After how the last week has gone, Sunday’s game could have been just the most recent in a string of disappointing games to end the season. Instead, the Colorado Rockies saw their starter pitch like an ace, their bullpen work out of a jam, and their offense show up at opportune times to collect a 4-1 victory in Los Angeles. Boy, imagine if they always played like this, huh?
Rodgers gets it going
Brendan Rodgers has been a bright spot in the series against LA, and he continued his offensive onslaught early on. With one out in the top of the first frame, Rodgers seemed to be in trouble as he quickly fell behind 0-2 to Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson. Instead, Rodgers turned on a missed-location cutter and sent it to straightaway center field to put the Rockies up 1-0.
Rodgers’ 12th long ball of the season put Colorado in a good spot early, and the good vibes channeled to the man hitting just behind him as well.
In the top of the third inning, Yonathan Daza singled and stood at first base as Ryan McMahon stepped up with a two-out RBI on the mind. He came through with a double to left - just in between the shifted LA outfielders - to score Daza from first and increase Colorado’s lead to two.
A duel between old friends
Germán Márquez and Tyler Anderson both broke into the big leagues in 2016 as members of the Rockies and were teammates through the 2019 season. Maybe there was some semblance of a friendly rival on Sunday, as both pitchers seemed to have their best stuff working during the game.
Despite giving up the two early runs, Anderson missed plenty of bats as he collected nine punchouts through the first four innings. Márquez, for his part, generated soft contact while keeping the Dodgers off-balance as well. He struck out eight - including five of the first six batters he faced - through four frames, his only blemish coming in the form of a Cody Bellinger sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third.
With the Rockies leading 2-1 after four, we would see which pitcher would be able to steel themselves for the middle innings, and who would blink first.
Márquez’s start was aided by some sterling defense behind him. Michael Toglia and Brendan Rodgers made some very nice plays in the sixth inning, but the highlight of Colorado’s defensive efforts was undoubtedly Ezequiel Tovar’s web gem in the fourth.
That play saw Will Smith send a ground ball into left field that was snagged by a laid-out Tovar, who hopped to his feet and sent a laser back to first base for the out.
Tovar continues to impress in his debut season in MLB, and the comparisons to former franchise cornerstone Troy Tulowitzki seem to become more legitimized by the day.
Bard’s tightrope walk
Márquez couldn’t have asked for a better sendoff for the 2022 season than his outing on Sunday. His final line score read as six sterling innings pitched, allowing one sole hit and one run with three walks and eight strikeouts.
After he left, it was up to Colorado’s relief corps to secure the victory. After last night’s debacle, this seemed a tall task and made many a Rockies fan nervous as the final few innings began.
First up was Justin Lawrence, who pitched a clean seventh inning by setting down the Dodgers in order. The eighth and ninth frames would belong to closer Daniel Bard, his second straight multi-inning appearance.
In the eighth, Trayce Thompson reached on a leadoff infield single before being joined on the basepaths by Bellinger, who was able to claim his base after an error by Michael Toglia. In an unenviable positition, Bard was able to buckle down and strike out Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman, and Will Smith to escape the jam. NAILS!
Very nice ninth
After barely getting out of the eighth with the lead intact, Colorado was hurting for some insurance before the Dodgers’ ninth. They got that and more in the top of the inning.
Randal Grichuk hit a high fly ball to open things up, and was able to scurry to third base after Joey Gallo lost the ball in the sun. Grichuk was then immediately brought home on Sean Bouchard’s RBI double, and Bouchard would move to third on Toglia’s infield single (which featured a fortuitous awkward hop that was not handled by Gavin Lux).
Tovar then recorded his first MLB RBI when he brought Bouchard home on a base hit into right field. The score remained there as the inning ended, but it was more than enough for Bard. He allowed a base hit and no more as he struck out the side again - yeah, six Ks in two innings - as he earned his 33rd save of the season and took home the victory for Rockies.
Man, when they play a game like that, it really makes you think...
After three games in LA, it’s time for... three more? Yes, the Rockies are only halfway through their monstrous series with the Dodgers. Game four will see Colorado’s José Ureña (3-8, 5.24 ERA) pitted against LA’s Tony Gonsolin (16-1, 2.10 ERA).