It looked like it would be a pitchers duel. Just one more game the Colorado Rockies had to win on the strength of their pitching, defense, and oh-that-bullpen. And then the sixth inning happened. Cincinnati Reds starter Lisalverto Bonilla came into the inning down by just one run having recovered nicely from some early struggles, but the Rockies offense positively exploded in their most impressive single-frame output of 2017.
Tyler Anderson did his part, pitching six strong innings and making just one mistake while the game was still close, and the Rockies ultimately cruised to a 12-6 victory, continuing their mind-bogglingly fantastic play away from Coors Field.
Charlie Blackmon lead-off double off the wall in center field that not even Billy Hamilton could catch. DJ Le Mahieu was hit by a pitch and Nolan Arenado lined a single off the glove of first baseman Joey Votto. The bases were loaded for the one-and-only Mark Reynolds who continued his stretch of fantastic play with an RBI single to right field to give the Rockies an early lead.
Carlos Gonzalez just got underneath a fastball, hitting a sac fly to right, and Bonilla was able to work out of what could have been a huge inning for Colorado by striking out Ian Desmond and getting Alexi Amarista to pop out to left.
The Rockies handed a 2-0 lead to Tyler Anderson before he had thrown a single pitch. And he pitched well. Eugenio Suarez frustrated him in the fourth, battling down in the count at 1-2, fouling off a number of well-located pitches. Anderson finally threw what appeared to be a “get me over” slider right down the middle which Suarez hit just off the top of the wall in left for his eighth homer of the season.
That made it 2-1 and gave the Reds a bit of momentum.
And then the sixth inning happened.
Colorado plated eight runs in the frame, taking a close contest and turning it into a laugher. It all started with a screaming line-drive single up the middle from Gonzalez. Ian Desmond, who had looked completely lost in his previous two at-bats, laced the first pitch he saw off the wall in left field for a double, CarGo held at third. This set the stage for one of the more unusual events of the 2017 MLB season, a three-run jack from … Alexi Amarista? The “Little Ninja” uppercut one over the fence in right and suddenly the Rockies led 5-1, but were nowhere near done in the inning.
Tony Wolters wouldn’t let up on the reeling Reds, laying down a perfect bunt on the first pitch he saw to immediately give Colorado a runner on the bases after Amarista had just cleared them. Anderson bunted his battery-mate over to second and that would be the end of the line for Bonilla who came into the inning with sparkling statistics and left it wondering what had just transpired.
Another single from Blackmon put two on for LeMahieu who scored them both with his own double off the left-field wall. It was 7-1, the Rockies had plated five runs in the inning, and the hardest hit ball was still yet to come, Arenado absolutely demolished one that did physical damage to the scoreboard on the facade of the second deck in left to make it 9-1. Amarista delivered the final blow — his fourth RBI and second hit of the inning — with a single up the middle, scoring Reynolds, before Willy Peralta could mercifully end it all by striking out Anderson.
The Rockies southpaw stayed in to pitch the sixth and gave up a run on an Adam Duvall single, but he was pounding the zone, just trying to get through the game at that point.
His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. He threw 68 of his 99 pitches for strikes and induced nine groundouts to just one in the air. He appears to have rediscovered himself if the last three outings are to be believed.
Jordan Lyles pitched the seventh and eighth innings, giving up four runs on four hits including a two-run blast to Jose Peraza that hasn’t landed yet. This made the game closer than it really was at 10-6. Yes, Lyles continues to look awful each time he takes the mound. And, also yes, Lyles has yet to cost the Rockies a game and still technically did his job of eating two innings in a blowout, even if he did make the fans wait a little longer to light up the victory cigar.
But of course, the Rockies still have Mark Reynolds who delivered a pair of insurance RBI in the top of the ninth, making him 3-for-5 with a walk and three RBI in the game. That moves him into a tie with Ryan Zimmerman (also of the Washington Nationals) for the MLB lead in that category at 38. He’s also hitting .329 on the season.
That also meant the Rockies would not have to use Greg Holland. Jake McGee pitched the final frame, giving up a pair of singles (one “excuse me” infield hit to Hamilton) but also struck out the side to end it.
Colorado moved to 27-16 on the year, 14-6 on the road, and maintained their two-game lead in the NL West. They have three wins to one loss on this 1-game road trip so far. Depending on what happens with the Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, the Rockies might once again wake up in the morning with the best record in the National League.