Here’s a line you don’t hear often: Conner Joe hit the game-winning homer in the second inning.
The Rockies offense put up four runs early and the bullpen was able to halt a would-be Cubs comeback with Justin Lawrence, Daniel Lamet, Carlos Estévez, and Daniel Bard combining for 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings. The win capped a 3-2 road trip and the Rockies are now 6-3 in their last nine games.
Walk this way at Wrigley
The Rockies took advantage immediately of rookie Javier Assad’s control issues in his fourth career start. After striking out Ryan McMahon to start the game, the 25-year-old RHP issued back-to-back-to-back walks to Yonathan Daza, C.J. Cron, and Charlie Blackmon. Brendan Rodgers then got the Rockies on the board with a slow grounder up the middle that plated Daza and retired Rodgers. Randal Grichuk then made Assad pay, battling in an eight-pitch at-bat to hit a two-run single up the right side.
Randal Grichuk's two-run single pic.twitter.com/CfKRfRCVo6— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) September 18, 2022
Not only did the Rockies put up a three-spot in the opening frame on the road, which matched a season-high away from Coors Field in the first inning, but they made Assad throw 41 pitches. Assad only made it through two innings, giving up four runs on two hits with four walks and three strikeouts. The Cubs ended up using six pitchers in the game and walked seven Rockies.
Go, go, go, Joe, Joe, Joe
In the second inning, Connor Joe hit his seventh homer of the year and only his second since July. Down 1-2 in the count, Joe hit a 79-mph curveball 393 feet to the left field bleachers.
Joe entered the game hitting .136 in 66 at-bats since the All-Star break after hitting .262 in the first half. Joe’s homer put the Rockies up 4-0 in the second inning.
Gomes disrupts Feltner’s fine outing
Ryan Feltner started the game off with a bang, striking out Zach McKinstry. After two innings, he’d only given up one hit, had two strikeouts, and forced three groundouts. Feltner then ran into trouble in the third, giving up a single to Michael Hermosillo and walking Christopher Morel to put the lead runners on with no outs. McKinstry hit a fielder’s choice to move the runners to second and third. After Feltner got Ian Happ to pop out, it looked like Feltner might escape the jam when he dropped in a would-be, strike-three sinker into AT&T SportsNet’s Subaru Strike Zone against Yan Gomes, but didn’t get the call. Instead, Gomes hit a two-run single on the next pitch to half the Rockies lead to 4-2. Feltner rallied back to retire seven of the next eight Cubs, putting up scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth. Gomes struck back in the sixth, leading off the inning with a solo homer to trim the Rockies lead to 4-3. Feltner gave up a double before being pulled by Bud Black, finishing the game with three earned runs on six hits with one walk and four strikeouts in 5 2⁄3 innings.
Nearly perfect bullpen
When he entered the game in the sixth, Lawerence had one out and the tying run, David Bote, on second. He first got Alfonso Rivas to fly out, but after an errant pickoff throw resulted in Bote moving to third and a Jared Young walk, runners were at the corners with two outs. Lawrence then got Esteban Quiroz to ground out to keep the Rockies ahead. Lamet then threw a three-up, three-down seventh with two strikeouts. He also got some help thanks to a great catch at second base by McMahon.
Estévez took over in the eighth and followed up with a shutdown inning that only saw three batters and needed only 11 pitches to get a line out and two groundouts. In the ninth, Daniel Bard pitched like Daniel Bard with back-to-back strikeouts by Rivas and Young — both looking. Quiroz then grounded out to end it.
Swings and misses
The young Cubs pitchers have made the Rockies look lost at the plate during this series. After striking out 12 Rockies on Saturday and seven on Friday, six Chicago pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts on Sunday. Hampson and Cron each struck out three times, while Elehuris Montero struck out twice. Blackmon was the only starter not to strike out on Sunday. Technically, Rodgers didn’t either, but he only had one at-bat before leaving the game with a tight left hamstring after trying to leg out a grounder. The Rockies wasted a good opportunity in the ninth when Hampson led off with a double and stole third. McMahon walked, but then Daza and Cron stuck out before Blackmon grounded out to waste a chance to add insurance runs. Luckily, Bard didn’t need them.
The Rockies will now return to Denver for their final homestand of the season, which will feature four games against the Giants and three against the Padres. The first will be on Monday night at 6:40 p.m. when Chad Kuhl (6-9, 5.33 ERA) will take the mound for the Rockies against San Francisco’s Jakob Junis (4-6, 4.15 ERA).