Rockies

Report: Red Sox used Apple Watch to steal Yankees’ signs
NEW YORK — The Boston Red Sox have reportedly admitted to Major League Baseball that they improperly used electronic devices to steal signs from their longtime rival New York Yankees. The New York Times reported Tuesday the Red Sox used a high-tech watch to relay signs by the Yankees catchers during a series last month at Fenway Park. The Times said the MLB probe started after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed a complaint with the commissioner’s office that included video. The newspaper said the video showed a member of Boston’s training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout and relaying a message to players. Sign stealing is allowed, but electronic assistance is prohibited. The Red Sox hold a narrow lead over the Yankees in the AL East race. Related ArticlesSeptember 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 August 31, 2017 Tigers ace Justin Verlander traded to the Astros in last minute deal August 31, 2017 Tim Tebow plans to play in Mets’ system in ’18, callup uncertain [...]
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Rockies’ German Marquez dominates Diamondbacks — for five of his six innings
Rockies rookie right-hander German Marquez had everything working Sunday at Coors Field His fastball hit 96 mph, his curveball tied up Arizona hitters, and he even unleashed a few choice changeups. All of that worked just fine for his first five innings, when he gave up just a single run. But the Diamondbacks squared up Marquez in the sixth inning, expanding their lead to 4-1 en route to a 5-1 victory. Ketel Marte led off the sixth with a solo homer to left, and Brandon Drury added a two-run homer to right. “German threw the ball with good velocity and command, with the exception of the home run to (Brandon Drury),” manager Bud Black said. “But good curveball. A few changeups, a few sliders. He did his thing, but I’m sure he’d want to have that homer back.” It was Marquez’s fifth start against Arizona this season, and he’s now 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA against the Diamondbacks. He struck out nine Sunday (including six looking), his second-highest total of his career. “Those are just things that are going to happen in baseball,” Marquez said of the two critical home runs. “I just need to focus on my next start.” Roster shuffle. Black altered his lineup Sunday, but it didn’t pay off. Black, wanting to give third baseman Nolan Arenado a breather, dropped leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon into the No. 3 hole and moved DJ LeMahieu from the No. 2 spot into the leadoff position. The biggest surprise was moving the slumping Carlos Gonzalez up to second in the order. Ian Desmond and Mark Reynolds also were out of the starting lineup, though Desmond pinch hit. “A few of our guys aren’t starting, but we shuffled some guys around,” Black said before the game. “Hopefully that will give us a jump start today. Where we put those guys today, we felt it was the best spot for all eight of them, plus German Marquez.” Related ArticlesSeptember 4, 2017 Rockies win on Carlos Gonzalez’s walk-off over the Giants at Coors Field to snap a skid September 3, 2017 Reeling Rockies manage just five hits at Coors Field as sizzling D-backs complete sweep September 2, 2017 Rockies’ offense MIA again in loss to streaking Diamondbacks September 2, 2017 Rockies’ David Dahl says his lost 2017 season fires him up for 2018 September 2, 2017 Saunders: German Marquez is the Rockies’ ace in waiting Batting third for the second time this season, Blackmon went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the fifth. Gonzalez went 0-for-2 with two walks and two strikeouts. He’s hitting .241 with eight homers and only 43 RBIs. Domination. The Diamondbacks extended their winning streak to 10 games, their second-longest winning streak in franchise history, topped only by a 12-game streak from June 18-30, 2003. During its sweep of the Rockies, Arizona’s three starters posted a combined 1.10 ERA and held the Rockies to a .151 batting average. The rotation allowed three hits or fewer in each of the three games, making the D-backs first team to ever accomplish that at Coors Field in a single season. Looking ahead … David Zalubowski, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis delivers a pitch to Detroit Tigers' Mikie Mahtook in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, in Denver.John Bazemore, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis works against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, in Atlanta.John Leyba, The Denver PostColorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis (35) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 14, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Coors Field. This is Bettis first game back and is back on the mound after cancer treatment.John Leyba, The Denver PostColorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis (35) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 14, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Coors Field. This is Bettis first game back and is back on the mound after cancer treatment.John Leyba, The Denver PostColorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis (35) gets a hug from starting pitcher Tyler Anderson (44) in the dugout in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 14, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Coors Field. Bettis was informed by manager Bud Black that he would not continue in the game.Jack Dempsey, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in Denver.Show Caption of Expand Giants RHP Chris Stratton (2-3, 3.82 ERA) at Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (0-2, 4.88 ERA), 1:10 p.m. Monday, AT&T SportsNet; 850 A [...]
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Rockies win on Carlos Gonzalez’s walk-off over the Giants at Coors Field to snap a skid
The Rockies and their offense were off-balance and in a funk. So early Monday morning, Colorado’s clubbies, on the advice of Ian Desmond, rearranged the feng shui. Purple and white recliners shifted to the corners. A long table was planted in the middle of the room. Bat racks moved to the hallway. Their space found a symmetry. “You can’t be afraid to try things,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. By the ninth inning Monday at Coors Field, after Carlos Gonzalez drew a walk-off walk to give the Rockies a 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants, nearly everything fell into balance, at least for a day. With the crowd on its feet and Gerardo Parra playing cheerleader as a runner at first base, Giants reliever Cory Gearrin lofted four consecutive balls to bring in Charlie Blackmon from third base. The Rockies (73-64) snapped a four-game losing skid and put off, for the moment, a growing anxiety. The Milwaukee Brewers (72-66) lost in a walk-off when Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton hit a ninth-inning homer for the Reds, falling 1 1/2 games behind Colorado in the National League wild-card standings. “This means more than just winning,” Gonzalez said. “This shows that we don’t have to do anything crazy to win ballgames.” The ninth inning played out in wild form. Blackmon led off with a double to shallow left field, a hit that fell through the glove of San Francisco’s Mac Williamson. The Giants walked Nolan Arenado intentionally, and then Parra drew another by sight. Gonzalez thought the game would never fall to him. He watched rookie Pat Valaika step to the plate with a .319 average as a pinch hitter this season, over 47 at-bats. Gearrin struck him out with three consecutive sliders. Watched from the on-deck circle, Gonzalez locked in on the pattern. He was looking for a breaking ball, he said, to drive up the middle. He never saw it. Gearrin threw him four pitches, and Gonzalez never swung his bat for the game-winning RBI, the first free-pass game-winner of his 10-year career. “It’s not about getting a hit, not about hitting a home run. It’s about getting the job done,” Gonzalez said. “We needed this win. We need wins. Any at-bat, whatever it is, if it’s a groundball, error, or a single, whatever gets the job done to win the game is always exciting.” The desperation was showing. In a damaging three-game sweep against the Diamondbacks over the weekend that sank the Rockies 6 1/2 games behind Arizona and just a half-game ahead of Milwaukee, their offense mustered just two hits in 30 at-bats with runners in scoring position. “There have been some at-bats lately where I thought we were a little bit too overzealous, too anxious,” Black said. “I told the guys, ‘When there’s traffic, the pitcher is the one in trouble.’ Sometimes in our haste to get a hit and be the guy, we’ve come out of a good at-bat. Today, I didn’t see it.” Greg Holland set them up. The Rockies’ closer pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to earn a victory, his third this season. He snagged a hard grounder from Pablo Sandoval that bounced at Holland’s face and bowled him over before he tossed to first base. Two hefty swats put the Giants ahead in the early going. Joe Panik plopped a home run to the second deck in right field off Chad Bettis‘ sixth pitch of the game to give San Francisco a 1-0 lead. And Denard Span hit his own homer to the next level in right field in the third inning. Bettis returned last month in fine form, throwing 13 consecutive scoreless innings to start his season. But in his past three outings, the veteran right-hander was burned by misplaced pitches for home runs, twice in Atlanta, twice against Detroit at Coors Field and twice again Monday. Six homers in three games. But he capped the issue quickly and retired eight in a row after Span’s shot. Ian Desmond fielded all three outs at shortstop in the fourth, and Bettis lasted through 5 1/3 innings on five hits and three runs. He did not walk a batter. It gave the Rockies time to weave hits together. Blackmon led off the third inning with a 441-foot home run, his 33rd of the season, to the bullpen in right-center, longer even than Panik’s and Span’s shots. In the fourth inning, after Gonzalez led off with a double down the left-field line and Bettis pushed a single through the right side to score him, DJ LeMahieu gave the Rockies a lead — finally. Related ArticlesSeptember 3, 2017 Rockies’ German Marquez dominates Diamondbacks — for five of his six innings September 3, 2017 Reeling Rockies manage just five hits at Coors Field as sizzling D-backs complete sweep September 2, 2017 Rockies’ offense MIA again in loss to streaking Diamondbacks September 2, 2017 Rockies’ David Dahl [...]
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Rockies’ offense MIA again in loss to streaking Diamondbacks
With their offense in a funk of playoff-crippling proportions, the Rockies’ margin for error has become tissue-paper thin. The latest example: A 6-2 loss to Arizona on Saturday night in front of 39,442 fans at Coors Field, many of them no doubt wondering what’s become of Colorado’s bats. Handcuffed by Arizona starter Patrick Corbin for 5 ⅓ innings, then blanked by five relievers, the Rockies managed only four hits in their home ballpark. As scoreboard watching heats up, the Rockies look like a team grabbing bats too tightly and swinging too hard. In other words, it looks like they are pressing. Manager Bud Black, however, doesn’t necessarily agree with that psychological assessment. “We have talked about this, as a group and individually,” Black said. “This is a great time for these players. I mean, these guys have not been through this before. They know where they are. They might be pressing, but I sense that they care. That’s what I like.” Boxscore: Arizona 6, Colorado 2 The Diamondbacks’ ninth consecutive victory moved them to 78-58, 5 ½ games in front of Colorado (72-63) for the National League’s top wild-card slot. During the streak, Arizona pitchers have posted a 2.44 ERA, with starters going 9-0 with a 1.83 ERA. In the process, that Diamondbacks rewrote the history books too. They have now held the lead for 52 consecutive innings, the third-longest stretch during baseball’s live-ball era (since 1920). The only teams with longer streaks were the 1983 Baltimore Orioles (55) and the 1963 St. Louis Cardinals (53). Thanks to Milwaukee’s 3-2 loss to Washington, the reeling Rockies maintained a 1 ½ game lead over the Brewers (71-65) for the second wild card. Still, the Rockies have lost four of five games on this important nine-game homestand. Some perspective on Colorado’s offensive woes: From opening day to June 20 (when the Rockies were a season-high 21 games over .500 at 47-26), the Rockies batted .321 with runners in scoring position. Since then, they have hit .261 with runners in scoring position, including their 0-for-7 performance Saturday, and are 25-37 in that 62-game stretch. Arizona scored three runs in the first inning Saturday and it stood up. Rockies starter Jon Gray almost averted disaster, but not quite, and so his one, big mistake pitch ended up deciding the ballgame early. David Peralta opened the game by smacking a loud leadoff double. Ketel Marte followed up with an infield single to third, just beating Nolan Arenado‘s throw after a barehanded grab. But Gray got the next two batters out and seemed to have J.D. Martinez on the ropes with a 2-2 count. But on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Martinez crushed Gray’s 88 mph slider to center for a three-run homer. Martinez’s 30th of the season traveled 449 feet, according to Statcast. Related ArticlesSeptember 3, 2017 Reeling Rockies manage just five hits at Coors Field as sizzling D-backs complete sweep September 2, 2017 Rockies’ David Dahl says his lost 2017 season fires him up for 2018 September 2, 2017 Saunders: German Marquez is the Rockies’ ace in waiting September 1, 2017 Rockies whiff through a dud in the Diamondbacks’ series-opening blowout at Coors Field September 1, 2017 Rockies add to a swelling roster with September call-ups, but it’s not a plethora. Here’s how they will use them. Pretty quickly after Martinez hit the ball, Gray realized it was gone, displaying his frustration on the mound by bending over and pounding his glove. “The pitch didn’t have the action it was supposed to, then my tempo got really quick and it was hard for me to slow down,” said Gray, who fell to 6-4 as his ERA rose to 4.26. “It was very frustrating when the game starts out like that. It seems like worse-case scenario, but I just did what I could and tried to take us deeper into the game.” Gray pitched well after that, but his night was short and unrewarding: five innings, three run on five hits, with six strikeouts and three walks. The Diamondbacks made Gray work, as evidenced by his 100 pitches. “I felt like I started to rebound there toward the end,” he said. “Even my feel started to get better and I felt like I threw some good curveballs.” Arizona added an insurance run in the sixth off reliever Chris Rusin, who uncorked a wild-pitch, allowing Chris Herrmann, who had walked, to score from third. The Rockies nicked Corbin for a run in the fourth when DJ LeMahieu led off with a triple high off the right-field fence, Arenado walked and LeMahieu scored on Mark Reynolds‘ double-play grounder. LeMahieu, who played in his 800th career game, extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Arizona gift-wrapped a run in the s [...]
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Reeling Rockies manage just five hits at Coors Field as sizzling D-backs complete sweep
If the Rockies’ postseason hopes die, the tombstone will read “RISP.” Because nothing has so defined the Rockies’ continuing slide from grace as their failure to hit with runners in scoring position. That maddening trend continued Sunday afternoon at Coors Field with a 5-1 loss to streaking Arizona. The Diamondbacks completed the three-game sweep with ease, won their 10th consecutive game and are running away with the National League’s top wild-card spot. During the sweep, Arizona starters — Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley — combined for a 1.10 ERA in high-altitude LoDo. The loss was Colorado’s fourth straight and it has seen its once comfortable lead for the NL’s second wild-card spot evaporate. Milwaukee (72-65) beat Washington 7-2 Sunday to pull within a half-game of the Rockies (72-64). The Diamondbacks’ lead over the Rockies for the top wild-card spot surged to 6 ½ games at 79-58. Manager Bud Black altered his lineup Sunday — all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado didn’t start, usual leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon batted third and DJ LeMahieu led off — but it didn’t matter. The Rockies managed only three hits off Godley, and although the right-hander issued six walks, the Rockies failed to cash in with a clutch hit. They finished the game 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, continuing a trend that has come to define their failure in the second half of the season. In their last four games, all at Coors Field, they are 2-for-32 in that clutch category. The Rockies’ lone run Sunday came in the fifth inning when Blackmon singled home LeMahieu. Related ArticlesSeptember 2, 2017 Rockies’ offense MIA again in loss to streaking Diamondbacks September 2, 2017 Rockies’ David Dahl says his lost 2017 season fires him up for 2018 September 2, 2017 Saunders: German Marquez is the Rockies’ ace in waiting September 1, 2017 Rockies whiff through a dud in the Diamondbacks’ series-opening blowout at Coors Field September 1, 2017 Rockies add to a swelling roster with September call-ups, but it’s not a plethora. Here’s how they will use them. Arizona, meanwhile, came through with big hits off rookie right-hander German Marquez. David Peralta slugged an RBI double in the third to put the D-backs ahead 1-0, but it was the sixth inning that was Marquez’s undoing.  Ketel Marte led off with a solo homer to left, followed by an opposite-field two-run shot to right by Brandon Drury. Marquez looked dominant at times, striking out nine (six of them looking), while walking none. But the home runs were his undoing and he lost at Coors Field for the first time in his last 10 starts.. Chris Ianetta, the former Rockies catcher, added a solo homer off reliever Carloz Estevez in the eighth to tie a bow on the Diamondbacks’ sweep. It was Ianetta’s 14th homer of the season. The Rockies, losers of 15 of their last 22 games, open a three-game set against San Francisco on Monday at Coors Field. [...]
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Rockies whiff through a dud in the Diamondbacks’ series-opening blowout at Coors Field
The biggest blockade to a Rockies run toward the postseason sat within eyesight Friday night at Coors Field. Their destiny wore gray. The Arizona Diamondbacks streaked into Denver on a season-high run of seven consecutive victories, but in a ping-pong rally through this season, the rivals remained nearly even. “When they’re right there in front of you and you know what’s at stake, in our eyes, it’s a bigger deal,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. That breezy noise blowing behind Arizona’s 9-5 victory over the punchless Rockies was not the wind in the D-backs’ sails. It was the sound of a series of strikeouts, 10 whiffs in the Rockies’ first five innings, as Colorado kicked off a critical weekend series against their division rival with a thud. The Rockies (72-62) fell to 10 games above even for just the third time since May 20. And Arizona (77-58) moved 4 1/2 games ahead for the first of two National League wild-card berths. Worse still, the Milwaukee Brewers (71-64) sneaked a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals, stepping just 1 1/2 games behind Colorado. “Sometimes you look at the scoreboard in right field,” right fielder Carlos Gonzalez said. “But I’ve been through this before. It’s all about us, not about what other teams are doing. Win. Just win. It doesn’t matter how.” Jack Dempsey, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland sits in the dugout after being pulled in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Denver.Jack Dempsey, The Associated PressArizona Diamondbacks' David Peralta, bottom, slides safely into home plate against Colorado Rockies catcher Jonathan Lucroy (21) during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Denver.Joe Mahoney, Getty ImagesRelief pitcher Adam Ottavino #0 of the Colorado Rockies walks to the dugout after being replaced in the seventh inning after the Arizona Diamondbacks scored three runs against him in the inning at Coors Field on Sept. 1, 2017 in Denver.Jack Dempsey, The Associated PressColorado Rockies' Mark Reynolds reacts after striking out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Denver.Jack Dempsey, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland throws to the plate against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Denver.Joe Mahoney, Getty ImagesTrevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies forces out Reymond Fuentes #14 of the Arizona Diamondbacks at second base and looks to first base in the sixth inning at Coors Field on Sept. 1, 2017 in Denver.Show Caption of Expand Through 12 games before Friday, the Rockies and Diamondbacks split with six wins apiece. September afforded the Rockies an opportunity to make a move for the top wild-card spot and a home game Oct. 4 for a one-game playoff. They will play seven times this month, including four in Phoenix starting Sept. 11. A three-game series at Coors Field to kick off the final full month started with a flood of empty Rockies at-bats. Taijuan Walker, Arizona’s lanky 24-year-old right-hander, struck out eight batters in three innings. Ian Desmond’s inning-ending groundout to the shortstop in the third was the only non-K out. Through five innings, Desmond was the only Rockies hitter Walker failed to strike out. He left after five with 10 Ks and three walks and the Rockies’ three hits off him yielded two runners stranded on third base. Walker became just the second pitcher in Arizona’s history to record as many as eight strikeouts for a game’s first eight outs, after Dan Haren got nine against the Dodgers in 2010. “He was effectively wild,” Desmond said of Walker. “He had us off balance.” Related ArticlesSeptember 1, 2017 Rockies add to a swelling roster with September call-ups, but it’s not a plethora. Here’s how they will use them. September 1, 2017 As the Rockies ramp up for a September run toward the playoffs, the pressure echoes through Colorado August 31, 2017 Slumping Rockies face streaking D-backs in crucial weekend series August 30, 2017 Kiszla: After waiting nearly a decade to be in a playoff race, have the Rockies run out of gas? August 30, 2017 Charlie Blackmon continues to pace a top-heavy Rockies lineup as the bottom half struggles The Diamondbacks, though, got to Colorado rookie lefty Kyle Freeland for a run in each of the first three innings. A.J. Pollock singled in David Peralta in the first, Walker’s infield single in the second sent Brandon Drury home, and J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly to center in the third scored Pollock, who had tripled. “I didn’t set a good [...]
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Baseball superstitions abound for players and managers alike
SAN FRANCISCO — Phillies manager Pete Mackanin picks between two pairs of red sneakers based on which ones have been on his feet during hard-to-come-by wins. Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt gets dressed in a specific sequence each day, down to how he pulls on his socks and in what order. Sometimes, Kansas City’s Brandon Moss pretends to be superstitious by going with a good-luck bat. Oakland manager Bob Melvin rotates between several parking spaces at the Coliseum depending how his club is playing. “No. 3 is performing pretty well,” he said of his recent go-to spot. Wade Boggs was known to eat chicken before every game, while Kansas City starter Ian Kennedy has moved past his former need to have breakfast at the same restaurants he frequented through college ball and the minors. Ahh, superstitions. Baseball is made for them — starting with the most basic of all: Don’t step on the chalk lines. Nationals pitcher Oliver Perez takes no chances, theatrically leaping over the foul line. “Just that white line, gotta get over that white line. We all got something,” Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson said, noting if he somehow touched the line, “I’d get nervous, I’d probably cross back over and then come back again.” From the gold thong Jason Giambi believed would bust any slump, to ex-Detroit skipper Jim Leyland’s well-worn — don’t ask — boxer shorts through a 2011 winning streak, to Ryan Dempster feasting at the same Italian eatery before starts and Roger Clemens visiting the Babe Ruth plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. And, of course those bushy, overgrown October beards are a sure sign of the postseason. “I just find it an individual expressing their individuality,” said Boston outfielder Rajai Davis. Moss will just fake that he’s superstitious from time to time. Related ArticlesAugust 31, 2017 Tigers ace Justin Verlander traded to the Astros in last minute deal August 31, 2017 Tim Tebow plans to play in Mets’ system in ’18, callup uncertain August 30, 2017 Amid floods, Astros to return home Saturday to face Mets August 30, 2017 Rhys Hoskins is smashing records and chasing Ted Williams amid historically bad Phillies season August 30, 2017 Yankees sitting slumping Aaron Judge again to “refresh the body” “They’re all wacky to me,” Moss said. “Because I’m not. I pretend like I am but I’m really not. You’ll joke around and say, ‘Oh, this was the lucky bat.’ You know it’s not the bat. … It’s like that thing in Bull Durham if you’re hot because of whatever reason, then you are. If you believe it, then it’s true.” Vogt, with the Athletics until Milwaukee claimed him off waivers June 25, insists: “Melvin’s one of the most superstitious people I’ve ever met, down to which undershirt he’s wearing, what he wore to the game before, who takes the lineup card out. It’s all a science. Nothing in Oakland happens by accident in that clubhouse.” Vogt said Melvin will even alter where he stands in the dugout during an inning if the A’s don’t score. “He’s embellishing,” Melvin cracked. “Over these last couple years I’ve lost a ton of my superstitions, because they just don’t work.” The Phillies coaches take turns going to home plate to trade lineup cards with the opposing manager or coach. Third base coach Juan Samuel was 0-8 at one point, having lost privileges after the Phillies failed to win his first four tries exchanging the lineup card. Eventually he asked Mackanin “let me have another shot at it.” “We have an ongoing thing I’m looking for one of the coaches to take the card up to get us on a roll,” Mackanin said. “(Matt) Stairs was hot for a while. Samuel was probably the hottest. Samuel was like 0-8 before that and we came back around to him and he was like 5-1.” ___ Sometime during the 1981 season in Double-A ball, an overnight envelope arrived from Kevin Rhomberg to Buck Showalter. It revealed just how deeply superstitious the Cleveland outfielder had become. “He had a thing about touching you,” recalled Showalter, now Orioles manager. “Like if you would hit Kevin he would have to touch you back. I’m playing first base, I tag him on a pickoff to end the game, I ran off the field. It freaked him out. He led the league in hitting that year. So when I get back home there’s an overnight letter from Kevin Rhomberg. I open it up, it said: ‘Buck, I just want you to know you’ve been retouched by touching this letter.'” Showalter has his own quirks. He barely eats on game day, a couple of cups of coff [...]
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Kiszla: After waiting nearly a decade to be in a playoff race, have the Rockies run out of gas?
Talk about lousy timing. After waiting nearly a decade to get up and dance in September, the Rockies now have two left feet. And weak hitting, not to mention a crisis of confidence on the mound in the ninth inning. With its best chance to make the playoffs since 2009, Colorado is tripping over itself. Hey, guys: Stop it. Nobody anywhere else in the United States takes baseball in Colorado seriously. So why choke on the chance to prove them wrong? With the best month of the regular season upon us, the Rockies are playing their worst baseball of the year. “I think the only difference between September baseball and May baseball is the name of the month. I think if you treat it any different, you’ve got it all wrong. You should treat every game like it’s a playoff game, like it could be the last game you’ll ever play,” said Jonathan Lucroy, a veteran catcher brought to Colorado last month to help the young Rockies deal with playoff pressure. “If you’re coming down to the end of the season, and you’re a couple games out of the playoffs or you’re right on the cusp of clinching, it gets to be a situation where it’s pretty stressful for everybody. It’s only natural; we’re all human. But, as a player, you’ve got stay within yourself and stay locked in. You’ve got to focus on the little stuff and not let the bigger picture get to you. Focus on one pitch at a time.” The Rockies got thumped 6-2 by Detroit on a Wednesday when the only fun to be had at Coors Field was figuring out which one among the 29,821 spectators in attendance was supermodel Kate Upton. Colorado ended August at 12-15, its first losing month of the season. “I am looking forward to September,” manager Bud Black said. Maybe somebody should notify Black’s team this is supposed to be fun, not a root canal. As the digital clock on the wall flipped to 4:49 p.m., a full 45 minutes after the Rockies were shut down by Tigers ace Justin Verlander and three Detroit relief pitchers, there was barely a peep and nary a smile in the Colorado clubhouse. The sound of real trouble is silence. Related ArticlesAugust 26, 2017 Kiszla: Vibe at new CSU stadium captured by old Neil Diamond song: So good, so good, so good! August 24, 2017 Kiszla: How would Broncos Country react if Brandon Marshall took a knee during anthem on 9/11? August 23, 2017 Kiszla: Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch needs to get his head out of … the clouds August 21, 2017 Kiszla: In race to be Broncos starting quarterback, Trevor Siemian wins and John Elway loses August 6, 2017 Kiszla: A glimpse into Rockies closer Greg Holland’s head after blowing a game in the ninth inning Since the morning of June 21, when the Rockies awoke with a 47-26 record, they have been the worst team in the National League West. Closer Greg Holland has lost a grip on his slider and the team’s unshakable confidence in one-run games has slipped away. The Colorado batting order is so dangerously top heavy it’s about to topple, and I’m not certain how Black can fix all the dead spots, unless he can write a lineup card with Charlie Blackmon hitting first, fifth and eighth without the home-plate umpire noticing. Fifteen times in August, the Rockies scored three runs or less. And what was their record in those games when the only noise made by the offense has been the sound of a flat tire? 4-11. After an early-season run of good luck, it’s tempting to say Colorado has hit the karma wall, except you can’t even hit the wall when swinging and missing at strike three as much as Trevor Story and Carlos Gonzalez habitually do. September is the month for scoreboard watching. But perhaps the Rockies and their fans are looking at it the wrong way. Yes, Milwaukee and Miami are hot on Colorado’s tail. But being the hunted is a good way to end up as a trophy on somebody else’s mantle. The lone goal of the Rockies should be to catch Arizona for the No. 1 wild-card berth. “You don’t want to be the No. 2 wild card,” said Gonzalez, who wants that win-or-go-home showdown during the first week of October to be played in LoDo. Be the hunter, not the hunted. “The last time I played meaningful games (during the final month) was in 2009,” said Gonzalez. During most of the season, he will regularly sneak from the dugout into the tunnel to review a video of his previous at-bats in the game. When the playoffs are on the line during September, however, CarGo is glued to the dugout rail. “When you’re playing great games,” Gonzalez said, “you don’t want to miss one pitch.” The Rockies need to exhale. Give the pressure a bro hug. Shorten those swings and savor every moment. What’s got to stop: All this panic [...]
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Rhys Hoskins is smashing records and chasing Ted Williams amid historically bad Phillies season
PHILADELPHIA — Into the worst Philadelphia Phillies season in 56 years has dropped the most curious and welcome of baseball joys: the out-of-nowhere August phenom. Except Rhys Hoskins is not as out-of-nowhere as you may think. For the last half-dozen or so of his 24 years on Earth, he has been kept from your consciousness by the gatekeepers who think they know what separates the great ones from the rest. Until Hoskins came crashing through those gates. On Aug. 10, to little fanfare, the Phillies — saddled with the game’s worst record and mired in a five-year rebuilding process that appears to have stalled — called up Hoskins, a first baseman, from Class AAA. He went 0 for his first 10 big-league at-bats, and then embarked on a run of power-hitting that is essentially without precedent by a major league debutant. In a span of 14 games beginning Aug. 14, Hoskins smashed 11 home runs and drove in 24 runs — equaling the best 14-game stretch by home run leader Giancarlo Stanton of Miami, out-homering the Washington Nationals during that span and essentially surpassing in half a month the entire 2017 output of teammate Cesar Hernandez (eight homers, 26 RBI) in 350 fewer plate appearances. Laurence Kesterson, The Associated PressPhiladelphia Phillies' Rhys Hoskins follows through on a home run in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Philadelphia.Hunter Martin, Getty ImagesRhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-3.Chris Szagola, The Associated PressPhiladelphia Phillies' Rhys Hoskins watches the ball as it turned a double scoring Nick Williams during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 6-1.Mitchell Leff, Getty ImagesRhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a two run home run in the bottom of the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 26, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Hunter Martin, Getty ImagesRhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies acknowledges a standing ovation by the fans after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-3.Hunter Martin, Getty ImagesRhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies waves off the pitcher covering first base after fielding a ground ball in the seventh inning during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 28, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-1.Hunter Martin, Getty ImagesRhys Hoskins #17 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a double in the sixth inning during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 28, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-1.Show Caption of Expand No other player in history had hit 11 home runs in his first 22 big league games; Hoskins had that many in his first 18. It seems only a matter of time before Hoskins surpasses Ted Williams for the most home runs by a player who made his season debut after Aug. 1. (Williams hit 13 in 1953, the year he missed most of the season while fighting in the Korean War.) And it isn’t just Hoskins’ shocking power numbers that jump out — it is also his approach at the plate. In a small sample size, Hoskins’ plate discipline, in the form of a swing rate of 41.4 percent of all pitches, and contact rate of 86.7 percent of all swings, are both elite-level. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young guy look that profound at home plate,” Cubs Manager Joe Maddon told reporters after Hoskins torched his team for home runs in three straight games over the weekend. Unless you are a hardcore Phillies fan, a deep-dive devotee of MLB prospect websites, a family member or a friend, you had probably not heard of Hoskins until this month. That’s not surprising. At almost no time in his life has Hoskins been considered someone who might someday become a household name. “I think people just missed him along the way,” said Joe Potulny, Hoskins’ coach at Jesuit High in Carmichael, Calif. “Some people took a pass on him because they didn’t see this high-energy, bolt-of-lightning player and questioned whether he played with enough enthusiasm. But if you know him, you know that’s not the case. He’s just consistent. He’s the same guy whether he’s 0 for 4, or 4 for 4 with a couple of homers.” Coming out of Jesuit, as a three-sport athlete who turned down chances to play in high school baseball summer showcases to focus on football and basketball, Hoskins went undrafted by MLB and received just one collegiate scholarship offe [...]
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Rockies dominated by Tigers’ Justin Verlander, lose series at Coors Field
Before Wednesday afternoon’s game, manager Bud Black talked about the excitement of September baseball and how jazzed the Rockies players are to be chasing a playoff berth. But in their final game of August, Justin Verlander reminded the Rockies that they have a long, long way to go. Detroit’s veteran right-hander dominated for six innings, allowing a single run on three hits as the Tigers cruised to a 6-2 victory, clinching the three-game series at Coors Field. Verlander has now allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 12 starts, and the 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner improved to 31-5 all-time in interleague play, that splendid record garnished with a 2.86 ERA. Colorado, 20-22 since the all-star break, finished August with a 12-15 record, their first month with a losing record since going 11-16 last September. Milwaukee, meanwhile, beat St. Louis 6-5, moving to within three games of the Rockies for the National League’s second wild-card berth. With Verlander pitching like an ace, the Rockies needed Chad Bettis to at least keep them within reasonable striking distance. The right-hander was unable to, giving up five runs on seven hits in five innings. Bettis, 0-2 with a 4.88 ERA in four starts since returning from his battle against testicular cancer, was shaky from the outset. Two walks set up an RBI single by Verlander in the second inning, the first RBI of Verlander’s career. The big blows by the Tigers were a two-out solo homer by Nicholas Castellanos in the third and a two-out, three run blast by James McCann in the fifth. Related ArticlesAugust 29, 2017 Nolan Arenado’s 3-run blast seals Rockies’ win over Tigers August 29, 2017 Charlie Blackmon staying at top of Rockies’ order, Bud Black says August 29, 2017 Kiszla vs. Groke: How many wins will push the Rockies into the playoffs? August 29, 2017 Lunch Special: Colorado Rockies live chat with Patrick Saunders August 28, 2017 Carlos Gonzalez scratched from Rockies game with sore foot and ankle Had Bettis been able to retire McCann and close out the fifth, the Rockies would have had a shot, but Bettis hung a slider and McCann sailed it deep into the left-field bleachers. Colorado’s lone run off Verlander was a 424-foot homer by Charlie Blackmon to lead off the sixth. It was Blackmon’s 32nd homer and he’ll head into September needing eight homers to reach 40 and set the all-time major-league record for home runs by a leadoff hitter. The Rockies’ other run came in the ninth off reliever Shane Greene, when Trevor Story doubled off the right-field fence to score Carlos Gonzalez, who had reached on a walk. T The Rockies are off Thursday before opening an important weekend series against Arizona at Coors Field. The Diamondbacks led the Rockies by 2 1/2 games for the top wild-card spot heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Dodgers. [...]
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Kiszla vs. Groke: How many wins will push the Rockies into the playoffs?
How many wins will push the Rockies into the playoffs? Kiz: Are the Rockies in trouble? Way too much of Colorado’s batting order is dead wood, while Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton is smashing homers like Babe Ruth. Rockies closer Greg Holland looks tired and beat, while the Milwaukee Brewers refuse to fade in their pursuit of a wild-card berth. Can Colorado hang on, and how many victories will it take to make the playoffs? Groke: Starting Wednesday, there are 30 games remaining on the Rockies’ schedule. Colorado was 71-60 going into Tuesday’s game against Detroit — still the second-best record at this point in club history. Even then, Milwaukee is just three games behind. Let’s say the Rockies go even-Steven the rest of the way, a .500 record over the final month would net them 86-87 wins. Kiz, dude, that’s cutting it close. Related ArticlesAugust 29, 2017 Lunch Special: Colorado Rockies live chat with Patrick Saunders August 28, 2017 Carlos Gonzalez scratched from Rockies game with sore foot and ankle August 28, 2017 Rockies’ clutch offense a no-show again in loss to Tigers at Coors Field August 28, 2017 Ian Desmond returns to Rockies as they begin stretch run toward possible playoff berth August 27, 2017 Jon Gray breezes through Braves and Mark Reynolds goes deep as Rockies finally win a road series Kiz: Know what the best thing the Rockies have going for them? The teams behind them in the wild-card race aren’t very good. The Marlins, Brewers and Cardinals will all be hard-pressed to win more than 84 games. So I think Colorado can get in the playoffs with an 85-77 record. But the final two weeks of the regular season, especially a three-game series against Miami on Sept. 24-26, figure to be nerve-wracking. Groke: Let’s dip into recent wild-card history. In the National League last year, the two wild-card teams, the Mets and Giants, finished with 87 wins. Throw out 2015 because that was an exceptional season (the 98-win Pirates were the top wild card team, one game ahead of the Cubs in the Central). In 2014, 88 wins got the Pirates and Giants in. You’re right, the Brewers and Cardinals don’t seem like an immediate threat. But the Rox need better than a .500 record in September. They need to aim for 90 wins. Kiz: Here’s what’s disconcerting: On June 20, the Rockies were 47-26, one game ahead of Los Angeles in the NL West standings. Since that date, Bud Black’s squad has the worst record in the division. I’m not asking for much. Colorado can play slightly below .500 baseball the remainder of the season and finish with 85 victories. I still believe the Rockies can do it. But, frankly, if they win fewer than 85 games, they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. Groke: And don’t talk to me about windows. It matters very little if the Rockies are better built to contend next year or 2019 or whenever they decide the time is right. With this weak NL field, anything short of the postseason would be a disappointment. This club has only twice won at least 90 games, in 2007 and ’09, both playoff years. They’ve made the postseason just three times in 24 years. A division title is off the table. Win 90 games this season, dive into a one-game firecracker against Arizona and let it rip. That should be the goal. [...]
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Dodgers falls to Brewers, lose first series since early June
By Steve Dilbeck, The Associated Press LOS ANGELES — After steamrolling through just about every opponent over the past three months, the Dodgers finally hit a bump in the road. Jimmy Nelson and the Milwaukee Brewers managed something Sunday that no other team had pulled off against Los Angeles since early June — they won a series. Nelson took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and the Brewers beat Yu Darvish in his return from the disabled list, defeating the Dodgers 3-2 to take two of three games from Los Angeles. In building baseball’s best record (91-38), the Dodgers had gone 19-0-3 in series since dropping two of three games at home to Washington from June 5-7. “That team played a good series,” manager Dave Roberts said of the Brewers. “They really did. They pitched well. They got the hits when they needed to. “You look at our club offensively, that’s where we’re a little cold right now. It happens to every ballclub at some point in the season.” Hernan Perez homered and Domingo Santana had two hits and an RBI for the Brewers, who pulled within two games of the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. “It’s the start of something,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We played pretty good baseball today. You’ve got to play really good to beat these guys. “Beating this team is important and it’s meaningful.” Nelson (10-6) was charged with two runs on four hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six. Related ArticlesAugust 27, 2017 Giancarlo Stanton blasts 50th home run to help Marlins beat Padres August 27, 2017 Rockies will “navigate” a growing Greg Holland situation, trying to fix Colorado’s closer on the fly August 26, 2017 Kevin Gausman sharp in Orioles’ win over Red Sox August 26, 2017 Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury lead Sonny Gray, Yankees over Mariners August 25, 2017 Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera banned 7 games, Yankees’ Gary Sanchez 4 for fight Corey Knebel set down the Dodgers in the ninth for his 29th save in 34 attempts. With two on, he struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer on a full-count pitch to end it. Darvish (8-10) came back from lower back tightness to make his fourth start since the Dodgers acquired him from Texas at the July 31 trade deadline. The right-hander lasted only five innings, again laboring and throwing 95 pitches. He allowed three runs on six hits and three walks, striking out seven. Roberts said Darvish was working on mechanical adjustments during his rehab stint and struggled with his fastball command. “He was really trying to find a rhythm and some consistency,” Roberts said. “The pitch count got up, but he still pitched well.” OFFENSE STRUGGLING The Dodgers have lost consecutive games for the first time since July 20-21, and three of five for the first time since dropping that last series against Washington. The offense that has powered their success is suddenly struggling. “You look at the guys in the lineup who aren’t swinging the bats the way they are capable or have been this year, it’s all kind of happening at once,” Roberts said. “We’ll get through it.” HOMEWARD BOUND The victory enabled the Brewers to finish their road trip 5-4 and return home with some momentum. “We feel like we’re in every single game,” Nelson said. “This is a really tough road trip and we’ve proved to ourselves we’re right there with the best teams.” GONZALEZ AILING Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, fresh off a long stint on the disabled list because of a herniated disk, left in the seventh with back stiffness. “Right there I just want to be cautious,” Roberts said. “I don’t think it’s anything.” Roberts, however, said when Cody Bellinger (ankle) returns from the disabled list Wednesday, he will go back to first base. Bellinger was expected to play some left field, but the Dodgers acquired veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson from the Mets last week. THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS Brewers minor league infielder Julio Mendez suffered a cardiac event Saturday night after being hit by a pitch during a rookie league game in Tempe, Arizona. The 20-year-old Mendez was treated on the field and taken to a hospital where he was in critical but stable condition, the club said. “We’re thinking about him, and our thoughts are with him and his family,” Counsell said. “It’s obviously very scary.” TRAINER’S ROOM Brewers: Hurricane Harvey is impacting the team’s plans for rehab assignments. “Our Triple-A team is in New Orleans today and then they’re supposed to go to Round Rock (Texas). We have some players that are close to rehab. We’re not sen [...]
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Carlos Gonzalez’s career in limbo as Rockies era nears an end
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In May 2016, Carlos Gonzalez had a long chat with Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. At age 40, “Big Papi” was in the final year of his career, and it turned out to be a grand finale. Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs and led the American League in RBIs (127). “When I talked to Ortiz, I was like, ‘Man, one of the things I really want is to be just like you,’ ” Gonzalez recalled. “I want to be 40 years old and still hitting .300 and still having fun. That’s what I want because I love playing this game.” But right now, in the midst of the most prolonged slump of his career, Gonzalez’s career is in limbo. The Rockies had serious discussions during spring training with Gonzalez about a multiyear contract extension, but they couldn’t strike a deal. Now, the three-time all-star probably is playing the final few weeks of a nine-year career with Colorado. The 31-year old right fielder has never hit his stride this season. The timing could not be worse,  for the Rockies or for CarGo’s impending free agency. Gonzalez often has been a streaky hitter, starting slowly then catching steam. But this season the slump lingered even as the Rockies stayed in a strong position for a wild-card playoff berth. Gonzalez entered Friday hitting only .240 with 40 RBIs and just eight home runs. If there is any doubt in his mind about his talent and his future, he doesn’t show it. “Of course I’ve had a slow year,” he said. “My numbers aren’t showing up like the CarGo that everybody is used to. But you keep believing in yourself, you keep working and trying to help the team win and get to the playoffs. That would be important to me. “So I know I can do that. I go in, every single day, thinking today will be the day I’m going to get back on track.” Related ArticlesAugust 26, 2017 Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu help Rockies finally get crooked in late win over the Braves August 26, 2017 Charlie Blackmon hit again by dehydration; Tyler Anderson to rehab for Rockies return; Jeff Hoffman struggles August 26, 2017 Saunders: Rockies’ offense needs a shake up, before postseason slips away August 25, 2017 Rockies fall to Braves as August continues to be full of dog days August 25, 2017 “I hope he hits you in the face,” Bud Black said, as Rockies get unique with players weekend, uniforms Free agency on horizon Gonzalez adamantly denies the idea that the pressure of playing for a new contract as a free agent has negatively affected him. “A lot of people think that’s why I’m not performing, but that’s not it at all,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s just been a weird year for a lot of players. Look at (Detroit’s) Miguel Cabrera. He’s one of the greatest players, but he’s hitting (.254) without a lot of power (12 homers). “And the thing is, we really don’t play for (the contract), we play the game because we love the game. I know that if I take care of business and stay healthy, I’m going to have a job and plenty of opportunities to play.” There have been hints that Gonzalez is starting to heat up. In his last 30 games heading into Friday, he hit .304. “He just has to get his swing back, because he’s never really found the right swing this year,” said third baseman Nolan Arenado, one of Gonzalez’s closest friends on the team. “Failure can beat you down mentally and he’s trying so hard to help us win. Once he gets that swing back, people are going to remember the old CarGo. Guys like CarGo don’t just become bad hitters, they find it again.” Whether Gonzalez finds it in time to bolster Colorado’s underachieving offense in September is a big question hanging over the team, but general manager Jeff Bridich thinks Gonzalez still has quality baseball in his future. “I would hope so,” Bridich said. “He’s still a very good athlete, he still has bat speed, he still works very hard at the craft and he still plays a good right field. Injuries aren’t an issue like they were a few years ago. So I would hope so. I would think so.” According to a recent report by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Gonzalez was offered “a lucrative four-year deal” from the Rockies last spring. Both sides deny Gonzalez rejected a four-year deal. “That’s not true,” Gonzalez said. “They offered me an extension, but it was not a four-year deal. I was looking for something bigger, for more years.” Bridich declined to discuss specifics of the negotiations, but did say there were “serious conversations” during the spring. “There were some concrete ideas goi [...]
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