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Rockies unable to sweep Dodgers after windy Sunday game

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Pitching goes a little wild on a windy day

DENVER - After two brilliantly executed games to open up the return of baseball to Denver, Colorado Rockies fans came to Coors Field on Sunday hoping to see a sweep of the defending National League West champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Instead, their wishes were blown out of town as the Dodgers beat the Rockies 10-6 on a particularly windy day at 20th and Blake.

Tyler Anderson took the hill for the Rockies in his second start of the year. He lasted only five innings while giving up eight hits and a career high four walks while striking out only three batters. It took him thirty pitches just to get through the first inning as he labored with his command against a Dodgers lineup with a reputation of having difficulties of left handers.

After the game, manager Bud Black said “Most of his pitches didn’t have command. His ball-strike ratio was almost fifty-fifty, which is not going to work for a starting pitcher. Tyler’s a strikethrower, today he was just a little bit off.” Continuing a trend that started last September and was in play during last week’s start against Milwaukee, not only is he giving up more hits than innings pitched, but he’s also giving up more flyball outs than groundball outs.

Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda also only lasted five innings, allowing four runs in the process, including a Charlie Blackmon home run. The score was 5-4 Dodgers when it became a bullpen game. Unlike the other outings so far though, the Rockies bullpen wasn’t quite up to the task today. Each of the Rockies relievers used Sunday, Scott Oberg, Jordan Lyles and the recently promoted Chris Rusin, gave up at least one run in their appearances. The worst line score effort came from Jordan Lyles who allowed three runs in his one inning of work.

The Rockies offense, though it put runs on the board, remained a bit out of sync. In the third through seventh slots in the order, the Rockies went 0 for 19 with one walk and 10 strikeouts.

The wind, mild to begin the game, was a swirl of chaos in the later innings. “Have I managed a game that was windy? I am going to say no. Have I played in a game as windy as that? Yes... you saw a couple guys step off, not unlike Stu Miller [who balked during the 1961 All-Star Game] at Candlestick Park.” Hot dog wrappers and paper bags whipped through the field of play onto the pitcher’s mound as pitches were being thrown. The wind affected the play for both sides, causing players like Mark Reynolds to dive for what should’ve been a routine infield fly to completely killing a line drive to center field that landed about twenty feet short of where Charlie Blackmon thought it would end up.

Beyond the wind, Tony Wolters was involved in two unusual plays in the 7th inning. One came from a gallant effort by Wolters to corral a passed ball. After the pitch bounced off the heel of his glove, Wolters raced towards the errant ball, trying to prevent an automatic base advancement which, had the ball entered the dugout, advanced the baserunners and allowed a runner to score. In the process of hustling, Wolters slid into the Dodgers dugout himself though which generated an umpire conference on whether or not the Dodgers should still get the runner advancement. They didn’t and they also announced that kind if play wasn’t renewable. Later on that inning, Wolters attempted to pick off Justin Turner off third base. As Turned tried to return, he stepped into fair territory which made Wolters’ attempt carom off his back and into the outfield, allowing Turner to score. That play wasn’t reviewable either.

Still, with as weird as this game got, there were some positive takeaways. Both long men in the Rockies bullpen got a lot of work, meaning that all the other one inning relievers with the possible exception of Oberg would be available for the Rockies next series against the Padres. Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu, who entered the game as a pinch hitter, had two hits each which might indicate they may be making progress at getting out of their early season slumps.

Also, the Rockies have a record of 5-2 and a pretty well-rested plan for the San Diego series. That series begins tonight.