For most of the 2017 season, when Colorado Rockies fans have spoken the names of Trevor Story, Ian Desmond, and Carlos Gonzalez, their words have been accompanied by a few curses. There's no way around the fact that none of the three played the kind of baseball they were hoping to for the first several months. Maligned, often for good reason, each guy has battled through nagging injuries and confidence issues. But in their most important game of the season on Wednesday afternoon against the Miami Marlins, those three players went a combined 7-for-12 with three walks and 10 RBI.
The Rockies won, 15-9, in a good, olden-days Coors Field slugfest and moved one notch closer to securing a Wild Card play-in opportunity.
There may still be a way to go before each feels they have fully avenged their early woes, but now is the right time to have them healthy and productive.
It started with a pair of excellent at-bats from Story and Mark Reynolds that resulted in walks. Then, Desmond took the very first pitch he saw and hit a high flyball to deep right field, but it looked like it would be caught as Giancarlo Stanton settled underneath it. But instead, the ball bounced off the top of the high scoreboard and into the crowd, going as Desmond's seventh home run of the season, putting Colorado on top 3-0.
Gonzalez followed all that by starting another rally with another walk. Jonathan Lucroy continued his quality hitting of late by lofting a single into shallow right field. Adam Conley wouldn't get his first out in the inning until Jon Gray sacrificed CarGo and Lucroy up a base. Charlie Blackmon, who hit a ball to the warning track for an out in the first, then hit one down the first base line and sprinted to the bag, sliding just ahead of the tag to get an RBI single. Blackmon stole second without a throw and after a DJ LeMahieu pop out gave the Marlins their second out in the frame, Arenado was intentionally walked to get to the man who started it all. Story came up with his second important AB in the inning, singling up the middle to plate another pair of runs. By the time the dust had settled and Reynolds made the final out, the Rockies had scored six times to take the 6-0 lead. Lucroy reached base in all four of his at-bats.
Lucroy reached base in all four of his at-bats.
Gray had a start typical of what he has been doing in the second half. He pitched phenomenally well in five of his six innings, showing one lapse in focus or quality that led to three runs in the fourth. It started with a couple of well-struck singles off the bats of Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. He caught a break when a screaming line drive off the bat of Justin Bour landed harmlessly in CarGo's glove in right. The second out came in the form of an RBI force-out from Derek Dietrich, narrowly beating out the double play attempt. That ended up being huge when A.J. Ellis ambushed a Gray fastball, lifting it into the left-field bleachers to make it a 6-3 game. Gray was finally able to retire pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki to escape the frame. He finished the game by sitting down the last seven batters he faced in order.
It was Gray's 13th consecutive game pitching at least five innings and giving up no more than three runs. You have to go all the way back to July 19 to find a game in which he gave up four runs. Over his last 13 games (78.1 IP) he has struck out 80 batters and walked 16.
The Rockies struck right back in the bottom of the inning, getting a one-out single from DJ LeMahieu who moved to second on a throwing error. With first base open, for the second straight time the Marlins opted to intentionally walk Arenado and for the second time, Story made them pay for it, pulling a two-run double down the left-field line. After a Reynolds strikeout, Desmond singled up the middle to score his shortstop and put the Rockies ahead 9-3.
Colorado tacked on another huge inning in the sixth, plating five more runs, all coming with two outs. Reynolds and Desmond drew walks to start it and CarGo pulled a double off the glove of Bour at first, scoring Reynolds. Lucroy drew another walk, his third of the game, and Raimel Tapia delivered the dagger with a pinch-hit opposite field, two-run double. Tapia scored on a single to left from Blackmon.
With that three hits and three RBI in the game, Blackmon increased his totals in those categories to 208 and 100 respectively. He leapfrogged Vinny Castilla for most hits in a single season in franchise history, tying Larry Walker for sixth place.
The Marlins scored six late runs on Antonio Senzteala (2) and Jeff Hoffman (4) who was unable to record a single out in the ninth before being removed, dealing a huge blow to his chances of making the postseason roster. Pat Neshek eventually had to come on to settle things down and record the final two outs.
Colorado improved to 86-73 and for the moment hold a two-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the second spot in the NL Wild Card. The Brewers start play against the Cincinnati Reds at 6:05 mountain time. After a day off, the Rockies start their final series of the season, welcoming in the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game set. Pitchers are still to be determined.