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Bud Black’s use of the relief ace helped the Rockies take down the Cubs

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The manager’s call to use Jake McGee in the eighth inning was important in what turned out to be a big win.

After the Colorado Rockies scored five runs in the top of the ninth in Saturday’s 9-1 win over the Chicago Cubs, a big call from manager Bud Black in the eighth became an afterthought, even though it shouldn’t be.

With closer Greg Holland unavailable after getting saves in the Rockies’ wins over the Cubs Thursday and Friday, the best reliever Black had available in his bullpen was lefty Jake McGee, who entered the game with a 1.46 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 24 23 innings this season. Most managers would have saved McGee for a save situation in the ninth, but Black’s decision not to proved key to the Rockies win.

Holding a 4-1 lead through seven and with the top of the Cubs’ order—Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo—due up, Black called on his likely closer for the day, asking McGee to retire Chicago’s best hitters. McGee came through in the big spot, giving up only a one-out single to Bryant in the inning and recording his 11th straight scoreless appearance.

The Rockies’ offense then proceeded to make things easy on Black in the ninth, scoring five runs to stretch the lead to eight and allowing the manager to bring in Jordan Lyles to mop up in the ninth.

Black came to the Rockies with a reputation for being an excellent manager of a bullpen, and his living up to that on Saturday propelled the club to its seventh straight win.

Notes

  • The Rockies’ ninth-inning rally Saturday was started by a double from No. 4 PuRP Raimel Tapia. It was the first extra-base hit of Tapia’s big league career and his second hit of the day after starting the season 0-for-15. Look for Tapia to play an important role for the Rockies, both starting and off the bench, in the absence of David Dahl and Gerardo Parra.
  • Catcher Tony Wolters was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in Saturday’s win. Though the 25-year-old has not exhibited much power in 2017, he leads the team with a .414 on-base percentage and a 14.3 percent walk rate.
  • In addition to McGee, the Rockies got big outs from veteran relievers Chad Qualls and Mike Dunn, who helped starter Jeff Hoffman escape a jam in the seventh. After combining for a 7.00 ERA in 18 innings in May, the pair has allowed just one run in six innings in June.
  • This marks just the second time in franchise history that the Rockies have climbed to 18 games above .500, with the other coming in 2009.