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Reds 7, Rockies 6: Colorado bullpen declared radioactive

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Rockies will have to settle for a split

After a depleting loss on Saturday night, the Rockies entered Sunday with a chance to win their first series since taking two of three from Philadelphia April 23-25. The Rockies did everything right for the first seven innings and were poised to come away with a series clinching victory. Then the bullpen happened, and the Rockies ended up losing by a score of 7-6.

Scintillating Senzatela sensational

After a lengthy, twelve-inning affair the night before that saw the Rockies use nine different pitchers, Colorado needed Antonio Senzatela to go deep into this one and let the rest of the pitching staff catch their collective breath. Antonio was up to the challenge, and did so in efficient fashion.

Senzatela would allow an early 1-0 lead to Cincinnati in the second inning after Eugenio Suárez led off the inning with a double and came around to score on an infield single by Shogo Akiyama. But that is all Cincy would get off the Rockies right-hander, as he would cruise through the next five innings unscathed and would depart after the seventh inning.

Senzatela finished with seven strong innings pitched, surrendering only four hits and one walk while striking out three. He retired nine of the last ten batters he faced, including seven in a row to conclude his day, and finished with a healthy count of just 98 pitches (60 of which for strikes).

Five in the fourth

Trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the fourth inning against their former teammate Jeff Hoffman, the Rockies’ bats came alive. McMahon set the table with a leadoff double to center and Garrett Hampson walked on four pitches, setting the table for the scorching-hot bat of Josh Fuentes. Fuentes came through in the clutch once again, lining the first pitch from Hoffman down the left field line for a two-run double.

Up 2-1 after the Fuentes double, Dom Nuñez narrowly missed a two-run home run at the right field foul pole. But he worked back from an 0-2 hole to draw a walk on eight pitches. Senzatela was up next, laying down a sacrifice bunt that Hoffman air-mailed over first base, allowing Fuentes to score and Nuñez to move up to third.

Raimel Tapia would follow by hitting a sacrifice fly to center fielder Tyler Naquin, bringing Nuñez home. Connor Joe would cap off the rally with a screaming, 101.9 mph line drive double to center field. Senzatela would score from second, upping the Rockies lead to 5-1.

Bad bullpen. Bad.

The Rockies would add one more run in the sixth inning to bring the score to 6-1, but once Senzatela departed the wheels fell off.

The Rockies would need three pitchers to get three outs in the eighth. Yency Almonte would start the frame and give up two walks and a single while only managing to get one out. Bud Black had seen enough and turned to Justin Lawrence in an effort to wiggle free unharmed. Unfortunately, Lawrence wouldn’t fare any better, serving up three singles and getting only one out on a sacrifice fly.

With the lead cut to 6-5, Black handed the ball to Tyler Kinley to get out of a first and second jam. Facing NL batting leader Jesse Winker, he promptly fell behind 3-0 and was on the brink of letting the bleeding turn into a full-on hemorrhage. Fortunately for Kinley and Rockies fans everywhere, Winker just missed a 3-2 slider over the heart of the plate and flew out to the warning track in center field to end the inning with the lead still intact.

Mychal Givens was responsible for closing it out in the ninth and...he did not. After loading the bases via a hit-by-pitch, single and walk while getting two outs in the midst of the chaos, a high Givens fastball would get past Dom Nuñez and tie the game at six. After issuing yet another walk, Givens would depart with the bases loaded again and Jordan Sheffield would come in to the game. After getting ahead in the count, Sheffield would spike a slider between the legs of Nuñez, allowing the go-ahead run to score and making the meltdown complete.

Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth, the Rockies offense was tasked with picking up the bullpen once again. Connor Joe immediately set the table for a comeback, doubling to the left field corner to start the inning. After a Trevor Story pop-up, Ryan McMahon lined a sharp single to center field. Joe did not read the ball well, however, and was late moving up. This cost the Rockies their best shot and left runners at first and third with one out. With Garrett Hampson at bat and the corners in, Hampson stung a sharp one-hopper to second baseman Jonathan India, who was able to field it cleanly and turn it into a double play, ending the ballgame.

The loss on Saturday was tough, but this one was demoralizing. Leading 6-1 with only six outs left to get should not prove too much to ask. Five pitchers, five hits, four walks, a hit-by-pitch, a passed ball and a wild pitch later, we now realize that maybe it was.

Up Next

After wrapping up the seven game homestand on a disastrous note, the Rockies have a long plane ride to San Diego ahead of them as they start a three game set with the Padres on Monday. Jon Gray will take the hill for Colorado, looking to pick up his fifth win of the season. Game time is set at 8:10 pm MDT.