DENVER — For the second consecutive game and the third time in the last five games, the Rockies suffered a crushing late defeat, wasting a phenomenal performance from their starting pitcher and experiencing the kind of bullpen collapses that have fans ripping their hair out late in seasons.
Yesterday’s loss was probably the worst of the season … until this one.
As has become his custom lately, Charlie Blackmon started the scoring for the Rockies, driving a ball over the “Bridich Barrier” and into the Rockies bullpen in right-center field in the home team’s first at-bat of the game.
With the blast, Blackmon broke his own franchise record, set a year ago, for leadoff home runs at seven.
David Dahl followed Blackmon’s 14th home run of 2016 with a triple, wasting no time in extending his career-starting hit streak to 15 games. Dahl tied Juan Pierre for the longest hit-streak to begin a career in Colorado Rockies history.
Dahl came around to score on a Nolan Arenado single and the Rockies led 2-0 after one.
The same three guys were involved in getting the Rockies another pair of run in the third. Blackmon, who is positively sizzling lately, started things with a one-out double and Dahl put up an excellent at-bat, drawing a walk. Arenado came through with another single with runners on base, scoring Blackmon and giving the Rockies third baseman his ninth RBI over the last three games.
Gerardo Parra singled in Dahl as a part of a good day for the returning Rockies outfielder who also made a spectacular diving catch in right field.
The Rangers were clearly getting fatigued by Arenado and walked him in the fifth and ended up paying for is when he was moved over on Parra’s second hit of the day and in on a Mark Reynolds RBI single.
Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood has one of his best performances at home this season, going 6 2/3 innings allowing two runs on five hits without walking a batter. He struck out eight. Whatever command problems he was having in the second half appear to be mostly under control.
Chatwood cruised through the first four innings with relative ease.
Elvis Andrus led off the fifth with a double and Chatwood pitched well enough to strand him there but uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Andrus to move to third, which set up for a sacrifice fly from Robinson Chirinos.
Chatwood was chased from the game with two outs in the seventh after an RBI single from Nomar Mazara made it a 5-2 game. Scott Oberg came in and slammed the door shut yet again, this time by striking out Chirinos looking.
Oberg was asked to pitch the eighth, however, and it did not go well for him.
He gave up three singles to make it a 5-3 game then the body blow double that one-hopped the centerfield wall off the bat of Adrian Beltre. It was the second blown save for the Rockies in the last 16 hours.
Jake McGee came into the game and looked like he might preserve the tie but with two outs, Andrus drove in the go-ahead run late for the Rangers for the second game in a row with a single up the middle. Just like that, the Rangers took the lead at 6-5.
With Jordan Lyles pitching, Rougned Odor drove an insurance run in on a double off the wall in right to give the Rangers a 7-5 lead in the ninth.
DJ LeMahieu gave Rockies fans momentary hope with a one-out double in the bottom of the ninth. But hard groundouts from Dahl and Parra ended the rally and sent the Rockies homer defeated yet again.
The Texas Rangers have made an art of the comeback this year. This was their astonishing 35th come-from-behind win of the season.
Gut punch. Heartbreaker. One of the worst losses of the season. All those terms apply. They stranded nine runners and blew a game in which their oppoenents were held to just two hits over the first four innings.
This is yet another chip in the “they’re not ready” pile. The losses of Trevor Story — and for however long Carlos Gonzalez — are likely to prove too much for this team to overcome.
But the Rockies are still learning a lot about themselves, can still build on positive steps and learn from negative ones going into 2017 which is when I expected this team to compete anyway. There are a ton of impact prospects still on the way but it is unlikely to make a difference this season.
All that said, there are still 49 games to play. In the 303, we’ve seen crazier things.