ROX SPLIT WITH MARLINS IN MIAMI; HEADING TO TAMPA
The Colorado Rockies sprinted out of the gate Thursday, dispatching the Miami Marlins 6-3 behind 7 typically sublime innings from left-hander Kyle Freeland. They kept the pressure on Friday with German Marquez on the hill, falling behind by a run before inching ahead with single tallies in the 6th and 7th and running away with a 4-run 9th. Once the raucous Miami crowds started teeming-in on the weekend, however, results weren’t quite as satisfying. On Saturday the Marlins got to Tyler Anderson for 2 in the 2nd and 3 in the 4th. The Rockies answered with 2 in the 3rd but were good for only one additional score on 3 singles in the 6th. Miami answered Friday’s Colorado runaway with a couple of 7th inning insurance runs off of DJ Johnson to win it 7-3. Sunday was a “speaking of sublime” afternoon, as Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara had it really cooking, shutting-out the local 9 over 8-complete. Wei-Yin Chen took care of the first 9th inning out and Sergio Romo handled the other 2 for a 3-0 Miami victory.
All-in-all you can’t call the series a horrible failure, considering the location, where Thomas Harding tells me Colorado managed only its second “non-losing” series since the opening of Marlins Park in 2012, and “non-losing” somehow gives me the notion we haven’t won one yet either. Frankly, had you asked me, I’d have said it was worse.
Building on Prof. RMH’s apt off-season summary in Thursday’s post, the Rox played it pretty close to the vest over the winter, working primarily on the right side of the defense, which lost 2nd-baseman DJ LeMahieu and right-fielder Carlos Gonzalez to free agency. The makeover started in center-field, where Charlie Blackmon had apparently morphed into the worst center-fielder ever, except for one game back in the ’50’s when Yogi Berra tried to play it during training camp. Blackmon slides into Gonzalez’ long-time slot in right, where the Venezuelan never quite became the prohibitive superstar we were promised. General Manager Jeff Bridich, despite all kinds of advice to the contrary, decided it might not be a bad idea to have a right-handed hitting outfielder on the team– in the organization for that matter, and he noticed he had one playing 1st-base and making a lot of money. Ian Desmond takes over in center and paid dividends in the 8th on Friday when he soared high over the wall to snatch back a home run from the Marlins’ Lewis Brinson, an uncanny Andruw Jones imitation, although Desmond speaks much better English.
To cover the 1st-base vacancy Bridich turned to free agent Daniel Murphy, who had been in Chicago, with a 2-year $24 million contract, but Murphy used his first Colorado appearance to break the index finger on his glove hand, and is out indefinitely, bringing us to old buddy Mark Reynolds, signed to another million dollar minor league deal. What do you say Roxnsox? We got our guy back, eh?
The tough loss, however, was 2nd-sacker LeMahieu, a classy act if there ever was one. Obtained as a relative “throw-in” in the lopsided (Rockies’ favor) deal with the Cubs that featured RMH’s old favorite Tyler Colvin for a couple of failed Rockie minor-league relievers, LeMahieu promptly seized a 2nd-base job that was up for grabs, but most impressively, just kept getting better and better, year after year, winning a batting title, evening-out, and then getting better still. RMH hit it on the head though, Colorado had a ton of talent in the pipeline at 2nd; a LeMahieu free agent signing made little sense. The 6′-4″ righty hitting infielder should fare nicely with the Yankees. The low-key approach will keep the media circus in the Bronx coolly at-bay, as long as he hits.
Trusting the Rockies’ bus made it through the Okefenokee without sliding into the muck, they’ll be in Tampa Bay this evening for the first of 3 with the Rays, winners of 90 in the AL East in 2018, nevertheless short of a playoff bid. Tampa is out to a quick start in 2019, taking 3 of 4 from Houston over the weekend at home. Blister king Chad Bettis (5-2, 5.01 in 2018) gets the call for Colorado tonight, facing Devil Ray Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.93 in 2018) in a battle of right-handers. First pitch is 5:10 MT at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg.
Freeland will be back for tomorrow’s matching 5:10 pm start, with Marquez going Wednesday in one of those 11:10 am tilts that typically mean an automatic loss. The Rays are keeping it mum on starters with the playoffs looming fast ahead.
Thursday’s a day off, then there’ll be a big bash in Lodo Friday afternoon with the hated and NL West favorite Los Angeles Dodgers in town provide the loyal opposition.
Let’s get the party started!