It was a frustrating weekend for the Rockies as they lost three games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of overflow crowds of more than 50,000 rabid fans at Dodger Stadium. It was not only frustrating because, including last season, Sunday’s battle was the 10th consecutive loss to the Dodgers, but also because each of these super-tight contests was lost as the result of home runs in the Dodgers final at bats.
In Friday night’s 4-2 loss, the Rockies struck out 16 times against the Dodgers outstanding starter Walker Buhler (8-1, 2.96 ERA). But they were able to score 2 runs thanks to solo homers by Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. Those runs were enough to keep the Rockies in the game as German Marquez (7-3, 4.32 ERA) held the dangerous Dodgers lineup to 2 runs on 5 hits in an impressive eight innings of work. The score was 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and one man on base when the Rockies hard-throwing reliever Jairo Diaz left a fast ball over the plate that Matt Lambert launched for a walk-off home run.
Saturday evening’s 5-4 loss was equally disappointing. The Rockies could only manage to score 3 runs against Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-1, 1.27 ERA). However, the Rockies newly minted rookie starter Peter Lambert (2-0, 5.85 ERA) held the Dodgers to 3 runs in his five innings of work. Once again, the game went into the ninth inning tied at 4-4. This became a bullpen battle until the bottom of the 11th inning when Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo smacked an errant fast ball thrown by rookie reliever Jesus Tinoco for another game-winning home run.
In Sunday’s finale, Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela (6-5, 4.91 ERA) faced off against the Dodgers Kenta Maeda (7-4, 3.76 ERA). Once more they battled to a standoff with Senzatela allowing only 2 runs on 5 hits in 6.1 innings while Maeda limited the Rockies to 2 runs on 7 hits in 7.1 innings. This time the game was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and two men on base when reliever Scott Oberg was ambushed by the Dodgers pinch hitter, rookie catcher Will Smith. It was another nightmare ending as Smith drove a 3-run homer into the right field seats.
Despite the gloom generated by this sweep, there was a brighter side to this week’s road games.
Earlier in the week, the Rockies swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game series at Chase Field with an impressive offensive display, scoring 22 runs on 33 hits. These wins were anchored by quality starts by Antonio Senzatela and Jon Gray.
With seven games left before the All-Star break, the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s Rockies have become apparent. They now have a killer lineup that currently leads the National League in runs scored (434) and team batting average (.269). Their main weakness is their pitching. The starting rotation was shaky during the first two months of the season and is still short-handed. Currently the team ERA is 5.15, the worst in the National League. The Rockies drive to once more reach the playoffs will be dependent on some notable improvement in their pitching lines.
This week the Rockies play a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park then return home looking for some payback in a crucial four-game weekend series with the Dodgers.
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