A slice of the future of National League pitching was on display Sunday afternoon at Coors Field. Aaron Nola, the Phillies 24-year-old ace in the making, and Jeff Hoffman, the Rockies hopeful top of the rotation arm, spent the bulk of the day in a pitcher’s duel. Hoffman only allowed four hits and a run over seven innings—a solo home run to Maikel Franco. He struck out eight batters and walked just one. Not to be outdone, Nola struck out seven batters and walked just two in seven innings. But he gave up six hits and two runs.
It made the difference between the two starters, but the game was ultimately decided in the late innings. The Phillies scored two in the ninth off of Greg Holland to win 3-2.
Blackmon had three of of the Rockies seven hits, all of them doubles. His first double came in his first at-bat leading off the game. He moved to third on a Gerardo Parra groundout and scored after Nolan Arenado singled to right. Blackmon drove in the Rockies’ other run. In the seventh inning with the game timed 1-1 and with Raimel Tapia on second base, Blackmon hit his third double of the game to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead.
It wasn’t just the Hoffman and Blackmon show for the Rockies though. The Rockies defense was solid behind Hoffman. With the bases empty and two outs in the third inning, Daniel Nava hit a liner toward CarGo in right field. This was the result:
The very next batter in the fourth inning, Nick Williams, started off with a dribbler up the middle to Story. He and Mark Reynolds combined for this beauty:
Story also ended the seventh with a jump throw to first base from the hole. That put a bow on Hoffman’s similarly outstanding showing.
With the 2-1 lead intact, the Rockies went to the bullpen in the eighth inning. It was a drama filled three outs. With Pat Neshek in the game, Cameron Rupp led off the inning with an infield single up the middle. That put one runner on with nobody out, though Rupp is a slow runner. We saw just how lumbering he is on the next play. Andrés Blanco doubled on a fly ball to right field. Parra attempted to make a diving catch on it, and that allowed the ball to bounce around a bit in the corner. Rupp attempted to score from first base on an ill-advised send. Story took the relay from Parra and threw Rupp out with time to spare.
The Rockies still weren’t in a great position tough, as Blanco made his way to third base on the throw. Bud Black replaced Neshek with Mike Dunn, and Dunn walked the first batter he faced, César Hernández. That put runners on the corners, but Dunn was able to strike out Freddie Galvis for the second out. Daniel Nava worked a full count against Dunn, and he walked on pitch number six right here:
"Ball Four," says Carlos Torres pic.twitter.com/jBUp4Are2S— Adam Peterson (@playerTBNL) August 6, 2017
That loaded the bases. To the relief of Rockies fans, and possibly also to home plate umpire Carlos Torres, Dunn was still able to get Nick Williams to ground out to second base to maintain the Rockies’ 2-1 lead.
The Rockies lost the lead in the ninth inning, as Holland blew the save that led to the Rockies’ loss. Odúbel Herrera led off with a double that was literally a slow groundball up the middle. He advanced to third base on a single. With runners on the corners and one out, Hyun Soo Kim hit a grounder to Story, who threw Herrera out at home.
That kept the Phillies from tying it, but it left two runners on base. Rupp doubled to bring them both home and make it a 3-2 game in favor of the Phillies.
Story led off the ninth with a bunt base hit. Neither Alexi Amarista nor Pat Valaika could do anything, but Story stole second base with Jonathan Lucroy up. Lucroy eventually walked, and that put two runners on and brought Blackmon to the plate. Unfortunately, Blackmon couldn’t reproduce his doubles magic. He grounded out to first base to end the game.
The Rockies are off tomorrow. They’ll start a two game series at Cleveland on Tuesday night.