VAPORIZING ROX HOST GIANTS; HEAD WEST
Chad Bettis (0-2, 4.88) is fixing to let loose with his first heave of today’s matchup against the San Francisco Giants down in Lodo at 20th and Blake. Bettis will face-off against right-hander Chris Stratton (2-3, 3.82) of the 54-85 Giants in the first of 3 on the end of a 10-game home stand for the Rockies, which to-date has been substantially less than pleasing, in fact San Francisco has already taken a one run lead.
Colorado had it all set up. 3 against the disappointing and dis-assembling Detroit Tigers followed by 3 head-to-head with arch-rival Arizona– a big chance to make up some ground and blaze into September under a head of steam after a difficult August. Instead the Rockies elected to conspicuously cower, dropping 2 of 3 to Detroit and getting swept by the Diamondbacks. At home.
Antonia Senzatela was out Monday and got behind early, a recent Colorado theme. Alex Presley tripled, Justin Upton singled, and Nick Castellanos singled to put the Tigers up by 2. The Rockies got busy against Jordan Zimmerman in the bottom of the 2nd on a 2-run Jonathan Lucroy home run, a double by Trevor Story and singles from Ian Desmond and Charlie Blackmon to lead 3-2, but Senzatela gave it right back up, walking Upton and Miguel Cabrera with one out, then surrendering a triple to Castellanos. Zimmerman only made it through 5, but 5 Detroit relievers put the kibosh on further Colorado ambitions.
The big victory came Tuesday. The Rockies went up 3-0 behind German Marquez, who was tough for 6 before Detroit got him and tied things in the 7th. If only for one night, Colorado was having none of it. Lucroy led off the bottom of the 7th with a single, Story singled him over to 3rd, and pinch-hitting Carlos Gonzalez knocked Lucroy in with a sacrifice fly. Blackmon forced Story at 2nd on a ground ball, then DJ LeMahieu walked ahead of a 3-run shot by Nolan Arenado, and for a limited time there was joy in Mudville as the Rockies prevailed 7-3. Wednesday afternoon however brought a return of the blues. Bettis was out against Justin Verlander and fell behind 5-0 in his 5-inning stretch. Blackmon had a solo homer in the 6th and a Story double scored Gonzalez in the 9th, but that was all the Rockies had to offer.
Following a day of refreshment Thursday the Dbacks were on for 3 for the weekend. Kyle Freeland was out Friday, and Arizona tried a strategy of bleeding him to death with single runs in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Freeland lasted only 4, and Colorado, in what’s become another pattern, got a few back to trail 4-2 after 6, then got swamped in the 7th on another Adam Ottavino misadventure. The right-hander got leadoff man Chris Ianetta on a fly ball, then walked the bases full before striking-out Brandon Drury and leaving things to Mike Dunn, who wasn’t up to the task. A 2-run Jake Lamb single and 3-run homer by good buddy Daniel Descalso resulted, and 3 runs the Rockies answered with only caused a dent. Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 5.
Jon Gray had no magic Saturday. Colorado got behind again early– Gray gave-up a pair of early singles that JD Martinez cashed-in with a big fly ball into the left-center stands, then the Rockies scratched-out a pissy little run in the 4th, and another little miniature one in the 6th, but went-on to lose 6-2. The pattern continued yesterday. Marquez fell behind 1-0 after 3, the Rockies tied it-up with a pitiful little spurt in the 5th, and then the Dbacks put the hammer down to win 5-1 and sweep Colorado under.
The Rockies lost 4 in the Wild Card race on the week to leader Arizona and 3 to nearest rival Milwaukee as Meaningful Games in September continue. Agbayani noted the 25-38 since June 20 mark cited by the Post in his comment Saturday. The window the Post captured is gratuitously harsh, as it includes the 8-game late June losing streak that most ominously set the tone for Colorado’s summer. But take that away and you’re looking at 25-30, which means the Rockies are losing about 4 out of 7, and that sounds exactly like what I’ve been looking at since I returned from the Sunshine State in late June.
The ludicrous thing about the entire set of circumstances, especially if you’re an Arizona fan, is a quick burst of 5 in a row, or 6 out of 8, or even a muddling 14 out of the last 24 will probably be enough for Colorado to secure that second Wild Card slot, leaving the revolting prospect of a one-game grudge match in Phoenix on October 3. Should the bums from Denver happen to snag that one, a fine Dbacks squad confronts the prospect of a long, nuclear winter.
Tyler Chatwood returns to the starting rotation for the Rockies tomorrow. He’ll face San Francisco’s Ty Blach down at the old ball park in a 6:40 MT start. Freeland goes against Johnny Cueto on Wednesday, same start time, then the group packs its bags for a 4-game test against league-leading Los Angeles at Chavez Ravine and a 4-game prequel in the Valley of the Sun.
At post time it’s the bottom of the 6th, Bettis is gone, Chris Rusin is on. It’s 3-3 as the balance of the season remains.