It isn’t very often when you can pinpoint the exact moment when a team won or lost a game, but you could pinpoint three such moments in the Rockies’ 5-4 loss to the White Sox on Saturday at Coors Field.
The biggest of them came in the top of the ninth in a 4-4 game, Greg Holland got ahead of leadoff hitter Tim Anderson 1-2 with three sliders, two of which induced whiffs. Instead of another slider, Holland threw a 1-2 fastball that Anderson took out to center for the game-winning run.
The first of the decisive moments came in the top of the fourth; with the Rockies trailing, 3-2, starter Jeff Hoffman had a man on third and one out with pitcher Jose Quintana, who was 0-for-27 with 16 strikeouts in his career, at the plate. Hoffman got ahead 0-2 on Quintana with a pair of fastballs, but then hung a curve that Quintana hit solidly enough to left field to be a sacrifice fly, stretching Chicago’s lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Rockies had cut the lead to 4-3 and had runners on second and third with one out and Trevor Story at the plate, who could tie the game with a fly ball or even a groundout. Instead, he took four straight fastballs from White Sox reliever Anthony Swarzak, three of which were called strikes, and he was out. Tony Wolters then grounded out to end the inning.
CBS 4’s Eric Christensen summed up the at bats by Quintana and Story perfectly in this tweet:
The white sox needed sac fly from their pitcher. Got r done. Rox need same from story. Never moved the bat. #Rockies— Eric Christensen (@cbseric) July 9, 2017
Five of the game’s seven runs were scored in the first inning, with Chicago scoring three after two were out in the top of the inning thanks to a pair of triples, a walk and a single against Hoffman. The Rockies answered in the bottom half with a leadoff single from Charlie Blackmon and a two-run home run by Nolan Arenado, cutting their deficit to 3-2.
Quintana settled in after the first, with nine of the 12 outs he recorded in the next four innings coming via the strikeout. He struck out 10 overall, but that drove up his pitch count and was pulled in the sixth, allowing three runs, all earned, on five hits in 5 1⁄3 innings, walking two with the 10 strikeouts.
The sacrifice fly to Quintana was the only run Hoffman allowed after the three-run first. He pitched seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out two.
However, neither starter factored in the decision as Mark Reynolds led off the bottom of the eighth against White Sox reliever Tommy Kahnle and scored the tying run on a Gerardo Parra sacrifice fly.
The Rockies’ rally in the eighth was all for naught as Chicago took the lead with Anderson’s homer in the top of the ninth and David Robertson, with some help from Sam Holbrook’s magic expanding strike zone, closed out the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Colorado will look to win the series and salvage a winning homestand in tomorrow’s series finale, with Kyle Freeland taking the mound against Carlos Rodon.