The Cubs got off to a hot start and the Rockies couldn’t quite claw back on Sunday, as Chicago defeated Colorado 6-4 on Sunday and end the four-game series at two wins apiece.
Gomber gets scrambled
Austin Gomber was looking to build upon his first start of the season by shutting down the Cubs offense, but was unable to find a good rhythm and seemed to struggle with his command at times. The left-hander tossed 4 1⁄3 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks while striking out two. Gomber dealt with heavy traffic, allowing a run in all but one of his innings pitched and dealing with multiple baserunners in every frame.
Chicago’s offensive gameplan seemed to include attacking Gomber early - in the eight at-bats in which the Cubs recorded a hit against him, none saw more than three pitches. Those ambush tactics seemed to disrupt Gomber’s flow, and he spent the whole of his outing fighting to limit the damage.
Rox offense hard-boiled, but stay (over) easy
Drew Smyly had the Rockies hitters guessing throughout his start, as he limited them to just four hits and a walk over his 4 1⁄3 shutout innings. After he left, though, the Colorado bats came alive. Down 5-0 in the sixth, Kris Bryant got things going with a leadoff double off of Cubs reliever Scott Effross before being brought home on an Elías Díaz single. Ryan McMahon then welcomed new pitcher Michael Rucker to the game by blasting his first home run of the season, a majestic shot over the right field scoreboard that brought the Rockies to within two runs at 5-3.
Seventh inning a little rotten
The Rockies would keep it there, unfortunately, as each team would score once more and naught else. The big hurdle for the Rockies continues to be scoring runners on base - over the course of the game, they’d go 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight men on base in total.
The seventh inning showed this clearly, as the Rockies loaded the bases twice against a clearly-struggling Cubs pen. It started with a José Iglesias walk and Yonathan Daza single, which knocked Rucker from the game and brought in old friend Mychal Givens. Givens then walked Connor Joe to load up the bases with no outs for Bryant, who brought home a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4.
Another walk, this time to C.J. Cron, loaded the bases once more for Díaz and brought the Coors faithful to their feet. Unfortunately, Díaz struck out and Ryan McMahon grounded out to end the threat prematurely.
That would be the Rockies’ last significant change at tying the game, and the back end of the Cubs ‘pen shut things down with relative ease.
Bullpen still won’t crack
One of the biggest - and maybe most surprising - early season stories for the Rockies is the continued success of their ‘pen. That didn’t change on Sunday, as the relay unit of Ashton Goudeau, Tyler Kinley, and Justin Lawrence combined for 4 2⁄3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits. They walked one and struck out five, the lone blemish on the day being Seiya Suzuki’s fourth home run of the season off of Goudeau.
As the season progresses, we’ll see if the relief corp can continue the hot start they’ve gotten off to.
The Rockies stay in Denver and welcome the Fightin’ Phils for a three-game set. Chad Kuhl (0-0, 2.08 ERA) will make his first home start of the season after his solid outing in Texas. Opposing him is Philadelphia’s ace, former first round draft pick Aaron Nola (1-1, 6.75 ERA).
First pitch is at 6:40 MDT. See you then!