After looking like road warriors to start the season, the Colorado Rockies are once again being reminded of a franchise-long issue with heading East.
For the second time in three games, Colorado had scoring opportunities but couldn’t convert on Friday night, falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 at PNC Park.
Colorado pieced together 12 hits on the night but scored its only run on a solo homer by Nolan Arenado in the sixth inning that temporarily tied the game at 1-1. Pittsburgh, however, would plate a run in the bottom of the frame on a David Freese RBI single, handing the Rockies their third consecutive loss and eighth straight loss to the Pirates spanning two seasons.
The Rockies had their chances against Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole but couldn’t push across a run when needed. They also squandered an opportunity with a questionable decision in the seventh.
With two outs in the inning and Dustin Garneau on second base, Charlie Blackmon hit a screaming line drive to left that Pittsburgh’s Sterling Marte fielded on one hop. As soon as he grabbed it, Marte fired home, easily nailing the Colorado catcher trying to score on the hit.
Absolutely Colorado needed to score a run and was desperate for opportunities, but Garneau running on the outfielder, who led the National League in outfield assists with 16 last season, was not a good idea. The hard-hit ball, Garneau’s lack of speed, and Marte’s arm spelled doom on the play for the Colorado Rockies.
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“I’m thinking if he goes, we got an out. And he went,” Cole said after the game. “Marte’s as good as anybody out there in left field.”
The Rockies had 10 hits against Cole but could never seem to connect on the one that mattered. Arenado finished 3-for-3 at the plate (including his MLB-leading 14th homer of the season) while Blackmon went 3-for-5 and Mark Reynolds upped his average to .328 with a 3-for-4 night.
The lack of Colorado runs wasted another solid performance from Eddie Butler, who allowed just one earned run in six innings and scattered seven Pittsburgh hits. Butler, however, would contribute to his own demise with an errant one-out pickoff throw in the sixth that allowed Marte to move to second. One batter later, Freese would single to center, pushing Marte home with what would be the eventual winning run.
After Butler left the game, Colorado relievers Gonzalez Germen and Miguel Castro would shine in the final two innings. Germen struck out the side in the seventh and Castro made his triumphant return from the disabled list by pitching the eighth and striking out one.