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Nationals 6, Rockies 3: Missed opportunities and a couple bad innings cost Rockies

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This game was there for the Rockies in a couple ways, until it wasn’t.

The Colorado Rockies technically left fewer men on base than the Washington Nationals in their 6-3 loss on Wednesday. You can count the three important times the Rockies had men on and a chance to score. But in a game that was close almost throughout, those missed opportunities felt more glaring, especially for a team that is still spotty on offense.

Jeff Hoffman’s one bad inning

Called into action for his 2019 debut, the young Hoffman mostly looked just fine. His stuff looked nasty at times, especially when he located his fastball and kept his breaking pitches down.

Unfortunately he was quite hittable when he didn’t locate his fastball or keep his spinning stuff down, and more unfortunately yet, a lot of those at-bats happened in the third inning. Hoffman allowed a couple two-strike hits before surrendering the big blow in the form of a three-run double from Victor Robles. He then allowed the Nats to tack on one more and make it a four-run inning.

Other than that Hoffman was good. He struck out six and issued zero walks. It was more positives than negatives in my book, even if it came in a losing effort.

D.J. Johnson’s one bad inning

To be fair, he shared it with Carlos Estévez and Mike Dunn, but Johnson really flailed in a messy ninth inning. Faced with a daunting task with the bases loaded, Johnson was bailed out when he tried to hit Robles with a pitch that instead fouled off the knob of his bat. He got the strikeout there and looked like he just might get out of it.

Not so. Johnson walked Juan Soto in a weird at-bat to score a run and then plunked Howie Kendrick to score another. Those two insurance runs technically didn’t factor into the loss, but they sure took the air out of Coors Field as Johnson looked lost in trying to clean things up.

The worst of the missed opportunities

The Rockies had men on for their big hitters a few times, with missed chances in the fourth and fifth innings. But the moment that stung the most came with the score 4-3 in the eighth inning. Trevor Story led off with a double. He then stayed right there at second base as Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds and Ryan McMahon didn’t so much as make the Nationals worry about him reaching third, let alone scoring the tying run.

These things happen. It’s baseball. But given the bad start driven by a bad offense, they’re all the more frustrating, even in the middle of a stretch where the Rockies are playing better.

Raimel Tapia did more good things

He homered in his third straight game and made a sweet catch crashing into the stands in foul territory. Ian Desmond and his .177 average, meanwhile, bounced into his every-third-game lucky single. I long for the days when David Dahl and Tapia both get to play, maybe even more than one game in a row.

Anyway here’s that home run (left on left against Patrick Corbin to boot).

And here’s that catch.

Looking ahead

The Rockies will try to win the series on Wednesday. Aníbal Sánchez will start for the Nationals against German Márquez for the Rockies.