The Rockies’ battery of Chi Chi González and Elías Díaz were superb on Friday, but the Colorado bullpen imploded again late and the Cardinals took a tough one, 9-3.
Chi Chi is peachy
It was a bit of a surprise to some Rockies faithful when Chi Chi González broke camp as the fifth starter, and while he has struggled at times, the righty has done a solid job of filling his role overall. González limited the Cardinals to just two runs on seven hits with no walks and a strikeout in seven efficient innings. The second frame was his toughest, and it seemed that Chi Chi may be in for a rough night when the inning opened with a Tyler O’Neill double, a Yadier Molina homer (making it 2-0), and a Tommy Edman base hit. González settled down, though, and allowed just three more hits the rest of the outing. His start looked very similar to that of his rotation-mate Antonio Senzatela on Thursday, who also went seven innings and allowed two runs. The Rockies’ starters are off to a great start in July, hoping to replicate the success they had in June.
“El Maracucho” es en fuego!
Is there anyone in baseball more locked in than Elías Díaz right now? As if a walk-off home run last night wasn’t enough, the Rockies catcher homered on Friday as well to plate the tying run in the fifth inning. That’s his fourth straight game with a home run - the first Rockie ever to do so, and just the second catcher in MLB history to do it. A few of had three (including, most recently, former Rox backstop and old friend Wilin Rosario), but only Díaz and Charles Johnson (who’s awesome, by the way) have four. On the brink of history, all eyes will be on the Maracaibo native on Saturday as he steps to the plate.
Díaz’s homer will be the big news, but Ryan McMahon would be receiving the purple chain otherwise. McMahon went 1-for-2 with a double and two walks, and made a few above-average plays down at the hot corner. RyMac drove in the Rockies’ first run in the second, and his two-out double allowed C.J. Cron to knock him in with a double to take the lead, 3-2. In addition to his work with the bat, McMahon made some fantastic plays at third, capped off with his great throw in the eighth, robbing Edmundo Sosa of a probable base hit. Ryan McMahon leads MLB in Defensive Runs saved, with 12 (seven at second base, and five at third).
Struggles in the ninth...
With the Rockies up 3-2, Justin Lawrence came in to attempt to secure his first career save at the major league level. Unfortunately, Lawrence was unable to do so as he forced a Yadier Molina groundout, but walked Tommy Edman on four pitches. The 26-year-old righty came back strong with a strikeout of Paul DeJong, but then lost Harrison Bader on, again, four pitches. Jose Rondon then punched a single to left to tie the game, before Yency Almonte relieved Lawrence and struck out Dylan Carlson. It was time for some free baseball.
...and downright yikes in the tenth
Almonte started the tenth inning and opened with a strikeout of Paul Goldschmidt. After an intentional walk to Nolan Arenado, Edmundo Sosa popped out for the second out before Almonte then got ahead of Yadier Molina down 0-2. One pitch to go.
But that’s baseball, isn’t it? No such pitch came.
Molina sent a grounder straight up the middle to score Carlson (who started the frame on second per MLB’s extra innings rule), and Tommy Edman sent a base hit to left to score Arenado. 5-3 Cardinals. Not the end of the world!
But... Paul DeJong walked and Harrison Bader smashed a grand slam to left to make it 9-3. That was Bader’s first hit since coming off the injured list, and it effectively ended the game. The Rockies went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the cosmic ballet goes on.
The Rockies and Cardinals run it back tomorrow as Wade LeBlanc (0-1, 5.60 ERA) matches up against lefty Kyle Freeland (1-2, 6.54 ERA).
First pitch is at 7:10 MDT.
See you then!