Staked to an early three run lead that they were unable to maintain, the Colorado Rockies still managed to defeat the Detroit Tigers 7-3 thanks to two late game flyballs from Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado.
Credit the early offensive spark to DJ LeMahieu. Batting second in the bottom of the first, he hit a home run to right field off of Detroit Tigers starter Michael Fulmer to put the Rockies up 1-0. It was LeMahieu’s third home run in the last four games, though just his fourth extra base hit in the last twenty two games. The Rockies added two more runs in the third after Gerardo Parra drove in Charlie Blackmon and LeMahieu with a single to left field. Besides a lone single to Trevor Story in the fourth, that was the only offense the Rockies would muster through the first six innings as Fulmer shut down the Rockies in order in the second, fifth and sixth.
German Marquez, meanwhile, was really good until he wasn’t good enough. He pitched shutout baseball for the first four innings. The first blemish came in the fifth, when he allowed a run after giving up back-to-back doubles to Mikie Mahtook and John Hicks, putting the score at 3-1 Rockies. Then in the seventh, he allowed a double to Nick Castellanos. Trevor Story threw him out at third base with a heads up defensive play on a Brian McCann groundball, but then Mahtook hit a home run to score both runners and tie the game at three runs a piece. After giving up a leadoff single on a broken bat to Hicks, Marquez’s night was done. He went six and a third innings, giving up seven hits and a walk while striking out ten Tigers. Three of the seven hits he allowed went for extra bases. Pat Neshek came on and punched out Jose Iglesias before coaxing a groundball from Fulmer.
After the seventh inning stretch, the Rockies got the bats going again. Jonathan Lucroy led off with a single, then advanced to third on Story’s liner to right field, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Gonzalez came on to pinch hit for Neshek and lofted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Lucroy to give the Rockies a 4-3 edge. Fulmer was then removed from the game after throwing 109 pitches. He allowed four runs in six and a third innings thanks to eight Rockies hits and a walk while striking out three.
Daniel Stumpf was brought in to close out the inning. He managed to get Blackmon to ground into a fielder’s choice erasing Story from the bases. Stumpf was removed from the game for Warwick Saupold, a name fit for Game of Thrones. Alas, he would learn the hard way that at Coors Field you either win or your ERA dies. After Saupold gave up a walk to LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado sent one sailing over the wall to push the tally to 7-3 in the Rockies favor. Saupold struck out Gerardo Parra to end the sortie, but the damage was done.
With a four run lead, Mike Dunn was brought in for the top of the eighth and threw a clean frame, striking out Tiger Jacoby Jones for good measure. Tigers right hander Jeff Ferrell came in during the bottom of the eighth to stifle the Rockies, working around an Ian Desmond walk to strike out Jonathan Lucroy and Story to finish off the last of the Rockies at bats.
Adam Ottavino came in to the game in the ninth inning in a non-save situation to hold the Tigers at bay. He got Castellanos to ground out, struck out McCann then finished the tale by stifling Mahtook, who was the Rockies’ nemesis of the night.
Game three of the series on Wednesday starts at 1:10 pm MST. Chad Bettis will be starting for the Rockies against Tigers veteran Justin Verlander.