ROX MANAGE ROUGH STAND IN LODO 6-4;
The Colorado Rockies finished week 6 of the 2017 MLB season with an apparently modest record of 4-3, but the evenness masks the competition that was encountered. Colorado took 2 of 3 from the World Champion Chicago Cubs, then split with Division rival Los Angeles, and hangs on to a 1-1/2 game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.
Sunday’s triumph over LA took on what was probably an inappropriate level of import. The Rockies had taken the series opener on Thursday, but dropped the Friday and Saturday contests, so the outcome Sunday meant the difference between a 5-5 and
6-4 home stand, a 1/2 versus 1-1/2 game lead in the division, and between an upbeat trip east to Minneapolis or a 3-game losing streak. The match took on an air of Fear and Loathing from the start. The Dodgers came right out with 2 over Antonio Senzatela, but Colorado had an immediate 3-run answer. LA tied things in the 2nd and took the lead in the 3rd, which held until Pat Valaika smacked a 2-run homer in the 4th. The Rockies’ 7-4 lead held until the 8th, when the Dodgers got to Adam Ottavino for 2 to close within 1, but then Valaika was money again, driving another one deep with Carlos Gonzalez aboard.
The week’s losses were largely attributed to single bad innings, each involving 3 bases-on-balls, and Professor RMH will tell you that’ll get you beat every time, even if you’re lucky. Kyle Freeland was the culprit in the night cap of Tuesday’s double-header with Chicago, and the Colorado infield added to Freeland’s woes as both DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story got cases of the bootsie. The Cubs rode the generosity to a 5-run 2nd, and Jon Lester would give no quarter in what became an 8-1 Chicago win. Tyler Chatwood drew the Kershaw card on Friday and also had command problems in the 2nd. Chatwood walked 3 as well, which did not sit well with Rockies’ manager Bud Black, and Los Angeles scored 5 on the way to a 6-2 victory. The other loss came Saturday when Alex Wood and three Dodgers relievers were fairly immaculate in a 4-0 shutdown of the Colorado attack.
The Rockies’ offense was generally absent in the losses but was raking in the wins. Mark Reynolds continues to lead the effort, LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon continue to deliver at the top of the order, Nolan is being Nolan, and Gonzalez is starting to shows signs of life, much to the delight of the professor. The offense did have one troubling day in a win, the Wednesday rubber game versus the Cubs, when German Marquez, who also delivered 8 innings of shutout pitching, supplied most of the offense with a 2-out, 2-run single in the 7th.
Story wrenched his shoulder on a checked-swing and has hit the Disabled List. Valaika is getting the starts at short and along with the resurgence from Gonzalez has energized the offense. Tony Wolters returns from the DL tonight and Dustin Garneau has been demoted to Albuquerque in deference to the good work from the veteran Ryan Hanigan.
Colorado is in the Twin Cities tonight for the first of 3 with the Twins ahead of 3 in Cincinnati and 3 in Philadelphia before returning to Colorado for a Memorial Day set with the Cards. Freeland (3-2, 2.93) gets the go tonight at 6:10 MT against Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes (4-1, 4.74). The Twins are 19-15 and lead the AL Central by a half-game over Cleveland in a tight division that has on 4 games between worst and first. Marquez will have a tough test tomorrow against Ervin Santana, then Thursday afternoon Chatwood takes on Jose Berrios. The professor will school you on the matchups for the series at that corny little ball park down there on the Ohio River ahead of the trip’s final leg way out there on the east coast.