The Colorado Rockies lost another tough game against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night by a final score of 6-4. Greg Holland’s nightmare month of August continued as he allowed multiple runs for the third time in his last six appearances and the Rockies squandered another opportunity to gain ground in the National League Wild Card race.
Nolan Arenado got the scoring started in the top of the first inning with his 29th home run of the season to make it 1-0, Rockies. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Royals came back to tie the game in the bottom of the second when Mike Moustakas scored on Trevor Story’s error after singling to start the inning.
Not to be outdone by his teammate Arenado, Charlie Blackmon hit his 30th homer of the year in the top of the third to put the Rockies back on top, 2-1, and expanded it in the top of the fifth on Gerardo Parra’s sacrifice fly after a trio of singles to begin the inning from Story, Blackmon, and DJ LeMahieu.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kansas City countered again on Lorenzo Cain’s RBI double, then the Rockies once again added a run to their lead when LeMahieu singled home Story in the top of the sixth. Through five and a half, the Rockies led, 4-2.
The latter portion of the ballgame became a battle of the bullpens. Rockies’ starter Antonio Senzatela lasted just five innings, allowing two runs on nine hits across 81 pitches. He walked one and struck out two. Royals’ starter Ian Kennedy had an even shorter outing, lasting only 4 2⁄3 innings. The 32-year-old righty allowed three runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out seven.
Ryan Buchter of the Royals was the first to show a crack, as he allowed a run on a hit and a walk in his 1 1⁄3 innings of relief immediately following Kennedy. After Buchter, however, the Kansas City bullpen was excellent. The trio of Peter Moylan, Scott Alexander, and Brandon Maurer combined to toss 3 1⁄3 innings of scoreless relief while allowing just one hit (LeMahieu’s RBI single) and a walk while striking out four.
For most of the night, the Rockies’ bullpen was strong as well. They allowed only one run on three hits from the group of Chris Rusin, Pat Neshek, and Jake McGee. Neshek was charged with a tough luck run when Whit Merrifield scored on Eric Hosmer’s bloop single after he was taken out of the game. In the ninth, Greg Holland got his first opportunity for a save as a visitor at Kauffman Stadium with the Rockies leading, 4-3. It didn’t go well.
After walking the leadoff hitter Alex Gordon, Holland allowed three consecutive hard hit balls to Merrifield, Cain, and Melky Cabrera. Fortunately, two of the hard hit balls landed in the gloves of Rockies’ defenders. After this, Hosmer came to the plate and hit it where no fielder could possibly get to it. His laser over the right field wall sent the Royals home as 6-4 winners. Since cutting his finger on August 1st, Holland sports a 14.14 ERA across eight outings with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. It’s pure speculation whether or not that’s having an impact on him, but he is clearly not the same pitcher we saw from April through July.
The loss drops the Rockies to 68-58 on the season and into sole possession of the second Wild Card spot. Their lead over the Milwaukee Brewers sits at a precarious three games. The Royals, on the other hand, improve to 64-61 and are only half a game out of a Wild Card spot in the American League. The Rockies will try to salvage a game in the three-game series on Thursday afternoon. German Marquez gets the ball for the Rockies against Jake Junis of the Royals. First pitch is at 12:15 mountain time.