DENVER — Jon Gray didn’t start the afternoon the way he wanted … and he certainly didn’t finish it the way he would have liked. He was stellar in the middle, showcasing supreme command of the strike zone and looking absolutely dominant at times. But his one late mistake was ultimately the Colorado Rockies’ undoing in an 8-5 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
First, he issued a four-pitch walk to Jean Segura and then forgot about him for a moment allowing an easy steal of second. After a Chris Owings hit — the kind of Coors Field bloop single that has haunted Gray’s career — the Rockies rookie pitcher was staring at a first and third situation with nobody out and Paul Goldschmidt at the plate. Goldschmidt, you’ll recall, had reached base in 50 consecutive games against the Rockies coming into this one so the odds were in his favor.
But all he would get in this encounter was a sac fly, and Gray sat down the next two with relative ease, limiting the first-inning woes this time around.
For the second day in a row, and the second start of his MLB career, Raimel Tapia was in an 0-2 count in the bottom of the first and had to go into his patented two-strike crouch. And for the second day in a row, Tapia singled. This time, it yielded a run after he advanced to third on a botched pick-off attempt — the Diamondbacks concerned about his speed — and then came jogging in on a DJ LeMahieu single.
Nolan Arenado led off the fourth with a triple, surprisingly his fifth of the season. Every day he’s hustlin’. It looked like the Rockies might strand him after back-to-back strikeouts from David Dahl and Gerardo Parra but Daniel Descalso worked a walk and Tony Wolters delivered a key two-out single to bring in Arenado and not waste the opportunity.
Segura was back to pestering Gray in the top of the sixth, hitting a one-out double to the warning track in right-center field. But Gray got Owings to line out to LeMahieu who doubled off Segura at second (after an instant replay review) and the Rockies escaped the inning unscathed.
They wouldn’t be so fortunate in the following frame. A one-out single from Jake Lamb was followed by a grounder off the bat of Yasmani Tomas that looked at first like it might be an inning-ending double play. But it snuck up the middle, setting the stage for the damage to come. First, Brandon Drury hit a soft single into right field, tying the game at two. Then, after a visit to the mound by pitching coach Steve Foster, Socrates Brito took the very next pitch way deep for a three-run home run.
Suddenly, the Rockies were down 5-2 and Gray’s excellent afternoon turned into a sub-par outing. His final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
Rookie catcher Tom Murphy got a run back for the Rockies in the bottom of the seventh on a home run that one-hopped the frozen yogurt stand in left field, traveling an estimated 482 feet. It was the first homer of the year for Murphy and the fourth of his young career. According to Statcast, it was the third-longest home run in MLB in the 2016 season.
Carlos Estevez came on in the eighth and his wildness got the best of him. He plunked two around an intentional walk to Lamb and was tagged by a two-out, two-run single from Drury. Justin Miller surrendered a run on two hits in the ninth.
Cristhian Adames led off the ninth with a double and Nick Hundley singled him in. After Ryan Raburn struck out, Murphy and Tapia hit back-to-back singles to load the bases for LeMahieu. A wild pitch brought in Hundley to make it 8-5 but LeMahieu struck out, leaving it up to Carlos Gonzalez who represented the tying run with one out remaining for the Rockies.
But he struck out, too, and that was the game. The rally came up just short and the Rockies departed the field having lost another series to a bad team.
By the Numbers
21 – The first-inning hit for LeMahieu meant he had reacheconsecutive1 consecutive games, a career high.
.345 – A one-hit day for LeMahieu dropped his batting average to .345 and dropped him into second place behind Daniel Murphy in the chase for the NL batting title.
482 – Tom Murphy hit a home run in the seventh inning that went 482 feet. That is a lot.
6 – Raimel Tapia has six hits. He has started in two games and pinch-hit once.
Labor Day baseball is what’s next! The Rockies will welcome the San Francisco Giants in for a three-game set. Chad Bettis will take on Matt Moore in the holiday game which will be a Monday afternoon game. First pitch at 2:10 MST.