That's when Carlos Gonzalez, who was standing in the on-deck circle waiting for his first at-bat of the game, was struck in the foot by a foul ball off the bat of Jordan Pacheco and was forced to leave the game. That was only the beginning of the madness in LoDo, which ended in a in a 5-4 loss for the Rockies.
Dexter Fowler was hit in the hand by a Ross Detwiler offering while trying to bunt in the third inning and also had to leave the game, and Troy Tulowitzki followed suit a few innings later after hurting his ribs while making a diving stop on Ian Desmond's run-scoring infield single. If you're scoring at home, that's three of the Rockies' top four offensive players that went down in one warm and windy day at 20th and Blake.
Fowler and Gonzalez are day-to-day, while Tulowitzki will have an MRI on his ribs. The club won't know the results until tonight or tomorrow, but Weiss noted that there's concern that the star shortstop could miss some time.
The injuries weren't the only strange occurrences at the ballpark on Thursday. Wilton Lopez, who came on in relief of Jeff Francis in the seventh inning, was called for two consecutive balks -- the second of which resulted in the tying run -- and ended up being ejected, along with pitching coach Jim Wright, amid a chorus of boos from the crowd of 37,017. It comes as no surprise that Balkin' Bob Davidson called the fatal balk, which was contested by Rockies manager Walt Weiss.
"You could say the first one was a balk, but the second one, I'm not sure," Weiss said after the game. "I'm not sure if it's a part of his pre-pitch routine, but they interpreted as he started and stopped."
That spoiled a solid start by Francis, who went six innings and allowed just two runs on a third-inning home run by Ryan Zimmerman. He struck out eight batters and did not walk anybody.
"Jeff did a great job," said Weiss. "I thought he used his fastball well. It's as good as I've seen it as far as location and sequences."
Francis might have saved his spot in the rotation, but the Rockies could be forced to make another move soon, depending on the status of Fowler and Gonzalez. Weiss is unsure of whether or not that's necessary.
"It's hard to say right now, but I think we'll probably have to make that determination tomorrow," Weiss said.
Pacheco and Jonathan Herrera were forced to play left field because of the injuries, a sign that the Rockies should consider improving their outfield depth. The team is currently carrying an extra bullpen arm in Chris Volstad, but might need to option him back to Triple-A in exchange for an outfielder, likely Charlie Blackmon.
Desmond paced the Nationals' offense with four hits and has hit safely in 15 consecutive games. Zimmerman added a pair of hits and drove in three runs.
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