The Rockies faced a huge deficit early, but it didn’t matter as they came together and delivered as gutsy a win as you’ll see, besting the Diamondbacks 9-7 on Friday.
Looking at a score like Friday’s, it’s tough to say the Rockies didn’t take advantage of scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, though, there’s probably one they’d like back if they could.
In the second inning, C.J. Cron started things off with a single, and Ryan McMahon followed with one of his own. After Elías Díaz popped out, Sam Hilliard walked to load the bases with one out for Jon Gray. It’s a tall order to expect Gray to put one in the gap, but even a ground ball or a flyout would have a good chance to score a run, but alas he struck out to bring Raimel Tapia to the plate. Tapia grounded out, and the Rockies missed out on a chance to take the lead early.
A not-Grayt start
Jon Gray recorded seven strikeouts and no walks, and nothing else bad happened. :)
Er, not quite. In all honesty, three of Gray’s four innings pitched were spectacular, allowing no baserunners and looking absolutely dominant. That other inning, though, was as rough a frame as you’ll ever see from a big league pitcher. In the bottom of the third, Jake McCarthy singled and moved to third base on Geraldo Perdomo’s double. With the pitcher up, Gray could avoid serious damage with a strikeout or shallow fly ball, but instead hung a batting-practice slider that Humberto Castellanos smashed for a three-run shot, his first career MLB home run. After striking out Josh Rojas, Gray allowed another long ball, this time off the bat of Ketel Marte. An 0-2 base hit by Daulton Varsho preceded a strikeout of Kole Calhoun. Okay, two outs, almost out of it.
Not so. David Peralta doubled to score Varsho, and Christian Walker homered for the thrd time in the inning (on another 0-2 pitch, no less) to put the Snakes up 7-0. A groundout of McCarthy mercifully ended the inning.
Gray’s potential final start for the Rockies was rough, indicative of some recent struggles he’s had. Over his last nine starts, the “Gray Wolf” owns a 7.21 ERA.
Rox bats heat up in the desert
It looked like this game would be a blowout after that brutal third, but you can never fully count the Rockies out. In the sixth inning, Brendan Rodgers snapped a streak of 11 straight batters retired by Castellanos with a leadoff single, followed by a base hit from Charlie Blackmon. Trevor Story (who stole a base later on to reach his third 20-20 season of his career) popped out before Cron sent a single up the middle to get the Rockies on the board. A double by McMahon cut the deficit by another run, and a base hit by Díaz made it 7-3. “Slam” Hilliard then jumped on a first-pitch sinker for his 13th homer of the year and cut the lead to one before the inning finally ended.
Sam Hilliard getting spooky szn started right with a JACK-o'-lantern pic.twitter.com/cTqCdHIV1E— C l rad R ckies (@Rockies) October 2, 2021
A 7-0 lead had appeared in one inning, and almost disappeared just as quickly. Could the Rockies scrape across a couple more?
Bullpen bridges the gap
After Gray’s early exit, the much-maligned Rockies bullpen was tasked with keeping the game close for the offense. They did just that, as Yency Almonte, Jordan Sheffield, Tyler Kinley, and Lucas Gilbreath all pitched an inning and allowed no runs, giving up just one walk and two hits between them.
Gilbreath in particular excelled, working around a leadoff bunt single and fielder’s choice play in the eighth inning to strike out the next three batters and end the frame without issue.
All are likely to factor into 2022’s bullpen picture, so seeing them combine for such an effective outing was very encouraging.
Dom Bomb, and Rockies Rally
I mean, of course they were going to tie it up, right?
Replacing Díaz at catcher following the rally in the sixth inning, Dominic Manuel Núñez refused to lose, fighting through an eight-pitch at-bat before taking Caleb Smith deep to right field and tying the game at 7-7.
DOM DINGER!— C l rad R ckies (@Rockies) October 2, 2021
IN THE NINTH! pic.twitter.com/edMc07hLzk
Rodgers would then follow with a one-out double as replacement Diamondbacks reliever J.B. Wendelken walked Blackmon. Up stepped Trevor Story, who sent a bloop single to right-center field to score Rodgers and deliver the Rockies their first lead of the night. What a story!
The Rockies would add another on a Cron groundout, scoring Blackmon from third base.
Carlos Estévez would then pitch a 1-2-3 ninth (five scoreless bullpen innings!) to wrap up the incredible Colorado victory, their largest comeback on the road in their history.
Game two of the series takes place on Saturday as the Rockies’ most consistent second-half starter Antonio Senzatela (4-9, 4.10 ERA) does battle with Zac Gallen (3-10, 4.37 ERA).
First pitch is at 6:10pm MST. See you then!
This is also my final game recap of the season, and I wanted to briefly thank all of you for allowing me to be a part of Purple Row. This first season has been a blast, and I appreciate every writer, editor, and reader of this site for making it a fun and educational year for me!
See you soon!