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Rockies drop series opener to D’Backs 9-5

Colorado falls 4.5 games behind in the race for the first Wild Card.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies Photo by Joe Mahoney/Getty Images

On Friday night in Denver, the Rockies played their first meaningful September baseball game in seven years. They also lost their third game in a row at home and fell 4.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first wild card spot. Their lead over the Milwaukee Brewers dropped to a game and a half. The offense wasn’t exactly the problem this time, though they squandered their share of opportunities. Rather it was Adam Ottavino and Mike Dunn’s relief adventures in the seventh inning that really cost the Rockies the game. But long before any of that, Kyle Freeland started the game for the Rockies.

The game started inauspiciously for Freeland. He allowed a run to score before he recorded an out on an AJ Pollock single. Then he fell behind Paul Goldschmidt 3-1 before Goldy hit a long fly ball that was hauled in by Charlie Blackmon. Freeland then got out of the inning on a nifty Nolan Arenado double play to limit the damage to a single run.

The Rockies also threatened in the bottom of the first, loading the bases for Carlos Gonzalez, but CarGo struck out swinging and Colorado failed to score.

In the top of the second, with runners on second and third, Arizona pitcher Taijuan Walker hit a soft ground ball to Mark Reynolds. Kyle Freeland didn’t go over to cover first, which forced Reynolds to try and chase Walker himself, which didn’t work out. The end result was an RBI single on a play very indicative of how the last few weeks have gone for the Rockies. After that mishap, Freeland induced a second double play in as many innings to escape with limited damage once again.

Arizona added another run to their lead in the top of the third on a J.D. Martinez sac-fly.

The first eight outs Taijuan walker recorded were by way of the strikeout, and in the bottom of the third he had two questionable calls go his way that punched out DJ LeMahieu and Mark Reynolds. Ian Desmond grounded out to end the third with two runners on.

The Rockies threatened again in the fourth after Carlos Gonzalez led off with a double, but Charlie Blackmon flew out with two outs and runners on the corners.

Carlos Estevez pitched a clean fifth in relief of Freeland, whose final line was four innings pitched, three runs on four hits, with three walks and four strikeouts. It wasn’t a great performance, but it should be enough to keep the Rockies in a game at Coors Field. Tonight, it wasn’t.

Arizona expanded their lead by one run again in the sixth on a Rey Fuentes double.

The Rockies managed their only rally of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Carlos Gonzalez hit his second double of the night to drive in Ian Desmond and put the Rockies on the board. He advanced to third on a ground ball from Lucroy and scored on a Trevor Story sacrifice fly. It was 4-2 with two outs and former Rockie Jorge De La Rosa entered the game hoping to get the D’Backs out of it. He walked Ryan McMahon and hit Charlie Blackmon before exiting the game without recording an out. JJ Hoover came on and got DJ LeMahieu to fly out to right field to end the inning.

The Rockies were back within striking distance, but then things came unraveled in the seventh. Adam Ottavino probably should have struck out AJ Pollock on a 3-2 pitch with one out, but it was called a ball and Pollock went to first. Then he stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Jonathan Lucroy. Goldschmidt was intentionally walked to put runners on the corners, and a bad pick-off attempt by Ottavino allowed Pollock to score without Arizona putting the bat on the ball once.

The Rockies committed three errors in the seventh inning, and the horror show was capped off by Daniel Descalso cranking a three-run homer off Mike Dunn to momentarily turn the game into a laugher at 9-2.

The Rockies didn’t give up, and they loaded the bases with no one out in the seventh. Carlos Gonzalez hit a weak ground ball that scored a run, and then Trevor Story laced a double into the gap to make it 9-5. It was sometime after Pat Valaika lined out to end the inning that the full impact of the Descalso homer began to sink in.

A leadoff single by Charlie Blackmon in the bottom of the eighth prompted Torey Lovullu to bring in Archie Bradley in the place of Andrew Chafin, and Bradley induced a double play ball off the bat of DJ LeMahieu on his very first pitch.

Carlos Gonzalez walked with one out in the ninth, but Ian Desmond and Trevor Story couldn’t reach, and after 3 hours and 45 minutes what was left of the modest crowd of 29,628 watched Fernando Rodney close out the Rockies for Arizona’s eighth straight win.

Tomorrow night Jon Gray will take on Patrick Corbin at 6:10 MDT.