Denver - The Colorado Rockies didn't go hard enough at da Blake against the Pittsburgh Pirates as their seven run comeback fell short.
Rockies starter Jon Gray, like Waka Flocka Flame left the contest earlier than expected as he was run after three-and-a-third after allowing six earned. With the help of Eddie Butler the Rockies stopped the bleeding and would end up tied with the visitors after the eighth. However, they failed to get another clutch hit and lost 9-8 in 12 innings.
On their way to their eighth straight win at Coors Field the Pirates rallied early tasking Gray for 26, 19 and 36 pitches in the first three innings. They continued to foul balls off and fight for good pitches. Eventually they got plated pitches and Pirates would plate seven in the first four innings. The good news for the Rockies was that their taxed bullpen was not depleted as Eddie Butler was just called up from Triple-A. In relief of Gray he pitched two and a third, giving up one run on two hits, while striking out four.
"Eddie Butler did a great job in a role he is not accustomed to... giving us a chance to fight back," Manager Walt Weiss said.
For the Rockies it would not have mattered what their relievers did had their offense not come alive. Sparked by a Trevor Story home run in the fourth, Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds and Ryan Raburn hit back-to-back-to-back extra base hits. They would tally four in the fourth, one in the sixth, two in the seventh on a Reynolds two-run home run and one more in the eight on a Gerardo Parra solo shot.
In a game of 18 hits for the Colorado offense, they'd only receive one in extra innings. Although the Rockies offense did produce those 18 knocks, they left 12 on and were a not-so-good 4-16 with RISP.
"We didn't win the game but we always keep fighting," Weiss told. "We never quit... we just couldn't get the big hit in extra innings."
That big hit came from Jordy Mercer in his sixth plate appearance of the ballgame. Mercer, the starting shortstop for the Buccos was the last starting position player to get a knock in the game. His 12th inning clutch hit brought in Polanco who had drawn a walk from the young Carlos Esteves.
Aside from Gray, the Rockies pitching staff was spectacular tonight, holding the Pirates to only three runs in eight-and-a-third. They got big outs from Chad Qualls, Jake McGee, Boone Logan and Estevez.
"I talked about it all spring and this season," Weiss stated. "They don't quit, they're never gonna quit. Lost some tough ones but sometimes that's the price you pay for fighting your way back into games by getting your heartbroken and tonight was one of those nights."
The Rockies right-handed starter who remains winless in his very short big league career had possibly his worst outing.
"A ton of pitches," Weiss said about the top prospect. "Close to 100 pitches in four innings, he was in a lot of deep counts, working behind hitters, makes it tough."
Postgame Gray was visibly struggling to put into words the struggles he's had at the big league level.
"I don't know what the issue is," Gray said. "I just feel pretty unlucky...I don't know, I feel like I attacked everything I was supposed to tonight."
Gray's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) in his brief MLB career is .413, second worst in MLB history for a pitcher who has thrown 40 more innings. His young career has been an unlucky one.
Story's ninth home run on the year in the fourth inning, tying an NL record for most by a rookie in the month of April, was the Rockies first run and sparked the sleeping sortie.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
"It's great to see that, the dude has talent," Gray said of Butler. "It's good to see him up here doing well."
Butler, who had only done a scheduled piggyback in his first outing of pro ball was not used to his situation as a reliever.
"I didn't even know how to approach it sitting there watching the game progress," Butler told. "I'm sitting there like should I start stretching? Should I start moving around? and like five pithes later I was moving around. Then the phone call comes and I start throwing and I got like ten pitches in and Holmes was like 'how many more you need?' And I'm like 'five and I'll be good.' It was different... It was weird I was asking s many questions while I was doing it, I didn't know what I was doing."
Butler commanded the strike zone, for maybe the first time at the big league level, in two-and-a-third innings of work.
"It's tough coming into those situations," Butler said. "You're expected to pick up the guy and unfortunately I didn't do that... You wish you could go back and pick up that guy and get us in a better spot to win."
BY THE NUMBERS:
4 - Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Neil Walker and Bryce Harper are in a four-way tie for first place in the big leagues with nine homers.
33 - The amount of hits in this contest.
4:58 - Length of the game.
Juan Nicasio and the Pirates have one more at Coors Field against Tyler Chatwood and the Rockies at 1:10 on Thursday. The Rockies will then head on a ten game trip that starts Friday, taking them to Arizona, San Diego and San Fransisco.