DENVER -- "No one said this was going to be easy," says Colorado Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Tuesday night was not easy.
The Rockies lost a heartbreaking contest to the San Diego Padres, 7-6, to bring their current losing streak to five games.
"We were gonna go through a time that was going to be rough," Tulowitzki continued. "That's how baseball is."
"We've played good baseball and it's a tough division. There's real good pitching in this division."
The Rockies are going to need to step up their game in that department, then.
Our old friend, former Rockie and no stranger to home runs at Coors Field -- a Mr. Clint Barmes -- got the scoring started in the top of the third with a solo homer off of Rockies starter Tyler Matzek. The Padres scored again later in the inning when, after retiring two, Matzek gave up a double to Derek Norris and an RBI single to Matt Kemp.
Even though the Padres wouldn't ultimately score, it was the fifth and final inning that was actually the scariest for Matzek, the Rockies, and their fans. The young lefty began the inning by walking the bottom two members of the Padres lineup, including pitcher Brandon Morrow. It was the first time Morrow had reached base in his career.
When Wil Myers looped a single into right field that fell just in front of Carlos Gonzalez in the next at-bat, it looked like things might unravel completely, but Barmes did his old team a massive favor and broke for the plate. CarGo's throw beat him by at least five feet, and after a short rundown he was erased for the first out of the inning. Whew.
But the danger had not disappeared. Padres runners stood at second and third with only one out and the heart of the San Diego lineup waiting for its turn. To make things even more stressful, Rafael Ynoa punted a slow grounder that allowed Norris to reach first and load the bases with Kemp coming to the plate.
Right when he absolutely needed to, Matzek threw some of his best pitches of the night and got the star hitter to ground into an inning-ending (and threat-ending) double play. One moment it looked like the game was going to get out of hand and the next the Rockies were walking off the field unscathed.
I'll say this for Matzek: he does not give up on himself.
"I thought it was his best outing so far," said catcher Nick Hundley, "I thought he did a very good job for us and gave us a chance to win."
Hundley had been animated on multiple occasions. "I just knew I had to get through [the fifth inning] and Hundley kinda got on me and fired me up," says Matzek. "That's what I needed right then. He really fired me up and got me back in there."
There was some question as to whether or not Hundley's animation earlier in the game was directed at the opposition. "No, I wouldn't do that," he said. "That's to our guys."
Matzek would hit for himself and begin a rally that put the Rockies on top in the bottom of the fifth inning. After it was all said and done he finished with five innings, two earned runs, four hits, a career-high six walks and a month off of all of our lives.
A Justin Morneau single followed by a Hundley opposite-field triple got the Rockies on the board in the fourth. DJ LeMahieu tied things at two with a professional at-bat that ended in a ground out to the right side.
Matzek's single followed by an infield single from Ynoa, who got the start in place of Nolan Arenado (sore wrist), set the table for a Charlie Blackmon triple, his second in as many days, which cleared the bases and put the Rockies up two.
Troy Tulowitzki came through with a sac fly to extend the lead to three.
And then it all went terribly, terribly awry.
The Rockies' bullpen, which has been mostly excellent this season, imploded in the eighth when Rafael Betancourt and Boone Logan combined to allow four runs in the inning. Logan, who was charged with three of the runs, had only given up one run in six appearances prior to Tuesday.
Just like that, the Rockies were down by two, 7-5.
Hundley pulled the Rockies to within one with a leadoff home run over the right field fence against Craig Kimbrel, arguably the most feared closer in the game. Hundley's bat has been almost as impressive as his glove in the early going.
But pinch-hit appearances from Wilin Rosario and Corey Dickerson came up empty, leaving all hope in the hands of Daniel Descalso. Descalso popped out to shallow right, and the Rockies had officially lost another heartbreaker.
No way to spin this one. It just hurt.