The Rockies’ sudden plunge in the standings continued last week as they lost three of four games to the Nationals at Nationals Park, then dropped two of three games to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Their season record is now a disappointing 49 wins and 57 losses, which pulls them further away from contention in the highly competitive National League Wild Card race and drops them into the cellar of the Western Division.
The Rockies offense was in high gear as the month of June drew to a close. The team led the National League in runs scored and team batting average, sending Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and David Dahl to the All-Star Game. The major flaw at that point, which became the root cause of their current predicament, was the spotty performance of their short-handed starting rotation aggravated by a group of relievers that developed a nasty habit of leaking runs in the late innings.
Since returning from the All-Star break suddenly the big bats have been silenced. With the exception of their explosive 12-2 victory over the Reds last Friday, productive at bats have been elusive. For example, in the last two games with the Reds they went a frustrating 1 for 20 with runners in scoring position.
The only positive that emerged last week was the marked improvement of their starters. Young Peter Lambert was on the losing end of an 11-1 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday. But in his part of the game he allowed only 3 runs in 5.1 innings. The 2-0 loss in the second game of Wednesday’s double header was still highlighted by the performance of Kyle Freeland who exhibited some of his previously dominant delivery allowing only 1 run on 4 hits in a complete 6 innings of work. Jeff Hoffman gave up only 3 runs in 5 innings in the Rockies final 8-7 win over the Nationals on Thursday. German Marquez overpowered the Reds in the Rockies 12-2 win on Friday allowing only 2 runs in 7 innings. Chi Chi Gonzalez contributed a strong 5 innings in Saturday’s 3-1 loss. And finally, Peter Lambert took the mound again in Sunday’s 3-2 loss allowing only 2 runs in a full 5 inning start.
Hope for the Rockies season resides in the belief that they can stabilize their starting rotation and rekindle the sizzle in their offense. To add to that potential, they activated pinch hitter/first baseman Yonder Alonzo from Albuquerque where in the first month with the Isotopes he was batting .417. The 32-year old former All-Star was born in Cuba. His big-league career includes a stint with the San Diego Padres under manager Bud Black. In 2017 with the Cleveland Indians he hit 23 home runs with a career high 83 RBI in 145 games.
This week a road-weary Rockies team finally returns home to face more daunting challenges from their division rivals. Starting on Monday they’ll play a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the weekend they’ll square off against the resurgent San Francisco Giants.
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