The Colorado Rockies never tire of late game heroics. For the third time in four games, they needed a late rally to win but instead of waiting for Nolan Arenado to do the honors, as has become tradition, it was second baseman DJ LeMahieu who delivered the goods late, singling in his signature fashion through the right side to secure a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
It took 45 minutes to complete the first frame in the game after the Freeland injury and an early Rockies rally. Vince Velasquez needed to throw 36 pitches to eventually escape the inning, issuing walks to Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, and Mark Reynolds — all good at-bats from the Rockies perspective — before Carlos Gonzalez drove in a pair of runs with a hard single up the middle.
Chris Rusin came in for Freeland and he was nothing short of phenomenal.
Rusin got into trouble in the second, giving up three straight singles to Nick Williams, Maikel Franco, and Odubel Herrera who reached on a bunt. Starting at a bases loaded, nobody out situation in the eyes, Rusin didn’t blink. He struck out Cameron Rupp on an unhittable changeup and then proceeded to get Velasquez to pop out in the infield and Cesar Hernandez to ground into a routine out at second, stranding all three runners and preserving the two-run lead.
His final line: 3.1, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. He threw 36 of his 58 pitches for strikes. In a game he didn’t even know for sure he would be pitching, Rusin was once again a lifesaver for the Rockies. He won’t let them down.
The Phillies tied the game in the sixth against Antonio Senzatela who came on for Rusin. Aaron Altherr hit a bloop single that Blackmon dove for and missed, coming around to score on an opposite-field double from Williams. Williams scored on a triple from Franco that was misplayed in right by Gonzalez to tie the game at two runs apiece. Senzatela got Herrera to ground out weakly but walked Rupp. Manager Bud Black decided it was a good time for a double switch and brought in Scott Oberg to finish the inning and Alexi Amarista to play shortstop. Oberg retired the final batter in the sixth with runners at first and third to keep the game tied.
After another frustrating half-inning on offense, Oberg allowed a lead-off double to Herandez in the seventh. He moved up on a ground ball from Freddy Galvis and scored on a line drive single from Altherr just out of the reach of the diving Amarista who had been pulled in. Tommy Joseph followed that with a pop up behind the plate and Black decided it was double-switch time again, putting Pat Valaika in for Amarista and bringing lefty Mike Dunn into the game. Dunn struck out Williams looking to end the inning.
The Philadelphia lead didn’t last long. Nolan Arenado crushed his 25th home run of the season over the fence in the deepest part of the ballpark in left-center field to tie the game at three. That was Arenado’s 97th RBI of the year, he is in front of second place by 12.
In the bottom of the eighth, Valaika drew a walk and moved up on a ball in the dirt, Blackmon was intentionally walked late for the second game in a row so the Phillies could pitch to the defending batting champion. It didn’t take a gap shot or a homer, all the Rockies needed was a “LeMahieu” and that’s exactly what they got.
Greg Holland was called upon to record his MLB-leading 34th save of the season and did so with relative ease. He now sports a 1.57 ERA.
Colorado improved to 63-47. They look to take the series Saturday at 6:10 with Jon Gray on the hill against Nick Pivetta.