Coors Field: Where Bullpens Go To
Colorado’s combined bullpen effort: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K.
The Rockies entered Thursday with a depleted bullpen: given recent use, Daniel Bard, Lucas Gilbreath, Robert Stephenson and Alex Colomé were questionable to even play much catch at all today (paired with the lingering effects of an injured Tyler Kinley). One may have easily presumed the Rockies keys to victory were in the hands of starter Kyle Freeland; when he departed with no outs in the fifth, his team was left with a grim outlook.
The lineup card was thin: all that was realistically left to decide was the order to pitch Bird, Chacín and Estévez.
There was early damage: one of Freeland’s runners scored from first on a groundout and single to center. Chacín shut the door from there, however, ending the fifth with two flyouts and carving his way through a perfect sixth inning.
With a breakout sixth inning by Colorado bats, a 5-5 tie quickly turned into an 8-5 lead thanks to some firepower by Jose Iglesias, C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk. Rockies manager Bud Black called upon the rookie Bird for the seventh inning, opting for his 3.95 ERA first and Estévez’s 100 MPH heaters last.
Bird tossed his way through the seventh against the top of the Padres’ order, recording a flyout and two strikeouts. He allowed just one baserunner on a two-out single by Manny Machado.
Bird stayed in for the eighth. The four, five and six hitters for San Diego ensued – as did a three-up, three-down frame.
Estévez, the most closer-ready option available in the Rockies bullpen, entered for the ninth inning in pursuit of his first 2022 save. The nine, one and two hitters in the Padres’ lineup posted minimal threat; one groundout, strikeout and groundout later, and a once-tired Rockies bullpen set the tone for the remainder of the ongoing seven-game homestand.
The All-Star Break will be hard earned for the Rockies bullpen, given their efforts of the past several days. There was no limping toward that finish line this afternoon.
Grichuk goes 2-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI
The situations presented itself. Five runners were on base for Randal Grichuk across his four at-bats, and his pair of doubles came with heavy, favorable traffic.
His two-run double in the second inning was quick to damage the hot July of Padres starter Blake Snell, but it was no missile off the bat. What ensued was a tremendously well-placed extra-base hit.
The table was set by a leadoff double by Cron, a walk to Brendan Rodgers and a wild pitch on one of Grichuk’s early takes.
Further damage ensued by Grichuk in the sixth inning, batting as the eighth Rockies hitter in that frame. Cron again served as the table setter, this time cashing in Jose Iglesias on a line-drive single. Grichuk stepped to the plate with Cron and Rodgers again on the bases, and another double to right field would push across the Rockies’ eighth and final run of the day.
Cron, Daza collect multi-hit afternoons
Cron would have more RBI than Grichuk in this contest if the baserunners were on for his at-bats, but much of the Rockies’ success today came from Cron stepping on the plate instead. Both of his runs scored were on Grichuk doubles, and Cron’s leadoff double in the second kickstarted a domino effect of misery for San Diego pitching.
Blake Snell was unable to complete the fourth inning of today’s contest, a frame that was opened with a flyout but was seconded by a Yonathan Daza single to center field. Daza remained on the bases for the following four at-bats: a strikeout, single, and consecutive walks that would plate a run. Daza’s two-out single in the fifth was stranded at first, but his collective showing may have done wonders to chase a starting pitcher early.
Padres’ Snell: ERA jumps from 4.66 to 5.22
Previously in July: Blake Snell had tossed 11 innings in two starts, allowing just two runs. He had recorded 23 strikeouts (!) in that time — against the Dodgers and Giants, no less.
His final line today: 3 2⁄3 IP, 4 H 5 R, 6 BB (!), 5 K.
In 145 career starts, Snell has walked six batters in only three of them.
Two of his walks came with the bases loaded today. They came consecutively with two outs in the fourth inning, and the final one came against his last batter of the day.
Freeland throws his second-shortest start of 2022
Colorado’s lefty tried to work deep enough for win eligibility, but the fifth inning opened with a home run by Trent Grisham, a double by Ha-seong Kim and an RBI single by Jake Cronenworth. The reins were then handed to Estévez with clear damage done; a woeful July has continued for Freeland as he has now allowed 15 earned runs in his 16 innings pitched (8.44 ERA in July).
Only 23 of today’s 51 outs were recorded by starting pitchers.
Padres’ Crismatt surrenders three runs in 2⁄3 innings
San Diego’s bullpen saw a rocky sixth inning, led by Nabil Crismatt’s six batters faced. Crismatt entered and immediately collected a strikeout, but a walk and stolen base by Connor Joe, a double by Iglesias, a balk, and the aforementioned damage by Cron and Rodgers was enough to turn a 5-5 tie into a 7-5 Rockies advantage.
Padres manager Bob Melvin turned to the right-handed Luis García to clean up the ensuing traffic, but García quickly allowed Grichuk’s second double, surrendering Crismatt’s third run of the game.
The Pirates are next up in the Rockies’ seven-game homestand. Pittsburgh will catch a flight from Miami to Denver this afternoon after losing to the Marlins today in 11 innings.
José Quintana (3.59 ERA/3.33 FIP) will take the mound for the Pirates, doing so in his 11th year of big-league action. He has also played for the Giants, Angels and Cubs for parts of the last three seasons, while most will remember his success for many seasons as a member of the White Sox. Colorado will counter with Germán Márquez (5.66 ERA/5.06 FIP) for his 18th start of 2022.
First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. on Friday night. There is a 50% chance of rain projected at first pitch, so plan accordingly if you’re headed to 20th and Blake.