DENVER — After the Colorado Rockies’ 4-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday, it was impossible not to think of this 1989 hit song, perhaps because it had been playing at Coors Field just a couple hours earlier:
Rockies starter Jon Gray was cruising, dominating the Padres through five innings with his team holding a 3-0 lead. However, in the bottom of the fifth, the skies above Coors Field opened up, unleashing a deluge that delayed the game for an hour and 23 minutes, ending Gray’s day.
“I didn’t have an idea it was going to rain today at all,” Gray said. “It was a big surprise to me.”
In his five innings of work, Gray had allowed just two hits and a walk, never more than one base runner in an inning, and had struck out seven. Significantly, he had thrown only 63 pitches, 40 of those for strikes. Gray said he was absolutely thinking about pitching a complete game before the rain hit.
“I felt like I was getting better as the game was going on,” Gray said. “Command was better, pitches were sharper, do yeah, it’s frustrating but you can’t do anything about it.”
Rockies manager Bud Black said that the length of the delay gave him no choice but to remove Gray from the game, despite how well the right-hander was pitching.
“For me, it’s usually 45 minutes to an hour, especially for a young pitcher,” Black said in reference to the length of a delay that would force a pitcher to be taken out of the game.
One of Black’s go-to sayings is, “That’s baseball,” and he had occasion to use it again on Sunday after a group of the Rockies’ most reliable relievers all had issues in place of Gray in the final four innings of the game.
Chris Rusin, Pat Neshek, Jake McGee and Greg Holland allowed a run each to the Padres on Sunday and Scott Oberg allowed a pair of inherited runners to score.
Entering Sunday, that group had posted a 3.57 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 85 2⁄3 innings pitched since August 1. In Sunday’s game they combined to pitch four innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits with a pair of walks and six strikeouts. Three of San Diego’s four runs scored with two outs.
The Padres got on the board in the sixth when Yangervis Solarte hit a 443-foot home run to the concourse against Rusin. San Diego tied the game with two outs in the eighth thanks to a rally against three Rockies relievers. It started with a single by Carlos Asuaje against Neshek before Solarte doubled off of McGee and Oberg walked Wil Myers and gave up a two-run single to Hector Sanchez, tying the game at three.
Holland was unable to keep the game tied in the top of the ninth as he walked Matt Sczcur with one out in the ninth before giving up a single to Allen Cordoba that just snuck past DJ Lemahieu, allowing Szczur to get to third. Austin Hedges then put down a squeeze but that Holland grabbed, diving to tag Szczur coming home, but the ball popped out of his glove, allowing the deciding run to score.
“It was more of just an instinctual play at that point,” Holland said.
Whether you decide to place the blame on bad luck, bad performance or a combination of the two, the Rockies let a game slip away that looked firmly in control before the rain came. It may have been Black who summed it up best after the game.
“We talk about it all the time, it’s baseball,” he said.