great,” second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. “I thought overall, we played really well on this road trip. We just to have to keep going, keep winning series.” Despite stumbling in the last two games, the Rockies remain in control of their playoff destiny. With 15 games left on their schedule, their hold on the National League’s second wild card remains tenuous, however. Colorado leads both Milwaukee and St. Louis by 2 ½ games. It will be difficult for Colorado to catch Arizona, which has a five-game lead for the NL’s top wild card and the right to host a one-game playoff. “We are frustrated because we won six in a row on this trip, so you would like to finish it off with a bang,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “As you know, we talk a lot about starting pitching, and the last two (games) it hasn’t been there for us.” The most disconcerting aspect of Colorado’s loss Thursday was the performance of Bettis, who failed to make it out of the first inning. The veteran right-hander opened the game by walking Gregor Blanco, and it got worse from there. Arizona ripped Bettis for five runs on three hits and also drew three walks. Bettis’ bases-loaded walk to Brandon Drury was a warning sign that he simply didn’t have it on this day, and it was followed by a sharply hit, two-run double by A.J. Pollock. At that point, Black had seen enough, and he yanked Bettis, who retired just one hitter. “I think I was trying to get too cute with my pitches, and I didn’t really attack the zone,” said Bettis, now 1-3 with a 6.23 ERA in seven starts since returning from treatment for testicular cancer. “Chad had (three) walks in the first inning, and that was very uncharacteristic of Chad,” Black said. “Five runs in the first inning really got us behind the 8-ball.” Related ArticlesSeptember 14, 2017 Tyler Anderson supplants struggling rookie Kyle Freeland in Rockies’ rotation September 14, 2017 Gametracker: Live updates from Rockies at Diamondbacks, Sept. 14, 2017 September 13, 2017 Rockies’ six-game winning streak ends as D-backs’ Patrick Corbin dominates September 13, 2017 Mark Reynolds, indispensable for Rockies this season, wants to return next season September 13, 2017 Rockies Mailbag: Mark Reynolds’ future, DJ LeMahieu super-shift, playoff race and more It marked the first time Colorado allowed five runs in the first inning since April 20, 2015, vs. San Diego, a game Jorge De La Rosa started. The last time the Rockies gave up five runs in the first inning on the road was Sept. 23, 2011, at Houston, when Drew Pomeranz was pitching. Colorado’s offense, meanwhile, was shut down by Arizona right-hander Zack Godley. He allowed just five hits in eight innings and whiffed seven. He improved to 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 22 strikeouts in three starts vs. Colorado this season. “He pitched very well and had three pitches working today,” LeMahieu said. “He had a really good changeup working today, and he mixed up his pitches today.” Colorado had a chance to creep back into the game in the second inning with one-out singles by Gerardo Parra and Trevor Story, but Ian Desmond grounded into an inning-ending double play. He also hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth and is now hitting .186 (8-for-43) since coming off the disabled list Aug. 28. Arizona had nine hits, including a leadoff home run in the third by J.D. Martinez off Chris Rusin. It was Martinez’s 39th home run, extending his career high. His 23 home runs since the all-star break are the most in Arizona franchise history during the second half of the season.   [...]
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Indians rally, win AL-record 22nd straight game
CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians added a walk-off win to a streak that has had everything. Jay Bruce hit an RBI double in the 10th inning as the Indians rallied for their 22nd straight win to extend their AL record, beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Thursday night to move within four wins of matching the 1916 New York Giants for the longest streak in major league history. After blowouts, shutouts and oh-so-easy wins, the Indians, who tied it in the ninth on Francisco Lindor’s two-out, two-strike RBI double, went into extras for the first time to keep the longest streak in 101 years intact. “This was probably the toughest one we’ve had,” Bruce said. Ramirez led off the 10th with a hard hit into right-center off Brandon Maurer (2-2) that he turned into a double with a head-first slide. After Edwin Encarnacion walked, Bruce, the recent arrival who hit a three-run homer in win No. 21 on Wednesday, ripped a 2-0 pitch into the right-field corner. As Progressive Field shook like it usually does in October, Bruce reached second base and was quickly mobbed his teammates, who doused him with ice water and talcum powder while tearing the front of his jersey. “Nothing like it, nothing like it,” Bruce said. These Indians aren’t stopping for anything. Down to their last strike in the ninth, the Indians rallied to tie it at 2 off closer Kelvin Herrera, with Lindor delivering his clutch shot off the left field wall, just above the leap of four-time Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon, to score pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez from first. As Lindor’s ball caromed off the wall and rolled slowly across the grass in left field, 30,874 fans who have watched the Indians overpower teams for the last three weeks, soon saw the AL Central leaders pull off their most dramatic win this season. The Indians entered the day tied with the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second-longest streak, and now only trail those ’16 Giants, who won 26 in a row — all at home. The Giants won 12 straight, played a 1-1 tie, and then won 14 in a row. But because the tied game was replayed from the start the next day, it didn’t technically count and therefore didn’t stop New York’s streak. Unlike many of Cleveland’s game’s over the past three weeks, this one required a little late-innings work by the Indians, who have outscored their opponents 142-37 during this unimaginable run. With one out in the ninth, pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin singled to left off Herrera, who then got rookie Francisco Mejia to bounce into a force. But Lindor, the blossoming superstar shortstop who has been Cleveland’s best hitter throughout the streak, came through with his double. Cody Allen (3-6) worked the 10th and it wasn’t routine as Brandon Moss led off with a shot to the wall that Naquin caught while pinned up to the bullpen fence. On top of getting another win, the Indians also got top reliever Andrew Miller back. The All-Star came in to a rousing ovation in the seventh, and gave up a pair of bloop singles around a strikeout before getting an inning-ending double play. It was his first appearance since Aug. 21, when Miller’s knee tendinitis flared up during an appearance against Boston and he went on the DL for the second time. The left-hander will be brought back slowly by the Indians, who want to make sure he’s ready when the games become more meaningful in October. Indians manager Terry Francona has been guarded in making comments about the winning streak. He didn’t want to make too much of it while his team makes another run at ending the Indians’ 68-year World Series title drought. However, before the game he revealed that his father, Tito, an outfielder for Cleveland in the 1960s, was excited, “and he doesn’t get very excited very often, so I thought that was kind of cool.” Francona has also enjoyed seeing Indians fans react during a run they won’t soon forget. “You set out to win every game, that’s the objective every time you show up,” he said. “But I do think it’s kind of cool, you hear Cleveland a lot. If people are walking around with their chest out a little bit, I’m glad, because I like it here and I like the people here. So I think that’s maybe a byproduct of this. It’s not going to help you in the standings, but it’s good for Cleveland. Anything like that, I think it’s terrific.” Cleveland has even more to be proud of now. TRAINER’S ROOM Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (sore elbow) threw a side session and could start Sunday’s series finale. He’s been on the disabled list since Aug. 26. Duffy is 8-8 with a 3.78 ERA in 21 starts. Indians: All-Star OF Michael Brantley still isn’t running and the club still doesn’t have a timetable for his return. Before the game, Francona said the team’s medical staff was consulting with a doctor i [...]
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Rockies Mailbag: Mark Reynolds’ future, DJ LeMahieu super-shift, playoff race and more
Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season. Pose a Rockies – or MLB – related question for the Rockies Mailbag.  What are the plans for Mark Reynolds after this season? He has far outplayed what people thought he could do this year. The Rockies need to re-sign him for at least next year. I would take him over the $70 million dud of a fake first baseman that is Ian Desmond.  — Victor, Alameda, California Victor, I’ve asked about Reynolds and so far there are no definitive plans — on either side. Reynolds will be 34 and is considered something of a journeyman, so I don’t think there will be a huge demand for him. Even with Ryan McMahon likely coming up to the major leagues full time next season, I think it would be wise to bring Reynolds back. I think it’s fair to say he’s exceeded expectations. As I write this, Reynolds is batting .268 with 29 homers, 93 RBIs and a 1.4 WAR. When Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story were slumping so badly for much of the season, Reynolds was there. He’s been Colorado’s unsung hero. His fielding at first base has been top notch, and at times even spectacular. The gymnast-worthy stretch he pulled off on Nolan Arenado’s throw in Tuesday night’s victory over the Diamondbacks was crazy good. All of that for $1.5 million on a player who came into camp on a minor-league deal after spurning a $3 million offer to play in Korea. As for your comment on Desmond, it’s far too early to call him a “dud.” Has Desmond been a disappointment? You bet, especially for a five-year deal for $70 million. It’s hard to recall many games when he’s had a major impact. Yet it’s important to remember that he has been on the disabled list three time and has never found his rhythm. Perhaps, like Gerardo Parra did this season, Desmond will bounce back next season. As the Rockies head down the stretch run and hopefully make it into the playoffs, who do you think will be in their rotation for an extended series and in what order? Also, who do you think will be on the playoff roster? Any surprises? Alexi Amarista has been a disappointment–does he get replaced by someone like Raimel Tapia? Unfortunately it looks like Ryan Howard didn’t work out. Though Ian Desmond has under-performed he has versatility that is very valuable and may come into his form–I believe he also can allow more options on the bench without worrying about who will cover a position. What are your thoughts? — Ron Sasso, Rapid City, SD Related ArticlesAugust 24, 2017 Rockies Mailbag: National League wild-card playoff race, CarGo update and more Ron, excellent questions. I’ve been on the record saying that if I had one Rockies pitcher to start the one-game playoff and get them to the next round, I would go with German Marquez. I love his stuff and his toughness. But considering how Jon Gray pitched in Colorado’s big win Tuesday night over the D-backs (seven innings, two runs, seven hits, 10 strikeouts), Gray might be the guy. He’s 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last four starts. Going forward, the Rockies have time and enough off days to juggle their rotation in anticipation of the playoffs. On Tuesday, manager Bud Black was asked about a possible playoff rotation, and, of course, he sidestepped the question. If I had to guesstimate, I think the rotation would look like this: — Wild-card playoff game: Gray — NLDS Game 1: Marquez — NLDS Game 2: Chad Bettis — NLDS Game 3: Kyle Freeland or Tyler Chatwood — NLDS Game 4: Gray — NLDS Game 5: Marquez. We’ll see how it all shakes out. Bud Black is using kid gloves with his pitchers, which is ok, they need to learn, grow and get better. However, he is doing lousy at managing position players. Trevor Story is a guaranteed out when you need him to come through. Pat Valaika will give you four to five quality at bats in a game, so why isn’t he playing short? Or even Ian Desmond? I’d sacrifice one flashy defensive play from Story for two or three hits. And CarGo is almost a waste of space. He hasn’t done anything all year but now he throws a hit now and again. Why not let Raimel Tapia play in right field, or put Gerardo Parra in right field and Tapia or Desmond in left field? Do something with the dead weight. Fans have more patience with young pitchers than “ego” players who need to be off the field. — Anne Gillespie, Boulder Anne, you obviously submitted this question before Gonzalez regained his swing and hit two homers Tuesday night and batted batting .455, with nine home runs, four doubles and 18 RBIs over 12 games. Let’s face it, many of us have a football mentality when it comes to baseball. We expect results — now — and want a fix if we don’t get it. [...]
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Mark Reynolds, indispensable for Rockies this season, wants to return next season
PHOENIX — In two recent games, Mark Reynolds displayed just how invaluable he has been to the Rockies’ bid for their first playoff visit since 2009. Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, the veteran first baseman hit an eighth-inning grand slam, sealing an 8-1 win over the Dodgers. In Colorado’s 4-2 victory here Tuesday night, Reynolds stretched like an Olympic gymnast to snare Nolan Arenado’s throw from third base. Somehow, Reynolds kept his foot on the bag as Arenado’s throw barely nipped the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt for the final out of the eighth inning. Reynolds’ recent heroics aren’t aberrations, he has been doing it all season. Reynolds entered Wednesday night’s game hitting .268 with a .355 on-base percentage — more than respectable for a veteran slugger. His 29 home runs are his most since slugging 37 in 2011, and his 93 RBIs have tied a career high set in 2009. “Mark’s contributions weigh heavily on where we are, no doubt about it,” manager Bud Black said. “He’s played above-average defense on a scouting scale, he’s been durable and he’s a huge part of where we are.” That’s high praise for a 34-year-old journeyman who reported to spring training with a minor-league deal and no guarantee he would make the team after the Rockies inked Ian Desmond to a five-year, $70 million deal, announcing that Desmond would play primarily first base. Reynolds turned down a $3 million offer to play baseball in Korea, in part because he wanted to return to Colorado. “It’s been great, but I have to admit that I never expected to play this much,” Reynolds said. “Unfortunately, Ian had some injuries and I just took advantage of every chance I got. I’ve hit well enough to stay in the lineup. “I obviously didn’t expect to do what I’m doing now, though I thought I was capable. Now, hopefully, we can finish this season strong and get to the postseason. Because I really like playing with this group of guys. It’s a special group.” Arenado had previously counted on Todd Helton and Justin Morneau to catch his aggressive throws from third base. For the last two seasons, Reynolds has pulled that duty, earning raves from Arenado. “He’s meant everything to me,” Arenado said. “Todd and Mark have been so big for me. And I don’t think Mark gets a lot of credit for his fielding, because there are so many good first basemen, like Goldschmidt and (Cincinnati’s) Joey Votto and (the Chicago Cubs’ Anthony) Rizzo. But I think Mark is definitely one of the best.” Related ArticlesSeptember 13, 2017 Rockies Mailbag: Mark Reynolds’ future, DJ LeMahieu super-shift, playoff race and more September 12, 2017 Carlos Gonzalez homers twice as Rockies beat D-backs for sixth straight win September 12, 2017 Rockies’ Jonathan Lucroy, making positive impact behind the plate, open to returning to Colorado September 12, 2017 Rockies unveil 2018 schedule; home opener is April 6 vs. Braves September 11, 2017 Nolan Arenado’s bat and glove lead Rockies to big win over D-backs Though Reynolds is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of this season, he would love to return to Colorado for a third season. “Of course I would. This team’s window is now, next year and the year after,” he said. “I’m comfortable here. I like the players, I like the staff and I love Denver. it’s a good spot to play. “I feel like it’s an advantage that not only do my infielders feel confident with me at first base, but also that (general manager) Jeff (Bridich) and the guys who make the decisions have seen me for two years now, so they know what I’m capable of doing. Hopefully I have done enough to warrant coming back.” Rocktober reunion. Ten years ago, the Rockies won 21-of-22 games to advance to their only World Series, giving birth to a phenomenon that came to be known as “Rocktober.” Friday night, 17 players and three coaches from that magical run will return to Coors Field for a celebration. First baseman Todd Helton, the only Rockies player honored with a retired number (17), heads the reunion cast. Helton will be joined by former teammates Garrett Atkins, Clint Barmes, Jamey Carroll, Aaron Cook, Josh Fogg, Jeff Francis, Brian Fuentes, LaTroy Hawkins, Brad Hawpe, Matt Herges, Jason Hirsh, Rodrigo Lopez, Zach McClellan, Ryan Spilborghs, Cory Sullivan and Yorvit Torrealba.  Bullpen coach Rick Mathews, bench coach Jamie Quirk and bullpen catcher Mark Strittmatter are also scheduled to attend. All of the participants, with the exception of Helton, will be handing out “Rocktober Rally Towels” at five entrance gates for a l [...]
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Rockies unveil 2018 schedule; home opener is April 6 vs. Braves
As the Rockies’ 2017 season winds down with a playoff spot in view, the club announced its preliminary 2018 schedule Tuesday. The Rockies open their 25th season March 29 against Arizona at Chase Field, the first of seven road games to open the schedule. After the three-game set against the Diamondbacks, the Rockies travel to San Diego for a four-game series against the Padres from April 2-5. The Rockies’ home opener will be April 6, the start of a three-game series vs. Atlanta. In what’s become a traditional baseball party in LoDo, the home-opener is once again on a Friday. The Rockies’ home schedule includes games on Mother’s Day (May 13 vs. Milwaukee),  Memorial Day (May 28 vs. San Francisco), Independence Day (July 4 vs. San Francisco) and Labor Day (Sept. 3 vs. San Francisco). The annual fireworks shows are scheduled for  July 3-4 after games against the Giants, as well as Sept. 28, following the game against Washington. The 2018 season concludes with a three-game set vs. the Nationals  from Sept. 28-30 at Coors Field. Related ArticlesSeptember 11, 2017 Nolan Arenado’s bat and glove lead Rockies to big win over D-backs September 11, 2017 Rockies’ Kyle Freeland escapes major injury after getting hit by line drive vs. D-backs September 11, 2017 Jon Gray, slider improving, says he’s poised to anchor Rockies down the stretch September 11, 2017 PHOTOS: Rockies win 8-1 over Dodgers September 11, 2017 Lunch Special: Would the Rockies consider starting Chris Rusin in a must-win game? Colorado’s interleague partner for 2018 is the American League West. The Rockies host the Los Angeles Angels (May 8-9), Seattle Mariners (July 13-15), Houston Astros (July 24-25) and Oakland Athletics (July 27-29) at Coors Field. The Rockies face a long, early-season road. It is a nine-game, 10-day trip from April 27 to May 6. Colorado plays three games at Miami, followed by three in Chicago against the Cubs. After a day off, the Rockies head back to the East Coast for a three-game set at New York against the Mets. Against their four National League West rivals, the Rockies will host 10 games at Coors field against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, and nine games against the Giants and Padres. All game dates are subject to change. 2018 Rockies schedule MARCH March 29 at Arizona Diamondbacks March 30 at Arizona Diamondbacks March 31 at Arizona Diamondbacks APRIL April 2 at San Diego Padres April 3 at San Diego Padres April 4 at San Diego Padres April 5 at San Diego Padres April 6 Atlanta Braves April 7 Atlanta Braves April 8 Atlanta Braves April 9 San Diego Padres April 10 San Diego Padres April 11 San Diego Padres April 12 at Washington Nationals April 13 at Washington Nationals April 14 at Washington Nationals April 15 at Washington Nationals April 16 at Pittsburgh Pirates April 17 at Pittsburgh Pirates April 18 at Pittsburgh Pirates April 20 Chicago Cubs April 21 Chicago Cubs April 22 Chicago Cubs April 23 San Diego Padres April 24 San Diego Padres April 25 San Diego Padres April 27 at Miami Marlins April 28 at Miami Marlins April 29 at Miami Marlins April 30 at Chicago Cubs MAY May 1 at Chicago Cubs May 2 at Chicago Cubs May 4 at New York Mets May 5 at New York Mets May 6 at New York Mets May 8 Los Angeles Angels May 9 Los Angeles Angels May 10 Milwaukee Brewers May 11 Milwaukee Brewers May 12 Milwaukee Brewers May 13 Milwaukee Brewers May 14 at San Diego Padres May 15 at San Diego Padres May 17 at San Francisco Giants May 18 at San Francisco Giants May 19 at San Francisco Giants May 20 at San Francisco Giants May 21 at Los Angeles Dodgers May 22 at Los Angeles Dodgers May 23 at Los Angeles Dodgers May 25 Cincinnati Reds May 26 Cincinnati Reds May 27 Cincinnati Reds May 28 San Francisco Giants May 29 San Francisco Giants May 30 San Francisco Giants JUNE June 1 Los Angeles Dodgers June 2 Los Angeles Dodgers June 3 Los Angeles Dodgers June 5 at Cincinnati Reds June 6 at Cincinnati Reds June 7 at Cincinnati Reds June 8 Arizona Diamondbacks June 9 Arizona Diamondbacks June 10 Arizona Diamondbacks June 12 at Philadelphia Phillies June 13 at Philadelphia Phillies June 14 at Philadelphia Phillies June 15 at Texas Rangers June 16 at Texas Rangers June 17 at Texas Rangers June 18 New York Mets June 19 New York Mets June 20 New York Mets June 21 New York Mets June 22 Miami Marlins June 23 Miami Marlins June 24 Miami Marlins June 26 at San Francisco Giants June 27 at San Francisco Giants June 28 at San Francisco Giants June 29 at Los Angeles Dodgers June 30 at Los Angeles Dodgers JULY July 1 at Los Angeles Dodgers July 2 San Francisco Giants July 3 Sa [...]
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Rockies’ Jonathan Lucroy, making positive impact behind the plate, open to returning to Colorado
PHOENIX — Jonathan Lucroy is a rental catcher, but he sure doesn’t feel like one. “It’s been easy to fit in here,” Lucroy said in the Rockies’ clubhouse before Tuesday night’s game against Arizona at Chase Field. “What I like is that this team is hungry and they all have the same goal in mind, and that’s to win a championship. I really feel that here. The guys have made me feel welcome and accepted me into the fold.” Lucroy’s comfort level, plus his belief that the Rockies have a chance to be a contending team over the next few seasons, makes the idea of returning to Colorado next season enticing. Lucroy, 31, will become a free agent at the end of this season. “Right now, the only thing I’m worried about is riding this wave as far as it will take us,” he said. “So whatever happens, happens. And it’s really not up to me, and I don’t write the checks. “But I’d absolutely (be interested) in coming back. As a free agent, you look at a lot of things. I look at things even more than money. I want to know what teams are going to be in there. I do not want to go to a team that’s just going to be average. I want to go to a team this is going to be good.  I want to contribute to a playoff team. “Look, I’m a 31-year-old catcher, so I have to get going. I want a ring, or two, or three. And I think the opportunity is definitely here for that to happen.” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said it’s too early to talk about Lucroy and the offseason. “We aren’t focused on that right now,” Bridich said. “But in a lot of ways, it’s been a positive experience having Jonathan here. I do think the veteran presence he brings has been a plus.” Since the Rockies acquired Lucroy in a deadline trade with Texas on July 30, the veteran has had positive impact on a club stocked with young pitchers. Since Lucroy joined the team, the cumulative ERA for Rockies starters is 4.23, compared to 4.70 for the season. The relievers’ cumulative ERA is 4.41 for the season but 4.16 since Lucroy joined the team. Related ArticlesSeptember 12, 2017 Rockies unveil 2018 schedule; home opener is April 6 vs. Braves September 11, 2017 Nolan Arenado’s bat and glove lead Rockies to big win over D-backs September 11, 2017 Rockies’ Kyle Freeland escapes major injury after getting hit by line drive vs. D-backs September 11, 2017 Jon Gray, slider improving, says he’s poised to anchor Rockies down the stretch September 11, 2017 PHOTOS: Rockies win 8-1 over Dodgers “He puts great confidence in the pitchers and makes them feel confident in the pitch they are throwing,” left-hander reliever Chris Rusin said. “I know that we’ve all been on the same page since we brought him here. “He’s been around a long time, and he knows the National League. He knows how to read hitters’ swings. He knows where (hitters) stand in the box, and when they might be taking a first pitch. He knows guys’ body language, and all of those subtle things that he’s learned over time.” Lucroy has a big fan in manager Bud Black. “I think he’s been invaluable, to the pitchers and to the entire club,” Black said. “This is no knock on Tony (Wolters) or Tom Murphy, who caught games for us earlier in the year. “But when Jonathan is back there, I think there is a calming factor for these young (starting) pitchers, and even for veteran relievers like (Greg) Holland and (Pat) Neshek and (Mike) Dunn. He’s so credible back there: a good blocker of balls, a good receiver and knows the National League.” At the plate, Lucroy has been pedestrian: .274 average, .388 on-base percentage, five doubles and one home run in 30 games for Colorado. That’s a shadow of the 24-home run season he had for Milwaukee in 2016 when he was an all-star for the second time. “I think with the year I have had, I won’t have a lot of (free-agent) options,” Lucroy said. “But I’m just thankful for the opportunity I was given here.” Freeland update. Left-hander Kyle Freeland, hit by a 114.8 mph line drive that forced him out of Monday’s game in the fourth inning because of a contusion to his left shoulder, was doing better Tuesday. Freeland played catch from 90 feet, and there remains the possibility that he’ll start Saturday’s game against San Diego. When the ball came off the J.D. Martinez’s bat, it came close to hitting Freeland in the face or throat. Instead, Freeland wheeled just enough so that the ball hit him in the left shoulder and then glanced off his jaw. “I watched the (slow-motion) replay, and you can actually see that when t [...]
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Jon Gray, slider improving, says he’s poised to anchor Rockies down the stretch
PHOENIX — The Rockies are entering their most crucial stretch of the season. Right-hander Jon Gray wants to anchor that run. Is he up to the task? He thinks so. “You have to feel that way. You can’t not want the ball, because then it’s not going to turn out well for you,” Gray said prior to Monday night’s game against Arizona. “You have to be able to go out there and show it off.” Gray (7-4, 4.07 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday night in the second game of a crucial four-game series against the Diamondbacks. He’s in a good place, having gone 4-2 with a 2.55 ERA over his last seven starts, including beating the Dodgers and ace Clayton Kershaw on Thursday when Gray gave up one run on four hits over six innings. “I’ve seen growth, especially the last few starts,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Especially with his poise on the mound. When there’s a little bit of a dilemma or a little bit of a crisis, he’s able to work himself out of it. “There were starts earlier in the year, like opening day in Milwaukee, where guys got on base and he couldn’t get out of it without them throwing up a big number.” The Rockies won the opener against the Brewers, 7-5, but Gray lasted only four innings and was tagged for five runs. “I think he’s learning, albeit a little bit slowly, about what it takes to be a major-league pitcher,” Black said. “That means being able to minimize damage, keep himself in the game and be more efficient. There are so many things pitchers learn those first couple of years and I think Jon is still in that category of growth.” Gray was placed on the disabled list April 14 with a stress fracture in his left foot and didn’t return until June 30. That injury has affected him, at least to some extent, most of the season. His slider, usually his go-to pitch, has not been as crisp as he expects it to be. That means he’s gone to his fastball and curve more often as a put-away pitch. Related ArticlesSeptember 11, 2017 PHOTOS: Rockies win 8-1 over Dodgers September 11, 2017 Lunch Special: Would the Rockies consider starting Chris Rusin in a must-win game? September 10, 2017 Rockies bullpen suddenly surging in a winning streak. “We’re feeding off the atmosphere,” Jake McGee said. September 10, 2017 Rockies cap sweep in Los Angeles behind Mark Reynolds’ grand slam as Colorado keeps rolling September 9, 2017 Trevor Story, the latest Rockies breakout, leads another big win over the Dodgers in L.A. “I think (the slider) is getting there,” he said. “I’m seeing results — not 100 percent of the time — but I am slowly getting it back to where it’s supposed to be. I feel like my slider is there 80 percent of the time, instead of 20. And it’s only going to get better.” Gray is also learning what it takes thrive over a long season. “I just focus on what I have that day,” he said. “I know my slider hasn’t been great this year, but I know that with that, I have to throw my fastball better. I have to throw it at the knees and throw it inside. And I need to utilize the curveball. I know that can be a good pitch. I know I have the weapons to battle.” Slamming a slump.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rockies had been hitless in their last 20 at-bats with the bases loaded until Mark Reynolds mashed a grand slam on Sunday against the Dodgers. That was the longest such drought in the majors this season. Colorado entered the game 0-for-17 with the bases full, the longest drought in franchise history, a number that was extended during Sunday’s game until Reynolds delivered. Looking ahead Rockies RHP Jon Gray (7-4, 4.07 ERA) at Diamondbacks RHP Taijuan Walker (9-7, 3.33), 7:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet; 850 AM Gray seems to be peaking at just the right time, but he has to continue pitching well down the stretch, which will likely include four starts. The right-hander pitched excellent in his last outing, besting Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the process. Gray gave up one run on four hits over six innings in Los Angeles to pick up his seventh win.  He’s 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA over his last five starts. Against Arizona, Gray is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts. Walker has been rolling, winning three consecutive games over four starts. In those four outings, he’s posted a 0.79 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP and 21 strikeouts. In five career starts vs. the Rockies, Walker is 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA. — Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post Wednesday: Rockies RHP German Marquez (10-6, 4.27) at Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (13-12, 4.16), 7:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet Thursday: Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (1-2, 4.98) at Di [...]
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Rockies cap sweep in Los Angeles behind Mark Reynolds’ grand slam as Colorado keeps rolling
LOS ANGELES — Bud Black’s dad, Harry, a would-be professional hockey player still at USC, heard a Hollywood call-out for acting talent in 1938. David O. Selznick needed soldiers for a burgeoning little war film he was producing, and Harry earned a role. He played a dead solider lying on the streets of Atlanta in “Gone With the Wind.” When Bud brought his floundering team of postseason hopefuls back to Los Angeles on Thursday, to face a Dodgers team with, by far, the best record in baseball, the Rockies were near the same role. They had lost five games in a week, falling perilously close to losing a National League wild-card playoff berth. Dead men walking. “These are the times when you just have to go up there and say screw it and trust who you are and let it eat,” Rockies star Nolan Arenado said Thursday. After Mark Reynolds hit an eighth-inning grand slam Sunday that put an exclamation mark on an 8-1 victory and a four-game sweep of the Dodgers in front of 50,161 fans, the Rockies suddenly have life. They are stomping through their toughest road trip of the season, and just in time. “This place was bumping the whole series,” Reynolds said. “These are the kinds of baseball games that get your juices flowing.” The Rockies (78-65) swept a four-game series at Dodger Stadium for the first time since 1993. They won for the sixth time in their past seven games, handing the home team its 10th consecutive loss. The once-unstoppable Dodgers (92-51) have now lost 15 of their past 16. The Cardinals and Brewers also won Sunday, so the Rockies remained three games ahead of them for the second wild-card berth. The Rockies next travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks, who are five games ahead in the race to host the NL’s play-in game. “This will continue to grow into an every-pitch type of situation,” Black said of the rising stakes of a playoff race. “That’s what you want. Hopefully we can build on this.” Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies’ most experienced starter, was relegated to the bullpen one month ago. But he pitched Sunday like a rotation anchor of old, blowing past a pitch limit to throw five scoreless innings on just five hits allowed. He outdueled Dodgers lefty Rich Hill, who two weeks earlier carried a no-hitter into the 10th inning at Pittsburgh. Related ArticlesSeptember 9, 2017 Trevor Story, the latest Rockies breakout, leads another big win over the Dodgers in L.A. September 9, 2017 Chris Rusin’s battle with Justin Turner is amplifying a growing Rockies-Dodgers rivalry September 8, 2017 Rockies take down another Dodgers doozy, dinging Yu Darvish with a doubles attack September 8, 2017 “I need to be in the lineup,” Carlos Gonzalez says. He is earning it for the Rockies in a new way. September 8, 2017 Saunders: 2017 will be remembered for Charlie Blackmon’s greatness The Rockies pegged Hill for two runs and four hits over five innings. Arenado’s single up the middle in the first inning scored Charlie Blackmon. Arenado’s rainbow shot down the left-field line to lead off the third gave him 32 homers this season. The Rockies had a 2-0 lead. Chatwood was rolling. He forced Curtis Granderson to fly out to end the third. But after throwing 60 pitches over three innings in an intentionally abbreviated start last week against the Giants, Chatwood returned for the fourth. And the fifth. He struck out Hill and leadoff batter Chris Taylor to end the fourth. And he went 1-2-3 against Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ big boppers, in the fifth. Since his three-inning outing last week, Chatwood told Black and his coaches there was more action in his arm, more innings to reach. So they lengthened his leash. His 75 pitches Sunday, heavy on two-seam sinking fastballs, gave Chatwood his seventh victory this season. “That is probably the max number of pitches I could throw,” he said. “Anytime your team is rolling, you want to keep them rolling. So you get out there and help us win games, especially when we need them.” Then the eighth inning blew up. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts brought in 23-year-old Walker Buehler, L.A.’s top prospect who was pitching in his second career game. After DJ LeMahieu singled to lead off, Buehler walked Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez to load the bases. Then with a full count, Reynolds nailed a grand slam to the left-field bleachers, his 29th homer of the season. “I knew he didn’t want to walk me. I knew he was going to throw a strike. But he’s throwing 100 mph,” Reynolds said. “That’s tough to hit even if you know it’s coming. It was one of those swings where you don’t know how you did it, but it worked out.” Trevor Story contr [...]
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Paul Goldschmidt homers on 30th birthday, as Diamondbacks beat Padres
PHOENIX — Paul Goldschmidt homered on his 30th birthday and J.D. Martinez went deep twice, helping Robbie Ray and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres 3-2 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep. Martinez hit solo drives in the second and sixth innings, the latter breaking a 2-2 tie. He has reached safely in 14 straight games and has 37 home runs this season. He hit 16 in 57 games with Detroit and 21 in 45 games since Arizona acquired him. Six of Martinez’s seven career multi-home run games have come this season, four with Arizona. Ray (13-5) won his fourth straight start, striking out 12 in six innings while allowing two runs and four hits. Archie Bradley got the call over closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth and earned his first save this season by striking out the side. Arizona remained five games ahead of second-place Colorado for the NL’s top wild card. Related ArticlesSeptember 10, 2017 Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits 40th home run, joins Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle September 5, 2017 Report: Red Sox used Apple Watch to steal Yankees’ signs September 4, 2017 J.D. Martinez homers 4 times as Diamondbacks shut out Dodgers September 4, 2017 Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton hits No. 53 — and dents TV camera September 1, 2017 Baseball superstitions abound for players and managers alike Goldschmidt’s 34th home run, his first since Aug. 30, gave the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Yangervis Solarte tied the score with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Luis Perdomo (7-10) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. Luis Torrens hit an RBI single in the second, a line drive that just missed Ray’s head as the crowd groaned. Ray missed almost a month after being stuck by a line drive in late July. Wil Myers struck out twice and raised his season total to 162, two more than the previous Padres record set by Mike Cameron in 2007. CALL-UPS DELAYED Padres manager Andy Green prefers to let potential call-ups stay with El Paso for the Triple-A postseason. “We’re of the belief that guys being on the field consistently is probably better than having them sit on the bench at the big-league level,” Green said. FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING When Arizona wasted a 7-2 ninth-inning lead in an 8-7 loss Saturday night, it marked the first time the Diamondbacks lost with a lead of five or more runs entering the ninth, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They had won their first 436 games in that situation. Four franchises remain that have not lost when entering the ninth ahead by five or more: the Marlins, Padres, Rangers and Rockies. TRAINER’S ROOM Diamondbacks: RHP Randall Delgado was placed on the 60-day DL with right elbow inflammation, and the club recalled INF-OF Christian Walker from Reno. Walker, the Pacific Coast League’s MVP, pinch hit in the seventh inning and flied out. … Goldschmidt told manager Torey Lovullo he felt fine after playing Saturday, his first game after missing five with an elbow problem. . C Chris Iannetta got the day off, a little sore after being hit on an arm by a pitch Saturday. Padres: Pirela appeared to hurt a hand sliding into third base in the sixth and was checked by a trainer but stayed in the game. UP NEXT Padres: LHP Travis Wood (3-5) starts Tuesday’s opener of a two-game series at Minnesota. Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Greinke (16-6) opens a four-game series against Colorado on Monday. He is 13-1 in 16 home starts this season. [...]
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Rockies take down another Dodgers doozy, dinging Yu Darvish with a doubles attack
LOS ANGELES — Yu Darvish’s arsenal of pitches is bigger than there are names to describe them, a cacophony of grips and arm slots and darting movement. A batter who waits for something familiar will stare just long enough to see strike three. “You can’t sit on pitches because he has 15 of them,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. The Rockies resolved Thursday to jump on Darvish like they had Clayton Kershaw the night before, when they bushwhacked the Dodgers’ lefty ace for three runs in the first inning. Against the right-handed Darvish, Los Angeles’ No. 1B pitcher, the trade deadline acquisition that shocked the National League in July, the Rockies swung with impunity. It just took them a few frames to connect. By the fifth inning of what turned into a 5-4 victory over the hard-skidding Dodgers, the Rockies weaved together four doubles for four runs off Darvish in a come-from-behind scorcher at Chavez Ravine. “We sized him up after the first two or three innings,” Black said. “It looked like he was throwing more of his curveball. We identified that, what he was trying to do. The collective at-bats were solid. We strung it together.” After Alexi Amarista doubled off Darvish in the fifth and Jonathan Lucroy walked, rookie pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia doubled to center field to score two. Charlie Blackmon doubled to bring in Tapia. And DJ LeMahieu doubled to plate Blackmon. They quickly turned a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 lead. “My plan was to get something going, to get started,” Amarista said. “We’re just grinding through at-bats. Hitting is contagious, like anything else in life. And we’re doing that the last two days. Our approach is solid.” Darvish was yanked. On back-to-back nights, the Rockies took down the two best pitchers on the best team in the National League. At 76-65, Colorado remained 3 games ahead of the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL wild-card standings. Both those teams won Friday night. Darvish struck out six, becoming the fastest player in baseball’s history to reach 1,000 career strikeouts, both by games (128) and innings (812). But the Rockies’ takedown of Darvish was a definitive sequel to a victory over Kershaw. Over just 4 1/3 innings, they gouged the 31-year-old former Texas Rangers star for five runs on five hits. Carlos Gonzalez was responsible for early damage, when he pushed a home run over the left-field wall in the first inning. Gonzalez hit his 10th home run of the season, and after his seventh-inning shot Thursday, he has homers in back-to-back games at Dodger Stadium for the first time in his career. The Rockies haven’t done that since Ben Paulsen hit two in 2014. Boxscore: Colorado 5, LA Dodgers 4 “You just have to look for the ball up and when it’s up, it might not have the action it does when it’s down,” Black said. “We have to be ready to hit on pitch one.” His opposite, Rockies rookie right-hander German Marquez, struggled, but did Darvish better. The Dodgers blasted the 22-year-old Marquez for four runs in the first inning, on Justin Turner’s two-run homer to left field and Austin Barnes’ two-RBI single to right. L.A. sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning, aided by a rare error from second baseman DJ LeMahieu as he charged for a slow-roller. But Marquez righted himself. He did not allow another run through four innings. Gerardo Parra helped him with a sprinting, diving catch coming in on Joc Pederson’s blooper to left in the third. Related ArticlesSeptember 8, 2017 “I need to be in the lineup,” Carlos Gonzalez says. He is earning it for the Rockies in a new way. September 7, 2017 Nolan Arenado and the Rockies ambush Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in a blowout September 7, 2017 Rockies can only “let it eat” on a perilous road trip, starting against Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles September 6, 2017 Rockies end bad homestand with loss to Giants; formidable Dodgers up next September 6, 2017 Kiszla: For $70 million, all reeling Rockies have gotten from Ian Desmond is whole lot of nothing The Rockies sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth, forcing Darvish to the bench. And, like Thursday, Colorado won a battle of bullpens. Rockies lefty Chris Rusin quick-pitched Turner to strike him out looking and end the sixth. Rusin allowed just one hit in two innings. “That was an important win,” Rusin said. “Just try not to let them hit it.” Greg Holland pitched a fifth consecutive hitless ninth inning after setting down the meat of the Dodgers’ order with Turner, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig. It was Holland’s 38th save, most in the NL. The Dodgers (92-49) lost a 13th game in their past 14. Discomfort is multiplying in [...]
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Nolan Arenado and the Rockies ambush Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in a blowout
LOS ANGELES — The Rockies’ magic number is a complicated mess. The win total it will take to punch them into the postseason is a calculation still forming. It is a sum line in the distance near the end of a three-week stretch. Bud Black was happy to pinpoint the exact number. When asked Thursday afternoon how many wins his team needs to reach the playoffs, the Rockies’ manager balked, then added up the figure: “One. Tonight.” Colorado quickly cleared Black’s bar, kicking off a critical eight-game road trip Thursday night by ambushing Clayton Kershaw. Nolan Arenado‘s three-run home run in the first inning set in motion a 9-1 blowout victory over the suddenly reeling Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. The Rockies (75-65) moved three games and a big sigh ahead of the Cardinals and Brewers in the National League wild-card chase, and seven behind the Diamondbacks. But at the start of an eight-game swing through Los Angeles and Arizona, two of the best teams in the league, Colorado’s victory seemed like a giant step forward. “I don’t want to get all dramatic,” Arenado said, “but you can make the argument that was our biggest win of the year.” And it unfolded immediately. The first four Rockies batters hit safely — the first time in Kershaw’s three-time Cy Young-winning career he allowed four hits to start a game. Arenado’s blast to left field scored Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu. Mark Reynolds followed with another single but did not score. The Rockies knocked Kershaw again in the third, after Gerardo Parra singled, Trevor Story doubled and Jonathan Lucroy hit a sacrifice fly to right field. Kershaw got the hook with two outs in the fourth inning, after he labored through 86 pitches and seven strikeouts. He left with a 4-0 deficit. The Rockies had not defeated Kershaw at Dodger Stadium since 2013. He had not exited a game so early without injury since 2014. Carlos Gonzalez added a solo homer to lead off the seventh, a shot to center field off Dodgers reliever Edward Paredes. That pitcher was replaced by Josh Ravin, who walked Arenado and Parra with the bases loaded. The Dodgers have lost 12 of their past 13 games. When the Rockies hit three home runs off Kershaw at Coors Field on April 8 — the first time he allowed as many as three homers in a game — it kicked off a Colorado run to the top of the NL West, a spot they had as late as June 20. BOX SCORE: Rockies 9, Dodgers 1 Their victory again over Kershaw this time, Gonzalez said, feels like a similar effect. “Absolutely,” he said. “We faced the best pitcher in the game and we won. And when you’re playing on his field where he’s pretty much untouchable, we’re talking about a guy who already has a no-hitter against this team. But not just because we beat him. We had a great outing by our guy, Jon Gray, who pitched great.” The Rockies needed a punch. They struggled to a 3-6 record on a homestand that ended Wednesday in a loss to the hapless Giants. Wild-card anxiety, though, had not yet creeped into Colorado’s clubhouse. “I don’t know, maybe it feels a little different,” LeMahieu said. “But it doesn’t matter. We just need to play well. It’s been a fun year. We should keep it going.” Related ArticlesSeptember 7, 2017 Rockies can only “let it eat” on a perilous road trip, starting against Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles September 6, 2017 Rockies end bad homestand with loss to Giants; formidable Dodgers up next September 6, 2017 Kiszla: For $70 million, all reeling Rockies have gotten from Ian Desmond is whole lot of nothing September 6, 2017 Carlos Gonzalez back in power spot for Rockies, but can he deliver? September 5, 2017 Rockies bats finally come alive with victory over Giants at Coors Field Gray, the Rockies’ right-hander, outmatched Kershaw in a duel of No. 1s. Gray did not allow a hit until Chris Taylor’s two-out single in the third inning. But Taylor was caught trying to steal second base. Gray allowed just one run, after Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig both doubled in the fourth. He gave up just four hits in six innings. And every batter in the Rockies’ starting lineup, except Gray, got at least one hit, and six of them finished with at least two. When Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw in the fourth to a stunned reaction around Dodger Stadium, the lefty walked calmly to the dugout and blew up, hurling his glove at a wall and screaming loud enough to echo off the bleachers. The Rockies said something too, an exclamation of persistence. “This is a nice win. When you go up against Kershaw and you win the game,” Black said. “And now we’re looking for tomorrow.” [...]
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Kiszla: For $70 million, all reeling Rockies have gotten from Ian Desmond is whole lot of nothing
Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich went shopping for a shiny new toy, and all he got for $70 million was a broken popgun. Ian Desmond sat in the Colorado clubhouse Wednesday afternoon with a cell phone in hand and a chip on his shoulder. He’s had a rough season. His statistics gently weep: three trips to the disabled list, five home runs. I asked for a minute of his time. “Depends on what the question is,” Desmond replied. He never allowed the conversation to get started, gruffly rising from his seat, a grouchy bear in search of a pregame snack. Well, the real question is: Can the team count on Desmond to finally deliver on the promise of his five-year, $70 million contract when the Rockies need him most? Their first playoff berth since 2009 within reach, but a brutally tough road ahead, with 14 on the next 17 games on the road, this is not the time for Desmond to be an overpaid singles hitter. Fingers of blame for a frustratingly inconsistent offense have been pointed at Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story. But nobody has been a bigger disappointment at the plate than Desmond, who has missed 65 games due to injuries and been one of the National League’s least dangerous bats during the 74 games he has been in uniform. Ranking 172nd of 177 hitters with a minimum of 150 plate appearances in WAR (wins above replacement), Desmond so badly aches for a taste of success you can practically hear his molars grind. Related ArticlesSeptember 7, 2017 Kiszla: No Broncos player is under more pressure in 2017 than C.J. Anderson. Here’s why. September 5, 2017 Kiszla: Have Rockies fans lost faith in the home team during heat of the playoff race? September 2, 2017 Kiszla: A sad day for Broncos Country: T.J. Ward gets the boot and Brock Osweiler is back September 1, 2017 Kiszla: The Rams wuz robbed! Officials make a mess of Buffs’ win in Rocky Mountain Showdown August 31, 2017 Kiszla: Yes, the Buffs and Rams are real football rivals. And it’s a rivalry worth saving. Really. “He’s hung in there. It’s been frustrating for him,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “All players want to produce and perform.” Desmond takes no guff. From anybody. He’s old school, with a competitive edginess that reminds me a little of the Grumpy Gus role Todd Helton played to the hilt for so many years in Colorado. Desmond fancies himself as the enforcer in the Rockies’ clubhouse, setting the tone with the belief baseball might be a game, but there’s scant time for goofing off at the ballpark. There’s only one minor flaw with his tough-guy act: Desmond snarls softly and carries an even quieter stick. At age 31, there’s no pop in his bat. His batting average is a respectable .282, but there’s zero thunder, especially from a player signed by general manager Jeff Bridich as a corner infielder. That chip on Desmond’s shoulder is the weight of $70 million. It’s a burden. “Ian has a great deal of pride,” Black said. “I think players, especially (ones) that sign a long-term contract and come to a new team, they want to fulfill that expectation. You know, that’s hard on players.” Between his injuries (a fractured hand, a strained calf that stubbornly refused to heal) and the slump, a naturally high-strung competitor has found no room to breathe. I feel for you, bro. I would be grouchy, too. Colorado now departs on its most perilous road trip of the year, with four dates in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and four more in the Arizona desert against the Diamondbacks. Without a helping hand from Desmond, here’s where the Rockies could lose a grip on a wild-card berth. In a season where success has been defined by outfielder Charlie Blackmon’s unrelenting intensity, the golden glove of third baseman Nolan Arenado and all those nasty sliders from closer Greg Holland, how many times has Desmond been worth the price of admission? Desmond is the Rockies’ invisible man. Black said: “There are still so many big games here in September for him to have a big impact, when it means the most.” Can Desmond do it? That’s the $70 million question. [...]
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Rockies end bad homestand with loss to Giants; formidable Dodgers up next
Seven years ago, the Rockies’ September surrender came late, but it came hard. One game out of first place on Sept. 19, they lost 13 of their final 14 games and missed the postseason. Unless the Rockies start playing better baseball, this September is shaping up to be a cruel repeat of 2010, albeit not as harsh or as sudden. Colorado was routed 11-3 by San Francisco on Wednesday night at Coors Field, in a game in which rookie pitcher starter Kyle Freeland stumbled, perennial Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado showed some tarnish and the offense — minus the continued heroics of Charlie Blackmon and a spark from Carlos Gonzalez — failed to show up. San Francisco’s Joe Panik, meanwhile, had a field day. He tied a career high with five hits and set a Giants’ franchise record with 12 hits over a three-game series. “Everything seems real slow, allowing me to see the ball real well,” Panik said, describing the zone he’s been in. “Every time up there, feel like I can be patient and take a strike — but be aggressive. I feel like I’m in control of the at-bat right now. It’s definitely a good feeling to be in.” The Rockies, however, aren’t feeling so good right now. Wednesday stacked up as an ugly ending to a disappointing 3-6 homestand. Considering what comes next, the Rockies needed a better showing in LoDo over the past nine games. Boxscore: San Francisco 11, Colorado 3 Why? Because the Rockies now play 14 of their next 17 games on the road, a tough journey that begins Thursday night in Los Angeles against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. It’s the first of four games against an L.A. team on pace for more than 100 victories. Then comes four games at Arizona, a hot team running away with the National League’s No. 1 wild-card spot after sweeping three games from the Rockies at Coors Field last weekend. The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 3-1 Thursday night to extend their winning streak to a franchise-record 13 games. Rockies manager Bud Black tried to isolate Wednesday’s loss to the Giants as simply one bad game. “This was a tough game tonight,” manager Bud Black said. “On the mound we didn’t pitch well. And (starter Johnny) Cueto shut us down for five innings and they stretched the lead on us. It was there night offensively and we didn’t swing the bats very well tonight.” In terms of the big playoff picture, Milwaukee continues to stumble in its pursuit of the NL’s second wild card. The Brewers, who lost 7-1 to Cincinnati and have dropped four of five, remain 2 ½ games behind Colorado. St. Louis, however, has emerged as Colorado’s top challenger for the final playoff spot. The Cardinals beat San Diego 3-1 Wednesday night and are now just two games behind the Rockies. Blackmon might not garner enough votes for NL MVP, but he’s been Colorado’s strong and steady force all season. His 450-foot solo homer in the seventh was his 34th home run of the season, and one of Colorado’s few highlights. Blackmon — who added a double and scored a run in the fifth on Gonzalez’s single — leads the NL with a .340 average. Gonzalez, promoted to the No. 3 hole for the night, went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a double, lifting his average to .247. “I feel like I’ve been pretty consistent the last couple of weeks,” Gonzalez said. “I haven’t been trying to do too much. I have been taking the ball where it’s pitched. If they pitch me outside, I’ve been good with taking it the other way. “A lot of this year, I’ve missed pitches I had a chance to hit, but lately I have been staying on them.” Related ArticlesSeptember 6, 2017 Kiszla: For $70 million, all reeling Rockies have gotten from Ian Desmond is whole lot of nothing September 6, 2017 Carlos Gonzalez back in power spot for Rockies, but can he deliver? September 5, 2017 Rockies bats finally come alive with victory over Giants at Coors Field September 5, 2017 Kiszla: Have Rockies fans lost faith in the home team during heat of the playoff race? September 5, 2017 Rockies, Brewers and Cardinals facing wild-card fight to finish Freeland’s night was short and not the least bit sweet. He pitched just 3 1/3 innings, getting rocked for five runs (three earned) on seven hits. The rookie left-hander got in trouble early and was not backed up by the usually golden Arenado. Asked if Freeland has hit to so-called rookie wall, Black replied: “I don’t want to think that. I’m looking at his arm angle and everything, and physically, he’s showing all of the signs of hanging in there. But the quality of pitch to pitch is not where it’s needed to be.” Freeland, 11-10 with a 3.99 ERA, [...]
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