Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs: Game 3 observations

May 5, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds (12) hits a solo home run during the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
May 5, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds (12) hits a solo home run during the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

On a clear, sunny, Saturday afternoon, the Colorado Rockies (40-23) battled the Chicago Cubs (30-30) in game three of a four game set. Colorado secured a series win on Saturday, defeating the Cubs once again, 9-1. Before the Rockies go for a sweep on Sunday, here’s some observations from today’s victory.

BUTLER SEES FIRST ACTION AGAINST FORMER TEAM

Eddie Butler, the former Colorado Rockies pitcher, had his first opportunity to pitch against his former team on Saturday. Over the past offseason, the Rockies traded away Butler as part of the deal that brought James Farris to Colorado.

Butler has had a very solid season for the Cubbies thus far, going 3-1 with a respectable 3.75 ERA. In his most recent outing, however, Butler failed to get out of the fifth inning, giving up six earned runs on seven hits.

More from Rox Pile

On Saturday, the Rockies came out swinging against their former teammate. Charlie Blackmon led off the game with a base hit and DJ LeMahieu quickly drove him in with a double to right field over Jason Heyward‘s head.

Later in the inning, Mark Reynolds doubled on a sharp liner to the ivy wall in left field to drive in LeMahieu. Reynolds was left stranded at third, but the Rockies wasted no time at all getting to Butler, scoring two runs by the end of their first time at-bat.

Butler was able to pitch through the second and third innings with little trouble, giving up no additional runs. However, in the top of the fourth, Reynolds came up again and launched a deep homerun onto Waveland Avenue to give the Rockies a 3-0 cushion. Per Statcast, the ball was hit at 110 MPH off the bat and traveled 447 feet.

After a 1-2-3 top of the fifth inning, Butler was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the frame, ending his day. Despite a decent five innings, Butler ended up taking the loss, falling to 3-2 on the year and inflating his ERA to 4.03. Butler started the year 3-0, but has now taken the loss in his previous two starts.

HOFFMAN WORKS OUT OF TROUBLE, STAYS PERFECT

Jeff Hoffman has had a very impressive start to the 2017 campaign. After a rough 0-4 record in 2016, Hoffman has quickly turned things around in 2017 with a 3-0 record and a 2.61 ERA.

Hoffman had to work hard to get out of the first inning on Saturday. After a walk and a hit, the Cubs had runners on second and third with just one out.

It appeared that Ben Zobrist had an RBI double down the right field line, but luckily the ball ended up just foul. Hoffman bounced back in the at-bat and got Zobrist swinging on a sweet curveball that painted the inside corner. He picked up the third and final out on a grounded to first hit by Heyward.

Hoffman was able to breeze through the next innings, only allowing one baserunner from the second through sixth innings. At one point, Hoffman retired ten batters in a row.

In the seventh, however, Hoffman allowed back-to-back-to-back singles to the middle of the Cubs line-up, allowing their first run of the day to score. After allowing the third hit, Hoffman was pulled with two on and one out in the seventh.

No more runs were scored and Hoffman’s book was closed for the day. In the end, he went 6.1 IP, allowing just one earned run on four hits, striking out eight along the day. Hoffman picked up the win and improved to a perfect 4-0 on the year.

BLACKMON WASTES NO TIME EXTENDING HITTING STREAK

Blackmon entered Saturday’s contest with a seven-game hitting streak dating back to June 2. Over that time span, Blackmon has gone 13-28 (.464), but ended a streak of six consecutive games with two or more hits yesterday.

On Saturday, Blackmon quickly extended his hitting streak in the first inning. Leading off, he took the first pitch, a two-seam fastball, low for a ball. Blackmon then laced the next two-seam offering the other way for a base hit.

Despite striking out in his next two at-bats, Blackmon made up for it in the seventh inning. He took the fourth pitch of the at-bat, a mistaken location fastball, deep to right field. The ball made it out onto Sheffield Avenue, traveling 439 feet after being hit off the bat at 107 MPH. As a result, Blackmon was intentionally walked in the ninth.

While Blackmon’s current eight-game hitting streak is impressive, it still falls short of the fourteen straight he hit safely earlier this season. Additionally, Blackmon currently leads the majors with 86 hits, 38 extra-base hits, and 29 multi-hit games.

MCGEE EXTENDS SCORELESS STREAK

Despite allowing a base hit, Jake McGee put up another scoreless inning on Saturday. As a result, McGee’s scoreless streak has now been extended to 12.1 innings. His streak is currently the ninth longest in the majors this year.

HITS, HITS, AND MORE HITS (EVEN FOR TAPIA)

Reynolds wins the MVP award for the day, going 4-5, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. As a team, the Rockies pounded out 14 hits. Minus the pitcher, all eight of the Rockies starters picked up a hit during the contest. Included in the starting line-up on Saturday was Raimel Tapia.

Tapia has struggled this year, going 0-14 with a walk in ten games this season. Manager Bud Black emphasized that he wanted to get Tapia a start on the road trip and the opportunity presented itself on Saturday. Tapia took full advantage of the opportunity, going 2-4 with a single and a double.

STORY NOT IN STARTING LINE-UP AFTER STRUGGLES IN LAST TWO

Trevor Story was not in the starting line-up for the Rockies on Saturday afternoon for the first time since May 28. Part of the reason was likely his recent struggles at the plate.

In the opening game of the series on Thursday, Story looked extremely uncomfortable at the plate, going 0-4 with a golden sombrero. Friday was little different for Story, going 0-3 with a walk and three more strikeouts.

During the first two months of the season, Story had been under the Mendoza line most of the way, finishing May with a .197 batting average. Story began June with a six-game hitting streak and it appeared that he may finally be working out of his early season struggles.

Next: Colorado Rockies: America, it’s time to start believing in this team

Unfortunately, the 0-7 with seven strikeouts in the previous two games has Story looking more like his early season form again.