The Colorado Rockies ran into an excellent pitching performance and a bit of bad luck in the field en route to a tough 3-2 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in the first of a three-game set Tuesday night.
Danny Duffy was positively spectacular, spotting all three of his pitches in all four quadrants of the strike zone, making masterful work of the art of pitching and keeping the Colorado offense way off balance.
The Rockies managed a two-out rally in the ninth with an odd double off the bat of Jonathan Lucroy followed by walks from Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra but Pat Valaika ground out softly to shortstop to end the game. Colorado recorded just two hits in the contest.
Duffy had only allowed two base runners and had not allowed a hit with two outs in the sixth inning when a beautiful two-seam fastball that caught the inside part of the plate against DJ LeMahieu should have gotten him out of the inning but instead, put a runner on base for Nolan Arenado. Taking full advantage of the good fortune, Arenado broke up the no-hitter and pulled the Rockies to within a run by smashing a fastball over the center field fence for his 28th home run of the season.
Jon Gray was better than his final line would indicate but ended with another good-but-not-great outing. Two of the three runs he gave up came with some pretty tough luck involved, but he was unable to go a full seven innings, showing again a need to improve upon his pitch efficiency and putting hitters away without extra pitches.
In the fourth, Melky Cabrera lined a ball to right that got caught up in the fencing, turning a double into a triple. He scored on a high chopper off the plate from Eric Hosmer who came in on an opposite field double off the bat of Salvador Perez. Both Cabrera and Perez hit the ball hard but with your typical bounces of the baseball, only one run would have scored in the inning making it the second time in the game Gray was an inch away from giving away one fewer run. As it turned out, those two runs would be the difference in the game.
In the first, Whit Merrifield battled his way into a single to right field and swiped second base, his 23rd steal of the season. He moved up on a grounder to second and scored on a passed ball by Jonathan Lucroy on a sinking fastball he should have handled.