The Colorado Rockies ended an up-and-down series with the Atlanta Braves on a decidedly sour note Thursday afternoon. Nolan Arenado left the game early with an apparent re-injury to his left hand, and the pitching fell apart as Atlanta won by a final score of 10-4.
Pitching lapses in two innings cost the Rockies dearly in this one. Starter Jeff Hoffman surrendered back-to-back home runs to Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman in the top of the 5th inning. That broke a tie and made the score 4-2. Things were still in reach at that point, but things really fell apart in the 7th inning.
Mike Dunn, who has been a good reliever lately, regressed back to being a bad reliever on this day. The inconsistent lefty allowed three runs and recorded just one out. He handed things to Adam Ottavino, and unfortunately he did not fare any better, allowing three runs of his own.
That made for six runs total in the frame, turning this game lopsided and erasing the good vibes of the blowout in the other direction just one day earlier.
Things started off promising for the Rockies when they took a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Ryan McMahon delivered an especially encouraging moment, driving in the team’s first run on a double to left-center field. It was a showcase of his ability to drive the ball to all fields, something we have been excited to see since his promotion.
Charlie Blackmon then drove McMahon in. That was back when this game looked like it still might be fun. Blackmon also hit a meaningless opposite field home run in the 9th. Unfortunately any other potential rallies ended with a whimper, and once things got out of hand the Rockies never climbed any closer.
The Braves’ pitchers deserve credit for patching together a good outing from what looks on paper to be quite the rag-tag group. Lucas Sims made it through five innings and allowed just two runs. Their bullpen carried the rest of the game an inning at a time, with Jason Motte even holding down a scoreless 8th inning, just in case Colorado hadn’t been kicked enough while they were down.
Four games into this seven-game home stand, the takeaway is surely the continued struggles of the offense. The 17-run outburst on Wednesday is the exception for an offense that isn’t stringing together hits and mostly isn’t coming through in big spots. With that in mind, the big story of this game will be Arenado’s injury.
Lane Adams roped one in Arenado’s direction in the 7th inning. As the gold glover reached to backhand the ball, it hopped up and hit the same spot he injured in Miami when he was hit with a pitch on his left hand.
The fear when Arenado was hit by a pitch this weekend was that he would have a broken bone. He didn’t and was able to return, playing the majority of this Atlanta series. With his physical reaction to the injury today, and the fact that it looked like the same spot he injured previously, it was a nervous moment for Rockies’ fans.
Thankfully, there was good news after the game as x-rays on his hand were again negative, as reported by Jake Shapiro. If the Rockies are without Arenado for any games this weekend, we will presumably see more Pat Valaika and Alexi Amarista in the lineup. Ryan McMahon did fill in at third on Thursday, so he might also be an option if the team were to decide to use the rookie in the starting lineup if they need a fill-in.
The Rockies ended up with a split against Atlanta and still have the chance to win the homestand if they have a good weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers. Still, you can’t help but feel there’s a missed opportunity in not actually winning a home series against the Braves.
The series against Milwaukee starts on Friday night with German Marquez on the mound for the Rockies opposite Matt Garza for the Brewers.