With the “ghost runner” rule a permanent fixture in MLB now, teams use a myriad of strategies to take advantage of it and win extra-inning games.
Upon closer inspection, when it comes to the Rockies 5-3 record in extra innings this season, the reasons for the winning mark might be more due to patience and luck than perfectly executed game plans.
The Rockies played 67 games before going into extra innings this season, which first happened in Boston in a 4-3 in 10 innings on June 12. Including that game, Colorado has played in eight extra-inning games in the last 47 games. With two extra-inning games in Milwaukee on Tuesday and Wednesday, it seemed like a good idea to analyze what the Rockies are doing in games that go beyond nine innings.
The Rockies are currently tied at No. 9 in extra-inning runs per game at 0.13 (Minnesota is first at 0.21). The MLB average record this season is 4-4 for teams in extra innings, so the Rockies are above average. They are no Twins (10-5), but they certainly aren’t the Padres (0-10 either).
The Rockies have outscored opponents 15-10 after nine innings, they are 2-1 at home, 3-2 on the road, and 1-0 in their only game that went beyond the 10th (it took 11 innings to beat the Yankees.
Here’s the breakdown of all eight of the Rockies extra-inning games:
June 12: Rockies 4, Red Sox 3 (10) in Boston
Runs Scored: 2
Runs Surrendered: 1
Rockies Offense: After Jackson Profar flied out and Ezequiel Tovar lined out, Boston’s Nick Pivetta intentionally walked Ryan McMahon, which opened the walking floodgates. Elias Díaz and Randal Grichuk both walked, with the latter plating Mike Moustakas. Nolan Jones then drove in a run and reached on an error, to put the Rockies up 4-2 before Coco Montes grounded out.
Rockies Pitching: Matt Carasiti replaced Daniel Bard to pitch the 10th. After giving up a leadoff single to Masataka Yoshida to put runners at the corners with no outs, Rob Roefsnyder hit a sac grounder to make it 4-3. Then Alex Verdugo grounded into a double play to end the game.
Reason for Outcome: Great pitching and luck offensively with three walks and a Red Sox error.
June 13: Rockies 7, Red Sox 6 (10) in Boston
Runs Scored: 3
Runs Surrendered: 2
Rockies Offense: Nolan Jones got the rally started with a walk before Grichuk cleared the base with a double to put the Rockies up 6-4. Moustakas was hit by a pitch and Harold Castro singled before Brenton Doyle struck out for the first out. Profar followed with a sac fly to score the Rockies third run of the inning.
Rockies Pitching: Carasiti again replaced Daniel Bard and immediately gave up a two-run homer to Rafael Devers. Carasiti then got Adam Duvall to ground out before walking Jarren Duran, leading Bud Black to pull him and put in Pierce Johnson. Johnson forced Christian Arroyo to ground out, and despite a wild pitch that put the tying run on second, struck out Reese McGuire to secure the win.
Reason for Outcome: Great clutch hitting, with more free passes (one walk and an HBP) helped the Rockies win despite giving up a 10th-inning homer.
July 1: Tigers 4, Rockies 2 (10) in Denver
Runs Scored: 1
Runs Surrendered: 3
Rockies Pitching: After getting away with a homer in their last extra-inning game, the Rockies weren’t so lucky against Detroit when Zach McKinstry hit a three-run jack. Pierce Johnson gave up three straight hits before recording two flyouts and a groundout. After only giving up one run in nine innings, the Rockies went to the bottom of the 10th down 4-1.
Rockies Offense: Doyle and Díaz both grounded out, which moved Coco Montes to third, but also gave the Rockies two outs. Profar then walked and Kris Bryant hit an RBI single to cut Detroit’s lead to 4-2. McMahon stuck out to end the game.
Reason for Outcome: Johnson was hit hard and it’s not often a team can rally from a three-run homer in extra innings.
July 16: Rockies 8, Yankees 7 (11) in Denver
Runs Scored: 3
Runs Surrendered: 2
Rockies Pitching: Matt Koch locked it down in the 10th, facing only two batters after getting a fielder’s choice and then a double play. Gavin Hollowell entered in the 11th, and despite giving up a run-scoring leadoff single, he retired the next two batters. Then Giancarlo Stanton came to the plate and the Rockies opted for an intentional walk. Oswald Peraza then hit an RBI single before DJ LeMahieu lined out. The Rockies gave up two, but it could have been worse.
Rockies Offense: In the 10th, Ryan McMahon drew a two-out walk, but Tovar flied out, Bryant struck out, and C.J. Cron also flied out to strand two runners. Nolan Jones tied up the game on the second pitch in the bottom of the 11th when he smashed a two-run homer. After Michael Toglia flew out and Harold Castro struck out, Alan Trejo hit a walk-off homer to beat the Yankees.
Reason for Outcome: Clutch homers from Jones and Trejo saved the day and one scoreless frame of pitching was enough for the Rockies.
July 23: Marlins 3, Rockies 2 (10) in Miami
Runs Scored: 0
Runs Surrendered: 1
Rockies Offense: Grichuk hit a homer in the ninth to send the game to extra innings, but the offense was quieted in the 10th. McMahon drew an intentional, two-out walk, but Díaz lined out to leave him and Doyle on base.
Rockies Pitching: This is the first time the Rockies opted to start with an intentional walk, which they issued to Jesús Sánchez. Despite striking out the next batter (Dane Myers), Johnson accidentally walked Nick Fortes to load the bases for the guy with the best batting average in baseball: Luis Arraez. He unsurprisingly hit a walk-off single.
Reason for Outcome: The Rockies shouldn’t intentionally walk anyone, especially with a pitcher who frequently walks batters. At the same time, you can’t usually get blanked at the plate in extra innings and expect to not pay for it.
July 31: Rockies 4, Padres 3 (10) in Denver
Runs Scored: 1
Runs Surrendered: 0
Rockies Pitching: Matt Koch made it stressful after Juan Soto and Manny Machado both singled to load the bases with no outs. Then Koch got Xander Bogaerts to hit a grounder to second base and the Rockies got Fernando Tatis Jr. on the force out at the plate. Brad Hand then entered, getting Jake Cronenworth to line out and Gary Sánchez to ground out.
Rockies Offense: Brenton Doyle reached on an error and Elehuris Montero advanced to third. Profar walked to load the bases and then the Rockies copied the Padres when Tovar hit a grounder and San Diego got the lead runner at home. With one out, McMahon hit a sac fly to score Doyle for the walk-off win.
Reason for Outcome: The Rockies used clutch pitching and took advantage of an error and walk to win, but it’s also just great to play extra innings against the Padres since they can’t win after nine.
Aug. 8: Rockies 7, Brewers 3 (10) in Milwaukee
Runs Scored: 4
Runs Surrendered: 0
Rockies Offense: This is the best 10th-inning outing of the year and it started with a Michael Toglia walk and Doyle single to load the bases. Then the Rockies just had to hold their bats and the Brewers walked three straight batters to put the Rockies up 6-3. Jones added a sac fly in a four-run inning that featured four walks and only one hit.
Rockies Pitching: Justin Lawrence made this one easy with a strikeout and two groundouts. No stress. Just a win.
Reason for Outcome: The Rockies didn’t win this one as much as the Brewers lost it. If a team can’t throw strikes, make them pay.
Aug. 9: Brewers 7, Rockies 6 (10) in Milwaukee
Runs Scored: 1
Runs Surrendered: 2
Rockies Offense: Austin Wynns bunted to move Cole Tucker to third. Tucker then took off when Profar hit a grounder to first and was thrown out at the plate after an awkward slide where he missed the plate. Tucker might have exercised too much caution to avoid catcher William Contreras and the loss of the runner and the second out really hurt the Rockies. Tovar doubled in the next at-bat and a ball-bobbling error by Mark Canha allowed Profar to score. Tucker would have easily scored if he was still at third. The Rockies only got one run, but it could have been more.
Rockies Pitching: Canha struck back quickly after his error, hitting a ground-rule double off Justin Lawrence to tie the game. Lawrence rebounded by forcing a groundout and flyout. Then Andruw Monasterio hit a walk-off grounder after Tovar made a rare throwing error (that also could have been scooped at first, but Toglia couldn’t quite get it).
Reason for Outcome: Baserunning mistakes and a fielding error were too much for Colorado. The Rockies should have won this game and could have with one of those mistakes, just not both.
There is one main reason the Rockies are 5-3 in extra innings: they have drawn 12 walks, including two intentional, compared to walking only four opponents (two intentionally). When opposing pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone, the Rockies made them pay. The Rockies have had at least one runner reach base in extra innings due to a walk in all five of their wins. The Rockies have also had some help from opponents’ mistakes as they’ve capitalized on three fielding errors, while only committing one, which cost them on Wednesday against the Brewers.
The Rockies have also turned two double plays in extra innings while hitting into none. More obviously, if the Rockies score three or more runs in an extra inning, they are incredibly likely to win.
The Rockies could benefit from having more speed on the basepaths as they’ve never even tried to steal a base in extra innings, but that’s just not abundant on the roster this year. Considering this, the Rockies are in better shape to be prepared to walk at the plate and go for clutch hits rather than play small ball in extra innings.
When it comes to pitching, the Rockies have done pretty well. Pierce Johnson, who has since been traded to Atlanta, is responsible for two of the extra-inning losses because he gave up walks and a homer. The other loss is from an error.
Of the two intentional walks, one hurt and one was against Stanton and that didn’t hurt the Rockies. Unless it’s a Rockies killer like Stanton, Colorado needs to avoid issuing walks at all costs. The bullpen has been pretty impressive in extra innings and could help the Rockies record a few extra wins this season if games can’t be settled in nine.
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This is a lovely feature on Austin Gomber’s turnaround after a rough start to the season that began with what Patrick Saunders calls his “public catharsis” about trying to live up to the Nolan Arenado trade. After that, combined with making some mechanical adjustments, Gomber has gone 4.34 ERA in his last 19 starts with opponents limited to a .278 batting average.
Bud Black expects Brendan Rodgers to be back in the lineup Friday after missing action since Monday when he tweaked a hamstring. Rodgers has been able to participate in running drills and sat out more as a precaution. Charlie Blackmon, who’s been on the IL since June 11 with a broken hand, is set to head to Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday to begin a rehab stint. If all goes well, the Blackmon could join the Rockies next week.
Kevin Henry wrote this breakdown of three interesting numbers relating to homers by a pair of Rockies rookies, switch-hitters on the roster, and the total number of Rockies who have played this season.
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On the Farm
The Express started with a solo homer in the first and kept scoring throughout in the rout on Thursday. Round Rock out-hit the Isotopes 14-6. Albuquerque’s lone run came in the seventh inning when Daniel Montano led off with a double, Aaron Schunk moved him to third on a groundout, and Jonathan Morales hit a sac grounder to bring him in. Jameson Hannah had two hits to lead Albuquerque.
Grant Lavigne homered and hit an RBI double, Niko Decolati homered, and Bladimir Restituyo and Colin Simpson both hit run-scoring singles to help the Yard Goats win their fourth straight. Connor Van Scoyoc got the win after striking out four while giving up four runs on five hits in 5 2⁄3 innings.
Benny Montgomery hit a three-run homer in the third inning (his ninth of the year) and the Indians were able to rally back after losing the lead to win on Thursday. After the Hops took a 4-3 lead after five innings, Spokane reclaimed the lead in the sixth when Jamari Baylor hit a two-run double. AJ Lewis followed with a single to bring in another insurance run and Luis Amoroso sealed the win with 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings. Anderson Pilar threw 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win.
The Grizzlies had two doubles, three singles, one walks, and also had a player reach after being hit by a pitch in a six-run third inning that proved to be everything they needed to win. It started with a Dyan Jorge walk, a Jake Snider double, and Skuyler Messinger being hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Andy Perez came through with a run-scoring single and then Jesus Bugarin hit a two-run double. EJ Andrew Jr. added an RBI single and then helped another run score after he stole second, which caused an error to let Bugarin score. Jorge went 3-for-4 with a walk and Luis Mendez added two hits. After Connor Staine gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits, four Grizzlies combined to throw six scoreless innings. Carlos Torres started the effort, giving up two runs with two strikeouts in two innings.
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