As downtown Phoenix geared up for Game 2 of the NBA Finals, an opposing offense in purple was the source of the city’s afternoon attention. An attendance of 7,740 paid witness to a Rockies’ lineup that showed a more striking resemblance to their home success instead of their road struggles. Colorado has sealed their seventh road win of the season.
The Rockies posted four runs in the seventh inning, enough to overcome Arizona’s three runs on the entire afternoon. A combined four Rockies relievers tossed four innings of scoreless relief. The collective series in Arizona was not favorable, but the finale has built some essential momentum as the club ventures westward to close the first half in San Diego.
“This was a good win for us,” said manager Bud Black. “It’s been tough on the road, but it was good for us to put up a nine spot and stay on the attack for pretty much the whole game.”
Dom Nuñez puts Rockies on the board
Thursday’s lineup featured Dom Nuñez behind the plate in place of the hot-hitting Elias Díaz. After a Ryan McMahon single, Nuñez one-hopped the wall in left field and cashed in the Rockies’ first run of the afternoon.
Dom Nuñez's 8th double of the season scores Ryan McMahon pic.twitter.com/EKIR0S3Dfw— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) July 8, 2021
Nuñez would finish the day with a career-high three hits; he collected another double in the ninth. He spoke to the media after the game: “My whole goal was to just get the ball up and to use the whole field. The results showed, which were good at-bats.”
Pitcher helps his cause
Chi Chi González tossed five innings of work, holding the D-Backs to three runs over six hits. He worked efficiently from the first-through-third inning, and worked his way out of a fourth-inning jam relatively unscathed. González spoke after the game: “I’ll take [the win] however it comes, and I’m very happy to be in the win column.”
Arizona kicked off the fourth inning with a walk and a single. Runners were on first and third with nobody out for recent call-up Stuart Fairchild; he grounded into a double play, scoring the leadoff Eduardo Escobar but otherwise clearing the bases. González finished the frame with a strikeout and only one run allowed.
The fourth inning brought a tough situation for the Rockies at the plate; runners were on the corners with two outs, but the pitcher González was due up and it was far too early to pinch hit. Yonathan Daza and Nuñez set the table with a walk and a single. González would later collect his fifth hit of the season, driving in Daza with an RBI single.
The fifth inning brought some additional firepower for Arizona; Andy Young roped a double to center field, and a two-out blast by Josh VanMeter gave the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead. Gonzalez: “I fell behind a lot—that’s what kind of got me in trouble with VanMeter.” Colorado’s starter left in line for the loss, but the Rockies bats would soon break things open.
Colorado bats take late-inning command
Arizona starter Jake Faria was finished after five innings of work and two runs allowed. The D-Backs called upon right-hander Jordan Weems, formerly of the Oakland Athletics, for his Arizona debut. Weems collected a strikeout to kick off the sixth frame, but a hit-by-pitch and intentional walk set up an RBI single by Charlie Blackmon which tied the ballgame. One additional run would score on a wild pitch, and Weems’ day was finished after one frame.
The Rockies then sent nine batters to the plate in the seventh.
Raimel Tapia and Trevor Story got things started with back-to-back doubles, while Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon strung together consecutive singles. Colorado’s win probability jumped from 69.4 percent to 92.9 after those four at-bats.
C.J. Cron came to the plate in the seventh and was hit by a pitch on the back of his helmet. He walked to first base but was removed from the game under precautionary measures. Bud Black spoke after the game: “[Cron] went through all the protocol, all the concussion tests, and he’s doing fine.”
Yonathan Daza followed up the hit-by-pitch with a two-RBI double to left:
Yonathan Daza's 11th double of the season scores Brendan Rodgers & Ryan McMahon pic.twitter.com/eP3h9wWLyg— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) July 8, 2021
Colorado entered the seventh inning stretch with an 8-3 lead.
Bullpen takes over
On the heels of four consecutive scoreless appearances (all one inning), Jhoulys Chacín took over on the mound for the bottom of the seventh. He encountered some bad luck with a would-be double play ball kicking off his glove and a separate error assessed to Fuentes, but the veteran right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam unscathed. Chacín closed out the seventh with two flyouts and a groundout.
Carlos Estévez made his way to the rubber for the eighth; he made quick work of the D-Backs with a flyout, strikeout and groundout of his own.
Yency Almonte took over in the ninth, making his third appearance in 11 days. He made quick work of the Arizona lineup with two flyouts and a punchout.
Bonus insurance in the ninth
Nuñez roped his second double of the day and Fuentes collected a single in his lone at-bat on the afternoon, scoring Nuñez in the ninth and extending the Rockies’ lead to six. The score would hold, and the Rockies covered some extra run differential points.
It is customary for the host team of the All-Star Game to conclude the first half on the road, as the home ballpark is used for the Futures Game on the respective Sunday. Colorado will follow suit as they head to San Diego for the weekend, and a pair of left-handers will duel at Petco Park on Friday night.
Kyle Freeland will start for Colorado after posting 11 combined scoreless innings in his past two starts. The recent work of Freeland has been a sharp contrast to the early-season struggles he encountered. Blake Snell is also coming off two scoreless starts of his own (a combined nine innings), and those preliminary signs will suggest a low-scoring affair to open the series. The West Coast start times will continue: first pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. MDT.