This was a game that the Colorado Rockies should have won, but as it was filled with questionable management, bad situational hitting and late errors, they did not. The result was a 5-3 loss.
Let’s all rejoice for a moment in the miracle that is Jon Gray. He really is shaping up to be the ace we all dreamed he would be. Tonight he even skipped his usual slow start, retiring the first six Phillies in order. Their offense is not powerful, but it was still a terrific beginning. He went on to pitch 6 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits, striking out eight, with 94 pitches (60 for strikes). This was arguably his best outing for the Colorado Rockies.
He might have even managed a scoreless outing if not for Walt Weiss‘ strange decision to pull him with one out and runners on the corners. They chatted for a moment, so it may be that Gray told Weiss he was running out of gas.
With the dominance that Gray had shown throughout the game, he should have been allowed to get himself out of the jam.
In any case, the wrong guy to bring into that situation was Jake McGee. He immediately allowed the two inherited runners to score by giving up a long home run then allowed a fourth run. There is a reason McGee is the closer; he makes sure the game has a clean finish. He does not do well in high-leverage middle-relief situations.
The Rockies spent the rest of the game trying to come back and never quite could. The fact that they collected 12 hits and only scored 3 runs was part of the problem. They stranded runners in almost every inning as they were not able come up with big hits when they needed them.
Most notable was Mark Reynolds‘ groundout with two outs and the bases loaded in the 7th. It wasn’t his fault that there were two outs, but it was his fault that he couldn’t push a run across.
The Rockies were able to pull out a run in the bottom of the 7th with a walk to DJ LeMahieu, a line drive single to Carlos Gonzalez and another RBI line drive single by Trevor Story. After a another walk to Brandon Barnes which loaded the bases, Mark Reynolds grounded out to short to end the threat.
Later in the top of the 9th inning, the Rockies fielding went to water as catcher Nick Hundley sailed a pickoff throw over the head of Nolan Arenado which allowed a run to score, and then Story muffed a routine ground ball for another error.
In the bottom of the 9th, Arenado singled, but then Gonzalez grounded into a double play and Story struck out to end the game on a dubious strike three call.
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So what did we learn?
Jon Gray is a potential No. 1 starter
Gray was unreal tonight. He was throwing 99 mph fastballs off-the-bat, and he was mixing in a slider and a curveball which looked the best it had all season.
He threw 60 strikes in 94 pitches, and then he was wrongly removed by Weiss with two men on. Gray should have been allowed to get out of the jam himself. This would have been valuable experience for him. But it was not allowed to happen.
Weiss over-managed tonight
Weiss should have never removed Gray. He then brought his former closer in the wrong situation, when he had Adam Ottavino and others available in the pen. It took just 4 pitches for McGee to waste Gray’s effort. Just completely disappointing.
Fielding was horror show late
The fielding had been good until the 9th inning. Whether it was a lack of concentration or frustration over losing the lead, Hundley unwisely tried to throw a runner out at third with the deficit still only one run. His throw went into left field, allowing the Phillies fifth run.
Then on the very next play, Story missed a routine ground ball resulting in another error. Fortunately, Carlos Estevez didn’t let this situation get to him as he recorded the final three outs without any further drama.
Tonight was tough loss. It was a very winnable game, and questionable strategy and late errors doomed them to a loss. The Rockies are now 0-42 on the season when trailing after seven innings. The fireworks won’t be quite as joyous tonight.
But the sun will come up tomorrow. Hopefully the Rockies will return back to sound baseball.