With just one swing of the bat, Albert Pujols put a damper on the Colorado’s postseason chances and made Major League Baseball history Sunday afternoon. Trailing by one run in eighth inning, the future Hall of Famer sent a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run, go-ahead home run. It was his the 660th homer of his career — tying Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time list — and lifted Los Angeles to a 5-3 win over the Rockies.
The Rockies (21-25) now sit in 10th place in the National League playoff race, two games behind the eighth-place Cardinals.
Castellani allows one hit
For a moment, it appeared that Rockies starter Ryan Castellani wouldn’t make it out of the second inning Sunday. After a scoreless first inning, the rookie left-hander walked the bases loaded in the second. Catcher Drew Butera then allowed a passed ball with one out to allow a run to score — and the wheels could have easily fallen off from there. But Castellani worked around the damage and struck out the side, allowing just the one unearned run to score in the frame.
Over 5 2⁄3 innings of work, Castellani (1-2, 4.46 ERA) allowed just one hit and the one earned run. The only hit was a single by Max Stassi in the fifth inning. He also added to his personal highlight reel with a third-inning “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play with Mike Trout at the plate.
Strike 'em out, throw 'em out pic.twitter.com/FYrR8GUXr8— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) September 13, 2020
It wasn’t a perfect outing, by any stretch, for Castellani. He walked six in the game and also hit a batter. But a couple of timely double plays and strikeouts helped him worked around the trouble. When Castellani left in the sixth inning, he was in line for the win — but the bullpen could not secure the victory for him.
In total, the Rockies allowed a season-high 10 walks in the game. Anthony Rendon walked just before Pujols’ go-ahead home run in the eighth inning, and Los Angeles tacked on an insurance run in ninth inning.
Carlos Estévez (1-3, 6.75 ERA) gave up the home run to Pujols and picked up the loss for Colorado.
Injuries blindside the Rockies
The Rockies received the bad news just prior to first pitch Sunday that Nolan Arenado would miss the game because of a reported shoulder injury — but it only got worse from there.
Colorado outfielder Raimel Tapia left the game in the fifth inning with an apparent injury. During his postgame interview, manager Bud Black said Tapia “came up dizzy” after a diving catch in the third inning, so trainers removed him for precautionary reasons. Tapia did come back with a base hit in the top of the fifth before leaving in the bottom half of the fifth.
Tapia has been a bright spot for the Rockies this year, batting .302 from the leadoff spot.
The Rockies will enjoy a day off Monda as the Oakland Athletics travel in for a quick two-game series. Colorado will send Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 3.69 ERA) to the mound Tuesday, and Sean Manea (4-2, 4.46 ERA) will start for the A’s. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. MT.