Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus made a big deal about the offense-oriented environment at Coors Field before his club's three-game set against the Colorado Rockies, saying that playing in the ballpark is like "pinball baseball." Well, the Rockies sure took that to heart on Tuesday night, scoring seven runs to (at least for the moment) break out of an offensive slump and pick up one of their most-needed wins of the season, 7-3 over Detroit.
A four-run seventh anything, buoyed by Carlos Gonzalez' best situational at-bat of the year and Nolan Arenado's clutch three-run home run, was the difference-maker. Arenado had been stuck on 108 RBI and 29 home runs for five games before unleashing the blast. He was in danger of falling behind Giancarlo Stanton in the RBI race, but outpaces him now, 111 to 110.
German Marquez blanked the Tigers through the first four innings in dominant fashion, allowing just two first inning singles.
A tough-luck second saw a pair of singles from Ian Desmond and Jonathan Lucroy but a potential run was erased when Desmond tried to take home on a passed ball, only to receive an unfortunate bounce and a brilliant tag from James McCann at the plate.
But Colorado finally got the hit they've been looking for, in the third. A two-out, two-run RBI single off the bat of cleanup hitter Gerardo Parra, after Charlie Blackmon legged out an infield single and DJ Lemahieu walked. Arenado grounded out to third, leaving it up to Parra but the much-maligned outfielder from a season ago showed his manager, teammates, and fans once again why he has been moved to the middle of the order. It wasn't a flashy line drive off the wall, but it got the job done.
The Tigers got on the board in the top of the fifth with back-to-back doubles from Mikie Mahtook and John Hicks, both slicing into the right-center field gap, the latter making the score 3-1. Before those two swings, Marquez had allowed just two hits and had just recorded his eighth strikeout. But suddenly he was in his first spot of trouble, following Hicks' double with a walk to Jose Iglesias. With Detroit threatening but the pitcher due up, Rockies manager Bud Black strode to the mound, evidently to discuss defensive tactics which were shortly employed:
Marquez wasn't able to wriggle out of trouble in the seventh, however, hanging a slider, the pitch that had been so good for him all evening, to Mahtook who smashed his 10th home run of the season to tie the game at three runs apiece. After giving up a single to Hicks, Marquez' night was done.
His final line: 6.1 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K. He threw 63 of his 87 pitches for strikes. The 10 strikeouts tied his career high from July 29.
Pat Neshek came on in relief to strike out Iglesias and get a groundout to short from Fulmer to end the seventh. Mike Dunn worked a clean eighth and Adam Ottavino finished the game off in the ninth.
DJ LeMahieu put the Rockies on top early with a solo home run over the right field fence in the bottom of the first inning. It was his seventh home run of the season but third in the last three games.
Blackmon extended his MLB lead in the hit category out to five over Jose Altuve with 181. Blackmon also comfortably leads MLB with 119 runs scored.
Colorado improved to 72-60 and, with both Milwaukee and Miami taking losses, gained a game on their two closest Wild Card competitors, now holding a four-game lead over that postseason spot.