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Rockies 4, Pirates 3: Steel City Miracle

The Rockies defy the odds and avoid the sweep in the final game of an ugly series.

Coming into today’s game, the Colorado Rockies had been shut out an MLB record ten times before the end of May with a desperately bad record of 3-22 on the road. Going into the fourth inning, the Rockies had not scored a run in 17 innings after being shutout by the Pirates in both games of yesterday’s double-header. Despite it all, the fearless beard of Charlie Blackmon combined with a stellar day from the bullpen to elevate the Rockies to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Frustrating instead of Free

Kyle Freeland made his second start of the season for the Rockies, and it was sloppy, inefficient, and frustrating. Freeland pitched for just four innings on 84 pitches, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks. He struck out just one batter. Freeland struggled with command while trying to nibble the zone, and walks frequently came back to bite him. There was also some clear tension between him and his catcher Dom Nuñez. The two argued over signs and clearly were not on the same page.

Bullpen bright spot

After Kyle Freeland’s short outing, the bullpen stepped up and did it’s job despite the floundering Rockies offense. Jordan Sheffield toed the rubber for two scoreless, hitless innings. The rookie, with his 2.45 ERA, has been one of the very few bright spots of the Rockies’ bullpen. Another positive is the apparent re-emergence of big man Carlos Estévez, who threw a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout in the seventh inning. Estévez has not allowed an earned run in his last eight appearances, going back to April 15. Closer Daniel Bard looked sharp through two innings of work to earn the win as the pitcher on record. He walked the first batter he faced, but shut down the Pirates after that with three strikeouts.

Ryan McMahon is an All-Star

Ryan McMahon didn’t have a hit today against the Pirates, but his two walks were instrumental in the Rockies’ victory. McMahon walked to start the ninth inning and was driven in for the tying run. He’s also playing incredible defense at both second and third base. This afternoon he made a stellar diving stop to rob a hit in the bottom of the second inning. McMahon has been one of the better defensive players in the league so far and is playing like an All-Star.

Offense mostly ugly

Despite the ninth inning rally, the Rockies’ offense floundered for the majority of the game, much as they have during this series and road trip. The Rockies are a hideous 3-for-30 with runners in scoring position during the trip. Perhaps the ugliest inning of the season came in the top of the sixth, where a leadoff single and back-to-back walks loaded up the bases with no outs. Three straight batters then struck out, two looking, in ugly at-bats. No runs would score that inning. Do not let the final inning spark fool you: something is still fundamentally broken with the Rockies offense on the road.

Dragging the team to victory

Charlie Blackmon and Yonathan Daza put the team on their backs this afternoon, contributing five of the Rockies’ seven total hits. Blackmon struck hard, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple. His triple drove in the Rockies’ first run of the day following a Yonathan Daza single. He also drove in the tying run in the top of the ninth with a double following a Ryan McMahon walk. Chuck Nazty himself was the winning run, reaching third on a wild pitch and being driven in by Matt Adams on an RBI single against the shift. Yonathan Daza was 2-for-4 with a walk and two singles, and CJ Cron drew an RBI walk with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Coming up next

The Rockies will fly home to Denver to enjoy a day off on Memorial Day Monday before kicking off a homestand with a three game series against the Texas Rangers. Germán Márquez will have the start for the Rockies as the rotation flips over. The Rangers will start the bespectacled, right-handed rookie Dane Dunning. First pitch is at 6:40 MDT.