The Rockies dropped the opening game of a crucial three game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2. The Rockies allowed ten walks and left runners on base in every inning save the third and the fifth, but this game will be remembered as an ump show that cost the Rockies in crucial situations.
Walks Will Haunt
Rockies pitchers allowed nine walks on the night, plus a hit batter in the ninth inning. While some of this can be pinned on a, shall we say, mysterious strike zone from home plate umpire Andy Fletcher. On a night when Jon Gray was matched up with future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw, five walks and 85 pitches meant his night was over after four innings. A two-out walk in the first allowed Cody Bellinger to drive in the game’s first run. Two walks in the fifth led (eventually) to two runs.
Andy Fletcher, the home plate umpire, was the star of the show on Friday night in LoDo. While the strike zone was inconsistent all night (see the graphs below, from the catcher’s point of view), it all came to a head with no outs and one on in the bottom of the ninth with Charlie Blackmon at the plate. Dodgers reliever Scott Alexander threw six pitches low-and-away from Charlie, each in the almost exact same spot. Charlie did not swing once, and yet, on the sixth pitch Fletcher called strike three.
Andy Fletcher was also involved in some controversial calls in the crucial fifth inning where the Dodgers would score the eventual game-winning runs. Chris Rusin relieved Jon Gray and issued back-to-back walks to start the inning. After a strikeout, Rusin made an inside pick-off fake to second base but was called for a balk by—you guessed it—home plate umpire Andy Fletcher, moving runners into scoring position with no outs. Manager Bud Black was as confused as everyone watching and got ejected for questioning the call.
After a nice play to get the second out at home, Yency Almonte came in and got a ground ball fielded by a retreating Nolan Arenado, who made a wide throw to first. The call on the field was safe and a run scored—but wait! Did Ian Desmond keep his toe on the bag?
This was ruled safe by MLB upon review.— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) September 8, 2018
On this play the go-ahead run scored while two teams fight for first place. pic.twitter.com/lbeW0WrXj1
Not according to the review crew in New York. Instead of the inning ending in a tie, the go-ahead run scored, and then Yasiel Puig came to the plate and singled to make it 4-2.
Andy Fletcher, Laz Diaz, Nick Mahrley, and Jeff Nelson will be with us all weekend. It could be a long one.
The Rockies are still in first place as the series continues at Coors Field tomorrow. Kyle Freeland takes the hill opposite Walker Buehler for the Dodgers. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 pm MT.