“Hang on a minute…he says he’s not dead!”
Yes, contrary to the widespread rumors, the Colorado Rockies are not dead, and they certainly are not buried.
They hadn’t scored in 24 innings and Jordan Lyles, their former teammate who used to give the fans nightmares was troubling those same fans in a totally different way by pitching a perfect game through the first four frames of Friday night’s contest. Nolan Arenado had seen enough.
The MLB leader in RBI waited back on a slider out away from him and drove the ball the opposite way to right field, and Rockies fans held their breath. When it just barely skipped over the fence, the drought had been broken and Colorado finally had some life. Two batters later, Ian Desmond smashed one even truer down the right-field line, his sixth of the season, and suddenly it felt real. The Rockies had scored.
It was Arenado’s 35th home run of the season. To get to 40 for the third straight year, he will need to have a hell of a final eight games.
Of course, it wasn’t as easy as that.
Rockies starter Jon Gray was excellent again, as he has been all second half with the exception of his first start since the break. With a performance that included just one lapse in focus in the fifth when he surrendered a two-out RBI single to Lyles, Gray extended his streak of quality starts to eight in his last 11 games. He has a 2.58 ERA over that span with a 9.09 K/9 rate and a 2.04 BB/9 rate.
Being able to do stuff like this is a big reason why Gray ranks third in fWAR among starting pitchers since the All-Stars gathered in Miami:
A twitter account that only tweets videos of Jon Gray’s road curveball pic.twitter.com/VbrVhcAdve
— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) September 23, 2017
Gray’s final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. He lowered his season ERA to 3.62.
The Rockies added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh. Trevor Story greeted his old friend with a blast to left field, his 22nd homer of the season. Desmond followed with a single to right, chasing Lyles from the game. Desmond then swiped second, his 13th stolen base of the year, and scored on a single to left off the bat of Jonathan Lucroy to make it 4-1, Rockies.
Whacked to the warehouse.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 23, 2017
Things got tense in the seventh against reliever Chris Rusin on seeing-eye hits from Austin Hedges and Travis Jankowski but Pat Neshek came in and got a pop out from Christian Villanueva and struck out Manuel Margot to end the threat. Jake McGee sat down the side in order in the eighth.
Greg Holland came in for his first save opportunity since September 11, and got a pair of quick strikeouts and a weak groundout to short to secure his NL-leading 41st save of the season, tying Jose Jimenez the Rockies franchise record.
Colorado improved to 83-71 and with the Milwaukee Brewers losing and the St. Louis Cardinals making a comeback on the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is now the Cardinals who are the closest to Colorado in the chase for the second NL Wild Card spot at one game back. The third game in the series will see Chad Bettis take on Jhoulys Chacin. First pitch at 6:40 mountain time.