The Rockies don't normally score a lot of runs on the road. That's just how it is. So the fact that they had only two runs on eight hits on Friday is unsurprising. That's why, when the offense and starting pitcher do just enough to get you a late lead, you better have relievers in place who can protect it.
Unfortunately for Colorado, that has failed to happen on many occasions, including in its post-All-Star-break series opener against the Pirates. The Rockies held a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning but proceeded to allow a run in that frame and two more in the eighth en route to a 4-2 loss.
Jorge De La Rosa lasted six innings and battled through control issues to allow only a run on four hits. However, after reaching 100 pitches, Rockies manager Walt Weiss naturally replaced him with Rex Brothers, who was hurt by an error in the seventh but also gave up a couple of base hits. Brothers was charged with the tying run after Adam Ottavino, who entered with one out in the inning, plunked Pirates outfielder Starling Marte in the head with the bases loaded. Ottavino bounced back to get the final two outs of the inning, but more bullpen woes followed in the eighth.
Matt Belisle served up consecutive line-drive singles to start the inning before Travis Snider laced a double down the right field line to plate the go-ahead run. The Pirates added one more against Tommy Kahnle on a sacrifice fly later in the inning and held serve in the ninth when closer Mark Melancon retired Josh Rutledge, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki in order after surrendering a leadoff single to Corey Dickerson.
Gonzalez, Tulowitzki and Arenado, the Rockies' 3-4-5 hitters, combined to go 0-for-12 with six strikeouts and 11 runners left on base. Gonzalez was the worst of the bunch, striking out in all five of his plate appearances. He's the first Rockies player ever to accomplish that feat. At least Tulo walked twice and Arenado made contact, as weak as it was.
So, back to the relief pitching: if the Rockies don't believe they're out of the playoff race (haha) and actually plan on acquiring some useful major league pieces at the deadline (hahaha), they might want to start with their bullpen, which has been a complete dumpster fire for months (Kahnle and LaTroy Hawkins notwithstanding) and isn't showing signs of getting any better.
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