Though the focus at the beginning of the game was the return of Antonio Senzatela to the mound, it was how Nolan Arenado’s day off affected the team and the possible return of Carlos Gonzalez’s bat that stole the spotlight. The slumping slugger went 2-for-4 with three RBI, including a two run double which was Gonzalez’s first extra base hit since June 21. Meanwhile, Gerardo Parra, who was batting in Arenado’s usual third spot, went 2-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and three runs scored. After an offensive slump during the Rockies’ June 22-July 2 free fall, the team has shown a little bit of life of late, earning taco’s five times in 12 games against the pitching staffs of non-contending teams like the Padres, White Sox and Reds. Tonight the Rockies faced Padres rookie pitcher Dinelson Lamet, who entered the game with a 6.40 ERA and struggles against lefty hitters. Taco’s Tuesday rightfully ensued, though nine runs against a guy who usually gives up six isn’t too spicy.
The scoring started early as the Padres got three runs off of Senzatela in the first inning. Two runs scored because of a throwing error by Alexi Amarista, who was filling in at third base for Arenado. The Rockies responded in the bottom of the frame when walks by Parra and Charlie Blackmon set the stage for a three-run homer to deep center field off the bat of Mark Reynolds. Senzatela settled down after that, posting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third. He gave up two walks, one of which was intentional, in the fourth inning. His outing was marred after serving up a home run to Wil Myers in the fifth inning, putting the score up to 4-3.
Senzatela finished the night throwing five innings on 83 pitches, allowing four runs on four hits, three walks and two strikeouts.
The Rockies responded in the bottom of the fifth with four runs of their own. Blackmon got the party started with a triple and was promptly driven in with a flyball to left field by DJ LeMahieu. However, an error on the sacrifice fly by Padres right fielder Jabari Blash allowed LeMahieu to reach safely. A single by Parra put runners on first and second for Gonzalez’s two-run double to deep center. Gonzalez scored later on the inning thanks to a single by Amarista. The score was 7-4 Rockies after five innings of baseball.
The Padres pushed right back, scoring two runs off of Chris Rusin in the top of the sixth. Further defensive issues hounded the Rockies as the Padres got two infield singles. Jordan Lyles came on with two outs to relieve Rusin and the defense was given a change when Pat Valaika was brought in to play third base. Lyles was able to induce a groundball to shortstop to end the top half of the sixth inning with the score 7-6 Rockies.
The Rockies added some extra cushion in the bottom of the sixth. Valaika singled to lead off the inning, then was brought home by Parra’s double. After a wild pitch by Padres reliever Jose Torres and a walk to Reynolds, Gonzalez drove in Parra with a single to right, pushing the score to 9-7 in favor of the Rockies.
Lyles allowed a home run to Carlos Asuaje in the top of the seventh then, like Rusin, became a victim of defensive miscues. An error by LeMahieu and a bobbled ball ruled as a hit by Valaika made things quite tense. But Reynolds, Story and Lyles were able to turn a nifty 3-6-1 double play to get out of it.
The score remained at 9-7 when Greg Holland came in during the ninth and struck out the side in dominating fashion to notch his league-leading 30th save.
The Rockies finish out the series with the Padres at 1:10 p.m. MT tomorrow. Jon Gray will be facing off against Clayton Richard in a battle of the staff aces that could diminish the taco’s chances. Hopefully the Rockies win nonetheless.