After multiple teams across many of the major sports leagues postponed games to strike in protest of police brutality (most recently against Jacob Blake), the Rockies and Diamondbacks continued with their game as scheduled on Wednesday night.
Hungry like the Gray Wolf
After a disappointing outing on August 16 in Dodger Stadium, Jon Gray came back hungry on Wednesday. The right-hander pitched six strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits. The three walks were concerning (although Robbie Ray comparatively walked six in four innings), but he also had five strikeouts. Gray threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes.
Hilliard homers, Chuck slams
The Rockies held steady to a close lead for most of the game, entering the eighth up just 3-1. Sam Hilliard led off the eighth inning with a 403-foot home run to right to put the Rox up 4-1. It was his fourth of the year and his first off of a left-handed pitcher in 2020. Back-to-back singles by Drew Butera and Garrett Hampson (on a bunt) ended the night for lefty Matt Grace, who was replaced by Riley Smith making his MLB debut. Smith began his debut by striking out Trevor Story — the last Rockie to record a strike out — and then gave up a single to Nolan Arenado to load the bases.
Enter Charlie Blackmon.
With the bases loaded and one out, Chuck Nazty worked a 2-0 count before launching a 428-foot grand slam to right to make it 8-1 — his fourth homer of the year and second career grand slam. The next two batters were then retired — Josh Fuentes on a ground out to second and Elias Díaz on a ground out to third. Little did we know that a grand slam would end up being the difference in the game...
Late inning drama...again
The Rockies had a comfortable 8-1 lead entering the bottom of the eighth. Yency Almonte pitched the seventh and sent Nick Ahmed, Stephen Vogt, and Jake Lamb down in order. He also began the eighth inning, but was replaced by Tyler Kinley after allowing a lead-off double to Kole Calhoun. He got Ketel Marte to ground out, but subsequently gave up an RBI triple to Starling Marte to make the game 8-2. Kinley came in and got David Peralta to fly out to center, but then gave up an RBI double to Christian Walker to make it 8-3. He finished the inning by getting Eduardo Escobar to ground out to third.
The ninth inning is where all the drama was...again. Kinley began the inning and allowed a single and a walk. Jairo Díaz came in and immediately got Lamb out on his first pitch. But he was unable to finish what he started, loading the bases twice and allowing four runs score. After just 2⁄3 of an inning, he was lifted for Jeff Hoffman.
Hoffman entered to face Eduardo Escobar, who was intentionally walked. He recorded the final out (and his first career save) by striking out Nick Ahmed on three pitches, and the Rockies escaped with the 8-7 win.
The Rockies finish off their road trip tomorrow in Arizona and will be looking for the sweep. Kyle Freeland (2-1, 2.87 ERA) will be on the bump against Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.25 ERA). First pitch is at 4:10pm MT.