This one was a roller coaster with twists and turns and unreal performances. In the end, the Rockies pulled out the win thanks to seven solid innings from Kyle Freeland, ninth-inning heroics by Daniel Bard, and continued clutch hitting from the likes of Charlie Blackmon and Co. that has highlighted the season so far. Colorado moved to 12-5, while Arizona fell to 7-11. The Padres beat the Dodgers on Tuesday night 6-2, which puts the San Diego and L.A. in a tie for second place, 1.5 games behind the Rockies.
After seven and a half innings, the Rockies and Diamondbacks were locked at 2-2. In their highest scoring inning of the 2020 season, the Rockies scored six runs in spectacular fashion that started with a triple from Garrett Hampson, who later hit a double in the same inning, a go-ahead RBI single off the bat of Trevor Story, and RBI double from Blackmon, a two-run single by Raimel Tapia, RBI singles from Tony Wolters and Daniel Murphy, and an intentional walk to Nolan Arenado. Eleven Rockies came to the plate in the frame that was a classic Coors rally in the Rockies’ favor, which was a nice change since Arizona had one of its own on Monday night … and almost had another one on Tuesday night.
Bard Saves the Day
You might have thought a six-run lead to start the ninth would be plenty for the Rockies. (After all, Wade Davis is not in the bullpen.) It turned out to just barely be enough. In gut-wrenching fashion, the Diamondbacks added five runs of their own after attacking Phillip Diehl and Jairo Díaz. After escaping a jam, Carlos Estévez pitched a scoreless eighth, which earned him the win, but that wasn’t the story for Diehl or Díaz. After starting off with a quick groundout, the Diamondbacks hit three straight hits: a Tim Locastro double, a Nick Ahmed single, and an Andy Young single. It was still 8-3, but there were two runners on and only one out. Díaz then came in. He’s been in some sticky situations this season, but he’s been great at eking out of them. Not Tuesday. Ketel Marte doubled down the right field line and Tapia misplayed it, allowing Young and Ahmed to score. It was 8-5 and the worry started. Starling Marte added an RBI single. It was 8-6 and the panic started. David Peralta then flew out to deep left field. Two outs and some relief, but there was still worry. Díaz then walked Christian Walker before Eduardo Escobar hit an RBI single. It was 8-7 and feelings of dread took over with the tying run at third and go-ahead run coming to the plate.
Enter Daniel Bard to take on the team he coached (mental skills coach) the last two years. In a seven-pitch at bat with two balls, two foul balls, and three strikes looking, Bard struck out Stephen Vogt. The fairytale comeback continues and Bard got his first save as a Rockie and his first save since 2011.
Chuck Natzy Stays Natzy
And the hitting streak goes on, extended to 15 games. Blackmon is hitting .500. Yeah, that’s right. In 68 at bats, he has 34 hits. That’s insane. He’s the hottest hitter in baseball. He didn’t waste any time in adding to the hit streak as he singled in the first inning. He added another infield single in the fourth, which was rewarded with a trot home on a Nolan Arenado homer that landed in the pine-forest-surrounded fountains in center field to put the Rockies up 2-1. We are so fortunate to be able to watch his greatness and it’s a huge reason why the Rockies are 12-5. Kyle Freeland put it the best after the game: “I don’t think anyone has seen anything like this. This is madness what he’s doing at the plate. I hope he stays right where he is. It is one of the most impressive things I have ever seen in this game at the big league level to be able to hit the way he’s hitting: power, average, with two outs, with runners on, with bases empty. He is doing it all. It’s really awesome to see because guys are really starting to feed off of it.”
Tapia Steps Up, Dahl Continues to Struggle
Entering the game, Tapia was 2-for-16 at the plate with one RBI. On Tuesday night, he went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, one run scored, and a stolen base. The steal came in the third inning after Arizona starter Zac Gallen tried to pick him off seven times. Tapia misplayed a few balls in the outfield, so he needs to improve his defense if he wants to see more consistent playing time. In his postgame press conference, Bud Black said Tapia will get the start on Wednesday. David Dahl, who took his first turn in the DH spot, had another hitless night, going 0-for-3 before being pinch hit for by Matt Kemp. Dahl is now hitting .215 on the season with 15 strikeouts in 62 at bats, no homers, four walks, and seven RBIs. Hampson played center field and seems to be a good fit in the leadoff spot with his speed and with Story, Blackmon, and Arenado coming after him.
Strong Seven for Freeland
With so many impressive and fun stories, it could be easy to overlook Kyle Freeland’s amazing start. He pitched seven innings, giving up seven hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. He forced 13 ground-ball outs and kept batters guessing. He was classic Kyle Freeland. He’s ERA is 2.45 and his WHIP is 1.09. Freeland gave up a solo homer to Christian Walker in the fourth inning that put Arizona up 1-0. Carson Kelly added another solo shot in the seventh inning. Freeland has had four starts this season and gone at least six full innings in each.
The Rockies will try to win the series by taking the finale on Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. Antonio Senzatela will get the start for the Rockies, while Luke Weaver will get the start for Arizona.