The Rockies started the week on a high note, snatching a 5-4 11th inning win from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in the first of a brief two game series. They trailed 3-0 going into the seventh inning as Boston ace Chris Sale had collected 17 strikeouts. A 2-run home run by Nolan Arenado in the seventh inning and another 2-run home run in the eighth inning by Charlie Blackmon gave the Rockies a 4-3 lead. The Red Sox then tied the score in the bottom of the inning. The battle continued until the top of the 11th inning when a Mark Reynolds single drove in Trevor Story with the winning run.
Wednesday night’s game was knotted at 5-5 after the Rockies picked up 3 runs in the seventh inning. Once again the game stretched into extra innings and in the 10th inning Red Sox rookie Michael Chavis made it 6-5 by driving in the game winning hit off reliever Chad Bettis.
Following this brief skirmish, the Rockies headed down the coast for a three game series with the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a frustrating time as they were swept in a series of close encounters: 5-4 in Friday’s opener, 2-1 in Saturday night’s matchup and 7-5 in the Sunday finale.
The nagging problem that continues to plague the Rockies is the inconsistency of their starting rotation. Their go-to starter, Kyle Freeland toughed his way through six innings allowing only 3 runs in Tuesday’s extra inning win. However, in Sunday’s loss he was unable to make it through two innings before being replaced by Chad Bettis. He’s not been able to maintain his formerly impeccable control with mistakes up in the strike zone leading to 12 home runs in the last 16 innings he’s pitched. German Marquez was tagged for 5 runs in Wednesday’s loss and still maintains the lowest WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of the group at 1.19. John Gray took the loss Friday’s game allowing 5 runs in only 4.2 innings. Much like Freeland, Gray has had a tendency to wander up in the strike zone leading to 10 home runs in 53 innings. The talented Antonio Senzatela is a gamer, but he took the loss after allowing 2 runs in five innings of work on Saturday as the Rockies hitters were befuddled by Phillies starter Aaron Nola. It’s a given that the ability of these four to anchor wins with quality starts was one of the keys to the Rockies success in 2018. Without a turnaround in their current performance, it could be a long, disappointing season.
How about some good news from the pitching staff? Reliever Bryan Shaw has begun to perform like the stopper he was for many seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He leads the Rockies bullpen with 29 innings pitched while maintaining a WHIP of 1.03. Scott Oberg has been a reliable mainstay in the eighth inning with a 1.18 WHIP in 20.1 innings pitched. And finally, newcomer Yency Almonte has allowed only 3 earned runs in 10 innings pitched. The message is that if the starters can clean up their act they have an even stronger bullpen to protect their leads.
This week the Rockies will travel to Pittsburgh for a three game series with the Pirates at PNC Park then return home for a weekend interleague matchup with the Baltimore Orioles.
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