The Colorado Rockies’ offense was stifled by a brilliant pitching performance for the second day in a row but it didn’t matter because of a late comeback to split the series.
Charlie Blackmon hit the leadoff home run in Tuesday night’s contest that almost held up in a crushing late loss for Colorado. So, on Wednesday, he saved the big blow for the late moment in the game. This time, it stood up.
In the top of the 12th, Blackmon collected his third straight hit with two outs, his team-leading 27th home run of the season, to put the Rockies up 3-2. That’s how it finished, thanks to the closer for the day, Tyler Chatwood.
Trevor Bauer did his best Corey Kluber impression, striking out nine batters without walking any, his only blemish a solo home run. He was a little more hittable, giving up seven, but his stuff, especially the curve ball, was outstanding.
Antonio Senzatela, like German Marquez a day ago, also pitched a quality game, going five innings and giving up just five hits. He, too, was bitten by a home run, but there happened to be a runner aboard for his.
After a slow start to the contest, Alexi Amarista put the Rockies on the board in the third with a home run over the right-center field wall. It was Amarista’s third homer of the season.
In the bottom of the third, Francisco Lindor put the Cleveland Indians on top with a two-out, two-run home run, jumping on a first-pitch fastball and smashing a line drive shot over the right field fence.
Senzatela got into a jam in the fourth by walking Edwin Encarnacion and allowing a single to Carlos Santana to put runners at first and third with nobody out. But he bounced back with a strikeout against Tuesday night’s hero, Austin Jackson, got Bradley Zimmer to pop out on the infield, and froze Abraham Almonte with a 3-2 fastball at the knees to keep the runners right where they are and keep Colorado just one run behind.
Colorado had a chance to tie it or even take the lead in the sixth with a pair of one-out hits from Nolan Arenado and Gerardo Parra that put runners at first and third. But Carlos Gonzalez struck out after a nine-pitch at-bat, failing to connect on a center cut fastball and Jonathan Lucroy struck out looking on a tailing fastball that just caught the top of the zone to strand both runners.
It’s tough to justify why CarGo is still hitting in the middle of the Rockies lineup despite his .227.296/.340 slashline. According to the advanced metrics (that have their deficiencies, but still…) he has been one of the worst hitters in baseball this season. There is an argument for his place on the roster with his defensive play and recent signs that his bat might be returning, but with Raimel Tapia in the lineup, the faith in Gonzalez’ resume over the production from the rookie this season almost certainly cost the Rockies at least one tying run in the sixth. He is now batting .179 with runners in scoring position.
Now, Gonzalez did redeem himself a bit in the ninth with a one-out line drive single back up the middle against a change up. It was a good swing and a solid hit that shows why he should still be in the lineup at times, but his inability to catch up to fastballs should keep him out of the middle of the order.
The newest Rockie, Jonathan Lucroy, came through with his biggest hit so far for the club, lining a double into right center field that Zimmer slid to try to cut off so CarGo couldn’t score. But the ball skipped away from him on the slide and Gonzalez lumbered around the bases, hustling in to tie the game at two. Lucroy, who has been booed throughout this short series for turning down a potential trade, gave the Indians a dose of their own medicine, delivering the save-blowing hit to almost the same spot in the outfield to tie the game in the ninth.
Colorado wouldn’t get a big three-run home run right after that, the way Gomes did for Cleveland Tuesday night. But Jake McGee pitched a dominant bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
Carlos Estevez made his first MLB appearance since June 20 in after his sixth call-up of the year. It’s literally been an up and down season for Estevez. But he pitched well after nearly beaning Encarnacion on a fastball that got away from him, recording a 1-2-3 inning in the 10th. He stayed in to pitch the 11th and looked even better, dotting the fastball at 99 mph on the edges and issuing one walk in an otherwise clean inning.
Chatwood, the only man left in the bullpen, was asked to get the final three outs in a game he might have started recently before his demotion. He struck out Jason Kipnis, got Lindor to ground out weakly to second, and got a brilliant defensive play from Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds to end the game. It was just the second save of his career, and it sent the Rockies happily on their way to Miami, where a weekend series with the Marlins awaits.